On searching ancient India, it is found that India was completely different from what it is today. Beauty and sex, along with art and splendor, were considered common lifestyles, which were probably taken positively by the people of the time. The presence of women and the role of beauty in the temple and sculpture arts of ancient India is shown in great detail, especially the breasts and bulges of women were shown to enhance the beauty in the sculptures.
There is absolutely no obscenity in it, but it can be understood from the freedom of women, the open view of society and the main focus of life.
So was ancient India leading a more open lifestyle than Europe and today’s India?
Indus Valley Civilization (3500–1500 BCE)
It is not at all clear how girls or women were dressed in the Harappan or Indus Valley civilization, but the ancient idols, yoni and Linga worship of those times suggest that the lifestyle may have been independent.
In this civilization, women are either doing a lot of work or not wearing clothes. The upper part of the body, including the breasts, is absolutely not hidden in any way. in some depict, Women wearing thick jewellery are depicted in terracotta, yet there are no clothing or gems covering their breasts.
There is no tradition of hiding the upper body with clothing for women who wear jewels.
900 BCE – 100 CE: Tamil Civilization’s Sangam Period
In the Tamil Sangam period, the society of India was running through class division where everyone was doing his work according to his caste and standard. There is a difference in the dress of women in this period where the dress of the upper caste and low caste women can be clearly distinguished.
But still the beauty of women was shown through breasts. Even in the Vijayanagara Empire, women could wear loose clothing. Men in those days also agreed with this lifestyle. Yes, but the clothes had the right to the body
Many beauty prose and verse have been found on breasts in Tamil Sangam. Writings from Athichanallur (900 BCE) and pottery from Korkai (300 BCE) likely depicting breasts. However, textual evidence suggests that in the Sangam era, Tamils was using to cover their upper bodies with a cloth.
100-600BCE when Jainism gained popularity
As can be seen in India today, less clothes are banned or opposed in religious places, but this was not the case in ancient India. The Digambar Jain branch had renounced material clothes considering the whole sky as their clothing. But it was only for men.
The rules were tough for the female Jain monks. But in ancient Jain idols, many women are not wearing upper garments. This meant that clothes had nothing to do with religion and violation of God. Jainism was gaining popularity and cave sculptures show that women Jain monks did not cover their upper bodies with clothing.
Like the ancient texts below talk about breasts and interpret them as:
However, literary material from this time period definitely shows women hiding their breasts with clothes. “The robe that covers the firm breast of this girl is (like) that which hides the eyes of a rutting elephant“, said in the book.
Women in Pallava Period (600–800 CE)
Perhaps in Pallava Period only the higher class had a dress standards that covered their breasts. the lower classes did not. Only royals / upper class wear a belt-like item partly hiding their breasts and others do not wear it. look in the Mahabalipuram sculpture below (about 700 CE).
800 CE onwards, the Chozha(Chola Empire)
Perhaps just a small portion of the population wore a cloth to hide their breasts. One viewpoint on temple sculptures is that the deities may be depicted with a degree of creativity and exaggeration, and thus non-deity sculptures should be examined for such an imagery analysis, the following is an example of a non-deity sculpture.
The lady in the sculpture below is a temple donor from the mediaeval Chozha period, she seems royal (with jewellery), yet she is not wearing breast concealing robe. Maybe it was by choice, not because of affluence, caste, or anything else [she was wealthy but didn’t wear one].
Such artistic exaggerations are also not questioned when it comes to hero stones. Here are several samples of them, which show their bosoms as well as the details of their jewellery. In addition, in my humble opinion, no need to force creative impressions of sexuality in hero stones.
Furthermore, literary works from the same time period (800–1200 CE) imply bare breasts as a cultural phenomenon.
Meaning: “I’m looking at the woman’s breasts” “breasts that are visible” “breasticles that are adorned with gems” – Ramayana of Kamba (800-1000 CE)
According to literature, Tamils insisted on covering their upper bodies with a cloth throughout the Sangam period (900 BCE – 100 CE), but this was not followed by all (as artefacts suggest). This style of clothing concealing the upper body was evident in literature throughout the post-Sangam period.
With the arrival of the pallavas, it’s possible that a class-based dress code for women developed [only royals wearing upper body cloth], as sculptures suggest.
There was no shift in tendency throughout the later chozha period, but the upper body wearing may have been by choice or habit rather than status or income.
Furthermore, the bare upper body style, which can be found on hero stones dating back to the 17th century, cannot be dismissed as mere creative impressions.
So was ancient India leading a more open lifestyle than Europe and today’s India? So after reading the post you must have felt that Indians have been more open minded. That’s why we are remembering how ancient India must have been?