Harold Jaffe’s Dispatches from India – November 4, 2015

Sexual Prayer
If cut, the highly-endowed ascetic bleeds semen

Walking near one of the burning ghats in crazily trafficked Kashi, the
Hindu holy city, I see a resting cow in the middle of the tumult with a
scrawny little dog, paws extended, sleeping on the cow’s back.
Sacred, underfed cow / ownerless underfed mutt.
That is the love I see here.

Everywhere I walk, I see lingams in stone, wood, plaster, brass.
The symbolic erect penis of Lord Shiva.
I see yonis, singly or penetrated by the lingam.
The yoni is the symbolic organ of the goddess Kali, Shiva’s
sometime partner in fierce sexual embrace.
The sacred sexual organs are marked in vermilion by Hindu
worshippers.

In Khajuraho, Ellora, Udaipur, Hampi, Maharashtra, Kamataka,
throughout the Hindu regions of India, are famous temple statuary
featuring acrobatic sex-play, visual embodiments of the Kamasutra.
Hindu worshippers are said to regard the statuary as allegories of
religious vitality.

But now I am squeezed tight between a portly Indian matron in a
sari and a middle-aged Indian man with a nasty cough.
We are among the seven or eight thousand souls at the every-
evening puja ceremony on Dashashwamedh Ghat, the central bank
of the Ganges.
Seven priestly young men are wielding incense and fire while
chanting to Lord Krishna, irresistible wild boy-god of sexual love,
with infinitely more “conquests” than Zeus.
Hundreds of moths about the fires.
Everyone clapping / chanting in unison / capturing the image on
their mobiles.

Earlier I watch dark-skinned, “untouchable” girls, many of them
beautiful, wearing nose rings and cheap bracelets, hoisting heavy
stones on a construction site.
With their supple seductive, unsexualized bodies, they labor from
dawn to well past dusk.
Meanwhile their betters, the high castes, are less supple but equally
unsexed.
One senses it distinctly while maneuvering though the tumult.

How then to account for the contradiction or paradox or dialectic of
Hindu India’s vividly sexualized mythology, which many millions of
devoted Hindus believe in literally, and their own desexualization?
To complicate matters there is Tantra, with its origins in Shiva
worship, which is often luridly sexualized, though mostly in secret.
It is only recently that the oral “teachings” of Tantra have been
transliterated into discourse and image.

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