I have always been fascinated with my religion. Hinduism is beautiful and vibrant and honestly not a tool to subjugate others with (I am unapologetic about the political anecdote). My religion opened up mythology for me and those were interesting reads. Sexuality and sex has always been the most unspoken topic in any Indian household, especially in a misogynistic one like mine. It is however paradoxical to notice how Hindu Vedic scriptures dating back to two millennium BC talk about sex, and orgasms and the benefits of sex.
Hinduism dates its origins back to almost 4000 years, with no exact findings that relate to how/who founded the religion. This religion has morphed into a conservative and political tool to be used by those in power. Using Hinduism to spread institutionalized hatred against particular communities is not only disgusting but goes against the basic tenets of the religion.
Devdutt Pattanaik, one of my favorite Indian mythology author and historian said in an interview, “See anybody who says he understands the totality of Hinduism is lying; because, in Hinduism there’s no one clearly defined book or one clearly defined approach to the subject…” Thus, there are various ways in approaching Hinduism.
Hindu texts talk about the four tenets of human existence, Dharma (ethics), Artha (wealth), Kama (pleasure) and Moksha (liberation). Sex in each of the tenet is different. There are various schools of thoughts in Hinduism which are frankly at loggerheads with each other. One school of thought doesn’t believe in achieving pleasure during sex, but believes in just the duty of procreating. The other school praises and upholds the concept of pleasure and orgasm.
Hinduism has indeed been twisted into something through misogyny and patriarchy that is frankly conservative, prudish and hypocritical. Kama has turned into a taboo when our country, in fact, boasts of the book that wrote about all the goddamn sexual positions. With varying texts talking about varying words on sexuality, Hindu mythology is a diverse read, giving identity to most of the communities in the modern world.
Temples in India are embossed with sculptures of men and women engaged in various sexual positions. There are records of orgies, having open sex, threesomes, etc in the scriptures. The great God Shiva’s phallus is worshiped in every part of the country. Kali is the symbol of femininity, sexuality and power. Adiparva (first part of the epic Mahabharata) called sex not a sin, but the most natural part of nature.
With such texts on sex, it is difficult to wonder where the taboo on sex aroused from.
The prudishness is unfortunately unwarranted. In Indian scriptures dating back to the Early-Vedic age, women adorned their bodies the way they saw fit. Before all the patriarchy, women did not cover their upper bodies except with flowers and jewels. Adorning the body (shringaar) was considered auspicious.
Hindu scriptures again have 69 terms (yeah, a little co-incidental) for the Queer community, with stories giving recognition to each and every member of the community, however they identified themselves to be. Shikhandi, a transgender man, changes the course of the epic war of the Mahabharata by bringing the demise of the strongest man in the field, Bhishma.
Some scriptures even talk about how if a woman wanted sexual pleasure, a man had to gratify her or it would mean the end of society. In others one finds talks of exploration of the self before engaging in sexual acts in order to understand the beauty of sexual self.
And, there is always the Tantric part of Hinduism, that transcended eroticism and broke free of the Brahminical tyranny of the later Vedic age. Our culture spoke of polygamy, monogamy, polyandry, heterosexual relationships, homosexual relationships, asexual relationships, etc.
The erotic traditions in the Hindu scriptures were celebrated through poetry and dramas. Sex was about physical intimacy and utmost pleasure, that would connect one with the soul (Atma). However, in modern times sex is not just a no-no word, it is a taboo. Most movies in Bollywood don’t even show two people kissing. Engaging in any form of public display of affection is considered a heinous crime.
The way this beautiful religion is construed is unnervingly wrong. To everyone who is truly a follower of the truth behind Hinduism, and is a devout follower of the scriptures, I want to know how this path Hinduism was following got strayed. Was it because of patriarchy and property laws which got imbibed into the diverse mythological stories?
Kama Sutra talks of sex as an art form, that needs to be mastered and perfected. Our religion prides in being one of firsts to talk about it in the most positive light.
Sex is supposed to be beautiful and divine.
And I absolutely agree, sex is wonderful.
But it’s also a splendid spiritual experience. And we need to talk about it.