Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Jaipur Literature Festival - Vatsayan & the Erotic & The Caferati Meet

23 Jan 2010

Warning: This post discusses adult content

This was a session with Sudhir Kakar and Ruchir Joshi. The former read from his fictional biography of Vatsayan - The Ascetic of Desire: A Novel of the Kama Sutra and the latter from his contemporary erotic anthology - Electric Feather.

Since very little is known about Vatsayan himself, this biography is mostly fictional with Kakar ascribing his knowledge to being born & brought up in a brothel, although he himself remained chaste and faithful to his wife.

Kakar read a portion of his book and then went about dispelling some myths associated with Vatsayan and the Kamasutra. The Kamasutra is not all about sex. Only Chapter 2 of the 7 chapters deals with the subject. (Parallelly, only 10% of the sculptures at Khajuraho are sexual in nature) and it is a text book of sensuality rather than sexuality. It stresses on how pleasure needs to be cultivated.

When Vatsayan originally write the Kamasutra, he recommended that every woman read it before she was married (sometime as early as the age of 14-15). The first translator of the book brought his own chauvinistic attitude to the fore when he recommended that women should read it , but only with the permission of their husbands!

In Western Literature, a woman is seen as a fort that needs to be captured, especially when you look at the language used to describe attraction and mating rituals. The focus is on sexual not sensual love which is in complete contradiction to Vatsayan who introduces "love" in marraige. According to him, the goal of marriage is love (which went against most dharam shastras of his time)

Vatsayan was a believer in womens emancipation to the extent that one of the chapters even details how to get rid of a man - do not laugh at his jokes, look at him like he is a fool, etc. Way before his time!

Ruchir Joshi, read a passage from his book, which didn't sound too interesting. He used his time trying to market his book, but didn't do it very effectively.

We couldn't stay on for the question answer session, because we were to leave for the Caferati meet. since so many book lovers and aspiring authors who are members of Caferati (a group of writers in English spread across the globe) were planning to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival, a special read-meet was planned at the Caferati Jaipur haunt.- Samanvai Art Gallery on MI Road. There were at least 35-40 members who attended the meet and it was good to put names to faces from across the country. Would have loved to post a picture of the meet here, but as a rule, I do not upload personal photos of people on my blog (unless they are used to being in the media glare or its is a group shot where faces aren't distinct) Facebook friends can see the pictures in my Jaipur photo album.

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