We get to the last week of our series of talking about Sex and then talk about topics like “Your sex is yours“, “Sex and Personality“, “The Sexual Energy“, For our last chapter I’m going to talk about one of the best known books on sex in the history “The Art of Kamasutra” by Alka Pande.
Contrary to the idea that we have of Kamasutra, the original story has no images, it is only text. Although this text is attributed to the Indian ascetic teacher Vatsyayana who lived around the fourth century AD, there were already many writings on sexuality and pleasure by approximately 400 different authors. In this work, Vatsyayana summarizes and reflects a deep exploration of sexuality in philosophical, social and physical dimensions. Therefore, the Kamasutra is aimed at educated people and their personal development–integrating sexuality and pleasure within society. The book was not entirely a sex manual or a sacred tool or spiritual. Its foundation was based on four purposes:
Dharma, leading a virtuous life; Artha, accumulating power and wealth; Kama, embracing pleasure and sexuality and Moksha, experiencing liberation at the end of life.
Since the first English translation of the Kamasutra, there have been several different authors who wanted to create their own vision of this work. It is worth mentioning two translations by the authors Indra Sinha and Sudhir Kakar. The first one published his version in a more poetic and lyrical fashion, in 1980. Alka Pande attributed a correct contextualization of the Kamasutra. The second author, an Indian psychoanalyst, published an interpretation with a more religious and analytical approach in 2002.
With her version of this work, Alka Pande leads us towards eroticism and sensuality. The art of Kamasutra is a text of illustrations by the author herself, a critic of art, erotica, gender, and music in India, her country of origin.
She has published a multitude of articles, books and workshops on aesthetics, eroticism, desire, sensuality and sexual identity for which she has received several international awards. The book I have chosen is a review of the Kamasutra in which she presents her philosophy that love, sex and desires are a key component of how to get pleasure in the temporal world. With her words, she leads us towards the search for a satisfying life, journey towards freedom, and song of sensuality, love and beauty.
From the four foundations developed by the original Kamasutra ─dharma, artha, moksha and kama─ Alka Pande focuses on this version of the kama first: the love game or the art of making love or pleasing.
The kama concept has so many connotations that there is hardly a division between eroticism and esotericism in India. Dating back centuries ago, the gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon had multiple partners and exercised the sexual act as something sacred but also earthly, sensual and erotic. And this mythology has been reflected for much time in all the art of India, be it sculpture, dance, painting, etc. to transmit to human beings the authentic symbol of pleasure and communion.
In ancient India, sex was not only understood to serve for procreation, but also to achieve physical satisfaction, pleasure and communication.
The masters of antiquity already placed special emphasis on teaching men and women all the sexual teachings in depth because they knew that sexual desire and its practices could lead them to a state of ecstasy, which at the same time can be erotic, educational and liberating. This idea may be shocking to our Catholic religious beliefs that inhibit sexual desire and pleasure.
Unlike the Judeo-Christian societies, the Hindu culture granted freedom of expression to sensuality and eroticism in its origin. It should also be mentioned that this author reflects the weight and depth that sexuality had in her own culture in the past. With more time passing, these concepts are even more advanced in this aspect today. It invites us to become aware of these sexual attitudes and to incorporate them into our current society.
Following the original Kamasutra, Alka Pande’s Kamasutra art also serves as a model of how to use aphrodisiac recipes, energy drinks, harmonious music, fragrances and beautiful objects to arouse desires, experiences and orgasmic joys within an environment conducive to love. It includes varieties of how to kiss, touch, love, rub, savor, etc. With his version, he has given a new eroticism to his generation and not only in his own culture, but also to our western society as well. It does not only emphasize the postures, but all sexual practices both within the couple and individuals.
These practices include learning how to seduce, how to hug, how to kiss, how to intensify pleasure and desire by “fighting” between lovers or exchanging roles. But it also indicates the importance of trusting oneself, of respecting one another or another even with lovers and within multiple unions.
The author uses her illustrations to emphasize the sensuality and beauty of eroticism among both men and women and in polygamous couples.
The drawings highlight the genitals and erogenous zones to draw the attention of the reader, to eroticize and excite them. In this way, it naturalizes desire and sexual acts as something explicit and beautiful at the same time. In contrast to this, our sex culture still inhibits these natural attitudes in many cases. However, in our society the sex that is most explicit is reduced to pornography. That industry unfortunately monopolizes sexual “education” in our current times, showing a phallocentric sexuality and, we might say, almost sordid and dirty kind of sexuality. And in addition, it is undoubtedly directed more towards a masculine, rather than feminine public.
The text demonstrates the feminine figure, full of sensuality and sensitivity, treated with dignity and respect. The woman has been in the Hindu culture, in its origin, an object of great veneration. Giving and receiving pleasure, both for women and for men, was of great importance and, at the same time, showed a certain equality between both sexes. This facet of balance between men and women in the sexual plane is not always present today. Therefore, it is important to mention that the Kamasutra gives us the proof that in that erotic and sexual culture was far different in the past; society was more open in a way that allowed for the sexual union to be shared. It was cause for celebration and joy for both sexes.
The Importance of the Term Moksha
To finish this critique, it is necessary to mention the importance of the term moksha. The implicit message that the text conveys is that by practicing the art of love, one can reach higher states of consciousness and experience sensations of ecstasy. These lovemaking practices constitute a certain preparation to experience “death as liberation.” And these concepts do not only exist in Hindu literature, but there are also multiple Taoist authors from ancient times to the present day who speak to this concept. These authors reflect this idea of a healthy experience of sexuality that leads us to higher states of consciousness and to a greater longevity.
For example, Mantak Chia has spoken in depth on the topic of sexuality how to cultivate it. In his main work, he reflects on the practice of pleasure and how to use it to have a longer and fuller life. Personally, these teachings on how to use this “sexual energy” to achieve “elevated states” through sexuality have given me a very deep knowledge of the power it contains. In short, the book is a great manual for anyone who wants to delve into the secrets about sexuality.