Tantric orgies, a temple deep in the jungles of Central India, butter-saturated sex, and a virginal monk falling (hard) from enlightenment.
After 27 hours of air travel, layovers in Taipei and Kuala Lumpur, and a few near-death experiences on the road driving out of Vizag city I made it to Devipuram. Once you’ve exceeded 24 hours of air travel and landed in a new time zone you feel as if the air has suddenly turned to liquid and you are now walking under water. So when I met the portly white bearded leader of the temple—Guruji as he was affectionately called—his striking resemblance to Saint Nick was no more strange than the thickness of the air.
The ashram was at the center of a large jungle valley with prehistoric looking mountains and hills on all sides. This isolation was helpful—Devipuram was a kind of Disneyland theme park for sexual perverts with a polytheistic religious bent.
The main feature was a seven-tiered monument to goddess worship with hundreds of life size, ornately painted and carved, statues of divine women. What was most peculiar about these statues was the exquisite detail and vibrancy of the colors used to accentuate and describe their exposed genitalia.
All of the goddesses were placed in positions that openly displayed their sacred vaginas, which were angled toward the open mouths of gaudy dolphins and alligators emerging from the floor to worship the birth canals.
In my jet-lagged state everything seemed like a terrible dream. Vaginas were staring at me from every corner. As a former monk, I felt like closing my eyes and praying to Vishnu out of fear of the female sex organ. Each new pornographic religious idol only loosened my grasp on reality.
Luckily, I had some context since I was fluent in Hindu religious beliefs. Hindus hold the power to reproduce as holy and have made the genital organs into symbols of the creative power in human beings. Still, it was overwhelming to be plunged into a world where giant cocks and pussies were the only things being honored. Usually Hindu images are never graphic and only barely representative of actual genitalia—and definitely aren’t the centerpiece of all worship.
Psalm then took me up to the “secret temple,” a padlocked room located on a hill overlooking the seven-tiered palace full of naked female idols. The entire cement floor had been shaped into the lips of a vagina. In the center was a very large clitoris that shot water into the actual cave of the sacred pussy; devout goddess worshippers would fill gallon jugs with this holy liquid. Obviously, at this point, I began to realize that I was in trouble—my expectations before coming to the ashram did not include giant squirting vaginas.
This was a secret temple because most of the “forbidden” or occult practices took place here away from where visitors might stumble on people engaging in butter-saturated sex. My girlfriend had access to this padlocked shrine because she had, the year before, engaged in those forbidden practices in that very temple.
Above this was a Shiva Linga temple. In the back, behind a low wall, was a massive five-foot tall lifelike representation of a thickly muscled cock. It had a foreskin, veins, and was by far the most strikingly pornographic of all the religious iconography.
By the time I had finally laid down for a nap on my first day at the ashram in the guest quarters, my girlfriend curled up next to me on the floor, I simply wanted to sleep. When the small Indian woman disturbed us and proceeded to hard-sell Psalm on forcing me to relinquish my virginity via ritualistic sex involving a dairy product it didn’t seem strange, just like a lot of work and not that much fun.
Believe it or not, this was the beginning of trouble in my relationship. My unwillingness to have my penis lathered in butter by strangers while having sex for the first time in my life was seen as being sexually hung up and unadventurous. I was not only a little gun shy, but unsure of where I drew moral lines. I was just beginning to define myself as separate from two decades of monastic training. But things only worsened from there.
A little context on the history of tantric practice seems prudent at this juncture, before I tell you all about sex that involves food products, girl-on-girl action, and the loss of my virginity.
Tantric cults have existed for centuries in India and have always been fringe movements that practiced their arcane arts in secret. Ritualized intercourse and orgies are prominent fixtures within the existing literature on Tantra. Texts like the Kula-Arnava-Tantra describe the types of occult orgies and ritual praxis prescribed and enacted by tantric cults for centuries.
First, a large group of 10 to 50 people select a girl to have coitus with a senior member of the tantric hierarchy. They all go to a secluded place and form a circle around the girl and the senior tantric yogin. Wine, marijuana, and meat are fed to the girl as the tantric yogi begins to stimulate her clitoris, and the group sits and watches.
Once coitus begins the acolytes start to sway and chant in ecstasy. When both the girl and the yogin climax the sexual fluids (semen and vaginal discharge) are then smeared on the foreheads of both participants as a kind of anointing to seal the divine consummation. When this occurs the encircling group howls and drinks and eats. Then comes the mass orgy.
From this ritual other sexual ceremonial practices evolved. Special focus was placed on the worship and pleasuring of both the male and female genitals. These pujas (ceremonies) usually entailed complex chanting of mantras while stimulating and massaging specific areas of the either the penis or the vagina, culminating with the anointing of sexual fluid on the forehead.
These practices have formed a subculture of tantric practice in India and are something that is done in secret for fear of censure and judgment by conventional Hinduism. Those who are attracted to this tradition are usually enacting some form of rebellion against the caste system (snubbing the divine rights of the priestly and warrior castes) or the puritanical nature of most yogic systems. Westerners who adopt occult tantric practice also seem to be impelled by similar motivations, myself included.
This was the ritual (maithuna) that the small Indian woman wanted my girlfriend and me to participate in. Listening to their conversation, I knew that if Psalm agreed I would be the centerpiece for an orgy my very first night at the ashram, the place where I had sought spiritual asylum.
All my girlfriend had to do was look from the hallway, where she was talking to the small woman, to where I was laying on the floor to see the absolute fear in my eyes. After the woman left disappointed, Psalm lay down next to me.
Why did you look at me that way? She said.
I just felt like that would be a lot for me to take on my first night here.
So you don’t think it’s morally wrong or anything?
Morally wrong? I don’t even know what that means anymore.
A three-day festival in honor of the guru took place the day after I arrived. Hours of smoke filled chanting as Brahmins fed bonfires clarified butter and devout groupies bowed before Guruji (the ashram’s Saint Nick lookalike) as they wrapped their hands into the shapes of penises and vaginas.
This practice of forming the hands into the shape of genital organs is understood to be a form of sacred geometry. By contorting the fingers into these sacred shapes (mudras) it invokes the divine energy of the latent creative powers within you and can bring about total spiritual awakening. This basically means that kids who play the four-handed-look-at-the-vagina game in the schoolyards of the American Midwest are in fact invoking powerful divine energies from the universe.
During the festival I could barely find Psalm almost the entire time. There was this little Indian village girl who had a big crush on my girlfriend. They kept disappearing together for hours at a time. When I got tired of trying to figure out where she was I started to socialize. I got to know everyone pretty well and would spend time in the eating area chatting with Western spiritual tourists caught up in the exotic mystique of Eastern eroticism.
They all really liked melted butter. The ritual of melted butter poured over the penis before each insertion into the vagina was quite popular. (Another popular ritual was to rub yogurt all over someone’s titties while chanting mantras, and was seen as a high form of worship to the Goddess. They believed that this ritual invoked the sacred Goddess and could bring about divine communion with the universe).
A new friend of mine went everyday to have a young Indian couple perform rituals on her (the same small Indian woman and her husband). The husband would lay my friend on her back in a mud hut behind his house and lather his hands in ghee (melted butter), his hands were dirty and had long yellow fingernails. He inserted his fingers 108 times while reciting ancient mantras. My friend told me this was incredibly spiritual, that she felt God very strongly inside of her 108 times.
Finally the last night of the festival I caught up with Psalm.
What have you been doing with that girl? She seems to know you.
When I was here last year I met her and Guruji asked me to give her lessons in the pujas.
No, I don’t know.
It sounds different when you say it like that.
So is that what you’ve been doing with her this whole time?
She looked at me and said that I seemed stressed out and that there was nothing for me to worry about. She then massaged my shoulders, which soon became an epic make-out session. This ended all conversation, partly because of my intense hunger for affection. After being a monk deprived of human touch it was nice to have someone kiss and hold me. Affection, for someone so starved like me, was utterly overwhelming. Besides, after recently losing my family I wasn’t ready to lose her as well.
The sex was weird. She insisted on dry humping until she climaxed so that she could pretend that we weren’t having sex. The levels of denial and sexual dysfunction masquerading alternately as naiveté and spirituality were immense.
It’s similar to how Christian teenagers, trying to adhere to chastity before marriage, have oral sex as a kind of divine loophole, but only end up deluding themselves. But obviously this was much more twisted and involved greater levels of denial and psychological gymnastics. Regardless, she wanted to believe that we had a sex-free relationship, that way she could feel okay about fucking other people. Somehow, in her own convoluted way, she didn’t want to “cheat” on me.
So she constructed a story about us. We were fellow yogis who shared the path, lived together, did everything a couple would do but never had normal sex. If we engaged in sexual activity it was purely for the attainment of spiritual enlightenment. Therefore, she could have sex with other people and not betray the sacredness of what we had (“pants sex” was a kind of compromise).
It saved her from guilt. Afterward she asked if I would be okay with her engaging in a ritual with 107 other women in the vagina temple on the hill.
What ritual would this be? I asked.
You know, yoni puja.
I feel incredibly frustrated and held back. I can’t do what I want to do! She said.
You feel held back from having oral sex with 107 women in the vagina temple?
Yes. I feel like I can’t do what I want because you’re here. Last year, when I was here, I could do anything I wanted. Besides it’s a sacred ritual and a once in a lifetime opportunity. And it’s the yoni temple not the ‘vagina’ temple.
Okay, so you feel held back from being able to engage in the sacred ritual/butter covered orgy.
Why can’t you understand this? She said.
Why do you want to do this?
I can’t believe you’re asking me this! Do you want a conventional relationship so bad? Can’t we have a spiritual relationship? Are you such a yogi-puritan that you can’t let me have this?
A spiritual relationship means putting me at risk for STDs?
You’ve turned out so different from what I thought. I thought you were enlightened! She said with absolute sincerity.
The next day we engaged in my first foray into coitus aka intercourse aka “this is the most awesome thing ever!” But our full blown sex was weird really really weird…
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Editor: Kate Bartolotta