Khajuraho "the Temples of Love": erotic art as a sort of illustrated Kama Sutra
James McConnachie, in his history of the Kamasutra, describes
the sexual-themed Khajuraho sculptures as "the apogee of erotic art"
Beside the heavenly nymphs are ... most notoriously, extravagantly interlocked
maithunas, or lovemaking couples."
Having taken into account the various theories about the significance of
representations of these postures in mandirs, and examined them in light of the
canons prescribed in the Shilpa works, Dr. B.J. Sandesara has justified their
place in mandir sculpture as illustrating Kama which is one among the four
purusharthas (Dharma, Artha, Kama) leading to moksha.
"The mithunas are there for the sexual education of the
young and ignorant,."
Francis Leeson in Kama Shilpa
Khajuraho is a beautiful city situated in the state of Madhya
Pradesh, India. The city is well known for its erotic temples, sculpture and
vibrant culture. The ancient temples attracts the tourists from all over the
world. Sculpturers are known by the name of “Shilp-shastri”, which means one who
does sculpture art. There are certain temples, where you can see the beautiful
The Khajuraho temples are highly decorated with artfully carved sculptures.
Whilst Khajuraho temples are famous for their "porno" sculptures,
sexual themes cover less than 10% of the temples art.
most sexual images are in proportional balance with the non-
The art themes cover numerous
features of human life and values
are important in Hindu pantheon.
Mithuna at Khajuraho
Maithuna is a Sanskrit term used in Tantra, "sexual union" in a ritual context.
It is the most important of the five makara and constitutes the main part of the
Grand Ritual of Tantra variously known as Panchamakara, Tattva Chakra, and
Although some sects and schools consider this to be a purely symbolic and mental
act, a look at different variations of the word maithuna clearly shows that it
refers to female-male couples and their union in the physical, sexual sense and
is synonymous with kriya nishpatti (mature cleansing). Just as neither spirit
nor matter by itself is effective but both working together bring harmony so is
maithuna effective only then when the union is consecrated. The couple become
for the time being divine: he is Shiva and she is Shakti. The scriptures warn
that unless this spiritual transformation occurs the union is carnal and sinful.
Yet it is possible to experience a form of maithuna without physical union. The
act can exist on a metaphysical plane without sexual penetration, in which the
shakti and shakta transfer energy through their subtle bodies alone. It is when
this transfer of energy occurs that the couple, incarnated as goddess and god
via diminished egos, confronts ultimate reality and experiences bliss through
union of the subtle bodies.