Wednesday, January 02, 2008
eroticism and obscenity
recently the division bench of the bombay high court was seized of a matter involving the representation of nude figures on cigarette lighters.the manufacturer was arrested by the police and the matter was being argued in the high court.the defense was that it was a piece of art and that there was nothing obscene about it.reference was made to pictures on condoms which are being sold and the court was informed that if they could be marketed without any confiscation, why was the defendent being targeted. the prosecution was left with the rather unenviable task of explaining to the bench the subtle difference between artistic nudity and obcenity.
in early december,i had visited khajuraho temples which is famous the world over for the erotic motifs in the temple carvings.after taj mahal,it is the most popular destination for tourists and honeymooners.there are many theories explaining the abundance of these carvings in the temples.beauty lies in the beholder's eyes. what is art to one can be obscene to another. one man's meat can be another man's poison.
according to tantrik belief,the female principle of voluptuous activity is the motive force that sustains the universe,because without it the male principle of static potentiality would remain in a passive mode. the images of mithuna(embracing couples) illustrate spiritual union with the divine.this tantric trend became powerful in the 5th century a.d. during the golden age of the gupta empire.it is diametrically opposite to the ascetic stream in indian tradition.they are opposite poles of the human approach to existence.both vishnuite and shaivite temples adorned with such celebrations of human unity with nature and divine were built in khajuraho a millenium ago.
the erotic sculptures,according to experts on this subject, are made in order to convey that one must rid oneself of kama,krodha,lobha and moha before entering the sanctum sanctorum.our guide explained that the eternal khajuraho female had vital stats of 36-24-34.the stunningly explicit sexual sculptures to me just conveyed pure beauty and i could see no perversion or obscenity in the temple erotica.