Kama Katha (Ribald and Sensuous in Classical Literature)
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Kama Katha (Ribald and Sensuous in Classical Literature)

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Item Code: NAQ708
Author: M.L. Varadpande
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2019
ISBN: 9788121513234
Pages: 232
Other Details 9.50 X 7.00 inch
Weight 600 gm
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About the Book

This book is unique Anthology of classical ribald and sensuous stories.

Indian Classical Literature, since ancient times, is vast and varied. It is rich in fictional content.

Kama means desire, wish, longing, pleasure, love, sensuality. As a Vedic god his cult flourished in India. Kama in literature is known as Sringara Rasa, the sentiment of love in all its various forms. Rati means amorous enjoyment, is it's source. The deity of this Rasa is Vishnu-Kama.

Bharata defines Sringara as `amorous relationship of male and female' for pleasure. There are eight Rasas or aesthetic emotions, Sringar Ras is called Rasaraj, king of them all.

In this anthology you will read Sringar or Kama Katha from classical literature starting from Rig Veda.

About the Author

Known for his erudition and profound scholarship M.L. Varadpande is author of number of books on Indian art, literature and culture.

The Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's Central Akademi of Dance, Drama and Music has conferred upon him the Tagore Puraskar for his contribution and scholarship.

He has been awarded Mahapurusha Shankardeva Puraskar by the Government of Assam for his eminence in the fields of Arts and Literature.


The Genre Ribald is an integral part of the literay tradition, oral or written, since its inception. It exposed underbelly of human existance generally its erotic, bawdy, funny side mirthfully or sarcastically, sometimes even seriously. In a way it portrays undercurrent of social and cultural norms, customs, moral laws, human frailties, weaknesses and hypocrisy.

"Ribaldry is a humorous entertainment bodering on indelicacy to gross indecency. It is a genre of sexual entertainment in addition to pornography and erotic.

Unlike either pornography or erotica, which plays sexual intercourse or sexual fetished 'straight,' rebaldry aims at humour. Sexual situations and titillation are presented in ribald material for purpose of poking fun at the foibles and weaknesses that manifest themselves in human sexuality, rather than to present sexual stimulation either excitingly or artistically. Also ribaldry may use sex as a metaphor to illustrate some non-sexual concern, in which case, ribaldry may set its verge on the territory of satire.

Like any humour rebaldry may be read as conventional or subversive. Ribaldry typically depends on a shared background of sexual conventions and values, and its comedy generally depends on seeing those conventions broken.

The ritual taboo-breaking that is a usual counterpart or ribaldry underlines the controversial nature and explains why ribaldry is frequently a subject of censorship. Ribaldry whose usual aim is not merely to be sexually stimulating often does address larger concerns that merely sexual appetite. However, being presented in the form of comedy, these larger concerns seem to censors to be un-serious."

The canvas of genre ribald is extensive enough to accommodate material from frivolous to serious in human sexual situations. This collection confirms to this norm

The title of the book is Kama Katha. It is an unique anthology of classical ribald and sensuous stories taken from Indian literature.

Kama means love, longing, sensuality, sexual and material pleasure and enjoyment.

Rig Veda and Atharava Veda recognises the primacy of Kama and calls him 'first born.' Atharava Veda says; O Kama, you are first born. You are superior, always great. 0 Kama I pay my humble homage to you.

Kama as a desity in human form, rides a parrot, carries a bow of sugarcane having the string of black bees. He carries five arrows made of fragrant beautiful flowers. Crocodile is his symbol which is painted on his flag. Beautiful Rati is his consort and Vasanta ritu his friend.

The cult of Kama was once very popular in India. We start getting his images since Sunga and Kushana period. His headless terracotta suculpture, made of baked red clay is housed in Mathura Museum. It is ascribed to first centry A.D. Temples were built in his honour. He was celebrated in number of joyous festivals full of dancing, singing, music, fun and frolic.

He inspired number of works on art of love including famous Kama Sutra of Maharshi Vatsyayana ascribed to third century B.C.

The erotic sculptures, particularly adorning great temples at Khajuraho, Konark, Puri, were inspired by positions struck by couples in the act of love-making.

The stories in the book, taken from classical literature starting from Vedas highlight ribald and sensuous aspects of Kama.

Indian ribald and erotic stories, Kama Katha, contains the vital record of social and cultural trends of contemporary time. At the outset let us take a look at first two stroies of this collection, culled out from the most ancient Indian scriptural literature, the Rig Veda. It throws light on sexual mores of Aryan society.

The Mahabharata in it's Adi Parva refers to the dialogue of Uddyalaka Rishi and his son Swetaketu which speaks of primitive society in the Uttar Kuru region which practised unhibited free sex without any personal bondage. They observed a social norm called 'Arani Dharma' which means with the permission of her husband wife could live with another man till she delivers a child from him and then return to her husband again. Such was the free society of Uttar Kuru in primitive times. (Bharatiya Sanskriti Kosha, Vol. 8, p: 715) We do not know much about sexual norms of the society belonging to Indus Valley Civilization but the institution of marriage was firmly entrenched in Aryan society of Vedic times. Even the Vedic gods had their consorts, Most prominent of Vedic gods, Indra, had a wife, Shachi by name, though he had other affairs also. According to one account he was enamoured of a Danavi, Asura female, named Valistenga, and went to live among Asuras, assuming the form of a female among females and male among males. (Vedic Mythology, p: 57). He is also spoken of as a paramour of Ahalya (p. 65) or Jar of Ahalya. Another famous Rig Vedic pair was of Dyaus and Prithvi, the universal parents.

However numbers of other promiscous male-female relationships to are mentioned in the Vedic literature including incest, adultery and prostitution too. Our first story relates to Apsara.

Vital information about the Cult of beautiful Apsaras as ancients visualised, it is given by Macdonell in his Vedic Mythology.

Basically they were considered as celestial water nymphs living in the waters of rivers, lakes, streams and oceans. This myth, it seems percolated to later literature and scriptures which described them as ones emerged from the Churning of the Ocean, Samudramanthan, which was done by gods and demons to beger elixir of life, Amrita.

It even went to folk level where these lovely creatures are known as Apsaras who live in water ponds and haunts the men who take bath there. Such person loses his mental equilibrium, becomes mad.

In the later samhitas, the sphere of Apsaras which ancients confined to water extended to the earth and particularly to trees. They are spoken of as inhabiting banyans (nyagrodha) and fig tree (Ashvattha) in whcih their cymbals and lutes resounded. The Gandharvas, their consorts and the Apsaras in such trees are propitious to a passing wedding procession.

In Shatapatha Brahmana Apsaras are described as engaged in dance, song and play. Much later Bharata in his Natya Shasta said that Brahma created Apsaras to sing, dance and act in plays.

Post Vedic texts speak of mountains as favourite resorts of these two classes of beings. The Atharva Veda adds the traits that the Apsaras are fond of dice and bestow luck at play. But they are feared, especially as ones causing mental derangement, magic therefore is employed against them.

The loves of Apsaras who are of great beauty is enjoyed not only by their consorts, the Gandharvas, but by men also.

Indian literatue, scriptures, dramas and poetry are replete with references to these lovely creatures, who mingles with humans and make love to them passionately.

When we look at the story, Female Friendship Does Not Exist, we find yet another diamension of male-female relationship. It depicts a kind of free love without any bonds or taking a cue from modern terminology, we may call it 'live-in' relationship between king Pururava and nymph Urvashi that ended in tragedy of sorts. If we take into consideration, the Rig Vedic dialogue only we may say that Apsara Urvashi fell in love with Pururava, spent some time with him, and departed at her sweet will. As no material gain was involved she cannot be called a hetaera. Enjoying the pleasures of love was her only motive. When she got satiated she broke herself free of the listless relationship and moved on. We do not know if such relationships were common during Vedic times, but they could be. We do not find any name for such liaison on the Vedic terminology which describes man-woman relationship. May be this kind of arrangement finally prove disasterous to one or both the partners.

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