Author: Pavan K Varma
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8172235496
A compendium of evocative and sensual writings 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 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. Kalidasa and Jayadeva stand out a exemplars of this genre.
It was basically the evangelical fervour of the Victorian era that imposed severe 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 from 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.
Poems of Love and War: Tamil, Sangam Literature
Kumarasambhava, Rtusamhara and Srngaratilaka-Kalidasa
The Panchatantra-Vishnu Sharma
The Saundarya Lahiri-Adi Shankara
The Forest of Thieve and the Magic Garden-Udayaprabhasuri
Poems of Vidya and Shilabhattarika
Samayamatrka, Kalavilasa and Desopadesa-Kshemendra
Gahun: Chando Ain Gangraj-Gahuni
Veli Krishna Rukmani-Prithvi Raj Rathor
Verses of Vemana
Poems of Govindadasa
Gaudiya Vaishnavism Poems
When God is a Customer: Telugu Courtesan Poems
Vidya Sundara-Bharatchandra Ray