Vedic writings are spiritual literature of the ancient culture of India, written in the Sanskrit language. They contain an extensive collection of books that includes material (mundane), religious (ritualistic) as well as spiritual (monotheistic) knowledge. The expression "Vedic" derives from the Sanskrit VEDA, which means wisdom or revelation.
The revelation that not only teaches us about religious and spiritual beliefs but also creates a non-judgemental and balanced perspective about sexual intercourse. Sex has been a taboo in India. It has been kept out of the discussion when talking about religion, Vedic writings or ancient literature. However, if you dig a little deeper in our history, sexual intercourse is anything but evil, dirty or sinful.
Sex in Hinduism is the basis of the cycle of life. Sex is the foundation of creation and preservation. Without sex, the existence of life is not possible. The union of the female and male counterparts of the Supreme beings is the ground to the universe manifestation.
What does Upanishads say about sex?
As mentioned in the Upanishads, the pleasure one derives during sexual intercourse is in itself a powerful reflection of the blissful nature of the Supreme being, who is believed to be both female and male in one cosmic body.
Upanishads say the chief aim or duty of human life is the fulfilment of their sexual desire. There were times when ascetic people were also allowed to indulge in sexual activities. The purpose of sex is connected to the existence of life. Its sole purpose if creation, recreation and continuation of one's race.
Hence in ancient India, when a new life couldn't be generated from marriage, women used to take help of men outside marriage and continue procreation. And it was an obligatory duty for men to help them produce new life and run the universe.
Ancient India had mixed views about sex. While the Arthashashtra tells us how men and women who engaged in sex outside marriage should be punished, the Vatsayana's Kamasutra gives us a detailed view n how sex is more of an aesthetic exercise than a dirty or sinful act. Hinduism does not deprive any sect of living beings from sex. Sex is equally essential for Gods, humans and demons. The only thing that differs is the purpose and desire for sexual intercourse.
Themes associated with sexual intercourse
Hinduism is the religion where Shiva lingam is symbolized as the source of sexual union between Purusha and Prakriti. However, it's quite unfortunate that Hindus today are not familiar with the beliefs about sex mentioned in their Vedas.
Hence when Acharya Rajneesh spoke about sex openly and taught Hindus to consider sex as an act of survival just like eating or breathing, he was criticized by many. What Hindus currently follow as sexual mores is mostly influenced and transformed by the British or we can say have been imparted by the West.
Earlier, sex in India was only taboo for students, whose complete aim is to practice education and to those who took an oath of celibacy.
The Upanishads are full of scriptures of spiritual truths and philosophy in coordination with the verses that contain specific and unknown facts about being sexually active. According to the principals of the Upanishads, there are three prominent themes connected to sexual intercourse.
Sexual intercourse as a duty
Primarily sex for the human race is dharma (duty), then kama (the pleasure) and lastly moksha (liberation). Householders who engage in sexual intercourse are expected to produce new life in the form of their children and fulfil their primary duties towards God, family and society. He continues to live in the world through the qualities, identity and knowledge he imparts in his children and ensures firstly the continuity of his family and then the universe.
Sexual intercourse as a sacrifice
Sexual intercourse as a ritual offering or sacrifice is mentioned in Chandogya Upanishad (5.8.1-2), and Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (6.2.13 and 6.4.2-3). The sexual intercourse in this verse is compared to Vajapeya sacrifice, and semen is the oblation poured in the sacred fire of Yajna as an offering. And if a man is not aware of the sacrificial nature of sex, his good deed may get transferred to the woman in his life.
Importance of semen in the male body
According to Upanishads, semen is the highest source of energy in a male body. Sperm has a predominant role in the continuation of the universe. Food intake is the source of semen creation, and it takes days for food to transform into sperm. Hence, loss or wastage of semen is considered as loss of energy, which will eventually force the person to be an ascetic or a celibate.
Upanishad compares chanting of Vamadeva Samanto sex and proposes that the one who believes in life and knows Saman should never refuse sex with any women who aim and desired progeny. A women's sexual organ is placed by Prajapati on the lower side so that one could perform service to her.
A woman's sexual organ is a sacrificial pit, the hair around is the grass, and the labia in the middle is the kindling fire. To this pit, a man must sacrifice his semen for the creation of a new life.