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जहॉं दु:ख शब्‍दों में उमड़ आया, जहॉं मन के भावों ने पाई काया....

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Posted On: 3 May, 2016 में

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By all available accounts, Kamasutra was written in 3rd century AD. The text shows that the contemperary Indian society was a liberal lot in matters of sex and love. The so called elite ‘ganikas’ and nagarwadhus knew the art of love from A to Z and commanded respect for their profession. Young people went to them for learning the art of love with ostensible permission of their families since the ganikas were supposed to be experts in music, dancing, etiquettes and love making. Thus this epic (Kamasutra) was authored by Vatsyayan in a carefree atmosphere provided by a permissive social milieu of his times.That was also a time when Buddhism was still the religion of the masses and its tantric traditions allowed certain sexual rituals. Therefore, the book talked about sex without any inhibitions as nobody was expected to take offence about a work that was more about love and philosophy rather than a work of some kind of porn. Later, when Buddhism became rigid and wary of sex as a means of salvation, many kingdoms built temples that deliberately depicted sex positions in their architecture (Konark, Khajuraho and other old Hindu temples) to arouse the sensual nerve of the masses, which went into limbo due to impact of Budhism . It shows that people of this land never had any taboos about sex till perhaps the arabs came to establish, what is known as Delhi Sultanate (Lodis) and thereafter the Mughals, who tried to destroy the liberal culture of this land. Thus the Indian peninsula was infected with the virus of extreme conservatism which still persists thanks to the victorian ideas brought in later by the successors of Mughals i.e., Britishers. The victorian morality introduced by the English did most of the damage to the permissiveness of Indian masses,

Ironically, it were  some gentlemen of taboo-ridden west that were the first to bring this great work of Vatsyayana to limelight, after many centuries of its hibernation. For West it was some revolutionery treatise that offered an altogether different vision that talked of sexual pleasure for both men and women in an equal measure. So it goes to the credit of two english gentlemen, who went on to translate, print and populerise ‘Kamasutra’ in the west. One of them was an Indian civil servant working for East India Company, named Foster Fitzerald Arbuthnot and the other one was Sir Richard Francis Burton, a controversial explorer of real literary gems. It is but for these two ‘heroes’ or the kamasutra would have remained hidden in obscurity for a longer time.

The story of survival of this classic is indeed one of the most exhilerating saga of 19th century. It was languishing as a palm leaf manuscript for many centuries and was almost on the verge of extinction in it’s land of birth because the work was nearly forgotten by Indians untill in the nineteenth century, it was pulled out from the selves by imperial agents, forced into certain misrepresentative clothing and transported to overseas.

Quite interestingly, it was not welcomed in the beginning, though it was secretively selling in paris and London in certain book stores and those who bought it were scared while buying as some shy Indians still do when buying condomes. These dubious buyers were afraid of being caught and imprisoned under some law prevailing in those countries at the time. These backstreet shops overcharged as happens in sale of any contrabanned article. Moreover, those old editions were badly printed with illustrations of ‘asanas’ (sexual positions during mating) and as such were considered  ’pornography’. Inspite of being illegal, the circulation went on increasing and found place in the cupboards of rich and influential.

The first original edition of ‘Kamasutra’  (in english) was published in 1883 but even that was not published ‘openly’ in the west. Surprisingly the first scholarly english translation of maharishi Vatsyayan’s Kamasutra was published as late as 1963 and the really brilliant rendition of this classic came in 21st century (year 2002) compiled by Wendy Doniger and Sudhir Kakkar.

- oppareek43


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