Khajuraho "the Temples of Love": Theories
Several theories, as to the origin and significance ... of
mandir sculpture, prevail among Indian as well as Western scholars.
Francis Leeson in Kama Shilpa has summarized them briefly as follows :
(1) The mithunas are symbols of Shakti - both - sexes in one God - representing
the oneness of God, or the spiritual syllable AUM.
(2) They are representations of supreme bliss, an attempt in earthly terms to
convey the meaning of heavenly rapture.
(3) The mithunas are temptations to laud thoughts, but are to be overcome by the
(4) They are just innocent depictions of a human activity in the same way as
other sculptures show scenes of dancing, fighting, making music, praying, etc.
(5) The mithunas were intended as a protection against the evil eye,
(6) They attract grosser-minded people to come to the mandir, if only for the
initial pleasure of examining them.
(7) The mithunas are there for the sexual education of the young and ignorant,
as a sort of illustrated Kama Sutra.
(8) They are straight forward representations of Yogic postures.
...near (Khajuraho) temples, which contain idols that
have been mutilated by the Moslems, live a number of yogis whose matted locks
have grown as long as their bodies. And on account of extreme asceticism they
are all yellow in colour. Many Moslems attend these men in order to take lessons
(yoga) from them.
— Ibn Battuta, about 1335 CE, Riḥlat Ibn Baṭūṭah, Translated by Arthur