India : why sex is still a dirty word ?

Rajasthan ( India)

India is the country which gave the world its first treatise on sex ( Kamasutra), which boasts a rich tradition of erotic architecture and where sex was part of formal education till the 13° century. But in modern India, the S-word has been banished to the closet.

Why and when did Indians turned prudish ? The swing is due to Islamic and British influences which, from Middle-Ages, spawned a new moral code in India. Before that, the Indian attitude towards sex was more open. The numerous references in the classical litterature and the construction of Khajuraho temples ( 950 AD- 1150 AD) show that sex was treated with more deference. When muslims arrived, hindus perceived them a threat to their culture. As a result, the brahminical class ( the priests, the intellectual elite ) became more influential  as keepers of the hindu purity against islamic influences. The emphasis on rituals increased. The advent of British and Victorian prudery only deepened our obsession with ritualistic purity. In the process, sex became a dirty word. and it continues to this day.

But Indians have started breaking taboos. The younger generation is demanding more and more information about sex. Media columns, public debates and judicial verdicts are putting things in perspective and breaking the prevailing mystique about sex.  Attitudes are changing ( not among the traditional minded !)  but it will take a lot of time for this newly acquired permisiveness to get institutionalised in society.

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