What is Porn?

Pornography (often abbreviated as porn) is the portrayal of sexual subject matter for the exclusive purpose of sexual arousal. Pornography may be presented in a variety of media, including books, magazines, postcards, photographs, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, phone calls, writing, film, video, and video games. The term applies to the depiction of the act rather than the act itself, and so does not include live exhibitions like sex shows and striptease. The primary subjects of present-day pornographic depictions are pornographic models, who pose for still photographs, and pornographic actors or “porn stars”, who perform in pornographic films. If dramatic skills are not involved, a performer in pornographic media may also be called a model.

Another way of describing porn is television programmes, magazines, books, etc. that are regarded as emphasizing the sensuous or sensational aspects of a non-sexual subject and stimulating a compulsive interest in their audience.

Looks like today I am in the mood to write definitions and sayings rather than writing a blog! So here is a common saying. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” which means beauty doesn’t exist on its own but is created by observers. That famous quote can help you remember that a beholder is someone who sees or otherwise experiences things, becoming aware of them.  Similalarly, “Porn is also in the eye of the beholder”!

All this was essential as I am writing on a so-called controversial subject of Porn! To me the eyes of the person that looks at a painting, photos decide if it is  porn. All these thoughts came to my mind as I saw one lovely painting by my dear friend and classmate Sudhakar Sonavane from Nashik. Sudhakar is a painter who also happens to be a civil engineer and builder.

On the same day, I attended a speech by Manasi Sagar also, coincidentally from Nashik. The venue for the speech was bang in the middle of very orthodox Shaniwar Peth in Pune city.


I had written about Manasi in a blog in June this year.


Manasi spoke for more than an hour on the subject “Self-Restoration- A journey. The talk was about how she grew up in even more orthodox Nashik in a middle-class family. Her father is a retired art teacher from a school. Manasi from a young age felt that she should become an artist and her father supported her wholeheartedly.

I will write about her a little later in the blog. But when Sudhakar sent the painting on our WhatsApp group, there was a bit of discussion and to me more of a banter. Another friend Shrikant felt that it was soft porn! Come on Shrikant even 2018 is ending and we all are entering the seventh decade of our life. Our group has 140 plus friends all engineers from 1971 COEP batch. Most have done reasonably well, are well travelled. Friends like Shrikant have lived in foreign countries for a few years. It is said that travel makes a man. So, how come this sudden comment to call the painting a soft porn! Sudhakar has been sharing his lovely paintings on the group for some time now, and at least a few more could fit the definition of porn made by Shrikant.

All those who think that this painting is porn should have attended Manasi’s speech today. From the tender age of 20 plus, just after her education, she started getting a bit disillusioned with portraits and landscapes etc. She felt that nude painting is an area she should venture into. Now she must be 32/33 of age. The calm way in which she was explaining the nuances of this art, why she got interested in human nude paintings, how she evolved as an artist who painted nudes, was remarkable. There was an audience of about 70 to 80 people and some of the audience were my age too! Since she could not get models, she decided to use herself as a model. She was very much at ease about discussing human anatomy, as a doctor discusses with us when we go for a check-up. Doctors are trained in anatomy whereas artists do not learn anatomy as a subject in their curriculum, to my knowledge. But Manasi was very comfortable discussing the human body.

We humans have started wearing clothes since time immemorial. But with no technology around, the clothes were generally worn around the loin areas. Adam and Eve typically wore fig leaf for modesty. Britishers were shocked to find when they came in India, that women kept their breasts open like men. They enforced the blouse. In 1820 a big social turmoil took place in Kerala when a large group of women said that they wanted to wear blouses after they became Christians. Till then blouses were allowed only for Nairs, the so-called high caste!

Manasi had displayed some of her nude paintings; these were of a very high quality. There were some paintings where her own sister had agreed to model for nude paintings. She was at ease to inform that the model in some paintings was she herself  and the other painting was  her sister. At the end of the speech, she got a standing ovation.


We have Khajuharo temples built about a thousand years back. These temples are dedicated to Hinduism and Jainism. The relative layout of temples integrates masculine and feminine deities and symbols highlight the interdependence. The artwork symbolically highlights the four goals of life considered necessary and proper in Hinduism – dharma, kama, artha and moksha.

When we have such traditions, where does the thought of porn come up? Yes, there is a huge porn industry where people can access free or by paying some fees. These sites show humans in the act of intercourse or masturbation or whatever comes to the mind of the owner/director of that site. These pictures and videos are meant to purposely titillate humans. Like liquor, drugs and prostitution no power in this world is able to stop such sites. I do not know the statistics but I am told an unbelievable number of men and women (yes women too, after all, they are also humans) watch these pictures and videos day in and day out. That to me is porn and not what Sudhakar and Manasi are doing.

We see hundreds of advertisements of products which have no relevance to the bikini-clad models used in them. During international car shows, around the new cars being displayed, scantily dressed women are dancing. That to me is porn! Let us all grow up and be mature! Porn definition will change from person to person, and time to time but let us not become moral police!

Evolution of Human Social Life!

We always talk of scientific evolution, industrial revolutions and progress of sciences. Evolution of human thinking about life and the way it is lived, is probably equally or more important. My thinking is based on practices followed in Hinduism. During initial thinking, a couple of thousand years back, life was divided in three parts; Obligation, Success, Pleasure. I am not talking of Ashramas as discussed in Hinduism. Later, freedom was added to the thinking. In Sanskrit, these are Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. I feel that addition of freedom, was necessitated due to social changes, in parallel with changes in science and technology.   

I am trying to understand life style evolutions, going hand in hand, with scientific evolutions. I was wondering why the Moksha was not included initially as a part of human life. I think, that not many people really reached the age of freedom or Moksha.  

Dharma or Obligation was about doing the right things. This involved creating the right thinking in human mind; don’t become selfish, think about others. When we live in a society, the societal norms and etiquettes need to be followed. These have evolved over a period of time. In this phase of life, it is our duty is to learn societal norms. During this phase, humans also get married. Marriage is not only coming together of two people but it is about coming together of two families. This involves readjustment in your lives. This phase has undergone a major change. In olden days, marriages took place between bride and groom, who lived in the same vicinity and whose families were known to each other. The marriages took place at an early age. From time immemorial, there have been hierarchies in our society based on caste, creed and many other parameters. Ones station in life was decided by these parameters. Marriages also took place initially, dictated by hierarchy. King’s family did not marry a commoner. Have these things changed today? It is both yes and no! 

There is a typical Hindi word बिरादरी, which means fraternity. Marriages still take place within fraternity, caste and so on. But there is a big change; people now do marry outside fraternity, different castes, different religions, they can be from far off places, or from different countries. With more education, people tend to get married late. Our thinking is slowly adapting to these changes. This is major social evolution or even an upheaval.  

In adulthood, one gets established in life, simultaneously while establishing in a job or business, but both are equally important. This is the success phase. Over a period, in this phase, now there is a big change. As late as 50 to 70 years back, one finished education, got a job, got married, procreated and retired from the same job. A few years after retirement many simply died! Now post education, someone may start a business right away. On the other side it is no more surprising when people continue with their education till early 30’s. By the age of 30, I had a six-year-old son and had a work experience of 6 to 7 years. This changing trend has its own pluses and minuses. But system does evolve itself.  

Trends in the stable phase of human life are also changing. This is now a phase where people procreate, work, travel and have fun. This goes hand in hand with their professional work. Now we see many cases where both husband and wife work. People tend to be busy 24/7, 365 days doing various things in life. The trend of buying homes and big cars, as soon as possible, is also coming in vogue. Adding to these changes, another important aspect that has changed is, from joint family structure, we are switching over to nuclear family. Money in plenty is available but home support is diminishing. Our society is adjusting to these changes too! Crèches, home staff, drivers become your “family” for support. When people live in foreign countries, their parents go and live for months together for support; but in the end parents do come back home. Nuclear family of old parents is also becoming a norm. This recent trend is mainly because of globalization and IT industry proliferation. 

I feel that pleasure and freedom phases have merged and these phases start a little late in life because the medical revolution has increased longevity. People live much longer than before; life expectancy was 31 in 1947 in India now it is 66. This indicates that larger proportion lives much longer after retirement. By the time of retirement, major family responsibilities are over. Financial commitments are lesser and finance availability is much better. This is the time when pleasure phase is in top gear plus freedom to do things, that were not possible during busy phase. I have an argument which may be, a bit controversial. In olden days, after the productive phase, Moksha or merging of soul with cosmic soul was thought to be final phase in life. During those days, there was hardly anything else to do than to follow the path of Moksha and try to achieve nirvana. Hence the term merging of soul with cosmic soul was used. I have nothing against trying to give up so called pleasures in lieu of bhakti or following the religious practices to achieve moksha. But now moksha is an option, not like olden days when it was the only option.  

Large number people travel, follow their dreams, maybe start a new venture in this phase! This social change is happening rapidly due to advent social evolution in tandem with ease of travel, ease of knowing about far off places. There are online courses available for photography, learning new languages, gardening. There are facilities to learn details about Bhagwad Geeta and there are special religious tours arranged for senior citizens. This reminds me of a joke. A guy tells his friend that he was about to book a religious holiday package for his family with parents. When he went to ask his parents, the father said, ” Sorry son can’t make it! We have booked a holiday for Bangkok and Pattaya!” Social change, anybody?  

Moksha is liberation from cycle of birth & death. This is taught by our religions but religious thinking which is part of social fabric also undergoes changes, along with technological changes! When no other option is available we adopt to existing conditions. But current social changes in pleasure and freedom in life can be considered like migration of young people looking for better options! So, Moksha or evolution, what is your take? I will prefer Moksha in St Moritz or Gangtok anytime! Come join the new Moksha brigade!