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  • Eroticism and the worst email ever

    Posted on January 3rd, 2010 Sheila Yair 1 comment

    kajurahuWe are in Khajuraho, a city famous for its temples. Like many Hindi temples across India the shrines of Khajuraho are covered top to bottom with very detailed and fine stone carvings. Artistic as well as religious façades of statues upon statues, some easily considered a masterpiece on their own. The height of Hindi spirituality takes shape in the cold hard rock. The difference between Khajuraho and many other cities hosting Hindi temples is that all the temples here are dedicated to eroticism, to the activity of sexual union, not necessarily in the smallest even number, as proper conservative sex will dictate, sometimes not in even numbers at all. A collage of bodies in different positions all very busy with their reproductive organs. No one really knows what caused the Chandella dynasty to build such blunt temples. Some theories claim it was due to links with the Tantric cult, who used sex as a fundamental part of worship. Some suggest it was in honor of Shiva and Parvati’s wedding. Others claim it was like the Kama Sutra a guide to love. Still others claim it was to amuse the gods and distract their wrath and some even claim it is symmetrically built to depict yantras for meditation (not speaking from experience, but something tells me it is a little hard to meditate while an orgy is going on around you). Out of the many theories in existent that try to explain these unique temples none blame the British. In fact when they were rediscovered by a proper officer of Queen Victoria’s army in 1838, after they have been abandoned for six hundred years, the blunt carved scenes of masturbation, threesomes, foursomes, coupling with animals etc. shocked him so much he made this comment:

    “I found seven Hindu temples, most beautifully and exquisitely carved as to workmanship, but the sculptor had at times allowed his subject to grow a little warmer then there was any absolute necessity for doing; indeed some of the sculptures here were extremely indecent and offensive”

    Definitely scenes a little warmer than anything an honorable officer has ever laid his eyes upon, or anything he would have expected to encounter in an abandoned place of worship hidden in the jungle. But as shocked as this poor officer has been, eroticism, in different forms, has been with humanity since the beginning, or at least nine months before the first human baby was born. Although at certain times certain societies and cultures tried to deny it or restrain it, there was always a quest for bodily union. Humans were always engrossed with the beauty of people physically matching, the ecstasy of a higher sexual encounter, the physical obsession of one person with another in a climax of desire. Many tales, operas, paintings and plays have been composed by people throughout the ages, with eroticism crawling through each and every sentence, note or brush stroke propelling the plot and capturing the audience’s imagination. All the famous couples, Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Paris and Helen, Catherine and Heathcliff, we like to think of these as tales of love, which they were, but they were all tales of love at first sight too. And well the last word in the phrase says it all, sight. Love at first sight means we are yet to know anything about our object of desire but are madly in love due to appearance, body, face, composition, eroticism at its best, one transmission of the optic nerve, a few neurons passing a small and sexy electrical current and the brain is full of lustful yearning ready to go to war, give up anything, accept any challenge or even die. But our officer was a bit sheepish not because the theme was unfamiliar, it was the bursting power of the sexuality of the temples he wasn’t use to. In England eroticism was served in much smaller doses. We have created a spectrum in physical inter person relations, a scale for sex, something to help us categories the different aspects of sexual activities. Like everything in society we tied that scale to moral and proper conduct. Pornography, peep shows, prostitution are all way at the bottom considered immoral, dirty and bad while love at first sight, eroticism, true love, and the inevitable result pregnancy are at the top regarded with opposite notions, pure and beautiful. England in those days had most of what was depicted in the temples on the low levels of the moral scale. Religion makes it even simpler. There is no scale, only right and wrong, proper and prohibited. With its constant desire to grow in numbers, any sex that leads to a new born baby within a structure that will assure him or her acquiring that specific religion as he grows up, is good, basically any child born to a family. But all other sexual activity is bad, sex out of wedlock, gay sex, Hindi temple orgies etc. It is amazing how many very different religions operate the same concept. It is not for nothing that in the midst of the AIDS crisis the Pope calls for the abolishment of condoms in Africa, the continent with the highest catholic conversion rate. Even the spiritual Dalai Lama maneuvers his religion to greater numbers. In a speech of his that we heard up in Ladakh he was talking about reproduction. The English translation warned how due to environmental changes and global warming we have to depopulate the planet but the Ladakhi translation declared that Buddhism is frail and needs more people so procreation is of the utmost importance.

    But eroticism, desire, love, orgasm are all tricks that nature plays on us to ensure we keep the species going, to make certain we keep producing offspring. Deceptions pushing us to supply more specimens for evolution and more players for the survival game. And it works, even the most rigid society, the strictest and most reserved religion always kept the door a little open on procreation. There was always a hole in the sheet, a key to the chastity belt to let just enough eroticism through to keep the species alive. So nature with its schemes keeps the cycle of life rolling.

    Nature embedded us with very basic natural instincts, fundamental needs, but as always our intellect seeps in, drop by drop creating an ocean of man made social structures. The only difference between a lion eating a zebra and a fancy five course meal is our intellect, our minds, our society, our drive and development prepare the food with great care mixing ingredients from around the planet then heat or cool them in many different ways to get different chemical reactions and tastes to satisfy our discriminating pallet, we then serve and eat it among rituals our society dictates, but the basics are still a lion eating a zebra. We have built the same creative, intellectual, ritual world around procreation with love, marriage, dating rules, match.com etc. turning the zebra to a five course meal. That is what built the temples in Khajuraho, the human five course meal version of the cycle of life. And wherever there is intellect, money is sure to follow. Big industries like the wedding industry, the dating industry, romantic movies, pornography, and escort services all have nature’s imbedded instinct for procreation reeling in the customers. If prostitution is the oldest trade, marriage and dating have to be right after it as the second oldest business. From fathers wheeling and dealing their kids, matching them up to increase stature and fortune and to tie new ties, to the multi-million dollar wedding industry of 7 story cakes and expensive dresses and the sprawling dating industry in all its forms. This is one basic instinct we have taken very far.

    And so here amongst the temples that celebrate in stone the life cycle, with scenes warmer then there is any absolute necessity, here I get an email from my mom telling me she is dying. It is all cycles in nature, there is no life without death, there must always be a balance. I have always believed in that. But now to come to terms with it is to understand and accept I will be a motherless child soon. Something that even approaching forty years of age is hard to do. I walked directionless for two hours between trees and tears just to swallow the news. Now that it is in me I have to start grasping it.

    The ironies in these natural cycles are sometimes mind-boggling. The ovaries where I have started my life have also started the cancer that is now killing my mom. The same organ that has initiated my life commenced the killer that is inside my mom, ending her life. Much like the cancer I too started multiplying my cells using my host’s body for food and shelter, but I didn’t metastasize and after a while when I felt I was too big I came out, something that unfortunately I know the cancer won’t do.

    Nature, life and death.

     

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