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Features of intimate relationships

Features of intimate relationships in Ancient India

Sex was not so much a physical act performed for the sake of giving birth to children as a sacred act that allowed one to connect with the divine through the corporeal. The culture, life and way of life of the ancient Indians was permeated by sexuality, which was considered both natural, refined, and sacred.

Eroticism and religion

In Ancient India, there were 3 main religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. And each of them deified sex, and all of them used the teachings of Tantrism. It said that people are made up of the body, consciousness, and energy stored in the chakras. The strongest was the sexual energy, the Kundalini snake, "sleeping" in the 1st chakra. The Indians believed that if it was awakened, it would ascend the spine, harmonize the chakras, and lead to enlightenment. This was the purpose of the many sexual techniques of Tantra.

In Hinduism, it was believed that people are complete when their nature combines 3 bases: Dharma as a moral law, Artha as a utility, and Kama as a satisfied sensuality. Sex was very much appreciated, but forced to intimate connection, it was unacceptable. Although paying for intimacy was the norm.

The Buddha's teaching also followed the middle path in matters of sex. Neither men nor women were forbidden to have sex before the wedding. But there were also restrictions: it was forbidden to have intimate relations with married and engaged women, and those types of intimacy that were considered illegal were forbidden.

Jainism was similar to Buddhism in this respect. The monks, of course, were required to take the Brahmacharya vow of celibacy. And lay people could not deny themselves erotic pleasures, if they observed the measure and did not waste sexual energy.

Escort: the temple and the caste

The temple escort girls were a separate caste-devadasi, women who were "wives of the gods". They received excellent education, and the Maharajas gave them lands and various privileges. The number of devadasi determined the significance of the temple. "Wives of the gods" could not marry, but they had the right to find a chosen one. Their daughters continued their mother's trade, and their sons became temple musicians.

However, this was not the only path leading the girl to the devadasi caste. Her parents could sell her to the temple, or they could give her away if there were no boys born in the family. Often the girl was dedicated to the temple, if she was ill, so that, having fulfilled the vow of "wife of God", she recovered. And sometimes they gave away those girls who did not marry for a long time.

Once in the temple, the girl was "married to the God", who was represented by a brahmana on the first night. And after devadasi, for a high fee, they danced in front of the pilgrims to fulfill even their most sophisticated desires. The profit from this went to the temple.

There were in Ancient India and ordinary escort girls, who were divided according to the caste system, as well as by "professional" skills. Each of the 4 castes had its own "priestesses of love". And if an escort girl had sex with a man from a lower caste, she lost her status. High-caste women were forbidden to sell their bodies on pain of death.

In "professional" terms, the most refined, educated, aristocratic escort girls, perfectly trained in the art of love, were called ganiki. They had land and slaves, and wore fine clothes and jewelry. Lower rank was Vecchia - the ones that lured customers with bright clothing and jewelry. The lower level was occupied by combatace, which took like a public spittoons.

Escort girls lived on the outskirts of cities, but their activities were legal. They paid taxes and enjoyed the protection of the state.

The role of women: marriage, widowhood, and sati

In Ancient India, the attitude to women was not unambiguous. Although it was believed that being born to her was the price for the sins of past lives, older women with a living husband enjoyed considerable respect in the family. But it was necessary to live up to this.

Girls were married at the age of 12. It was believed that a woman is naturally depraved, and at a later age a man will not get an innocent wife. Marriage was considered ideal if the spouse was three times the age of the spouse, and they both belonged to the same caste. And after becoming a wife, the girl devoted her entire life to her husband: she took care of him, expressed respect in every possible way, and sometimes served him as a slave.

Because of the considerable age difference, widowhood was common in Ancient India. And the widow's fate was difficult: society rejected her, she was ordered to sleep on the bare ground, eat no more than once a day, and wear the simplest clothes. All her time was spent praying that she might marry her dead husband again in the future. Remarriage was strictly forbidden.

But a widow, knowing what was in store for her, could go to her husband's funeral pyre of her own free will. It was an act of Supreme devotion, and so many did.

Same-sex love: from kalib to Hijra

In most cases, there was a loyal attitude towards homosexuality, both male and female. But if a girl lost her virginity during same-sex contact, her partner was punished, which ranged from a fine to cutting off 2 fingers and shaving the hair on her head.

It was different with men who behaved like women. They were openly considered the middle sex, they were deprived of the right to own property and land, and could not attend a number of religious rituals. Such men were called kaliba, and ancient manuscripts indicate 14 types of such people.

Currently, these men are called hijras, their ancestors they call it kaliba. Of course, their life is not as hard now as it was in ancient times.
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