Jaipur: 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 on Sunday.
"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 critique's view. 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 said. 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 sexual life.
"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 ready.
"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."