If you thought Kamasutra represents ancient Indian erotic literature, read this book Love and Lust to know that it is just a small speck in the spectrum of Erotica in Indian literature. That has its beginnings right in the Rig Veda and is found in as much abundance in the folk literature around the country.
60+ pieces, excerpts, stories, and poems from a plethora of Indian literature. A lot of which I did not even know existed makes it quite an erotic reading – pun intended. I wonder how the authors put together such a vast collection of literature? How many they would have surfed and how many they would have read? They introduce each piece by telling a bit about the author, the time period in which he or she lived, the context where relevant, contemporary works, language and background of the work. This background and context setting makes the pieces much more relevant for the reader.
There are works like Suka Saptati that have no known authors. And may have been a compilation of works of multiple authors. And the editors still try to give you a sense of who and where of these works. This was, in fact, my favorite piece in the book.
There are stories of love and lust, of women enticing men, of illicit relationships, of games, that lovers play, of the roles their friends play and the impact on nature on human emotions. There are lessons for lovers like where to meet, how to start talking and how to make love. And there are elaborate descriptions of the man and the woman, right from what they are wearing, how their bodies are and how they change in reaction to their partner, that bring them alive along with the surroundings.
A fair amount of the literature quoted here is poetry from various languages and regions of India. South India – particularly Tamil and Telugu has so much poetry describing the lovemaking, the preparation of a devadasi and making her expert in entertaining the customers. And extracting the most out of them. There are quite a few stories of incest. And the one I liked was the one that goes on to explain how the relationships get complicated with incest. It is hilarious but still manages to give a message.
One thing that you realize, even if you knew it earlier, is the uninhibited lives our ancestors lived. Driven solely by what they wanted in that moment. The relationships, families, laws, and rules – all existed. But they were never so rigid that they could limit the human heart or its desires.
I took more than 3 months to read this book. And that is because it is not easy to read it. Much less comprehend it. At times reading too many pieces together would have been an overdose for me.
Take your call, for me, it was a huge introduction to the ancient Indian texts.