A commentary on the Kamasutra of Vatsyayana


Neither pornography nor erotic literature!

There is an offhand tendency to connect the word ‘Kamasutra’ with pornography and erotic literature.

However, as of now, if anyone were to read Kamasutra for getting erotic pleasure, it might end up as a very futile endeavour.

Kamsutra is not erotic literature. Instead, it is a deep study on the subject matter of man-woman sensual relationship, in a feudal language social system.

This book deals with the various and varied aspects connecting to this item.

After going through the book more than one time, in a very cursory manner, there are certain impressions that have arrived in my mind.

I am going to place these impressions here. Please note that these are just Impressions and not a very deep study of this book. For I have not done a complete reading of the book.

The efforts of the erstwhile English East India Company

When the English East India Company was administering certain locations inside South Asia, the English officials of the Company did get an impression that there was a deep Sanskrit antiquity lying hidden somewhere inside the social system.

It was this Impression that made them search for long-forgotten or slowly-vanishing Sanskrit books.

The erroneous notions

From the beginning of the English rule in some locations in South Asia , the English company officials had to bear the legacy of various erroneous notions possessed by various maritime trade companies of yore.

The first mistake was that South Asia was a place of Hindus (Hindoos). Even now the very word ‘Hindus’ is a very debatable one in what it means and tries to convey.

If the word ‘Hindu’ is meant to convey the name of a religion, there is a big issue.

The antique religion connected to the Vedic literature, Vedic culture and Vedic spirituality, and the other spirituality connected to the Puranas and epic stories such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata is actually the Brahmin religion. Here again the issue is that this Brahmin spiritual antiquity is not connected to one religion. It is connected to two different spiritual systems.

One is the Vedic religion and the other is a religion connected to The Puranas and other epics. The Gods are different. And maybe the Spiritual systems are also different.

The Vedic systems date back to the hoary past. In fact, between these two religious or spiritual systems, there might be a separation of a few thousand years.

Even though it is the Brahmins who maintained the antique spiritual systems connected to the two religious or spiritual antiquities, over the centuries, one can’t say for sure as to how deeply they are connected to the Vedic culture or people.

For the Vedic people or culture dates to more than 5000 to 7,000 years back.

It may be understood that a person living now will have connection to around 20 lakh (2000000) or more people living some 20 to 22 generations back. That is, a person alive now will be connected to around 20 lakh people or so living some 400 years back.

If this be so, then imagine the billions of human bloodline link connections, a person alive now will have to persons alive some 5000 to 7000 years back!

The other populations

Even though the various writings and books created during the English role in South Asia, do mention the peoples of this subcontinent as Hindus, the fact is that the Brahmin temples were inaccessible to the vast majority of peoples here. The vast majority of the peoples did not have the right or opportunity or social circumstance to read or listen to the Brahmin spiritual scriptures and other books. Nor were they allowed to do or take part in any kind of Brahmin spiritual rituals.

They were not allowed to use Brahman or Sanskrit personal names.

But then, many of the other lower-placed populations and peoples did have their own spiritual systems. Some of these spiritual systems were of a shamanistic kind.

However it is true that many of these populations did have a very vibrant aspiration to be connected to the antique Brahmin heritage.

It was the arrival of the English rule in some parts of South Asia that gave a huge trust and pathway to the lower-positioned peoples to enter into the ‘Hindu’ word definition.

When they changed their traditional personal names, which they possibly felt self-deprecatory, to that of Brahmin and Hindu spiritual personages, they literally converted into Hinduism without any antique legacy to support their new religious and spiritual address.

The word India

The next issue is with the word ‘India’. This word seems to have crept into the translation of kamasutra in two or three places.

The word ‘India’ has become a very confusing one as of now.

This is due to the fact that after the English-rule departed from British-India, a new nation with the name India sprung up in around the same location.

Officials of the English East India Company who set up mutually disconnected trading centres around South Asia were under the impression that they were in India from where pepper and other such exotic items were coming over to England and to Continental Europe.

‘India’ was the name used by the ancient maritime traders to denote the location in the far-east from where these things were coming.

For instance, in Malabar which is in the South-Western areas of the subcontinent, the English East India Company had to consolidate around 20 small kingdoms to create a District under the Madras Presidency.

The kingdoms of Malabar which were amalgamated with British-India and made into the Malabar district

1. Kolattunad (Kolattiri) 2. Randattara (Achanmar under Hon. E. I Comy)

3. Tellicherry and Darmapatam (Hon. E. I Comy) 4. Iruvalinad (Nambiar)

5. Kurangoth (Nayar) 6. Kottayam (Raja)

7. Kadattunad (Raja) 8. Payurmalla (Nayars)

9. Pynad (Zamorin) 10. Kurumbranad (Raja)

11. Tamarasseri (Kottayam Raja) 12. Polanad (Zamorin)

13. N. Parappanad (Raja) 14. Pulavayi (Nayars)

15. S. Parappanad (Raja) 16. Ramnad (Zamorin)

17. Cheranad (Zamorin) 18. Ernad (Zamorin)

19. Walluvanad (Vellatiri Raja) 20. Walluvanad (Zamorin)

21. Nadunganad (Zamorin) 22. Kavalapara (Nayar)

23. Vadamalapuram (Raja) 24. Temmalapuram (Raja)

25. Naduvattam (Zamorin) 26. Bettatnad (Raja)

27. Kutnad (Zamorin) 28. Chavakkad & Chetwai (Zamorin)

29. Cannanore (Raja) 30. Wynad (Kottayam Raja)

31. Cochin (Hon. E. I Comy) 32. Tangacherry and Anjengo (Hon. E. I Comy)

Even though the country they created was known as British-India, they generally used the word ‘India’ for that country.

The anguish of the Brahmin folks

The English East India Company was consolidating together a lot of different nations or countries, different populations, different peoples, different ethnic groups and even very many mutually-antagonistic different castes into one single nation.

The English Company administration had the erroneous view that all the populations or peoples inside the locations where they ruled were Hindus, if they were not Christians or Muslims. Maybe they had some doubts about Sikhs, Buddhist and Jain being Hindus.

This gave an impetus to all the lower-positioned peoples and ethnic groups to slowly acquire the Hindu social address. The Brahmins were totally sidelined and dislodged in many locations where the English rule prevailed.

However in most of the independent native kingdoms, who all maintained a strong relationship with the English rule, maintained their traditional spiritual systems intact.

For instance, in British Malabar and in other places of Madras Presidency, the lower-placed castes and ethnic populations slowly started using personal names seen in very ancient Vedic texts and in the later-day puranas / epics.

It is true that the Bramanical households in the various locations inside British India did try desperately to bring to a halt, the gradual erosion and encroachment of their traditional spiritual possessions and territories.

Maybe the English administration couldn't understand the pain, perspective and arguments of the Brahmin households.

However it may be admitted that the English administration did not allow the encroachment of Brahmin temples and other places of worship by the other communities and ethnic populations.

It was only after the formation of the new nation of India that the gradual dislodgment, displacement and replacement of Brahmins by the other populations started gaining pace and power, as far as the traditional Bramanical spiritual possessions were concerned.

This takeover of Brahminical possessions by the rulers as well as by other communities could be the first instance of such a drastic takeover, in the total history of these spiritual items.

Such a thing might not have happened even in the Muslim ruled locations inside South Asia

However, I think the Brahmins took these catastrophic and cataclysmic upheavals in their stride.

In the newly emerging political system of democracy, ideologies and belief systems which could unite people under political leaders became necessary.