Temples Of Khajuraho


A visit to Khajuraho takes one into the land of super consciousness. It is a journey everyone should take. The temples of Khajuraho have the most erotic, sensuous, and graphic, sculptures that can not be found anywhere else in the world. The facade-walls, windows, pillar brackets, and ceilings are intricately carved with figures from mythology and history. All the figures are perfectly proportioned though they are not masculine like the Greek sculptures.

The innocent depiction of love and sex and the celebration of women are the main theme of these sculptures. Various facets and moods of women, her beauty, seductiveness, compassion, love, desire and innocence is depicted beautifully in each sculpture. Each temple depicts the creative energy of ‘Shakti’ who is considered to be the feminine counterpart of Shiva and all the other Gods of the Hindu Pantheon. There are about sixteen types of female figures engaged in various activities like tying anklets, looking into the mirror, carrying a baby, writing a letter etc.

The female nudity is considered as a potent fertility charm. The Jain, Buddhist and Hindu religious sect all believe in the fertility cult and erotic symbolism can be seen in their art forms everywhere. Here in Khjuraho, it is more evident and open. Fertility has a deeper meaning than just procreation. It means happiness, wealth, prosperity, and auspiciousness.

I learned some important lessons of life and developed a new way to look at the most common thing everyone talks about-Sex. Through these sculptures immerges a deep sense of energy that changes one’s outlook towards sex and meditations, religion and worship. In my opinion each town must have one such temple so that people can rise above the beliefs and norms that they have set about sex. This will also end the suppression of sex which has made the society so ugly.

During the construction of these magnificent temples the artisan lived in a society free from inhibitions and they were also secular craftsmen. All the activities of human life were celebrated and one can see the love for life in every sculpture here. They got their inspiration from the world they lived in.

The origin of the name Khajuraho comes from the ‘Khajur’ or the Date Palm tree which is found in abundance in this region. It was the first capital of the Chandela rulers in the 10th to the 14th centuries. The Chandelas believed in the Tantras which called for a person to work inward from the erotic to the pure spiritualism. One can see the presence of both the Tantra and the puranic elements here.

There are different theories about why these temples have erotic sculptures on the outer walls and none inside the temple. Some people believe it to be the depiction of ‘Kamasutra’ while others think they were created as a part of educating the masses about sex but I disagree because there is much more to these sculptures that sex. One can find dancing couples, musicians, potters, farmers and other folks along with deities etched in stone. Only 10% of the Stone carvings at Khajuraho temples contain sexual themes. If we examine these temples carefully then there is more of a celebration here than education.

I was overwhelmed by the joie de vivre that can be seen in sheer abundance here. To me these temples are the finest examples of India’s glorious past. There is also a story about the Brahmin woman falling in love with the moon God and getting pregnant by him. The baby boy born to that woman founded the Chadela Empire, the creators of these awesome temples.

Osho’s explanation on this matter seems absolutely correct to me. He says, “These temples have, on the outer side, beautiful women, beautiful men, and all in love postures. Inside there are no love postures. Inside you will find the empty, not even a statue of God. The idea is that unless you pass through your sexuality with full awareness, in all its phases, in all its dimensions — unless you come to a point when sex has no meaning for you-only then you enter the temple. Otherwise you are outside the temple, your interest is there.”

Osho’s Quote is from his book ‘From Unconsciousness to Consciousness’ (Book Title)

The temples depict the energy which transforms sexual to super consciousness, from lowest to highest form. There is a serene calm on the faces of the men and women engaged in various sexual positions as shown in the sculptures. The idea was not to suppress sex but to use that energy to reach the ultimate level of consciousness.

Meditating in front of those sculptures frees one of any sexual desires and with that purity of mind, body and soul one goes into the temple. This was a path to Nirvana, a path of renunciation or ‘Moksha’, to leave the visual and sensuous pleasures and move ahead without attachments, desires and regrets. I feel that the logic was to show people a correct way of life through the enjoyment of ‘arth’ (material wealth) and ‘Kaam’ (sexual pleasures) while perusing the ‘Dharma’ (Duty) while on the way to enlightenment.

The temple town of Khajuraho in the state of Madhya Pradesh is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is famous for its remarkably intriguing erotic sculptures. This celebration of the carnal which weaves beautifully with the austere Jain religion is just amazing example of the level of super consciousness of people living at those times. Many of these temples are based on Hindu religion. These temples were built over 1,000 years ago. The unsurpassable stark beauty, grandeur, and art of these ancient temples leave one in awe of those who created them.

Khajuraho temples are set in an archeological park with mowed lawns and landscaped gardens which is very different from its original setting of semi desert like environment and palm trees which gave the place its name.

The intricate detailing and artistry of the sculptures is worth noticing. Each temple has a distinct layout and features although there are some common factors also. They are architectural delights made of granite and sand stones built on high platforms. All the temples have a sanctum sanctorum or ‘garbha griha’. The temples are constructed in famous ‘Nagada’ style of architecture dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

The famous western group of temples which are entirely based on Hindu religion are the most exquisite among all. The figures have a unified design and a harmonious rhythm in them. The horizontal bands of carvings are in perfect alignment with the vertically towering main structure. All of them follow the strict convention of ‘shilpashatra’ (the epic text of sculptures) and temple art. There are cult icons, surrounding figures, ‘Apsara’ or the ‘Sursundaris’ (celestial beauties) and the erotic couples. There are many auspicious and luck bringing motifs.

There are relief panels depicting the king at court, the royal hunt, domestic scenes marching armies, dance processions, teacher and students, traders with camels, and sculptors at work etc among others. Nandi (Lord Shiva’s Bull), mythical animals, elephants and wild boars are some of the animals which are carved on the outer walls.

Some of the finest temples are that of Kandhariya Mahadev, the Chitragupta Temple that is dedicated to the Sun God, the Vishwanath Temple which has a three-headed image of Brahma (the Creator of the Universe) and the superbly decorated Lakshmana Temple.
The eastern group depicts the marvelous Adinath Temple whose lavishly embellished sculptures mesmerizes you the moment you set eyes on them and the Parsvanath Temple which is the largest Jain temple here.

The temples of Khajuraho originally consisted of eighty five temples of which only twenty two exist today. They are stunning examples of art and architecture of that period. Each temple is different from the other.

As I watched the beautifully chiseled faces of those human beings etched in time, a sense of calm began to seep in. Somehow one feels like withdrawing into complete silence and close the eyes to all that is momentary.

*( Image and material researched from  Google images/ search results. Full credit to the photographer. )*

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