Sudhir Kakar on Indian ancient text ‘Kamasutra’

Contrary to its reputation for prurience, the Kamasutra is a sober little work. Its author, reputedly a celibate, operates very much within the Hindu scholarly tradition. He quotes the opinions of other  scholars on a problem, the weaknesses in their arguments, looks at other possible solutions to the problem and then chooses sexuality the best one while giving reasons for this choice. The aim was comprehensive, the large number of positions telling us not only what is but what can be, a number that tests the limits of our sexual imagination. Vatsyayana’s effort is to include all their that is even remotely possible in the realm of sexual love, even when some of the women is items on the list are most improbable. It is a search for infinity in love, an attempt to reach completion through the inclusion of everything that could be relevant. On the other hand, Vatsyayana’s matter-of-factness with regard to sex can be troublesome for a modern western sensibility in which sexuality occupies such an exalted position where it is believed to reveal the ultimate truth about a person. His scholarly discussion of such subjects as oral sex can also appear faintly comical to the same sensibility which is not quite free of its Judeo-Christian heritage in sexual matters.


About Dilawar

Graduate Student at National Center for Biological Sciences, Bangalore.
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