Vatsyayana is known for the widely popular texts of “Kamasutra” but, very little is known about the author himself. Jaya Misra, who has penned a fictional take on what factors and phase of life might have led the ancient Indian philosopher to write the shastra, says today individuals have lost or forgotten their sense of sensuality amid the aggressive lives being led.
Misra’s “KAMA: The story of the Kama Sutra”, an Om Books International publication, talks about the importance of pleasure and desire, which was largely appreciated only in prostitution houses but later extensively studied by Vatsyayana.
“We are not sensual creatures any more because of the kind of aggressive lives we all are leading. The struggles of our lives, earning more money… people are off the sense of sensuality today,” Misra told IANS in a telephonic interview.
The smooth, addictive and interesting read should not be taken as a pure book of facts as most of it is Misra’s imagination. Some of the facts infused in the read that many might be surprised to know is that courtesans of Patliputra paid more taxes than the entire city paid collectively.
The 335-paged book also shows how self-pleasure or masturbation was crucial for women at the time, which on the contrary today, Misra points out, is a lesser known or understood reality.
“Statistically if you see, a lot of women don’t reach orgasm. A lot of women don’t masturbate. They feel it is wrong to masturbate and some… who have been married for so many years, don’t know what is an orgasm in the first place,” she said.
“Sex is such a taboo topic that women are not ready to admit to themselves that they have sensuality in them. It is buried inside. There is so much of frustration among people and I just feel that if we were a little bit more open about desires… things would be different in the sad scenario today,” she added.
In addition to the topic of sex being taboo, the absence of sex education, a major contrast to the fact that “Kama Sutra” hails from India, what is her take on this hypocrisy’
“We Indians have regressed a lot,” said Misra.
“Post-Veda, when Vatsyayana wrote the ‘Kama Sutra’, there is a portion where he writes how to woo other men’s wives. Forgetting about pleasuring and wooing just women. There is a particular fact, that a married woman those days… the society was so leaning towards women that they had very clearly mentioned that if a married woman is unhappy with her husband, then she could take up to four lovers. If she takes a fifth lover then she is deemed a whore,” Misra said.
“So, at the time society may not have been promiscuous… the reason why Vatsyayana wants to promote Kama shastra is so that there is balance in society. Today, I hear a lot of women talking… a lot of men don’t even know where the clitoris is. They don’t know the concept of pleasuring a woman. Which is why I feel the society has regressed a lot,” Misra added.
“Kama” has a lot of lessons for an individual who has forgotten how to love herself or himself. The descriptions of beauty by Misra’s Vatsyayana can make you feel more confident and is worth it if you read it with an open mind.
The lovemaking scenes in the beginning might give you the impression that it’s like the good old “Mills and Boon” stuff with mushy episodes, but as you delve deeper into the incidents woven around Vatsyayana, you realise that there is more to it than sensuality.
You can also be the Ratnavati whom he loved or the powerful Nayantara whose confidence could break the fiercest of people or Ramanna, a eunuch but the most loving and selfless mother any individual could have.
(Kishori Sud can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
By Kishori Sud