If another desi aunty tries to give you the stink eye for being comfortable about your sex life, you can quietly forward this story to her.
The fact is, our society is much more judgmental of sex and sexuality than it was back in the times of Ancient India. Though, at the same time, certain norms are surprising to know about!
1. Late night orgies were a thing
According to the Hindu sastras, a game known as chakrapuja (also known as ghat kanchuki) used to exist. It basically consisted of an equal number of men and women meeting up in the night, where the women would take off their cholis and put them in a matka. The men then picked cholis from the container and whosoever’s clothing they ended up with, would be their partner for the night (no matter the caste or relationship status).
2. Polygamy and polyandry were practised regularly
Polygamy was a norm among the ruling classes of India. It was more common than expected for people to share partners at the time. It was often a way for families to preserve their bloodlines. There is also evidence of a settlement in the Himalayan valley where multiple men used to marry a single woman, though it was also to deal with the harsh geographic conditions of the location.
3. Tantric Sex was practised widely
Sounds like someone doing bad juju on other people while having sex, but there is more to it than that. It is a practice where two people aim to achieve spiritual enlightenment or oneness with God and divinity through sex. There were many kinds of Tantra back in the day. One kind consisted of practising violence and sex together (not so sure about this one), another of participating in an erotic ritual with a female companion, and another of consuming certain liquors to get closer to god.
4. Women’s pleasure was taken quite seriously
According to the ancient text in Kama Sutra and its author Vātsyāyana, women and their sexual pleasure should be of utmost importance. The text encourages women to be comfortable in seeking pleasure outside of a relationship if required.
5. India was in a sense a pioneer in sex-ed
We all know about the Kama Sutra. Indians were one of the first civilizations to have written text educating and informing people of the richness of sexual pleasure.
6. Incestual sex was a thing too
As gross as this sounds today, Ancient Indians were much more…err liberal in entertaining such practices. Kautbik (incestual) sex has been written about in our texts. Namely, this is seen in Harivamsha Purana, during the account of Sage Vashishta and his daughter Shatrupa. It is mentioned that she believed him to be her husband, and so had a sexual relationship with him. And according to Haribhavishya, Indra Dev also had sex with his great grandson’s (Janmejay) wife Vapushtma.
7. Premarital sex wasn’t completely frowned upon
According to chapter 63 of Adiparva in Mahabharata, Rishi Parashar and Satyavati Matsyangandha had sex without ever getting married, they even had a son by the name of Vyasa out of wedlock.
8. Homosexuality wasn’t shamed
Although same-sex relationships weren’t completely devoid of judgment and scrutiny back then, the fact that people participated in homosexual intercourse in ancient times is proof of just how normal it is. There are references to homosexuality in the Brahmanas and puranas, though the accounts were mainly between men and not women. There were also accounts of homoerotic relationships in Mughal history. Specifically between Mubarak Shah Khalji and Khusro as well as Sultan Mahmud of Ghaznah and his slave Ayaz.
Did you know all this?