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Indian Art  
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Caitanya declared Das to be a partial manifestation of Radha and therefore the object of Krishna's supreme devotion. After they met, Das and Caitanya embraced for two and a half days and from then on became constant companions. Caitanya addressed Jaganath as his female friend and s/he in turn saw herself as Caitanya's faithful maid-servant.

Some Krishna devotees today continue to cross-dress. Adopting the lives and attitudes of the gopis, who enjoyed numerous love affairs with their lord and lover extraordinaire, they adopt female clothing. In performing austerities, male devotees aspire to reincarnate as gopis in order to experience divine union with Krishna.

Temple Sculpture, Tenth to Thirteenth Century C.E.

Just as devotees long for sexual union with their lord as a vehicle for union with the divine, many temples in India depict explicit images of sexual practice. The temple itself could be regarded as a metaphor for union between the earthly and the divine, male and female.

An image of a deity is placed in the garbhagriha, the dark interior womb chamber, above which rises the shikara, the tallest element of the northern style temple and one that is often covered with sculpture. In cases where the sculpture is erotic, most are depictions of heterosexual mithuna couples, but in some instances they are attended by helpers, who not only engage actively with the couple, but also with one another.

An orgiastic group consisting of three women and one man depicted on the southern wall of the Kandariya Mahadeva temple in Khajuraho (1004-1035 C.E.) shows intense interaction between two women as one of them sits on top of the male and the other caresses her and gazes intently into her eyes

Another sculptural group of a similar configuration from the Kandariya Mahadeva temple's south wall, in Khajuraho, shows a woman facing the viewer, standing on her head, and perhaps engaged in intercourse. She is held by two female attendants on either side and reaches out to touch one of them in her pubic area.

This could also be read as a sculptural group of not just three, but four women enjoying one another, for the figure on top of the woman is seen from behind and is of such ambiguous gender that it could easily be a female, rather than a male, with a narrow waist, wide hips, wearing jewelry and long hair.

Erotic interaction between females can also be observed on the Shiva temple at Ambernath, constructed in 1060 C.E. This relief is badly weathered, but the women's interest in one another is clear.

A sculpture at Khajuraho is less ambiguous, as it shows two women, their lips almost touching, embracing one another. Another sculpture, from the Rhajarani Temple in Bhuveshvar, Orissa, dating from the tenth or eleventh century C.E., depicts two women engaged in oral congress. One stands smiling blissfully, as her lover kneels between her legs.

Two relief sculptures below the sikhara of the twelfth-century C.E. temple dedicated to Shiva in Bagali, Chola / Chalukya, depict a man of large proportions casually holding his huge phallus, slung over his shoulder like a feather boa, while another man of much smaller scale kneels on the giant's leg and attempts fellatio. On the same wall a man can be observed in self fellation, made possible by his enormous penis.

At the Lakshmana temple in Khajuraho (954 C.E.), an orgiastic scene featuring a couple copulating within a group also depicts a man receiving fellatio from a seated male; and at Padhavli near Gwalior, a ruined temple from the Kachchhapaghata period (tenth century C.E.), shows a man within an orgiastic group receiving fellatio from another male.


The profusion of lively three-dimensional figures adorning the temples stands in direct contrast to some of the paintings that can be given queer readings. Much of the action in eighteenth-century C.E. paintings occurs within a shallow space; and compared to the dynamism of the sculptures, the paintings also exude an extraordinary sense of serenity. Weighed against the heavy solidity of the temple figures, most of the painted figures could be considered flat and ethereal.

One Rajasthani gouache painting from the eighteenth century C.E. that could be interpreted as homoerotic is called "Anointing and Massage of the Body of a High-caste Woman after Bathing and before Intercourse." It depicts maids holding up a piece of material to create a private space.

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