Losing Our Way – The Flight From Holiness
It isn’t often that I have seen an image of Shiva completely nude. I wondered about this, especially after having visited the Khajuraharo temples in India. The temple of Candi Sukuh in Indonesia also features nudity in the temple, especially male nudity. I did get to see other examples of nudity, male and female, in various Hindu and Jain temples in India when we spent a month there between teaching semesters in China.
More often than not, Shiva has his genitals covered while the rest of him is skyclad. Lord Shiva has roots going back likely more than 3,500 years ago. Shaivism is the oldest of the four sects of the Hindu religion, and it is in this form where Lord Shiva was always imaged as being skyclad. It is from these roots that the Naga Sadhus, or Holy Saints and the Digambara which are part of the Jainist religion that also sprang from the earliest roots of Hinduism.
Lord Shiva, as a god was skyclad. True worship of this god was done skyclad. It’s interesting to note that nudity was equated with holiness, with purity as it was at one time in the Judean tradition that forms the roots of modern Christianity. God created women and men in his image and this humanity was created skyclad. There was no sin in nakedness. Sin only came about when humans found this creation, this state of being nude, shameful. Yet, we moderns are so absolutely certain that nudity is as far from holy as one can get.