Thursday, 20 June 2013

Sex and the City : Circa 1300 AD: My sojourn at Konark:

A Visit to the Sun Temple at Konark, in Orissa brings in reminiscence of a past on how, life was celebrated by the elite class consisting of Kings and Priests among the kingdoms at Kalinga. As an amateur   with a   subaltern mind-set, when I went there on 16th June the hoary temple at Konark gave me glimpses of  lascivious life style of the elite well   depicted and preserved in the erotic sculptures set in  amorous postures .
Konark is only 65 kms from Bhupaneswar and on the coast of the Bay of Bengal near to the Major Port of Paradip. The Sun temple was built by King Narasimhadeva -1 of the Eastern Ganga dynasty of the 13th century and is a world heritage site. It  was built in the form of a chariot of Sun God  driven by seven horses and made of black granite stone facing the eastern coast. The architecture of the temple which is in the northern style is made so scientifically that whenever the sun passes the equinox,  the rays of the sun glitters the diamond placed on the forehead of the idol. (The idol today is in National museum Delhi and the diamond is in British museum at London). The polished black sandstone is fixed in the columns with cast iron which are still not rusted in spite of the saline atmosphere here. In order to create a counterweighing balance to the iron clad structure the temple was made with magnets installed on the top.  (It is said that these magnets deflected the compasses and hence the direction of the Dutch and Portuguese ships steaming off shore during the 17th century. Removal of the magnet by the British rulers from the super structure affected the equilibrium of it ,resulting in structural damages as seen today) It is beyond doubt that the builders of the temple in the 13th century had a firm idea on electro magnetism, metallurgy and astronomy.
The local belief here is that the son of Krishna from Jampavati , named Samba built the temple as a tribute to Arka (sun) , for saving him from leprosy. However there is no historical proof to this. According to another legend, based on the wish of the queen of Narasimhadeva-1, the King called the master crafter, Bisa Maharana of Kalinga and instructed him to design and construct the temple in 12 years’ time with 1200 artisans.- The stones were shipped through local barges from the Andhra region and physically lifted to the site of construction which was just on the shore. It is said that the sea water during tides rose up to the sanctum sanctorum and in one of the floods the temple was destroyed, not to mention of the ruins created due to the iconoclasm of the Muslim rulers of Eastern India.-  In the last day of the 12th year Bisa Maharana nd his artisans were unable to install  the superstructure with only a night left. The King visited the site and ordered Bisa Mahara to complete the work before sun rise or to face death. However Bisa Maharana’s  twelve year old son erected the structure at midnight and drowned in the sea the next day to give credit to his father and save him and his craft men from death .-This   legend is a testimony to the arrogance of the early Kings and Sultans who took credit and went with their names into the  annual of history at the cost of talented craftsmen of the period. A real food for thought for the subalterns.
The erotism in the sculpture gave me a feeling that the elite enjoyed a sedentary lifestyle. The devadasi system which was prevalent there, gave ample scope for sexual extravaganza as temple women married an invisible God to be only  used up by the priests and kings. The other argument which came from the locals here , was that,  after the Kalinga War fought by King Asoka , nearly one lakh and twenty thousand men died –which  was nearly the whole of the young male population - making an equally number of women with no avenues for sexual gratification, resulting in polyandry and lesbianism and other forms of sexual voyeurism. Being from a generation ,  grown up from the remnants of Victorian moralism and later Hinduism, we may find it  difficult to accept the argument that  ancient India imbibed an open sexual life, and  is likely to view  those sculptures as voyeurism or tutelages of a maniac king. Well that is an argument or a thought process, but the conclusion here is on the glorification and celebration of sexuality unlike the hypocrisy of today s generation. Within the garb of moralism we deny and negate any form of expressive physical love, be in sex education to children or display of public affection, we are always on the verge of moral policing whether it is the society or the state. It is quite ironical to conclude that this repressed society of us evolved from a free and expressive population who lived centuries ago……………………………………


The eight spokes of the chariot wheel portrays various stages in life and the cycle of life and death. It also depicts the division of time into 360 degrees based on the ecliptic movement of the sun.
Lesbianism was widely prevalent and practiced among the temple dancers

Cast iron bars used for the construction. Preserved and not rusted even after 700 years.

The Temple under renovation.

Canine saliva was believed to be an antiseptic to treat venereal diseases by women.
Oral Sex was prevalent those times long before the west claiming to have taught us about it
Prostitute waiting for her client.
 love making in posture 69  (middle sculpture)
Proof of rampant polyandry  .
Some ancient version of ''women on top"'
Serpentine desires .
I was tired and resting after an ecstatic journey over a landscape of 13th century eastern India

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