Chaitanya Vaishnava Eroticism and the Kama Sutra

Some months ago I had an inspiration to study the Kama Sutra in relation to Radha-Krishna’s pastimes. I purchased Anne Hooper’s edition which “reinterprets and updates the ancient erotic texts…distilling 2,000 years of sexual knowledge into an exhilarating modern guide.” and compared that with The Complete Illustrated Kama Sutra edited by Lance Dane. Hooper left much of the text out considering it to be irrellevant to today’s reader. Hooper says, “By putting the sex tips and sexual positions into the context of the 21st century, I’ve tried to give his archaic advice meaning for all of us today.”

On the other hand, Dane presents a more complete edition containing much archaic advice. He also illustrates it using traditional Indian artwork from his collection, which includes beautiful paintings of Radha Krishna who look remarkably like Kama and Rati and other nayakas and nayikas. The Kama Sutra predates Srimad Bhagavatam and all Radha-Krishna writtings. I contend that it serves as a model for their pastimes to a degree.

This is backed up by Charles S.J. White in his The Caurasi Pad of Sri Hit Harivams which I also happened to get from the library recently. “To establish fully a mode of analysis that takes into account both the religious history of the various sects of Vaishnava bhakti and the history of Indian creative literature with its complex systems of figures-of-speech, such matters as emotions involving the love of nayaka and nayika, the origin of the Kamashastra literature, and the influence of that literature upon Vaishnava faith are pertinent subjects for investigation.” (p 25)

“Although the details of the divine lovers’ behavior are prefigured in the dramas and poetry of an earlier period and in the Kamasutra, the erotic description leads beyond such accidental characteristics to cause reflection upon the nature of the cosmos and the meaning of man’s life.” (p 30)

“’Sulky Lady’ and ‘Passionate Lady’ are conventional epithets for the nayika, or heroine, in Sanskrit dramaturgy. They also refer to the emotional states of women in stages of sexual play and arousal, described in the Kamasutra. In other stanzas of the poem, many different epithets are used both for Radha and for Krishna.” (p 109) Hit Harivams says, “But the Passionate Lady is continually adverse and angry.” (p 60) White’s footnote p 111, “A convention mentioned in the Kamasutra.”

I’m sure there is more, but this is just a preliminary survey on my part.

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