In Hinduism Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha are the four Purusharthas of a Hindu's life and 'sambhog' is an integral part of life, which is part of the four Purusharthas. The "Kama" means those activities, which give us pleasure and satisfaction. 'Sambhog' is also one of those activities which gives great pleasure and satisfation.
Kamasutra is very ancient book about 'sambhog', written by the Hindu sage Vatsayana. This book has all those details and descriptions about 'sambhog' types, 'sambhog' positions, 'sambhog' importance and compatibility of partners, eunuchs etc. The ancient Khajuraho Temple in Madhya Pradesh, India is well known for the sculptures on it. Here the statues of men and women are depicted as having 'sambhog' in different positions. The builders of the Khajuraho temple were Rajputs and were followers of Waam-maarga or left-handed Tantra, an acceptable way of attaining Moksha.
The sculptors created those pieces of arts is only outside the temple because it signifies that all those feelings must be left outside the temple, before entering the inner sanctum. There are no such sculptures inside the temple. The sculptures are also on Konark temple's exterior. It is a metaphysical symbolism. Hinduism recognizes the role of 'sambhog'ual desires in human lives. The 'sambhog'ual depictions in some of the temples were mean to not only educate the people, but also to help those who were involved in 'sambhog'ual sadhanas for enlightment.
There is a difference between Nudity and expression of beauty and pornography. What appears in Hindu puranas and Itihasas are the expressions of genuine beauty and not pornography. The carving of such bold sculptors denotes the free thinking creative minority existing in India at that time. This also signifies that Scythians, Huns and Kushans assimilation in Hindu society was complete by then. The freeness of the society towards discussing 'sambhog' empirically and scientifically reveals about the overall openness of the culture.
According to Kama Sutra, the man should practise Dharma, Artha and Kama at different times and in such a manner that they may harmonize together and not clash in any way. He should acquire learning in his childhood, in his youth and middle age he should attend to Artha and Kama. In his old age he should perform Dharma and thus seek to gain salvation ie liberation.Moksha is a long process which can be achieved only when all material desires are fulfilled.
Acharya Rajnish aka Osho, in his book- "Sambhog Se Samadhi Tak" has very convincingly explained this. He says that a person is always engaged in pleasure till a time comes that he is satisfied of all these things going around the temple and then he enters the temple to see the God. That is first you have to deal with very natural things like Kaam and only after crossing this, you can attain Gyan or knowledge of God.
Hinduism only approves the marital 'sambhog' as sacred and prohibits premarital or extramarital 'sambhog'. Some sects in Hinduism worship Yoni (female 'sambhog' organ) as the Goddess. Hindus worship Lord Shiva in the form of Lingam, which is a symbol of male creative energy and is always shown with Yoni, the symbol of female creative energy.
In olden times India, a childless widow was considered to have 'sambhog' with the appropriate person in order to have a child and it was called as "Niyoga". In Mahabharata, Draupadi is depicted as having five husbands who were Pandavas. Though Hinduism does not support prostitution, you will find prostitutes in all parts of India.
'Sambhog' as Meditation
During a conversation between Shiva and Shakti(Vigyan Bhairava Tantra), Devi Asks-
O Shiva, what is your reality ?
What is this wonderful universe ?
What consttutes seed ?
Who controlls the universal wheel ?
What is this life beyond form pervading forms ?
How may we enter it fully,
above space and time,
names and descriptions ?
Let my doubts be cleared !
Shiva's 112 methods of meditation
Lord Shiva explains-
At the start of 'sambhog'ual union,
Keep attentive on the fire in the beginning,
And so continuing,
Avoid the embers in the end,
When in such embrace your senses are shaken as leaves,
Enter this shaking,
Even remembering union,
Without the embrace.
These verses clearly indicate how 'sambhog'ual act can be utilized for achieving enlightment. Enlightment is a state, when all egos vanish. As in a 'sambhog'ual act, the couple leaves behind their ego and unites with each other and achieves 'sambhog'ual ecstasy. This very thing can be utilized to achieve spiritual ecstasy.
'Sambhog' as Yajnya
Yajna or sacrifice is derived from root word "Yaj", which means Worship or offering an oblation. It is an act by which a couple surrenders the ego, in order to gain pleasure, satisfaction and progeny. "Her lap is a sacrificial altar, her hairs, the sacrificial grass, her skin, the soma-press,the two labia of the vulva are the fire in the middle.So great is the world of his who practises 'sambhog'ual intercourse. These verses from "Upanishad" clearly indicate that, 'sambhog' is a form of worship and also as an act of sacredness.
The Hindu Sage,Vatsayana says, both men and women should learn Kamashastra. In Hindu society 'sambhog' was always considered to be individual choices. There are many instances in our history and scriptures mentioning pre-marital 'sambhog' and love marriages.
Also the extra marital affairs are personal affairs, we should let individuals to decide about it. Hence it is improper to call them anti-Hindu acts. Gandharva marriage is the voluntary union of a maiden and her lover, which arises from desire and 'sambhog'ual intercourse for its purpose.
Hinduism has given freedom to its people. In Hindu society 'sambhog' is neither a taboo nor pornography. 'sambhog' is a sacred act,recognized as human desire to be satisfied and which may be used to attain the ultimate goal of enlightment.