Certain segments of Vatsyayana's 2,000-year-old Kamasutra go against the
concept of women's security besides encouraging ideas that have resulted in
treatment of women as "objects", author K R Indira said today.
"Kamasutra teaches that a man can forcefully have sex with a woman and then
marry her. This is against the concept of women's security.
"The text has been practised for thousands of years and passed down
generation...Such ideas encourage treatment of woman as an object," said the
author of 'Sthraina kaamasuthram', a rewriting on Vatsyayana's Kamasutra with a
She, alongside author-diplomat Pavan Varma, was speaking at a session titled
'Reimagining the Kamasutra' at the Jaipur Literature Festival.
Furthering her argument, moderator and author Urvashi Butalia said the
internalisation of the text over several years had created a problematic
situation for women.
"This accumulated knowledge has led to patriarchal attitudes becoming deeply
embedded in the men.
"This encourages violence against women and we need to recognise that," she
Indira also discussed on how even empowered women were reluctant to face their
sexuality and said women have remained silent for long about their desire.
"Vatsyayan failed to examine female desire and since then, women have been
silent about it," she said.
Citing an example, the author recalled the poor response she received for a
recent survey she had carried out among educated and working women about their
"Some time ago, I decided to conduct a survey among women about their sexual
life and made a questionnaire to be distributed among educated, successful,
working women. Out of 500 questionnaires distributed, only 130 came back to
Indira," she said.
"Even today, the so-called empowered women are not ready to face their own
sexuality," Indira added.
When asked about what can be done to address the situation, Indira had her reply
"Women need to become equal to men. We have to work for that because men are not
going to make us their equal. We must stop sacrificing our jobs for family or
kids or housekeeping," she said.
Fellow panelist Varma widened the discussion to examine how the onset of
Victorian morality in India led to suppression of the concept of desire that had
been discussed freely till then.
"We need to understand that the temples of Khajuraho and Konark could not have
been built without social acceptance," he said.
However with the establishment of the British Raj, Varma said the concept of
desire in India was derailed.
"There was a level of incomprehension among them about the fact that a
civilisation could celebrate both Dharma and desire so extensively," he said.
"The elite of the society internalised this critique and hence Victorian
morality derailed the Indian concept of desire," Varma explained.
Bringing the discussion back to the present, the author-diplomat added, "We are
in a peculiar situation today where some lumpen elements attack youngsters in
consensual relations and say it is against our culture, while our history on the
subject of desire tells otherwise."