The Khajuraho Group of temples were a group of Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain temples built together suggesting the concept of acceptance and tolerance towards the other religions in and around Madhya Pradesh, India, about 175 kilometers southeast of Jhansi. They were recognized as UNESCO world heritage sites in India.
The name ‘Khajuraho’, or ‘Kharjuravāhaka’, is derived from ancient Sanskrit (Kharjura means a date palm, and vāhaka means “one who carries” or bearer). Local legends say that the temples used to have two golden date-palm trees as their gate, of course, missing when they were rediscovered. Some say that Kharjuravāhaka also means scorpion bearer, which is another symbolic name for deity Shiva who wears snakes and scorpion garlands in his fierce form.
Most of the temples were built by Chandela dynasty kings, records and history dates back them to 10th to 12th Centuries, by the end of 12th century there were about 85 temples in which many were destroyed during the Mughal invasion of India in 13th Century after which left only 25 temples. Despite having a numerous amount of temples in India, what set the Khajuraho temples apart are their exotic statues craved on the outer walls. These statues depict men, women engaging in lovemaking. These temples are famous for their architectural symbolism called ‘Nagaram’ and their erotic sculptures.
There are many legends about how and why the Chandela dynasty kings constructed these temples which represent love and lust in their various forms. Ancient scholars through Khajuraho were giving a message to get rid of physical pleasures/materialism. These things are together called as ‘Maya’, translating to Illusion in real life. Concentrating on the pleasure of the God/Spirituality/Inner happiness; the devotees here are asked to go around. They are asked to explore the Maya so that people can understand the pleasures of body, mind, and soul. You are then ready to seek the real & ultimate truth of God/prayers/meditation/bliss/inner happiness inside the temple. Once you get into this temple, removing all the illusions of life, you will be ready to enter the liberation phase.
Among the legends of the temple, the story of a beautiful woman called Hemavathy is famous. She was bathing in the dark under moonlight, when she was seduced by the moon himself and ran into the forests for refuge and raised her son, Chandravarman alone. The moon, however, promised her that their son would one day, rule over a kingdom. True to his word, Chandravarman grew up to establish the Chandela dynasty. It is believed that he was influenced by his mother’s story and so he built temples with sculptures depicting human passions and probably, the futility of the same.
Khajuraho temples are said to symbolize the human ‘Mind & Body’; which are always desperate for Worldly pleasures and materialistic things, while God’s idol inside temple represents – Soul and our inner source of bliss. As this is one way of saying that God is the only ultimate thing and everything is Maya the concept of illusion) in life.
- These temples are also said to explain the core principles of Hinduism like “Everything is within you” and stop looking for the worldly pleasures around you which is Maya or Illusion.
- The concept of Maya in life is that God is the creator of this Illusions and he is who controls it and the person who learned to control all his 5 senses and desires will live happily and attain Moksha.
- Many historians and common people from the west who didn’t have any idea of all these concepts started to spread the misconceptions about Hinduism. Their lack of knowledge in the Sanskrit language (Which might have helped them to understand the Hindu scriptures well) is also a cause for circulating this misconception.
- The main misconceptions are that Hinduism is promoting the worship of the body by portraying lust through the sculptures on temple walls.
- These people worship naked gods and they even thought that it is a way of lifestyle and ancient kings used to encourage this kind of lifestyle.
But the truth is the exact opposite, the inner motive or message given is get rid of all the worldly pleasures and they are just Maya (the illusion created) and this can be achieved only through meditation and devotion to god.
In Khajuraho temples, you can find such concepts as the outer side of the temple represents fake pleasures/Maya in daily life through the sculptures whereas inside temple symbolizes real happiness/joy through the god. This concept can be widely applied to the human mind as we are always in search of happiness in outer pleasures but the ultimate truth is within us.
You can find bliss by closing yourself from outer world for few moments and can find all answers to your problems inside the depths of our mind & consciousness by worshiping God (Soul inside the temple structure). Thus, Khajuraho temple structures can also represent our human Mind, Body & Soul!
Hope this misconceptions, will get erased and they will understand and they will learn this deep philosophy of life hidden in these great monuments and structures.