The Genius of Seduction in Judaeo-Christian and Hindu Holy Books

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As the flies linger around the spot where they trace honey, so do the readers of the sacred books. In fact, a number of great religions spin jubilantly over the incidents that are blended with debauchery, seduction, and lustful immorality. Throughout human history, the basic premises of literary height got astounding ovation when seductive immorality got stealthily mingled-up in the basic structure of religious belief systems. A number of stories that glitter the milky way of Judaeo-Christian as well as Hindu myths, the celebrity of eroticism and promiscuity get thunderous tribute parallel to war-victories.

Biblical scholars tell us that fourteen hundred and twenty six names are there in the Hebrew Bible – but only one hundred and eleven are women in them. While most of these women are portrayed as queens, loving mothers, beautiful wives, social devotees, but there are the others who ignite the readers’ imaginative pleasure in seduction and eroticism. The erotic events leading to lustful immorality in the Hebrew and Hindu mythology underscore the spectacles of many including Eve, Delilah, Salome, Draupadi, Radha and many more.

Apart from Biblical times the subjects, built on sexual seduction, seem to have captivated the readers’ imagination over the ages. The mother of Hamlet got deeply sunk in some illicit sex with her husband’s brother. Instead of scorn, the story made the patrons of English literature give Shakespeare a standing ovation. Surely, not for the story alone, but for expressing a Jubilation of lustful immorality.

The book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible narrates an event that begins with Adam – the first man of the earth.. But that wasn’t alluring enough to fascinate the readers’ imagination. The gap was filled by the appearance of Eve, a seductive female. She had to eat the forbidden fruit of eroticism to seduce Adam. Though God pretended to be furious, He eventually was pleased enough to bless them and said: "be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28). This theology brought the role of female in Biblical eroticism. Eve is not the only women in the Bible whose reputation, over the ages, has suffered severely – a few others have also ranked poorly.

The story of Delilah is enshrined in the Hebrew Bible’s chapter -The Judges (13-16). Samson was a Hebrew man with Herculean figure, possessing awesome strength. But yet then a seducer, named Delilah, caused his death and destruction over allurement of sex. While Samson belonged to a Hebrew family but Delilah did not. She came from a non-Semitic Philistine family and was a beautiful young lady with awesome charisma. As it is today, racism played a dominant role even in those days of pre-Christian times. In fact, during those days, it was scornful to the Semites to socialize and have amorous relations with any non-Semite.

Despite social segregation was in place, Samson had fallen in love with Delilah – belonging to the Philistine people. While the origin of the Philistine is still debated amongst the historian, they are eminently believed to have come from an island closer to Greece when an abrupt volcanic eruption destroyed it. Evidently, the Philistines were not of Semitic race and were non-similar to the Jews of Israel today. Incidentally, the name "Palestine" originates from Philistines through Greek and Latin influence. The Philistines, during those Biblical days, occupied the five cities that comprised of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath, along the coastal strip of Egypt. The biblical stories of Samson epitomises the Philistine-Israelite conflicts. Ironically the perpetuity of the same conflict still exists today as it was in those days of the Hebrew Bible.

The physical strength of Samson was a constant concern for the Philistines. So, the wealthy rulers took advantage of the amorous relations between Samson and Delilah. They approached Delilah and enticed her with bribery amounting to eleven hundred pieces of silver from each of the lords to uncover the secret of Samson’s strength (Judges 16:5). Finally, Delilah seduced him into telling the secret of his strength. Samson entrusted Delilah and told her that his strength would leave him if his hairs were cut off. While Samson was asleep, Delilah called up her men and had them shave off the seven locks from Samson’s head – the miracle source of his strength. Samson, who was once known to have wrestled lions, destroyed an entire enemy camp just armed with donkey’s jawbone, turned into someone that was as week as a pussy cat. This made the art of seduction entirely triumph over the mighty strength of the legendary Samson.

A story of the Bible, that outlines the scenarios during Jesus’ time – the New Testament, includes a seducer, named Salome (Mark 6:17-29 and Matt 14:3-11). During the mission of Jesus, Herod Antipas was the most iron-handed authority of Galilee. He, after marrying Herodias, caused a conflict with John the Baptist – then the mentor of Jesus. He openly criticized Herod saying: "It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife" (Mark 6:18). This denunciation aroused extreme anger in Herodias, the new wife of Herod. She, as a reprisal, demanded Herod to execute John the Baptist. Though Herod resisted the demand initially, but finally he succumbed to a sex-appealing dance of Salome, co-ordinated by Herod’s wife herself. The dance captivated Herod’s heart with a lustful desire. Though it was shameful and yet irresistible and lustful that mesmerized him to have John the Baptist beheaded. Here again seduction and sensuality triumphed over judicious civility. Salome, the lust-provocative and deceitful dancer, then presented the head of the executed John the Baptist in a silver platter to Herodias.

Biblical stories did not always remain within the periphery of Spiritual orders. Some of them extended their tentacles beyond the expected boundaries, and here comes Jezebel. Her name is often used in modern English as a synonym for an abandoned woman as depicted in the Old Testament. Over the time the name Jezebel got attached to the concept of a shameless seducer. Jezebel was a daughter of Ethbaal – a non-Jewish priest of Astarte and became the wife of King Ahab (874 –” 853 BC) of Biblical Israel.

This marriage had been arranged to strengthen an alliance between Israel and Phoenicia. Jezebel carried more manly character and denounced Jewish monotheism while patronising the idolatrous Baal as the object of worship in the kingdom.

As usual in the monotheistic religion during chaotic time, there appeared the intervention of a Prophet – named: Elijah. In keeping with Elijah’s prophesy, Jezebel’s death was a disgraceful one. Jehu, a commander led an insurrection against the royal family. Jezebel’s body was thrown out of a window and was left for dogs to devour. "But when they went to bury her, they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands" (2 Kings:35). The Old Testament’s writers depicted Jezebel among the scarlet women for her sponsoring idolatry as well as inducing members of the temple there to commit acts of sexual immorality.

While Judaism, and Christianity are somewhat intertwined in the biblical legacy, Hinduism is not. Though away from the monotheistic realm, some of its stories, spinning around sex and seduction, would perhaps help the defenders of Biblical stories find some shelters in the divine scriptures. Sexuality in Hindu mythology could even make some adherent of the Bible blush into futile envy.

One of the two major mythical tales of ancient India is contained in Mahabharata. It narrates a story about King Drupada. After getting defeated by Arjun, a rival prince from the Pandava dynasty (1200 – 1100 BC), King Drupada, for some strategic reasons, put on a contest among the princes striving for his daughter hand named Draupadi. The risk was to shoot and hit five arrows successfully at a revolving target straight up, while looking only at its reflection in water placed in a bowl directly below the target. All the five Pandava brothers had participated in the challenge, but Arjun became the champion in the target shooting to win Draupadi’s hand. But could he be the sole owner of her heart?

It would have injected a smooth literary flow if Arjun and Draupadi could have enjoyed a peaceful conjugal life. However, Veda Vyasa, the composer of Mahabharata, must have thought that such a straight story would be dull and wouldn’t give the readers any erotic suspense. He seemed to have no choice other than to induce an unusual climax of sex-sharing. As a result, Draupadi couldn’t enjoy a peaceful conjugal life with Arjun. She rather had to share her sex-life with four other brothers of her husband. The defence of this fraternal polyandry is attributed to Arjun’s mother, Kunti, who often advised her sons to share equally everything they win. Perhaps the readers of this episode of Mahabharata, would get an imaginative spice of eroticism over Draupadi’s role in pleasing five brothers – one after the other, while leaving a dog at the door to warn off the next brother’s arrival.

Despite all those seductive and promiscuous sex-stories enshrined in the Hebrew and Hindu mythology, none could excel Radha as in the Hindu holy book of Bhagavad Gita. While the deep silence of midnight kept her husband as sleep, Radha thought of romantic promiscuity with a flute player, revered in Hindu mythology as Krishna. She then sneaked out of her bed with her husband Ayan Ghosh and stealthily met Krishna just for the kick of having some romantic excitement with a stranger at a bank of Yamuna. The whole of India, despite believing in marital purity, remained oblivious to Radha’s immorality and marital betrayal.

This illicit romance kept on fuelling erotic elation to the readers of Bhagavad Gita. The Radha-Krishna tales could not, eventually, be confined in the holy books alone. It escaped the hedging of holiness and turned into erotic songs – thousands of them. They popularly are known as the Kirtan. The songs are sung with such sensual delights that can reincarnate return of youths even to the ones counting on the last days after a long and blissful life.

Sources:

The Holy Bible, The Holy Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita contained in books, journals and articles

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