Sculptures of Khajuraho

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Erotic Sculptures of Khajuraho: What do they mean?

What had caused the sculptors of those times to make those erotic carvings on the walls of Khajuraho…Learn in details

Monday, 19th April 2021

The Temples of Khajuraho, a UNESCO recognized World Heritage Site, are actually a conglomeration of many Jain & Hindu temples. The temples are well known for their many erotic sculptures that adorn the outer walls of the temples and evoke varied responses from the onlookers…while some are cringe others are cynical and also while some are disappointed, others are embarrassed. The poker faced guides point to either a “group activity” or “an oral activity” while most tourists usually look away or giggle away. The vendors outside the temple complexes sell Kamasutra based books or paintings and even crude figurines depicting the myriad lovemaking poses and forms.

But, still lots of intrigue encapsulate these erotic sculptures of Khajuraho. One may often come to wonder why the rulers of the Chandela dynasty who are behind the construction of these temples, chose to deck these temples with sculptures representing lust and love and its multiple manifestations. And not the Chandelas alone- if we try re-visiting India around the eras between the 9th and 12th centuries, we’ll discover that many temples of the country right from the North to the South come with erotic sculptures. Even the Hoysalas and Chalukyas had such erotic sculptures carved on their temple walls even though their sculptures weren’t as explicit as the ones carved on the temples of Khajuraho or on the Konark Temple of Bhuvaneshwar, Orissa. Were the sculptors who had made those erotic carvings following some kind of a manual or was it some kind of a belief on their part that urged them to make those erotic carvings?

Various interpretations are there with regard to the erotic carvings of Khajuraho and they range from folklore to spiritual notions.

One tale goes like this that once upon a time a very beautiful woman known by the name of Hemavathy was taking bath in a moonlit night. The Moon God was attracted towards her and came down on earth to seduce her. After their union, a son with the name Chandravarman was born to Hemavathy and she raised her son all by herself in the woods. The Moon God however made a promise to Hemavathy…he promised that someday Chandravarman would become the ruler of a kingdom. And the promise was kept…on growing up, Chandravarman founded the famous Chandela dynasty. It is commonly believed that Chandravarman was deeply influenced by the stories of his mother and so started building temples adorned with sculptures portraying human passions and possibly the futility and transience of the same.

In case this tale fail to fascinate you, you may turn your attention towards another prevailing belief that states that the sculptures of Mithunas on the temple walls are symbolic of ‘good luck’ together with sundry other sculptures that depict mythical creatures. Another interpretation is that these sculptures were made with the purpose of offering sex education to the people who were leaning towards Buddhism and were ready to renounce life and its passions including the erotic passion.

Also, there are many interpretations associated with ‘Hinduism’. One of the interpretations point out that the sculptures on the exterior walls of the Khajuraho temples mean that one should leave one;s desires and lust outside prior to entering the temple the interiors of which are absolutely devoid of any such erotic sculpture. It is believed that the entire concept is but a reflection of the Hindu philosophies of Dharma, of Artha, of Kama and finally of ‘Moksha’ or ‘Nirvana’. Possibly one can attain the moksha or nirvana after having done with all the pleasures of this world and the temples’ interiors are possibly symbolic of that ‘nirvana’.

The News Talkie Bureau



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