Love and Sex in Hinduism (Kamasutra)
February 20, 2022
Many Hindus believe that sensual pleasure is one of the four main goals in life and sexual intercourse is a duty in marriage.
Sexual activity in a loving and committed relationship is encouraged because having children is viewed as an important part of life.
Chastity is encouraged and both men and women are traditionally expected to be virgins when they marry. But sexual activity is not to involve harming others physically, emotionally or through neglect, e.g. caring for children.
Students are expected to practice celibacy until they are married, householders are allowed to indulge in sex both within marriage, and in some instances outside marriage also.
Polygamy is an accepted practice and there is no law that prohibited Hindu men from doing so. Men are allowed to marry multiple women.
They also enjoy the freedom to indulge in sex with willing women outside their marriage such as the maids who worked in their households or those who provided sexual pleasures for money, power, love, protection, or some other reason (prostitution).
However, sex with women who were under the protection of their fathers or other male members of their families was strictly prohibited. Women were, in fact, sold and bought in some parts of ancient India.
In the past, women of pleasure often enjoyed royal patronage. Some of them were employed for entertainment, pleasure or spying. Unmarried women who chose to live freely had the privilege to sleep with the men of their choice.
From the above, it is clear that in Hinduism sex is not a taboo, while lust is. We may also draw the following considerations:
1) Sex is not considered sinful but divine and an essential part of creation and procreation. It facilitates continuity, preservation of family lineage, , social order, rebirth and opportunity for the souls to work for their salvation.
2) Both men and women have the permission to indulge in sexual acts as a part of their obligatory duties, subject to the norms prescribed for them.
3) As a rule, students are not allowed to indulge in sexual intercourse or even the thought of it before the completion of their education.
4) Householders have the freedom to engage in sex within as well outside their marriage, as a part of their obligatory duties to maintain the order and regularity of the world.
5) As a rule, ascetic people are not allowed to engage in sexual intercourse, except in tantric traditions. However, in some traditions, ascetic people and spiritual masters are allowed to marry and lead their lives as householders, without ignoring their spiritual duties.