Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

September 28, 2013

GLOBAL FAITHS: Parts of Hinduism involve sex, violence

Many Americans have been outraged over violent rapes reported out of India. Many Indians have been outraged by them too. A particularly shocking one occurred not too long ago, resulting in an Indian court sentencing to death four men involved.

There may be some religious sects in India that possibly indirectly contribute to sexual violence. Hinduism speaks of a Trimurti of three main gods, Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu, the Preserver, and Shiva, the Destroyer. Both Vishnu and Shiva are said to have manifestations or avatars. For Vishnu some of the chief ones are Rama and Krishna, and these have many devotees, seeing that in Hinduism worshipers can pick their favorite one and erect images to him and perform the pertinent rituals in devotion and live a style of life appropriate to the character of that god.

Risks arise when it comes to the worship of Shiva, the Destroyer, or one of his consorts. The two most notable consorts are Durga and Kali, the latter of whom is usually pictured carrying a scimitar and trident. Interestingly, both of these female divinities portray female violence. In pictures and statues Kali is portrayed with fangs and a tongue hanging out, often with blood on her victims.

Many temples dedicated to the worship of Shiva or one of his consorts have symbols that are quite obviously sexual in nature, since they show a lingam and yoni (yoni means vagina), which are quite undisguised portrayals of male and female genitals, often shown in the act of copulation. My wife and I saw such a shrine in Malibu, Calif., in 1990. Some Hindus deny that they see anything sexual or erotic in these objects of devotion, but honest scholarship in the history of religions identifies the underlying meaning of this symbolism.

Also among the many beliefs and practices of Hinduism is one practice called tantra. It too has its symbolic and physical aspects, the physical being a male-female copulation in which the respective partners learn to forego an orgasm in favor of a higher experience of ecstasy.

To put the best interpretation on them, these beliefs and practices of Hinduism are intended to recognize an honest reflection of the human sexual drive. And it should be noted that they are a minority of Hinduism’s many religious branches. But for some Hindus they become a permission or excuse for sex and perhaps violent sex. Though Hinduism speaks of the need of enlightenment, it has no basic doctrine of a “fall” of humankind, or of a human depravity that must be addressed by a call to redemption or transformation of mind and life.

The Judeo-Christian tradition does have its candid recognition of sex in the erotic poems of the Song of Solomon. These, according to the best interpretation I have come across, were songs to be sung to each other by the bride and groom at ancient Near Eastern weddings. The bride, whose chastity had been strictly guarded, was now to be released into marital relations, and the perhaps week-long wedding celebrations provided the social permission, even encouragement, of this transition.

In some forms of Hinduism we may have a case of what students of religions observe, that there seems to be a reciprocal relationship in which people reflect the behavior of their gods, or their gods reflect the behavior of their worshipers. Whatever the case, there is a streak of sex and violence in Indian religion. But then we also have a streak of sex and violence in modern American society, don’t we?

Marlin Jeschke is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religion at Goshen College. In 1968-69 he received a Fellowship in Asian Religions, spending five months at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School and five months traveling in Muslim countries of the Middle East and Buddhist countries of Southeast Asia. His “The American Religious Landscape” broadcast can be heard every Sunday at noon on FM 91.1.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Fresh shrimp business approved GOSHEN — Finding fresh shrimp in Elkhart County just got a little easier.

    August 21, 2014

  • NWS GN140822 john hertzel (2) John Hertzler relishes role with Goshen Historical Society GOSHEN — Visitors to the Goshen Historical Society’s museum might not know John Hertzler is there, tucked back in an office beyond the rows of historic documents, photographs and artifacts.

    August 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lifelong Learning fall courses announced GOSHEN — The Lifelong Learning Institute of Elkhart County is offering fall courses. These short courses are designed to provide stimulating and affordable classes in many fields for active seniors. There are no tests or grades, and no previous studies or degrees are required.

    August 21, 2014

  • South Ninth Street area under boil water order South Ninth Street, between East Jackson and Franklin streets in Goshen, is under a boil water order from noon until further notice.

    August 21, 2014

  • GN140821 Pike Street Project 2 INDOT meeting held to discuss Pike Street project GOSHEN — Major changes may be on the way for a small section of Pike Street in downtown Goshen.

    August 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0821 goshen college challenge Locals embrace ice bucket challenge It’s a challenge that has united participants with the shared sensation of an icy burst of water, sopping wet clothing and video evidence — all in the name of philanthropy.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140821 nisly complaint Complaint filed against state rep candidate Accusations of wrongdoing, in the form of a complaint to the Indiana Election Commission, have been levied against District 22 representative Republican nominee Curt Nisly.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140820 dometic groundbreaking Dometic breaks ground on significant expansion in Goshen GOSHEN — As Dometic officials gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony for the $7 million expansion of their Goshen distribution center Wednesday, the work was already underway in the background. “It’s happening right now,” said Dave Schutz, vice presi

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140821 Ignition art Plenty of good music on horizon at Ignition Several upcoming shows at Ignition Garage in Goshen were announced this week.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • City plan nearing a final draft GOSHEN — The city’s new comprehensive plan is nearing completion, and a near-final draft has now been released for public review. Goshen Plan Commission members released the draft of the city’s newly penned comprehensive plan, titled “Uncommonly Grea

    August 19, 2014

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

I think it’s a good idea to feed all the students free of charge
I think those who can afford it should pay for their school meals
I think all students should be required to pay for their school meals
     View Results
AP Video
US: We Do Not Pay Ransom to Terrorists Ferguson Teachers Training to Deal With Trauma Jon Hamm on the Unrest in Ferguson Tit for Tat? McDonald's Shuttered in Moscow Life on the Professional Video Game Circuit TX Gov Perry in Washington: 'Confident' in Case Hospital Releases Two Missionaries Who Had Ebola Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle NYC Doctor-in-chief Seeks Community Approach Indonesian Police Fire Tear Gas at Protesters Raw: Shots Fired in Liberian Shantytown DOJ, Bank of America Reach Record Settlement Raw: Cubavision Airs Images of Fidel Castro Raw: Grief After Deadly Airstrikes in Gaza Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Kathy Griffin Challenges Minaj to 'a Booty Off' Johnson: Six Arrests, No Tear Gas in Ferguson Raw: Rescue, Relief Efforts at Japan Landslide Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers