A compendium of evocative and sensual writing spanning 5000 years of Indian literature
In this comprehensive anthology, the authors forcefully drive home the point that the fascination with eroticism is age-old. The absence of inhibition and guilt and the candour and boldness with which society set about seeking its pleasures find expression repeatedly in writings over the ages. The literature of India, both religious and secular, is full of sexual allusions, sexual symbolisms and passages of such frank eroticism the likes of which are not to be found elsewhere in world literature. For example, some sections of ancient texts like the Vedas, the Upanishads, the epics (the Mahabharata and the Ramayana), the Brahmanas, the puranas and devotional hymns like the Saundarya Lahiri (by Adi Shankaracharya) are studded with graphic sexual imagery. The sacred and the sensuous were thus seen as integrated elements of human existence.
In the medieval period, writers, poets, dramatists, painters, sculptors and artists, whatever be their language and idiom, gave full vent to their creative talents suffused with the sexual metaphor. Kalidas and Jayadeva stand out as exemplars of this genre. It was basically the evangelical fervour of the Victorian era that imposed severs strictures on the so-called heathen 'amorous degradation' and sought to 'cleanse' the Indian people by propagating Western 'morality' and values'. And the Victorian hangover still persists. The underlying themes of this volume are that, in the Indian tradition, the relevance of desire, with eroticism as its natural attribute, was pragmatically accepted and that women were given equal status as men in the pursuit of pleasure.
Think of erotic literature form India and what immediately comes to mind is Vatsyayana's Kamasutra. This was indeed not the first study in erotology nor was it the last. Beginning with the Rg Veda (written some 5000 years ago) right up to the seventeenth century, Indian literature is marked by diverse genres replete with unabashed eroticism in which love, lust and life are explored to their fullest extent
Today, the philosophical acceptance of desire and the erotic sentiment has been
asphyxiated by a hypocritical morality that has for much too long equated sex
with sin and desire with guilt. The purpose of this anthology is to provide enough evidence of an alternative vision, so that readers can get a glimpse of the sense of maturity and honesty that animated our ancestors.
About The Author
Author-diplomat Pavan K. Varma has penned several successful and critically acclaimed books such as The Great Indian Middle Class and Krishna: The Playful Divine apart from an authoritative biography of the renowned poet Mirza Ghalib. He has also translated Kaifi Azmi (a well-known Urdu poet) and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee into English. He was, until recently India's hight commissioner in Cyprus. He has now been appointed the director of the Nehru Centre, London.
Sandhya Mulchandani has worked in the print media for several years and is the author of The Indian Man: His True Colours, a book that looks at the modern urban Indian male, warts and all. She is presently working on a five volume series, translating hitherto unpublished Sanskrit Kama Shastra manuscripts into English, as well as on Kamasutra for Women.
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