A mere mention of Khajurao temples immediately recalls the erotic sculptures to one’s mind and a curiosity as to why the erotic sculptures were built as part of the temple which are meant for worship. The sculptures looks out of place in a temple and which brings the question why anyone would do that?
However, anyone who has been to Khajurao will know the truth that these erotic structures represents just 10% of the total sculptures in the temple and are not prominently displayed as is widely perceived and are in proportional balance to other sculptures. The Khajurao temple depict the beauty of women with sculptures portraying the women in different daily activities like applying makeup, removing a thorn from the feet, writing a letter etc.
The erotic structures are not something unique to Khajurao and are also present in other temples like
- Konark temple, Orissa
- Virupaksha temple, Hampi, Karnataka
- Markandeshwar temple, Maharashtra and
- Padakal temple, Karnataka.
- Sun temple, Gujarat
There are different viewpoints on the reason for presence of these erotic sclptures in the Khajuraho temples as mentioned below:
- One school of thought is that these sculptures were intended to educate people on sex. The procreation aspect is a part of life which has been beautifully shown in the temple structures.
- Another belief is that Chandela Kings were followers of Tantric sect of Hinduism which could be the reason for depiction of mithuna ritual of the Tantric cult ( i.e. the union of male and female).
- Another aspect to be noted is that these erotic sculptures are located only on outside walls of the temple. The theory behind this is that when you enter the temple, you need to relinquish these desires and enter.
- Due to rise and expansion of Buddhism, lot of people were leaving family life and embracing Buddism. The temples were built to protect Hindu religion by bringing people back to family life and temples by seeing these erotic sculptures .
About Khajurao temples:
The Khajurao temples are located in the Chhatarpur district, in the state of Madhya Pradesh.The Khajuraho group of temples were built during the rule of the Rajput Chandela dynasty between 950 and 1050 AD.
Khajuraho temples are identified under three groups – the western group, the eastern group and the southern group. I will be covering in details on these temples in seperate posts.
- Western group of temples, Khajuraho: Lakshmana Temple
- Southern group of temples, Khajuraho Part 1 – Duladeo Temple
- Khajurao : The Southern group of temples Part 2 – Chattarbhuj Temple