Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day 84, "Kama Sutra Temple" , Indian UNESCO site

Okay, Ramzi please try to contain your excitement........finally, we are going to see the unique erotic sculptures of the "Kama Sutra Temple" in Khajuraho. It's art is a manifestation of the essence of the philosophy of Indian aesthetics.

These sculptures representing the Indo-Aryan architecture, congeal in stone a lyrical paean to love and passion and reflect the Chandela dynasty's passion and immense appreciation for the forbidden art, paradoxically, in the land of Kama Sutra.

Sita,( is our tour guide today.

Sita is very clued up with regards to UNESCO sites, especially in India, her Motherland.

She told us that these temples of Khajuraho, ( a UNESCO world heritage site) were built between 950 to 1050 A.D. during the Chandela dynasty of Central India.

After the decline of the Chandela dynasty in 13th century, the temples were left under the cover of dense date palm trees for many years, which gave the city of Khajuraho its name, Khajur in Hindi means a date. In the ancient times it was known as Vatsa.

In 1838, a British army engineer, Captain T.S. Burt rediscovered them. By that time only 22 of the original 85 temples had survived.

It took more than 200 years to complete elaborately carved Khajuraho temples that are planned in a similar pattern. Built in the central Indian temple architectural style, the uninhibited and graceful erotic sculptures of Khajuraho temples are known for their paramount architectural balance and exquisiteness. The temple plans range from the simple ones to the most inspired ones.

Wow! These temples are simply magnificent!!

Please tell us about them Sita.....

The temples can be divided into three broad groups.

Western Group

Kandariya Mahadeo
The 31m high temple is the largest and most typical Khajuraho temple with exquisite carvings and intricate and detailed craftsmanship in stone depicting divine deities, celestial maidens, eternal lovers, gods and goddesses. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and enshrines the
The Kandariya Mahadeva has been praised as the pinnacle of the tradition of medieval Hindu North Indian temple building .
The appearance of the Kandariya is deceptive as it seems to be carved out of a solid piece of stone.
Arguably, the complexity and ornateness of design gives one a sense of a closed dimension since the Kandariya can be entered through very few entrances.
The sculptured figures are well-rounded yet supple and do not display significant musculature or tension despite numerous erotic implications.
Most of the sculptures have economy of drapery but are effusively patterned with ornaments and flower motifs.
The effect of height of the shikharas are advanced by the gradation of the rise.
From the front, the various designs, many of which are erotic, are not visible to the worshipper. T
The east-west axis and this thrust, it is argued, focus the worshipper on the central point inside the temple, where the linga is kept.
It also contains the most important feature, the Acrobatic Sexual Intercourse statue.

Ramzi stop staring!! He cannot believe what he is seeing!!
Chaunsath Yogini
The temple is the earliest temple of the group that has survived. It belongs to 900 AD and is dedicated Goddess Kali. It has the distinction of being the only granite temple here.

Chitragupta Temple
This temple is dedicated to the Sun God (Surya Dev). It faces towards east or the rising sun and the imposing image of the image of the deity in the inner sanctum is as high as five feet and is shown driving a horse-drawn chariot. It is in front of this temple and the Vishwanatha temple that most of the dance performances take place during the Khajuraho Dance Festival.

Vishwanatha Temple
This temple has impressive entrances with magnificent stone guarding its northern steps and royal masonry elephants taking care of the southern steps. The three-headed image of Lord Brahma in the temple is not less captivating.

Lakshmana Temple
A pretty Vaishnava temple flaunts a lintel over its entrance depicting the divine trinity of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva along with Goddess Lakshmi, the wife of Lord Vishnu.
Matangeshwara Temple
Situated outside the premises of Western group of temples, this Lord Shiva's temple is known for the daunting eight-feet high lingam (male organ representing the natural process of reproduction and the continuity of human life form) that it enshrines.

Eastern Group

The largest Jain temple of the Eastern group, Parsvanath temple has intricate stone carvings, especially, the sculptures on the northern outer wall of the temple are certainly praiseworthy. It enshrines a throne facing the bull emblem that represents the the first tirthankara, Adinatha.

Ghantai Temple
This Jain temple has remarkable frescos depicting the 16 dreams of the mother of Lord Mahavira at the time of his birth and a Jain goddess mounted on a winged Garuda.

Adinatha Temple
This temple is richly ornamented with delicate and pretty scultures including those of yakshis. It is dedicated to the first Jain tirthankara (saint), Adinath.

Most of the temples here belong to Jain faith but there are three Hindu temples of the group, namely, the Brahma temple enshrining a four-faced linga; the Vamana temple with divine carvings of sensuous celestial maidens in various poses adorning its outer walls and the Javari temple
with a opulently carved doorway and ostentatious sculptures on its exteriors.

Southern Group

Duladeo Temple
This Shaiva temple is known for flaunting the striking images of the celestial maidens or apsaras and richly ornamented figures.

Chaturbhuja Temple
It is the huge imposing intricately carved image of Lord Vishnu in the temple's sanctum, which is the chief attraction of the temple.

So tell us Sita, why Erotica in temples?

There are different opinions on why temples were decorated with sexually explicit sculptures.

One group argues that the old kings lived in obscene luxury and that they used these for excitement.

Another group thinks that it was part of sexual education in ancient India: since most people visited temples, it was an appropriate place for mass communication.

Some scholars say that since Hinduism believes in the efficacy of all four paths to Moksha (Dharma, Artha, Yoga, and Kama), these sculptures were provided to assist in the last of these four paths.

Since these sculptures are limited to the outer walls of the temples, some people interpret them as a symbolic gate to reaching God. It is possible that at the time just preceding the construction of these sculptures, monastic Buddhism was prevalent, people were losing interest in the householder-life, and the temples were built to attract people to sex and family life and to renew Hinduism.
Well whatever the reason ......these temples are simply spectacular, and absolutely unique!

Sita has also pointed out that the Temples DO NOT contain sexual themes inside the Temple premises or near the deity but only on external carvings.

They portray that for seeing the deity, one must leave his sexual desires outside the Temple.

They also depict that the inner deity of the Temple is pure like the soul which is unaffected by sexual desires and other gross tendencies,destiny etc, whereas the external curvature and carvings of the Temples depict the bodily changes that occur in us.

Sita also emphasized that only as many as 10% carvings contain sexual themes, not between any deities but between ordinary humans.

The rest depict the common man's life of those days e.g. example ladies applying makeup, musicians, potters, farmers etc. perhaps conveying the message that one should always have God as the central point in one's life even when one is engaged in worldly activities.

It is a misconception that since Khajuraho are Temples, they depict sex between deities! This is not so.

In Khajuraho Temples, the idols of Shiva, Nandi, Goddess Durga, Incarnations of Vishnu etc are fully clothed.

We are now eagerly awaiting the Sound and Light show ........which apparently is narrated by Amitabh Bachchan.

Ramzi says he doesn't recall any other sculpture except the one with the "acrobats"....and he has bought a bag full of iron, brass and stone sculptures depicting Kama Sutra poses ....they are a specialty of Khajuraho....and Ramzi loves incredible Indiaaaaaa... .

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