Here is a detailed discussion on the history, and stylistics of some of the great temples of India. Although battered by the destructive forces of time, weather, and invading forces, the temples of India remain as the greatest legacy of the glory of the ancient Indians. Focusing on the ancient and medieval temples of India, this section is designed as a tutorial on the tradition of Indian temple construction. Readers are encouraged to begin with a overview of technical terms and make use of the numerous cross references -- Ed.
Ancient TemplesIf there is anything great and concrete that has survived the rigors of time in India, then it is surely the ancient temples. These magnificent ancient temples, some of which are in ruins speak of the golden time when India was at the vanguard of civilization.
15th century ancient temple
Just like people's perception of Taj Mahal changes after seeing it in reality, the feeling one gets at the Khajuraho temples is totally different from one's expectation. The beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and the same object may appear differently to different people. A maiden may appear as a mother to Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, as a sister to Swamy Vivekananda, as a daughter to an elderly person and as a lover to a romantic. I was interested in finding out what most people felt about these erotic sculptures, and observed them from a vantage point in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh. As they rested under a tree, a Tamilian couple regretted having come all the way and having ignored their own temples. A Bengali couple complained about the tourism brochure they had seen to take this trip. Apparently the brochure had close-ups of only the best sculptures. A Maharashtrian family seemed to think that the higher they went, the better the sculptures, and spent most of their time climbing up and down.
A well-equipped frequenter of horse races pulled out his binoculars but was disappointed that the additional lens did not help improve the visual quality of the sculpture. A family man from Andhra spent all his time attending to his young children and eating the food that his wife distributed, as if the sculptures did not matter. The leader of a gang of youngsters, to preempt the disappointments of his friends, explained, "Our ancestors were very virile; they had to have sex several times a night. If they couldn't find many women they enjoyed the same partner in several positions. These sculptures were erected for their benefit."
A Frenchman and his daughter looked as if they were solving a mysterious problem and analyzed every sculpture in the ultimate detail. Sometimes they argued before agreeing. A newly wed American couple wondered about the advances the Indians had made in the 10th century. The young man must have whispered "Just as we tried the Indian curry, why not try an Indian position?" The couple laughed naughtily and went on to the next temple.
Hundreds of others came, saw the sculptures, passed their own judgments, and left. But none seemed to be excited by looking at them. They all seemed disappointed that the eroticism they had expected was missing. Travel brochures and exaggerated publicity are responsible for this. The travel guides too seemed to exaggerate the sculpture and regularly cooked up stories in order to extract tips. No wonder that those who come here expecting a Las Vegas will be disappointed, because there is only pure beauty and no perversion in these temples. Creations such as a cabaret or pornography, which are designed to excite human sexuality, are absent here. Even the magnetism of a curvaceous female body is missing from these sculptures. Just as we do not think of sex when seeing the image of a half clad Laxmi (a.k.a. Lakshmi ) or Saraswati (Hindu deities), we cannot think of sex at these temples.