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Loving Couple, Maithuna, Eastern Ganga dynasty, 13th century Orissa, India.
In Tantric Buddhism, yab-yum is the male deity in sexual union with his female consort. The symbolism is associated with Anuttarayoga tantra where the male figure is usually linked to compassion (Karu?a) and skillful means (upaya-kausalya), and the female partner to insight (Prajna).
The symbolism of union and sexual polarity is a central teaching in Tantric Buddhism, especially in Tibet. The union is realized by the practitioner as a mystical experience within one’s own body. Yab-yum is generally understood to represent the primordial (or mystical) union of wisdom and compassion.
A relief of yoni–lingam on the floor of the Candi Sukuh entrance.
Maithuna is a Sanskrit term used in Tantra most often translated as sexual union in a ritual context. It constitutes the main part of the Grand Ritual of Tantra known as Panchamakara, Panchatattva, and Tattva Chakra.
Maithuna refers to male-female couples and their union in the physical, sexual sense and is synonymous with kriya nishpatti (mature cleansing). Just as neither spirit nor matter by itself is effective, but both working together bring harmony, so is maithuna effective only when the union is consecrated. The couple becomes divine for the time being: she is Shakti and he is a Shakta. The scriptures warn that unless this spiritual transformation occurs, the union is carnal and sinful.
Ragaraja is a Mahayana Buddhist deity from the Esoteric.
Candi Sukuh is a 15th century Candi of Indonesia located on the western slope of Mount Lawu a sacred place for worshiping the ancestors, nature spirits and the sexual union of the fertility cults. Monuments include a standing lingga, now in the National Museum of Indonesia. The lingga statue has a dedicated inscription carved from top to bottom representing a vein followed by a chronogram date equivalent to 1440. The inscription translates “Consecration of the Holy Ganges sudhi in … the sign of masculinity is the essence of the world.”
In Southern India, devadasi is the practice of hierodulic prostitution, with similar customary forms such as basavi, and involves dedicating pre-pubescent and young adolescent girls from villages in a ritual marriage to a deity or a temple, who then work in the temple and function as spiritual guides, dancers, and prostitutes servicing male devotees in the temple. Human Rights Watch reports claim that devadasis are forced into this service and, at least in some cases, to practice prostitution for upper-caste members.
Various state governments in India have enacted laws to ban this practice prior to India’s independence and since. They include Bombay Devdasi Act, 1934, Devdasi (Prevention of dedication) Madras Act, 1947, Karnataka Devdasi (Prohibition of dedication) Act, 1982, and Andhra Pradesh Devdasi (Prohibition of dedication) Act, 1988. However, the tradition continues in certain regions of India, particularly the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
Rati is the Hindu goddess of love.
A similar practice of Kamamudra often involved immature girls, and was criticized as only benefiting the tulkus.
In some parts of ancient India, Nagarvadhu “bride of the city” was a tradition where women competed to win the title. The most beautiful woman was chosen as the Nagarvadhu and was respected like a goddess. She served as a courtesan, and the price for a single night’s dance was very high, within reach only for the king, the princes and the lords.
Nepal Little girl Goddess Deuki.
Deuki is an ancient custom practiced in the far western regions of Nepal where a young girl is offered to the local Hindu temple to fulfill an earlier made promise to gain religious merit. The girl serves the temple as a prostitute, similar to India’s devadasi tradition. The practice is in decline, but girls are still dedicated. The child of a Deuki is known as a Devi.
Central and South America.
This image from the Codex Borgia depictsIchpochtli, goddess of sacred prostitution, ruler of love, marriage, flowers, art, music, women, magic, spinning, fertility, sex, weaving, and changes.
The Mayans maintained several phallic religious cults, possibly involving homosexual temple prostitution. Aztec religious leaders were heterosexually celibate and engaged in homosexuality with one another as a religious practice, temple idols were often depicted engaging in homosexuality, and the god Xochipili (taken from both Toltec and Mayan cultures) was both the patron of homosexuals and homosexual prostitutes. The Inca sometimes dedicated young boys as temple prostitutes. The boys were dressed in girls clothing, and chiefs and headmen would have ritual homosexual intercourse with them during religious ceremonies and on holidays.
Xochiquetzal was worshiped as goddess of sexual power, patroness of prostitutes and artisans involved in the manufacture of luxury items. The conquistadores were horrified by the widespread acceptance of homosexuality, ephebophilia, pederasty, and pedophilia among Central and South American peoples, and used torture, burning at the stake, mass beheadings, and other means to stamp it out both as a religious practice and social custom.