Hinduism makes use of erotic art to depict a spiritual message. Conversely, sexual expression, especially for women, is not tolerated in India. My favourite Hindu goddess Kali (Kali Ma, Kalika, the Creatrix and Destroyer/abyss from which Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu rise) is often depicted in iconography as mating with the corpse of her husband Shiva (or Kala, meaning time: “because Thou devourest Time itself, Thou art Kali”). This is a play on words as ‘shava’ means ‘corpse’ but it shows how Kali is the feminine force, shakti. without which Shiva is inert. All souls are feminine to the divine in Shakti worship. This is a very feminist aspect of the religion. Kali is also very sexual and destructive as well as protective and maternal. For example, she used her vampiric tendencies to defeat Daruka the demon and defeated the demons Canda and Munda, as well as Sumbha and Nisumbha. But her blood-drunk frenzy was calmed by Shiva appearing in the form of a baby whom she suckled. Kali is usually shown as Dakshinakali but her other forms are Badrakali, Kali of the Cremation Ground and MahatmaKali (Great Kali). Kali is also sometimes worshipped by yoni worship. She is worshipped all over India, having absorbed similar goddesses such as Kottavai, though she is principally worshipped in Kerala province. In the 1940’s Kali was symbolised as representing India. She is associated with taboos and worshipped in cremation grounds. She used to be the goddess of low castes and thieves (as exemplified in the Indiana Jones movie, although of course that’s pure Hollywood insensivity and the cult of Kali is very complex, varied and ever-changing, as are most religions.) Kali is called Tara in Bengal. In India, Tara is a more compassionate incarnation of Kali (one of ten) and Kali is sometimes referred to as Tara. Kali is represented as dark, or Black, with dishevelled hair. Dark skin is considered ugly in India (hence overuse of skin lightening creams with tragic consequences – see TV documentary ‘Make Me White’) and dishevelled hair represents wild sexuality. Kali is a virgin which means that like all virgins she has a lot of sexual tension (as opposed to the Christian view of virginal purity, Hindus seem to see abstinence until marriage as stressful or unnatural to some extent, and virgins as curiousrather than pure-minded). This tension is appeased by singing dirty songs to Kali on a certain night to please her (similar to puberty songs that used to be sung to girls during a ritual – these were wiped out due to Western prudery.) Anyway just wanted to share this stuff.
Soaring sandstone buildings set amid beautiful green lawns, giant statues of Hindu gods watching over the holy site, some of the best temple art in the world, and a finely sculpted frieze depicting intimate man-on-horse relations.
As a late addition to our India itinerary–squeezed between visits to the urban sprawls of Agra and Varanasi–Courtney and I decided to spend four days in the quiet village of Khajuraho.
The area is famed for its massive Hindu temples, built by the Chandela Dynasty in the 9th century. Eighty-five of these structures originally covered the grounds, all created in the relatively short span of 100 years. The monuments remained unknown to the outside world until the British, led by locals, “discovered” them in 1838. What they found hidden in the jungle shocked them, not because of the grand scale of the 25 remaining temples, but rather because of the detailed
View original post 108 more words