Life | Kama Sutra Revisited

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Kama Sutra Revisited
Text by Sandhya Mulchandani
Published: Volume 19, Issue 2, February, 2011

Though love, lust and desire have occupied pride of place throughout human existence, is sex now losing its potency? In a private conversation with the great sage Vatsyayan, Sandhya Mulchandani discusses the importance of pleasure today

The phone rings shrilly, rudely waking me from my sun-induced stupor. “We’ve just concluded a survey which shows that people today don’t have time for sex, so could you quickly recommend how long a brief session should last along with the four best positions to maximise pleasure,” I’m asked by an impatient Mumbai newspaper reporter.

It takes me a few minutes to register what’s being asked. “Quickly and brief are the wrong words,” I say slowly gathering my wits. “What you’ve to first do is find time.” But the young journalist is obviously not interested – all he wants is a quote and maybe the four positions for personal use.

I sigh, settling back to enjoy the warm sun on a cold Delhi winter afternoon.

What’s with young people these days I think; how come pleasure has become so secondary and undervalued? Celebrated as an intrinsic component of life, love, lust and desire had occupied pride of place throughout human existence. But it now seems that sex is losing its potency. Why has it become so disappointing for so many?

When in doubt consult the expert and who better than the great sage Vatsyayan, with whom I frequently have private conversations. “So, what do you think is happening?” I ask. “How come there is so much naiveté and dissatisfaction in an age of overt sexuality and free-floating information?”

“Hari Om. I haven’t heard from you for quite a while. I see that the Kama Sutra has been published in every language, shape and size,” says the guru rather satisfied with the sales figures. “Gratifying but seeing the state of present-day sexuality, obviously no one reads the book. I’ve always maintained that the right manner to win over a loved one is to first create chemistry, for which you need time, attention and patience. What’s keeping people so busy these days?” he asks.

“Getting ahead, making money, acquiring Bottega bags and Manolo Blahnik shoes, attaining celebrity status, bidding for IPL teams and much more,” I reply, explaining that today there are so many things that are as gratifying as sex.

“But isn’t having a compatible relationship and good sex important anymore?” asks the sage concerned at the dramatic change in societal attitudes.

“It’s good if it happens but no one’s willing to spend time making it work. Look around you, and you’ll find that sexuality has fallen along the wayside. When the post coital cigarette lasts longer than the act there’s obviously something seriously wrong. You’d have a tough time if you had to restore sexuality to its former glory,” I intone.

“That’s deeply disappointing especially after all the hard work I’ve put in. But this is always a problem when sexuality gets drained out of sex,” says the wise sage renowned for his understanding of human behaviour. “It’s like fragrance being removed from flowers. Bees may get attracted once but when they realise that the flowers have lost their very essence, they’ll never return. It’s the same when sex is stripped of its mystery and sensuality. It becomes tedious and uninteresting, often even sordid. My advice: Learn to make love with all your senses,” he says.

“But we’re surely using our senses these days; everything is so visual and tactile,” I say immediately thinking about the gyrating Munnis, Sheilas and all the other images that hold India in thrall.

“That’s not what making love with the senses means. Sexuality begins long before the bedroom: in the mind along with the five sense organs. Pleasurable sights, aromatic smells, sensuously touching and kissing, melodious music, appetising food and drink should all come together to create a heightened environment of passion. I know I recommended 64 positions but just knowing these is not enough to captivate and hold a lover,” says the guru emphasising that imagination and mystery are more important than mere technique.

“But how can there be mystery when the dictum is to flaunt everything that you’ve got. Isn’t it ironic that while bodies are being primed and pruned to attract attention the value of sex itself is diminishing? One’s only considered to be sexy these days if one is a beacon of physical perfection.” Assuming he doesn’t know what I’m talking about I show him the new Kingfisher calendar and pictures of assorted models and film stars.

“Can angular bones masquerading as bodies be sexually stimulating? Oh, for those soft, rounded breasts peering from behind long flowing tresses, swaying hips, luscious lips and languorous bodies, and all natural too! ” he says lapsing into longing for a bygone era. I try hard to drag him back from his reverie of ‘thighs like banana stems and elephant-like gait’.

“Nostalgia is always exaggerated,” I say a tad annoyed. “If sensuality has to make a comeback, people have to understand its value. They have to shed the idea that aggression, overt exposure and explicitness stand for desirability, they have to once again experience firsthand the excitement of intimacy, the frisson of romance.

“Young people are growing up sexually desensitised never having experienced love in all its glory. You pioneered sex education through art and literature; you put India on the world sexual map. Shouldn’t you be doing something about it?” I fume on.

Mallanaga Vatsyayan held up his hand to stop my ranting. “But of course I’ve been working on it. It will be out end of the year and is titled Kontemporary Kamasutra. It will be priced at Rs 750 only.”

P.S. For those not in the know, Muni Vatsyayan wrote the Kama Sutra, a definitive treatise on sexuality in Sanskrit sometime between the third and fourth centuries A.D.

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