So then, another day, and the hypocrisy in India is never ebbing.
Two high-school students from Delhi Public School were filmed having oral sex. Well, apparently the boy filmed (or his associate, I dunno, I haven't seen the film) it using his camera phone. Wicked. Only, reports say the girl is smiling and all happy in it. Now though that reminds me of a certain joke, one never truly knows the issue in such incidents. Anyway, this film was then exchanged via the phones, and finally came to Ravi Raj, a student in IIT-Kharagpur, who rather craftily, created a VCD of the entire incident, and posted it on bazee.com (the Indian subsidiary of eBay). As usual, it got the nasties started in India - true to form, the Indian police captured the baazee CEO, Avinash Bajaj, for distributing pornography!
The boy himself has been tracked down by police, faced court yesterday and has been expelled from his school. Interestingly, there is no mention of the girl anywhere, whereas the name of the boy and person reponsible for selling the video-clip has been splashed across the newspapers all over India. As usual, this case has gripped India, a largely conservative country where anything more revealing than a wet sari is generally regarded as culturally unacceptable.
But are we really that - a largely conservative country? We might be prudes, we sure are an opinionated, prejudiced and hypocritic society, where anything unpleasant is quietly brushed under the carpet, but are we really a conservative country in the true sense of the phrase? We do have a love-hate relation with sex, and we have never been really comfortable talking about it, other than hushed whispers among teenage boys, hysteric giggles among teenage girls, and lecherous looks and back-slapping among men, but aren't we also the country that has mythological teachings about sex, literature on sex, and even a sex God?
We are the country that worship Kama, initially regarded as a creative spirit who welled out of Purusha, the the supreme male element, when that god was resting alone on the cosmic waters at the very beginning of time.Some parts of the Vedas go even farther and say that Kama himself was the supreme creative being, self-existent and sprung out of the cosmic waters at the beginning of time. In this context he was the supreme god who created everything else and whose first emanation was desire and whose second was the power to achieve that desire. Kama is blessed with eternal youth and is figured as the most handsome of the gods. He rides a parrot and carries a bow made of sugar-cane stalk strung with a line of humming-bees and he shoots arrows tipped with flowers. These are the shafts of desire and whoever is struck by them falls in love. Thus, Kama has great resemblance to the Greek Cupid. Kama is accompanied everywhere by his wife, Rati (passion), and his friend Vasanta (spring).
As Hindu mythology progressed and developed into what it is today, Kama became identified with sexual desire, a more frivolous aspect of his creativity. In this aspect he is the son of Vishnu, the preserver within the Hindu Triad. The Vishnu who's Raas-Leela is revered as the divinity of Krishna himself: ‘The Gopis were Rishis,and the Lord Supreme as a babe is teaching them a lesson. But there is more than that. There is a profound occult lesson behind the story. When the Soul is approaching the Supreme Lord at one great stage of initiation, it has to pass through a great ordeal. Stripped of everything on which it has hitherto relied, stripped of everything that is not its inner self, deprived of all external aid, of all external protection, of all external covering, the soul itself, in its own inherent life, must stand naked and alone, with nothing to rely on save the life of the Self within it. If it flinches before the ordeal, if it clings to anything to which it has hitherto looked for help, if in the supreme hour, it cries out for friend or help, or even the Guru himself, the soul fails in that ordeal. Naked and alone it must go forth, with absolutely none to aid it save the divinity within itself. And it is that nakedness of the soul as it approaches the supreme goal, that is told of in that story’.
What then, of the literature about Kama? The aim of Kama in Indian literature deals with pleasure and love. The Kama literature is thought to have been written for the people of the higher castes because the social atmosphere of the time permitted very little private time for a husband and wife. From DeliriumsRealm: Sexual relations were seen as the only allowable token of affection a husband could show his new bride, but at the same time, sex was a source of anxiety for the couple because it was one of the only activities privately shared by the couple and stood as the grounds for which the relationship was based. Apparently, the lower castes did not have any such problems because men and women interacted on a daily basis, and hence their relationships were not based solely on the act of copulence.
So, like everywhere in the world, the relationships of men and women of the elite, were fragile in ancient India. Coming back to Kama literature, the best known of the Kama literature is Vatsyayana's Kamasutra, which was written around the third century C.E. It is a technical account of the social structure dealing with manners, morals, sexology, and culture in the third century. In this treatise, Vatsyayana describes Kama as one of the three values of life along with virtue (dharma) and wealth (artha), which is a departure from the traditional four stages of life, but it shows the separation of Kama with spirituality. He states that much of the condemnation of sexual practices is due to abnormal expressions and perversions rather than due to a healthy concern for it. Vatsyayana also maintains that "sexual satisfacion, [sic.] equally like food, is essential to the maintenance of bodily health" and "though evil effects may follow as a result of indulgence, passion has to be appeased" Therefore, he urges the study of the Kama literature in order to achieve the fullness of pleasure that humans solely can obtain in sexual union, which he believes can only result from following the procedure he describes.
However, the Kamasutra is written from a patriarchal perspective where men were given much more freedom then women. Women were expected to marry as virgins and worship their husbands, while men were permitted premarital and extramarital affairs as well as having other wives and mistresses.
So truly, the prudish, patriarchical aspect of the Indian society has existed since the birth of literature? For, if there is a treatise for acts of copulation, why describe them from a single, preferred sex perspective, and restrict members of other sex from engaging in any acts altogether? Just like Kama Sutra has been interpreted by today's world as a sordid, picture-book of character-drawings engaged in mirthful acts of sex, maybe it is the bias with which the text was written that has led to the entire social tabboo towards sex.