19

What is Hinduism's view on porn?

Please include verses to back it up. If there are no verses than what are the opinions of general public or people known in the research area?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_on_pornography#Hinduism

  • 1
    You may find some answers here. "opinions of general public" - opinion based questions are not generally recommended here because there cannot be a single correct answer for such questions. – sv. Sep 25 '16 at 5:32
  • 2
    see my answer to question here - hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/697/… – Swami Vishwananda Sep 25 '16 at 7:42
  • 1
    I think that Hinduism has no any view on pornography simply because Hindu scriptures do not talk about it, ie they do not recognise such a thing called pornography. – brahma jijnasa Oct 7 '16 at 3:27
  • 8
    1. Watching other couples being intimate is a sin according to Hinduism. This is evidenced by several stories of people having to suffer the consequences of such (accidental or intentional) voyeurism . Pandu raja, Renuka devi (wife of Jamadagni) are two such examples. 2. Gratuitous sating of the senses is not acceptable in Hinduism. 3. According to Hinduism , one must engage in conjugal sport only with one's dharmic spouse. – user1195 Oct 7 '16 at 7:26
  • 2
    Nice Q. The term "Hinduism" supposedly came into existence due to Iranian Muslims in 7th century or after. So if you ask the view from that perspective then the views are usually conservative. However if you meant by Hinduism as the "culture" which evolved in Indian subcontinent, then you may get liberal views as well. When something controversial like "pornography" or "sexuality" comes forward, usually conservative people be more judgemental on good vs bad, rather than describing it (like wikipedia). Do you seek advise on pornography or historical outline? There may not be verses though. – iammilind Oct 9 '16 at 1:58
35
+25

In Hinduism we have the concept of "Ashtavidha Mithuna" .i.e 8 forms of copulation all of which are equivalent or equally important in a given context .

For example,from the book Essence of Dharma Sindhu :

During the Upavaasa time(fasting time), one should not take water too many times, should not chew betel leaves/nuts, should not sleep, nor resort to Ashtavidha Mithuna ie. think of sex, hear provocative songs, viewing objectionable material, secret gossip, take vows and decisions and refrain from acts other than related to devotion.

The Daksha Smriti says:

Thinking of a woman or her picture, praising a woman or her picture, sporting with a woman or her picture, glancing at a woman or her picture, secretly talking to a woman, thinking of a sinful action towards a woman actuated by sensuality, determining upon the sinful action, and bodily action resulting in the discharge of semen are the eight characteristics of copulation; and Brahmacharya is quite contrary to all these eight indications.

Now,viewing/reading pornography comes under one or more types(of copulation) given above. So,the point is, if one form of copulation is objectionable in a given context then any other 7 forms are equally objectionable.

Hence, if doing actual copulation is offensive or objectionable in a context/situation then viewing porn is equally offensive or objectionable in that context/situation.

For example,in Hinduism "Parastreegamana" (having sex with other's wife ) is a sin.So ,whatever i have posted above would imply that, viewing pornography(which is nothing but watching a parastree, or someone who's not one's wife, having sex) is also a similar kind of sin.

Edit-The following texts are taken from an abridged version Yajnavalkya Smriti:

  1. A householder should preferably wear a white cloth. Hair, moustache and nails shall he kept always clean. He should not take food unless supervised by his wife.......

  2. He should never gaze at fire, sun, a nude woman, a woman engaged in a sexual act, wine, faeces, etc. He should never sleep with his head to the west.

enter image description here

And more from the same Smriti:

13 — 20. There are many Upapātakas (minor sins and turpitude)....... causing others to break their vow, selfish ventures, cohabitation with an alcoholic, forsaking of one's study of Vedas, sacred fires, child, and kinsmen, perusal of illegal and unholy literature, selling of oneself or one's own wife, all these are Upapātakas.

The above texts in bold have direct reference to pornography or sexually explicit materials i guess.And as per them,viewing pornography comes under "minor sins" or Upapaatakas.(Mahapaatakas are grave sins)

In Hinduism, maintaining Brahmacharya(celibacy) is of utmost significance for spiritual aspirants.

  • Upapaatakas are described only in Rashtramimamsaa, not in individual spiritual context. Also, Brahmacharya is not that important as you are portraying it to be. Ashramadharma has phases where brahmacharya is important but not the entire life. Also, indeed, sex with other's wife is a sin, but what if the woman is unmarried? – Vineet Menon Nov 16 '16 at 12:01
  • Is Dharmasindhu referred here as a primary source, a Vedic literature? "hear provocative songs, viewing objectionable material". In older times as latest as 1000 years ago, "listening to songs" & "looking at provocative material" was not available to general people. Recording & photography were invented couple hundred years ago. Even the paper was invented few centuries ago. I think such links represent modern thinking of some individuals rather than ancient Hinduism. They may be right, but they may not represent ancient. – iammilind Nov 19 '16 at 12:25
  • 1
    @iammilind Dharma Sindhu, as the name suggests, is the compilation or essence of all the Dharma Shastras..they collect the information from Manu,Parashara,Vashista and other Smritis..so its a perfectly valid source for questions like this...paintings, songs are there from time immemorial..even when paper was not there.. – Rickross Nov 19 '16 at 16:09
  • 4
    @VineetMenon Im not sure what u meant by Upapaatakas are described only in Rashtramimamsaa, not in individual spiritual context...**Also, Brahmacharya is not that important as you are portraying it to be**. This is not at all about celibacy..its about watching woman whos not ur legal wife having sex..Watching sexual activity and actually doing it are similar kinds of activities..my answer is based on this core idea.. – Rickross Nov 19 '16 at 16:33
  • @Rickross can you provide the link/source of the translation to Yajnavalkya Smriti from which you have quoted? Thanks – Prakash K Jun 13 '18 at 12:28
1

Viewing pornography is a sin according to Hinduism

The definition of pornography is

Printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement.

The following words by Vinayaka to Parashurama clarifies that viewing pornography is a sin

Whether out of carnal desire or otherwise, if a person sees another person inclined to sexual intercourse, he shall have to suffer certainly separation from his wife in the course of seven births. He is a base man—he who looks at the buttocks, breasts and face of another man's wife, his mother, sister or daughter.

[45-46,Chapter 41: The story of Bhargava(continued), Part II, The Brahmanda Purana]

0

There are two basic theories.

1) The history of philosophy: The modern historians and archeologists say during vedic time (varnashram-dharma era) the pornography was inscribed in the temples and area around them to attract the youth who after completion of education, the first twenty-five year of celibacy, didn't want to enter into grihastha-life (next twenty five years of the family life) and were opting to leave for the Himalayas for rest of their lives for God realization. The pornography on the walls of Sri Jagganath temple, Ajanta Allora caves, etc. are few examples of this effort by the local rulers to enhance their military, which was lacking new recruits.

2) The philosophy of history: In the Bhagvatam there are many locations where we find sexual depiction, for example big demigods (mahadevas) having sex. Here the idea was to give sex education to the young devotees before they reach their natural puberty.

  • demigods Mahadevas? Can you explain? Is it Mahadev, Shiva ur talking? – Parabrahman Jyoti Apr 3 at 14:39
  • We can tell you the location in the Srimad Bhagvatam. You need to have the complete set of the Literature. – user30612 Apr 3 at 18:10
0

There is legal porn industry in western countries ,I mean women are showing their bodies by their own consent. So If I apply the Rickross's logic in the answer above then viewing porn should be considered same as going to a 'harlot(veshya/ganika)' who gives physical pleasure in return of money. I am not aware of whether It is a sin to go to a 'ganika' in hinduism. In one of the story of lord shiva , he goes to mahananda, who was a 'pativrata' despite being a ganika. It means she will not go to other men in the stipulated time viz. 3 days as per the story and she even commits sati as those 3 days couln't get complete. 'Parastree' indulge in the act without asking permission from her husbond. If mahananda had done it during those 3 days then It would have been a sin for her and that other third person. A legitimate wife has a lifetime commitment and mahanada had only 3 days of commitment thats the only difference. anyway watching porn is just waste of time, It only frustrates you further instead of giving pleasure or reproduction.

1

The term "pornography" is relatively new for any religion. Some people relate it to vulgarity, some people treat it as a sin and some people are OK (on peace) with it. This is more of a local belief irrespective of any religion.
I presume that, you want to know the overall view of Hinduism on "Pornography", rather than just the current populace thinking. Let's revisit the 2 definitions from Wikipedia which already has sources cited:

Pornography is the portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purpose of sexual arousal. Pornography may be presented in a variety of media, including books, magazines, postcards, photographs, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video, and video games.

and

Hinduism is a religion, or a way of life. Hinduism has been called the "oldest religion" in the world, and some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma.


Due to "porn" being a modern word, ofcourse there cannot be "scriptures" reference of it. Hence the liberals usually put forward the Khajuraho "sculptures", which were created in a temple during 10th century in Madhya Pradesh, India. This is an open for public temple & recognized by the government.
Around 10% of such sculptures are erotic, which philosophically depicts that a small part of life is human's sexuality as well. Here is a nice video link (41:00) link from an old movie, which explains in brief about this carvings of Khajuraho temple. Incidentally the actor is late Vijay Anand, who went on to become the head of film censor board of India. He also had the liberalized views.

##Spoiler##: Sexually explicit images ahead, which may deviate some people from the path of Dharma. Click on it with proper discretion.

enter image description here enter image description here

Above Khajuraho pictures depict an orgy of multiple sex partners & also homosexuality at certain extent. Now, such erotic arts & sculptures are not limited to only this temple.
14 Temples In India Where You Get A Lot More Than Just The Traditional Prasad


As you see, this carvings are present in the "temples", which shows a very liberal view on "depiction of sexuality" in older era. In fact, those people didn't see sex or porn with a "shock value". However, with foreign invasions starting from 13-14 century and admixing of other cultures, the sexuality created more of a negative sentiment among the general population. It was no more considered as "way of life". May be for the good reasons (to avoid inter mixes of races, diseases, adultery, ...), various moral codes were imposed, like "don't do this, don't look at that, ...".

If someone considers "pornography" as "bad", then that "bad" is created due to making "sex" as taboo. Anything which is made taboo or unnaturally restricted, results in distortion. Flowing water remains fresh, while the blocked water becomes stale.

However, going by the definition for "pornography", "Hinduism" is/was an accepting culture; though the current population may not be. I would also recommend to refer below answer which nicely discusses about Hindu texts by Vedic philosopher Muni VAtsyAyana on exploring sexuality:
What does Hinduism say about masturbation?

  • 6
    Who cares what Vatsayan has to say on Dharmic questions?One need to consult the Dharma Shastras to be precise.A must dowvote able post for me although i have not. – Rickross Oct 10 '16 at 12:58
  • 2
    @iammilind I was sarcastic though bit rude as it looked like "western thinking". People on Quora support all kind of their own whims and fantasies by citing Kamasutra and these monuments. Prostitution was present in Ancient India as Puranas mention many stories. I agree with your answer unless it makes rampant. With growing Kali, "Taboos" are really helpful. See how sex education in west is making 13 year old teens getting pregnant. (1) – The Destroyer Oct 10 '16 at 14:42
  • 3
    @iammilind People these days say "Sex was not all taboo in Ancient India and Women were Topless (especially people on Quora)" and they want people be like that now without considering other factors such as degree of Spirituality and Population in Ancient times. May be even though it was not taboo, present conditions are better. "Lust can't be satiated by watching Porn, it only just increases it". With making Pornography accessible, can anyone expect people becoming Saints by controlling Indriyas? Also, we can't just determine way of living with just 10% of monuments.(2/2) – The Destroyer Oct 10 '16 at 14:48
  • 1
    I put the images in spoiler tags and undeleted your answer. – Keshav Srinivasan Oct 11 '16 at 4:57
  • 4
    Khajuraho temple built by the Chandalas as kings.. It has some permanent explicit erotic sculpture outside the temple. But no erotic presentations inside after entering towards the sanctum.The way to salvation is through Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. These are just sides of a coin or facets of dice. One can with proper mind attitude pass through the erotic corridor and next visit the deity in temple Sanctum with equanimity without feeling of guilt. With same devotion we can read in Sthrothras, long hands of Lord Rama or the Devi's symmetric feminine beauteous form. – Narasimham Oct 11 '16 at 17:19
13

The advice is not to watch it. Bhishma was asked by Yudhishthira the following question:

'What is the appearance presented by those that are wicked, and what are those acts which they that are called good are to do? Explain to me this, o holy one! Indeed, tell me what the indications are of the good and wicked?'

Bhishma said, "They that are wicked are evil in their practices, ungovernable or incapable of being kept within the restraints of rules, and foul mouthed. They, on the other hand, they are good, are always good in their acts. .......One should never cast one's eyes on a naked woman, nor a naked man. One should never indulge in sexual congress except in privacy................."

Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, Section CLXII

  • 1
    Without some additional context what you quoted can be misinterpreted. What about one's legally wedded spouse? – sv. Oct 10 '16 at 15:11
  • 3
    Bhishma says naked woman. I think he would have said naked wife if he wanted to mention spouse. – Pradip Gangopadhyay Oct 10 '16 at 15:16
  • 1
    I have added some additional material to provide the context. – Pradip Gangopadhyay Oct 10 '16 at 15:23
9

Some background

For Hindus, religion is the means of realizing dharma (virtuous deeds), artha (wealth, career), kāma (desire or pleasure of senses) and mokṣa (self-realization). Together these four are called Puruṣārthas (objects of human pursuit).

Kāma is ephemeral happiness we derive from worldly pleasures while mokṣa is everlasting happiness.

Dharma should be a life-long objective. The pursuit of artha (wealth, material needs) and kāma (desire, love) must be given up at a certain stage in a man's life.

But why are artha and kāma needed in first place?

A man needs money and material goods to live in this world. As for kāma or carnal desire, it is needed so that children may be born according to their past karma.

Can't we just renounce everything and become a sannyasi?

Until we have lived out our karma we too will have to be in this world. In this way if we want to give a "chance" to others, we have to earn money and experience kāma so that they these others may be born again. We need householders to feed sannyasins who have given up karma. It would not be practical for all people in this world to become ascetics. The śāstras extol householders as the backbone of society since they live, or are expected to live, according to the dictates of dharma and fulfill the requirements of student-bachelors and ascetics.


Now, to address your question and the likes of it.

Can the Student or Ascetic do it?

In the gurukula, the celibate-student is brought under strict discipline. That saves him from being swept away by animal passion. Though we talk of animal passion, we must note that animals mate only during a particular season. They have the sexual urge only when the female of the species is ready for pregnancy. Man is baser in such matters. Brahmacarya helps to control the carnal urge as it first shows up. Then, in the householder's life, since kāma is made subservient to dharma, the passions are kept under check.

What about the Householder?

Saṃskāras such as marriage are akin to making chillis less hot by tempering them with ghee: they serve to tame the natural urges. We add ghee to the chilli so that it does not inflame the intestines. Carnal pleasure and worldly enjoyment are part of the life of a householder but they are kept within certain limits so that he is not overcome by them.

After completing one's student-bachelorhood and acquiring learning and good qualities, one must marry so as to perform religious rites and live a life guided by dharma. Marriage is included among the forty samskaras, which fact shows that it is a sacred rite that sanctifies life. Just as upanayana is preliminary (ptirvanga) to the student-bachelor's stage of life, marriage is preliminary to that of the householder. Its purpose is disciplining the senses and the basis for the performance of various duties.

The householder's life is not to be taken to mean merely the enjoyment of sensual pleasure along with the carrying out of duties that mean good to the world. The fact is that the śāstras have formulated this stage of life in such a way as to make kāma itself instinct with dharma. "Dharma" means essentially bringing everything within certain limits, under a certain discipline and decorum. Kāma must be inspired by dharma, i.e., one must bridle one's passions in one's conjugal life, so that, step by step, the carnal urge will lose its keenness and eventually one will gain the mellowness to graduate to sannyāsa.

That stage, though, comes later. But at first, even now, in the householder's stage of life, the passions have to be curbed, little by little, but not forcibly.

Reference:

Hindu Dharma: The Universal Way of Life, Swami Chandrasekarendra Saraswati

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .