According to AL Basham in The wonder that was India belittling darker skin natives by Aryan’s began by the time of the poems now in the Rig Veda.  Basham stressed purity of blood led to a lowering of the darker skinned aboriginal populations social status. Even today southern Dravidian movie starts are lighter skinned. Black is not beautiful.

According to Basham the four great social classes of the Rig Veda period means colour and not caste as is commonly translated.

So did the caste stem develop from a form of racism? Not all agree of course. There were four castes, and the untouchables, not just two for people of light and dark skin. However, in every society you will find the rebellion of strictures.

Hathayoga is what is known to the West, and in this form it perhaps does not truly live up to its names as a yug or yoke/union of spirit and body.

Over millennia ago Patanjai placed more emphasis on the body when formerly Brahmin concepts were to still physical consciousness, metal activity and enhance meditation.

According to Mircea Eliade, (Patanjali and yoga)  Hatha yoga links to the 12th century aesthetic Gorakhanath. While, tantra may have opposed Brahmin control of  all things sensual, but claimed in sexual union it is possible to experience the souls union with the divine, developing its own elaborate ritual.

“With liquors, meats, fish, (and aphrodisiac) mudra (beans), and copulation with women, the great Sadhu should worship the Mother of the universe” (from The Tantric Tradition  by Agehananda Bharati).

“The Tantric male sees his partner as a living goddess. During copulation he repeats mantras and maintains his thought on spiritual concepts, finally abandoning his sperm ‘lovingly into the fire of self.”

The Ardhanarishavara at Elephanta

The Ardhanarishavara at Elephanta

Shiva, the god of procreation and life, is symbolized by a phallus or linga rising from a circular stone base symbolizing the vagina or yoni representing the qualities of his consort Parvati, united from of the shakti or life force. 

The Devadasis , well bred, beautiful and skilled in conversation, dress, makeup, garland weaving and preparing the betel nut based pan enjoyed property rights, as a distinct class that later was viewed as a sacred prostitution.

“The dance that evolved to be performed before temple deities became a highly refined a complex art, embracing elements of folk dance but becoming stylized in gait, and also mime that incorporated symbolic gestures both sensual and spiritual” writes John Murray in Reflections of an Indian Diary.

“A devadasi offered both herself and her art to the gods and expressed the yearning of all devotees for absorbtion into the absolute, omnipresent reality. She became Radha as she pined for union with Krishnu, depicting in song and dance the longing of a devotee for a glimpse, a touch from him, for the translucent rapture to felt in the embrace of the divine lover.”

Murray describes the the serene faces of the Konoraks sensual sculptures  “that could also indicate detachment, a contemplation of spiritual concepts that is maintained and not overcome by the indulgence of the senses.”

In Hindu metaphysics of sensuality as a path to realization and sexual union is a symbol of the union of the female and male aspects of Brahmin.

“Could three factors – the stress on the physical and the mystic as well as the natural enjoyment of sex – have led the mind to pursue sexual pleasure as the ultimate harmony of physical or worldly existence?”

Sexuality is part of life. But was the Kama sutra a degeneration of thought that mirrored the period but had lost the purity of thought by simply showing cold hard sex?  I prefer to believe in the metaphysic purity of union with the divine lover, but to the puritan British it seemed Konorak and Khajuraho were viewed as harc core sex.