The whispers of venkittu creates a whirlpool in my mind . I retire to a solitary corner in the long corridor of the temple, and wonder whether it is the same classmate whom I knew intimately, sitting in the last bench of the class, subdued and suffocated by the solid stone walls of superstitious prejudices? ‘Sex is a sin’, I have heard from the seniors in my society. There are several Sanskrit verses and old stories to support that statement, mostly from those who have rejected sex or sex has rejected them . ‘Sex is a bliss’, is a popular version. But no one has told me so far that sex is divine. In silent amazement when I heard that statement made in all sincerity by a friend whose marriage life was a failure and who is now under the vow of celibacy and leading a team of celibates, I begin pondering over it.
With a perturbed mind and peering eyes, I go around the corridors looking for similar erotic sculptures on the pillars and I see a few of them scattered among the carvings depicting gods in their glory, damsels in their beauty, saints in their sanctity, men, animals and birds in their natural elegancy. There was another woman in a similar posture but with a lion’s head and a third one along with a dog-like animal standing in between her legs, looking up eagerly. A statue of a man-woman pair balancing their body on the hands is also there, but all such so called ‘obscene’ carvings form only a negligent percentage of the total.
I have seen and enjoyed, in India and abroad, life like nude statues and paintings in museums and other places including places of worship. More than two thousand years ago, Greece and Italy popularized them and great sculptors and painters have exhibited their skill and expressed their emotion through their unparallel art works. “The kiss”, one of the most seductive pieces of Auguste Rodin, which translates in stone, the passion of a couple in union, which no other art form can depict so effectively. “The Venus de Milo”, the armless statue by an unknown sculptor , presumably belonging to second century BC , is on the top list of popular sculptors. The male nude statues of Michelangelo, striking in their expressive force and exhibiting the extraordinary knowledge anatomical science of the sculptor are breath taking. I was also fortunate to see his unforgettable paintings on the walls and the ceilings of the famous Sistine Chapel in Vatican. His statue of ‘David’ glorifies the human form, the master piece of the Master sculptor.
Human emotions & character are depicted with great understanding & skill in the mural paintings of .Ajantha and Ellora caves and the temples of Khajuraho built in the tenth century contain stunningly explicit sexual sculptures.
In attempting to reproduce the most valuable gift of God as it was handed over to us, a painter or sculptor, enjoys immense happiness and try to make it as perfect as possible though he is aware of his limitation that he can never give it life. With regard to other creatures of the God, birds or animals, he can imitate them as they were born and therefore his artistic yearning for giving shape to a ‘symbol.’ close- to -original” takes wings in the form of nude human figures.
But, why are they in a place of worship?
If our ancestors, in all their wisdom, chose to exhibit some nude women figures at the entry and exit gates of the temple, there should be a purpose for that.
I am only attempting to know what it could be. Hope that you will not call me crazy.
Love and regards,