Sunday, October 22, 2006
A peacock’s foot, a broken cloud and the art of making love
“Kama is the enjoyment by the five senses of hearing, feeling, seeing, tasting and smelling, assisted by the mind together with the soul…….”
I think Vatsyayana would have hated the word “sex”. For a man who tells you about the art of giving a hicky which looks “the leaf of a blue lotus”, who can describe an embrace as a “mixture of milk and water”, for such a man, calling the sublime pleasures of making love “sex” would be like saying that the Kamasutra is a book about sex …..
Long before it became a dirty word and long, long before the Messrs Ellis, Freud and Kinsey delved into the mysterious workings of human sexuality, it was here in India that we believed that sex was not a furtive, unmentionable thing that nice girls do only while thinking of their country, but rather a sophisticated art (even a science, if you see the precision one needs to scratch a “peacock’s foot” on your beloved’s breast), to be learnt and practiced with the same diligence and devotion as one would practice the art of ……bonsai, maybe? Because desire was not a hairy beast to be locked up in the dank, dingy trash cans of the soul, but, like the pursuit of virtue (Dharma) and the acquisition of wealth (Artha), the gratifications of the senses (Kama) was an important step towards the attainment of…. yes, believe it or not, Moksha! (A definition of sex, which, as you can see, extends miles beyond the modern-day obsession with performance and orgasms!)
And so naturally, many ancient Indian scholars and pundits spent their time studying the shastras of pleasure of which, the most famous was Vatsayana. Who wrote the Kamasutra (Aphorisms of Love) which, in his own words, “is not to be used merely as an instrument for satisfying our desires,” but is actually a handy book on everything you wanted to know about anything from interior decoration to baldness…. and oh yes - sex. Very little is known about Vatsyayana except that his real name was either Mallinaga or Mrillana, that he lived anywhere between the 1st and 4th century A.D. and that he wrote the Kamasutra while he was a religious student at Benares. Probably in a state of celibacy, because he did it while being “wholly engaged in the contemplation of the Deity”. (Which seems to work just fine, since Havelock Ellis - whose Psychology of Sex is considered to be ‘one of the first enlightened account of human sexuality’- was a virgin till he was 32 and had a proper sex life only after the age of 60!)
But since Shakespeare by any other name would’ve have made as riveting a read, what better time than this Valentine season to rediscover the 1600-year old secrets of love even if we don’t quite know whether the author’s real name was Popatmal or what cereal he had for breakfast….
Sixty-four steps (er, shouldn’t that be sixty-nine?) to a sexier you.
Actually it’s a fairly simple equation and one that we may have forgotten in our crazed quest for thinner thighs and buns of steel. That sexy begets sex and vice versa. Except that in the Kamasutra, sex appeal goes beyond washboard abs and lasts long after your breasts had wearily given up fighting gravity and time. Because the lure is not just a sleek body or a beautiful face, but the enticement of a well-read, inquisitive mind, the titillation of a charming conversation and the enchantment of a sparkling personality, with as many facets as a well-cut diamond. (Did you know that diamonds have cleavages? A cleavage is the property of certain minerals to split in certain directions and produce flat, even surfaces - fortunately, not something our breasts are known to do!) So, in order to boost your SA, the Kamasutra lists 64 arts and sciences that may be studied along with it, ranging from sorcery to carpentry (how else would you cast that spell over him so that he’d be your slave for life and then build that bed in which to lie together happily ever after?)
So, this summer, while you try to add the sizzle back into your sex life with that aerobics class and the latest whisper of Victoria’s secret, you may want to consider stain-glass making (yes, the Kamasutra recommends it), tattooing, archery, solving riddles, brushing up on your knowledge of gold, jewels, chemistry, gambling, mimicry (they hadn’t invented bungee jumping as yet!) and of course the art of war. Because haven’t you heard? Everything is fair in love and war.
The slow boat to ecstasy ….
by the light of a half moon with the jump of a hare as you take a bite of heaven...
You can’t hurry love, they say. Well, by Vatsanya’s book, you can’t hurry lovemaking either because you see he took the whole business of foreplay very seriously. (It’s interesting that out of the 41 sections in the Kamasutra, only 3 are about the actual act of sex!) From the art of making love to a virgin wife (where he recommends, because “women being of a tender nature, want tender beginnings,” that the man actually spend the first 9 nights without even touching her, though it’s okay to bathe together) to the art of coquetry, from cosmetics more magical than Wonder bras to love potions which subjugate, conquer and all but enslave, from aphrodiasiacs (though I really don’t know whether you want to try the milk and sugar thingie in which you boil a ram’s testicle) to sex toys, from shampooing to piercing him with your breast, from having a love quarrel to how to behave if you are part of the king’s harem, you’ll find every single arrow in Kamadev’s quiver displayed in the Kamasutra. (There’s even a recipe for an ointment that will make your husband hate you – nifty, if you’re contemplating a quick alimony settlement!)
Of crabs and congresses and the wife of Indra.
After you’ve figured out which of the 4 different kinds of love is yours, after choosing one (or more) of the 8 different ways of embracing your beloved (including an embrace which is like the “mixture of the sesame seed with rice”), after losing count of how many different ways there are to kiss, scratch (including one called a `token of remembrance'– which you give your lambkin just before you leave for that annual visit to your mother or that dealer conference!), bite, lie down, make sounds (many more than “yes! Oh yes!”), play the part of a man (where apparently you can choose to either be a top or a swimg!), it may be a while before you get around to even considering ………. what do you guys call it these days?
Did somebody say “sex”? Union is more like it (take your pick from18 different kinds - 9 by the kind of man he is or woman you are and 9 by the strength of your – and his – libido), or congress if you’re more politically inclined and depending on what position you want to take, you could split like a bamboo, yawn (!), be a crab, fix a nail or if you aspire to the highest of high, you could be the wife of the god Indra, a position which needless to say, you achieve only after years of hard work and practice!
And don’t worry about the length of his er, sex drive or the depth of your er, passion. The Kamasutra is an erotic Noah’s ark where there is room for all and a plan for every contingency. So if you are an elephant woman (no reference to the size of your hips) in love with a hare man (let’s just say that the at the other end of this spectrum stands the bull man), if your passion is middling but his will set the Gomti on fire, if you prefer water (though Vatsyayana thinks it’s improper!) or standing up, whether it’s the “blow of a bull” or “the sporting of a sparrow” that transports you to the heights of ecstasy, Papa Vatsyayana will show you how.
I could go on but it would be impossible, apart from being blasphemous, to compress the wisdom of 1250 slokas written by a sage of erotica into 1500 words and I wouldn’t even try. So here I will leave you hoping that I have sufficiently titillated your mind enough (not to mentioned boggled it.) to rush and order your copy of the world’s most famous pillow book! And read the Kamasutra for at least this one reason. Anyone who says that this is the way it should all end, not with a crude bang but with a long, soft, satisfied sigh, laden with the scent of a 1000 orgasms, deserves a dekho…. at least sixty-four times!
“At the end of the congress, (he) should apply with his own hand to the
body of the woman some pure sandal wood ointment……. He should then embrace her with his left arm, and with agreeable words should cause her to drink from a cup held in his own hand…….. They can then eat sweetmeats, or anything else, according to their likings and may drink anything that may be liked in different countries, and known to be sweet, soft, and pure. The lovers may also sit on the terrace of the palace or house, and enjoy the moonlight, and carry on an agreeable conversation. At this time, too, while the woman lies in his lap,
with her face towards the moon, the citizen should show her the different planets, the morning star, the polar star, and the seven Rishis, or Great Bear.
This is the end of sexual union.”
Posted by ratna rajaiah at 4:25 AM