by Jayaram V
"O son of Kunti, the pleasures that are born
out of sensory contacts are sources of pain. They certainly
are transient, having a beginning and an end. The intelligent
man is wise enough not to indulge in them. (Bhagavad gita 5.22)
Hinduism is a religion of the individuals and
has many layers. If someone wants to find mud and sewage in
it, he will find them in abundance...To say that Hinduism approves
prostitution or debauchery is an insult to the heritage of mankind.
According to Hinduism sex is not undivine, but lust is definitely.
approves sexual union between married couple, for the purpose
of procreation, but not pleasure. The physical body is a seat of
impurities and those who are interested in salvation should be wary
of it. A man may get involved in physical pleasures but then he
has to pay the price. Hindu laws forbid men to indulge in sex
with unmarried women and maidens against their wish. In ancient
Vedic society, women were expected to live under the protection
of their men all the time and were not allowed to move freely in
society on their own. They were to be accompanied by men all the
time, especially when they were outside their houses.
Sexual union between a householder and a prostitute is against
religious injunctions, (adharma) and therefore strictly prohibited.
A prostitute is a fallen woman, who has deviated from the normal
life and made her looks as the means of commerce. She is a victim
of her own karma and through her charm she not only drags others
into delusion and darkness but also destroys her own future. Association
with her would taint the mind and the body, deludes the buddhi and
hampers a person's spiritual progress. However a prostitute can
turn to religion and redeem herself. So also a person who fell into
Hinduism considers the human body as a temple of the divine.
At the same time, if care is not taken, it will act as a vehicle
of wild passions and innumerable impurities. Initiates into spiritualism
are advised to contemplate upon the impurities and negative aspects
of the body so as to develop detachment from it. Hindu scriptures
advocate the control of the body, the mind and the senses in order
to turn our attention inward and realize our divine nature.
The left hand tantric practices involving sex in which many degenerate
scholars of east and west take particular interest and the techniques
of Kamasutra, which the press often adopts for its sensational trash,
are followed by a microscopic minority who do such things in complete
secrecy. Their over all percentage in Hindu society would be less
than a fraction. It is outrageous to judge Hinduism on the basis
of such deviants as it would be equally outrageous to judge humanity
on the basis of some sexual perverts and some mentally perverted
nitwits. The problem of prostitution in India is a problem of poverty
and international crime and religion plays very little role in it
except providing some solace to the unfortunate souls.
Hinduism is against Prostitution
There is a misconception among many that Hinduism supports or
formalizes prostitution in the form of such institutions as the
Devadasi system. There are a
number of scholars who rile and ridicule Hindu society
for it. Prostitution is a product of social and economic factors
and prevails in every society and in the shadow of every religion.
In some societies it is hidden and in some it is open.
Hinduism is a religion of the individuals and has many layers. If
someone wants to find mud and sewage in it, he will find them in
abundance, without ever realizing the fact that Hinduism is a product
of the collective consciousness of humanity where one can find its
glorious heights as well as its abominable depths. If sex is legalized
in some Christian dominated communities it does not mean that Christianity
has anything to do with it.
The Devadasi system was originally introduced as a part of the
tantric beliefs and methods of worship in certain temples of India
to provide regular female attendants to the presiding deities. But
over a period of time the system degenerated and was put to great
misuse, giving enough scope and opportunity to the critics of Hinduism
to speak about it disparagingly. It is completely wrong to believe
that Hinduism favors the Devadasi system. If that was so it would
have been practiced in every Hindu temple, not just a few.
Hinduism is against sensual pleasures that degrade man and put
his salvation in jeopardy. Hinduism is against sex that is against
the injunctions of dharma and harmful to the welfare of an individual,
his family and society.
The Essence of Hinduism is Tolerance
Whether it is homosexuality or the promiscuous behavior, the
fact is that Hinduism tolerates the ignorant souls of this whole
wide world without crushing them with the weight of its scriptural
authority. If the transvestites of India have their own gods and
goddesses whom they worship under the umbrella of Hinduism, and
if Hindus accept them as a part of their community with aplomb,
it is because Hinduism inculcates among its adherents the virtue
of compassion and an inherent ability to see life in a larger frame
work. The eunuchs in India are believed by the masses to be
blessed with supernatural powers because of the special rites performed
during their initiation and for this reason they are usually invited
into homes and shops on certain auspicious occasion to purify the
place and bless the people in their own special ways. It does not
matter whether the same people indulge in prostitution as their
Hinduism accepts the diversity of the world as an integral part
of this reality that we call our world and accepts all the people
in it as the children of God who are in various stages of ignorance
or spiritual progress. Like a perfect yogi it views them all with
equanimity. It accepts their wisdom as well as their ignorance,
without passing snobbish judgments. Hinduism may not favor prostitution,
but expects that those who engage in it are treated with
tolerance and compassion.
Prostitution is a reflection of society rather than the
individuals who engage in it. In ancient India prostitutes
enjoyed a good status and often hobnobbed with kings and
spiritual masters. If you visit Hampi, you can see a long line
houses where prostitutes lived and entertained customers. It is
possible they might have even paid taxes to the king for staying
so near the palace. Amrapali was a well known courtesan who
arranged a residence to the Buddha for his stay during the rainy
season, besides giving generous donations to the Buddhist monks
for their monastery. Courtesans were received by kings for their
entertainment value and treated with respect, since most of them
were skillful in various arts.
does not condemn a prostitute, but may consider prostitution a
bad karma. It is indeed more difficult to say who is more
sinful, an adulterer or a prostitute. People indulge in adultery
because of lust, but in most case people enter the profession of
prostitution for survival.
Suggested Further Reading