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The art of love
Generations have carried this best-seller to the bedroom, at least in the mind. Call it a treatise on the psychology of desire or a manual of yoga between the sheets, this ancient classic has stood the test of time. In sheer weight of words alone, it has seen scores of reprints and interpretations, notable among them by orientalist Richard Burton (1883), Richard Schmidt who wrote a German-Latin version (1897), Indra Sinha (1980), Alain Danielou (1994) and co-authors Wendy Doniger and Sudhir Kakar (2002). There was even a version by Madelyn Carol Dervos which came bound in Japanese silk. And then there was Mira Nair's movie of the name made in 1996 and Girish Karnad's Utsav (1984) which shows Vatsyayana at work drawing inspiration from the stirrings and rhythms of courtesans.
Pages and pages of corny prose and Playboy photographs may have calmed raging libidos and hormones in the growing-up years, but those looking for the sensual have fallen back on Vatsyayana for that ultimate sighs-and-moans experience. Over the years, its title has been associated with dubious vitality potions, a condom which boasts of a speciallyformed lubricant, and internet sites that offer free photo downloads. At the subliminal level, Kamasutra has become a metaphor too. Doniger points to Roland Barthes saying, "Writing is the science of the various blisses of language, its Kamasutra. "
Yet essentially, while the Kamasutra speaks of love-making as a science at the clinical level, a la motorcycle maintenance, it also looks at the artful union of a sense organ with another being. And in that, its language is uninhibited. Its sensitivity can't be missed either. At the end of the sexual congress, it recommends, "the lovers should go separately to the washing-room. " They may then eat some sweetmeats, sip sherbet and sit on the terrace to enjoy the moonlight. Until another romantic day, then.
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