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A WORTHY AIM OF HINDU LIFE
Sexuality in Hinduism
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© Bharat Gupt 2008
The fifth century BCE Indian text on dramaturgy, the Naatyashaastra states, "All thought and feeling is rooted in Desire (Kaama) that manifests itself in uncounted ways. There is desire for just action, for wealth, for liberation and for union between man and woman. That is the most harmonious of all unions and leads to sexual joy achieved through many activities and is known by the name shringaara. Created with diverse dispositions women alone can bring this joy and comfort that everybody longs for in this world (22:89-94)."
This eulogy of woman as the source of all happiness and the celebration of shringaara or the sexual union is to be seen in the context of ancient Indian beliefs not only about sexuality but life as a whole. Much of the confusion in the minds of the average westerner or even the western oriented Indian about Indian arts and literature can be cleared if the philosophical perception of sexuality is not forgotten.
Bharat Gupt, Associate Professor, CVS, Delhi University. Founder member and Trustee International Forum for India's Heritage. Born in 1946 in Moradabad, a small town in the Uttar Pradesh province of India of mixed Hindu-Muslim population, best known for its engraved art on brassware and a little less for Hindustani music and Urdu poetry. Parents moved in early fifties to Delhi, the new capital of modernity and political intrigue, where I went to school and college and studied English, Hindi, Sanskrit and philosophy, but spent every summer in the district town. Spent a year in the US at the end of Counter-Cultural days and took a Master's degree from Toronto. I learnt to play the sitar and surbahar under the eminent musician Uma Shankar Mishra and studied musicology , yoga sutras and classics under Acarya Brihaspati and Swami Kripalvananda. Trained both in modern European and traditional Indian educational systems, I have worked in classical studies, theatre, music, culture and media studies and researched as Senior Onassis Fellow in Greece on revival of ancient Greek theatre. As a classicist I came to realise that ancient Greek drama and culture as a whole, was given an unduly empirical color by the modern West. Looking at things from my own location I saw that Greek theatre was closer to ancient Indian theatre as an ethical and religious act or hieropraxis. Instead of being seen as Western and Eastern, Greek and Indian theatres should be seen rooted in the Indo-European cultural beliefs, myths and idolatory and the aesthetics of emotional arousal. I have lectured on theatre and music at various Universities in India, North America and Greece. I am on visiting faculty at the National School of Drama, Delhi and the Bhartendu Academy for Dramatic Arts , Lucknow.