In India, it is normal and even healthy that women love each other, and that they have sexual relationships with one another.
However, this implies that they also have a male lover. The girls of high social stature were raised in the company of SAKHI – girls coming from poor families, who were considered and treated as sisters of the rich girl.
The intimate, physical erotic contact has always been considered as normal and healthy in all Eastern cultures. Quite often, the sisters or friends used to share the same bed.
Nonetheless, the term SAKHI is related to the term SHAKTI , which signifies the principle of the sheer vital feminine force, the primordial energy of the Tantra . Having a SAKHI as companion was vitalizing, auspicious and ‘different’.
The accepted belief is that within such a community of sisters (owing to the complex processes of resonance), the womanliness of all members/participants became stronger and more accentuated.
Through subtle consonance and empathy, a SAKHI would add her own qualities and experiences to those of her sister, enriching thus her inner universe.
The rich women and their SAKHI-S were often inseparable. Moreover, when a rich woman was getting married, her SAKHI-S became naturally the husband’s concubines, and they would assist the wife in their rituals performed always with sexual continence .
Within such a community of sisters, the Sapphic activities were considered perfectly natural, and the ancient Hindu art has illustrated this fact in many instances.
The communities of sisters have evolved, in time, in a polygamous society. Usually, the wives and sisters would share a profound intimacy, and the caresses they exchanged were not considered perversions, on the contrary, they were encouraged and viewed as the expression of true and deep love and affection.
Ramayana, the famous Hindu epic, contains a fragment describing in a poetic manner the Sapphic practices in a home:
‘Countless beautiful, sensuous women were lying or sleeping on the carpets, after they had spent their night making love. Their breath was perfumed because of the sweet vine. While still dreaming, some of them would turn towards their companions and taste the sweetness of their lips as if they were the lips of the master.
Their passion, once aroused, drove them to make love to one another, and afterwards they would sleep in their luxurious sheets, in the arms of their lover, with the head on their bellies, breasts, thighs, or back. These charming young women, having made love to one another, would now sleep haphazardly, allowing a sweet slumber to take them over.’
The rich Hindu women would regularly hire a number of female servants, whose duties included, among other things, bathing, ointment, smearing, massaging – in short the adornment of their mistress.
This custom is still in use in contemporary India. The close relationships with the SAKHI-s would naturally develop into Sapphic relationships, especially in the case of beautiful, sensuous and lonely women.
The KAMA SUTRA offers detailed descriptions of the way women should use their mouth and tongue in order to stimulate the YONI . The same book describes the way in which the sexual desires may be satisfied using certain bulbs, vegetables or fruits, whose form resembles to that of the LINGAM .
Unlike male homosexuality, which is considered sinful, Sapphic love was never looked upon as a sin or an insult for the Hindu law. The miniature paintings dating from the medieval period often show several women caressing each other.
For instance, the paintings presenting Krishna and his Gopi-s, often related to the Gopi-s in an erotic manner, that is they are presented in passionate sensual embraces.
The Tantric and Buddhist literature contain a multitude of references to the extraordinary regenerative and transcendental power inherent in such communities of sisters. This teaching is especially underlined in the Taoist tradition.
Moreover, the contemporary Hinduism describes five distinct categories of Sapphism. The ‘classic’ form of Sapphism practiced in the West is the inferior type in East.
In fact, it is considered degeneration from the highly spiritual forms of Sapphism, which imply continence and not the orgasm with the discharge of sexual energy.
In the old times, Southern India had close contacts with Egypt. India was famous for its refined silk, spices, and last but not least, for the women expert in the art of lovemaking and for the dancers in the temples.
The ancient Egyptian laws did not forbid Sapphism; moreover, there is certain archaeological evidence that the Egyptian women often had intimate relationships.
The images inside the Egyptian tombs present servants sensually caressing their mistresses, as well as some images from the harem, of a striking resemblance with the Hindu.