India is a vast country depicting wide social, cultural and sexual variations. Indian concept of sexuality has evolved over time and has been immensely influenced by various rulers and religions.
Indian sexuality is manifested in our attire, behavior, recreation, literature, sculptures, scriptures, religion and sports. It has influenced the way we perceive our health, disease and device remedies for the same. In modern era, with rapid globalization the unique Indian sexuality is getting diffused.
The time has come to rediscover ourselves in terms of sexuality to attain individual freedom and to reinvest our energy to social issues related to sexuality.
Modern India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Excavations in the Indus Valley trace civilization there back for at least 5, years.
India's cultural history includes prehistoric mountain cave paintings in Ajanta, the exquisite beauty of the Taj Mahal in Agra, the rare sensitivity and warm emotions of the erotic Hindu temple sculptures of the 9 th -century Chandella rulers, and the Kutab Minar in Delhi. The seeming contradictions of Indian attitudes towards sex can be best explained through the context of history. It may be argued that India pioneered the use of sexual education through art and literature.
As in all societies, there was a difference in sexual practices in India between common people and powerful rulers, with people in power often indulging in hedonistic lifestyles that were not representative of common moral attitudes. India is a multiethnic and multilingual society with wide variations in demographic situations and socioeconomic conditions. Sexuality means different things to different people. Sexuality encompasses many ideas and has many facets. The definition of sexuality has been evolving along with our understanding of it.
Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviors, practices, roles and relationships. The first evidence of attitudes towards sex comes from the ancient texts of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, the first of which are perhaps the oldest surviving literature in the world. These most ancient texts, the Vedas, reveal moral perspectives on sexuality, marriage and fertility prayers.
It seems that polygamy was allowed during ancient times. In practice, this seems to have only been practiced by rulers, with common people maintaining a monogamous marriage. It is common in many cultures for a ruling class to practice both polyandry and polygamy as a way of Reflection on human sexuality issues in india dynastic succession. Nudity in art was considered acceptable in southern India, as shown by the paintings at Reflection on human sexuality issues in india and the sculptures of the time.
It likely that as in most countries with tropical climates, Indians from some regions did not need to wear clothes, and other than for fashion, there was no practical need to cover the upper half of the body.
This is supported by historical evidence, which shows that men in many parts of ancient India mostly dressed only the lower half of their bodies with clothes and upper part of the body was covered by gold and precious stones, jewellery, while women used to wear traditional sarees made of silk and expensive clothes as a symbol of their wealth.
The main theme here appears to be the expression of Indian attitude toward sex as a central and natural component of Indian psyche and life. During 10 th century to 12 th century, some of India's most famous ancient works of art were produced, often freely depicting romantic themes and situations [ Figure 1 ].
Examples of this include the depiction of Apsaras, roughly equivalent to nymphs or sirens in European and Arabic mythology, on some ancient temples. The best and most famous example of this can be seen at the Khajuraho complex in central India built around 9 th to 12 th century.
In this 16 th century guide, what people of that time thought were the most satisfactory characteristics of lovers and love making, have been poetically and colorfully described. At the end of the medieval period in India and Europe, colonial powers such as the Portuguese, British and French were seeking ways of circumventing the Muslim controlled lands of western Asia, and re-opening ancient Greek and Roman trade routes with the fabled rich lands of India, resulting in the first attempts to sail around Africa, and circumnavigate the globe.
The Indian Rebellion of caused widespread condemnation of the East India Company's alleged shortcomings and the Government of India Act completely did away with the Company's intermediary role, ushering in the British Raj era of direct rule.
This put India much more at the mercy of Britain's official guardians of morality. Victorian values stigmatized Indian sexual liberalism.
Paradoxically, while this new consciousness led to the promotion of education for women and eventually a raise in the age of consent and reluctant acceptance of remarriage for widows, it also produced a puritanical attitude to sex even within marriage and the home.
The historical analysis of the status of women shows that in Vedic India, as revealed by its literature, women were treated with grace and consideration. However, in the post-vedic age, there was a slow but steady decline of their importance in the home and society.
A decline, indeed a distinct degeneration in their status, is visible in medieval India. The purdah system of female seclusion, the sati tradition of immolating the widow on the husband pyre, dowry, and child marriages were obvious in the pre independence period.
The family in Indian society provides for the satisfaction of the fundamental biopsychic drives of hunger and sex, and makes it possible to perpetuate the species through reproduction and the social heritage through the handing down of traditions from generation to generation. The function of preserving language, customs, and traditions is normally performed in collaboration with other social groups.
Husband and wife, though, contribute to the maintenance of the family, there is a clear division of labor based on sex. The sex roles of a person consist of the behavior that is socially defined and expected of that person because of his or her role as a male or female. In India's male-dominated tradition, and everywhere in Vedic, classical, medieval, and modern Hinduism, the paradigms in myths, rituals, doctrines, and symbols Reflection on human sexuality issues in india masculine.
However, just as goddess traditions encroached successfully on the territory of masculine deities, so too has the impact of women's religious activity, the ritual life, in particular, been of increasing significance in the overall scale of Hindu tradition.
Adult marriage is generally the rule in India. Usually it is expected that a husband must be in a position to earn a living and his wife must be able to run the home, which they set up after marriage. The influence of the Hindu religion has resulted in some pre-puberty marriages.
The vast majority of regular marriages are still parent-made, arranged marriages. In one form of irregular marriage, the two lovers run away and stay away until they are accepted by their family, which is as a matter of course.
Sometimes a betrothal ceremony takes place before the marriage proper is solemnized. Legally, marriage takes place only between those who have passed the puberty stage. At the marriage ceremony, the local priest is required to officiate prayers and offerings are made to the gods. In Indian folklore, Shiva and Parvati argue interminably about who is the better dancer, while Vishnu and Lakshmi are constantly debating which the greater divinity is.
The social context determines whether the woman is viewed as a divine, good, or bad-as partners in ritual, as mother, or as an object of sensuality. Faced with this perennial conflict between husband and wife, Reflection on human sexuality issues in india object of the wife's affectional and sensual currents traditionally has been the husband's younger brother in the joint or extended Indian family.
For a time in Indian social history, the custom of niyoga officially recognized the erotic importance of the brother-in-law-in the sense that he would or could have sexual relations with his elder's brother's widow. The niyoga custom has been traced back to the times of the Rig-veda where a man, identified by the commentators as the brother-in-law, is described as extending his hand in promise of marriage to a widow inclined to share her husband's funeral pyre.
The fate of sexuality within marriage is likely to come under an evil constellation of stars. Physical love will tend to be a shame-ridden affair, a sharp stabbing of lust with little love and even less passion. Indeed, the code of sexual conduct for the householder-husband fully endorses this expectation. In the life of a Hindu male, for instance, marriage is regarded as necessary, because without a wife, he cannot enter the Grihasth ashrama the life stage of a householder.
In addition, without marriage there can be no offspring, and without a son, no release from the chain of reincarnation in birth-death-rebirth. According to Hindu custom, which still prevails in most families, marriage must take place within one's caste or Varna, although marriages between members of different castes and communities are gaining acceptance. Hindu marriage, being a religious sacrament, is indissoluble. According to Hindu tradition, a husband should only approach his wife sexually during her ritu seasona period of sixteen days within the menstrual cycle.
However, intercourse is forbidden on 6 of these 16 days, the first 4 days, and the 11 th and 13 th.
This leaves only ten days for conjugal relations, but since the all-important sons are conceived only on even nights and daughters on uneven nights, the days for conjugal relations shrinks to five. Add to these taboos, the many festival days for gods and ancestors when erotic pleasures are forbidden.
Sex is also beyond the pale during the day. After the foundation of the "Reflection on human sexuality issues in india" Sultanates and the set-up of several Muslim states in the 14 th th centuries in India, Islamic customs of the complete covering up of women changed the approach that once existed in India. However, it came to be followed more like a staunch rule than a tradition, and of course, it must be remembered that this was not an indigenous custom, being, in fact, imported from areas in the Persian sphere of influence in South Asia such as Rajasthan or under Turkic-Mongol Muslim conquerors.
The purdah system still prevails in the Muslim northern region of the country, where a female has to cover her face in front of other males and elders, but this custom is also slowly fading out. A Muslim marriage is solemnized by signing a legal document and can be dissolved.