Male Homosexuality in India : A close reading of Kamasutra – 1

I have been wanting to write about this for several years but never got around to writing anything at all. It was 9 years ago (I am 26 now) when I first read the Kamasutra completely. While reading the book, I came across the chapter on “oral sex” (Auparishtaka) with references to what appeared as oral sex between men in ancient India. Even though it was more of a passing reference that just bore witness to the fact that such practices already existed in ancient India. It was totally non-judgemental and no eternal damnation of any sort was specified, which was in a way personally very reassuring for me. Perks of following a Dharmic religion, I suppose. young-me surely didn’t want to go to hell. At that time I didn’t have enough Sanskrit to actually go to the source and its commentary and analyze the chapter in detail. But I suppose 9 years later I can do that now!

A close reading of the related verses and its subsquence analysis would be certainly helpful to derive and discuss some actual facts as described in the text itself, which is our primary source. Let’s dive into the source and see what the text itself says about male homosexual practices and perhaps try to make some interesting inferences, observations and analysis along the way. This article focuses mainly on male homosexual practices, I’d assume female homosexual practices will be discussed in future articles.

Now, some briefing about Kamasutra. I’d guess everyone has at least heard about Kamasutra. The text was probably composed around 400 BCE and 200 CE by Vātsyāyana. The extant version consists of 8 sections. The chapter on oral sex (aupariṣṭaka) occurs as the 9th chapter in section 2 on sexual union (sāṃproyogika). There appears to have been several commentaries (vyākhyas) to Kamasutra. Perhaps, one the most important is the Jayamaṅgala commentary written by Yaśodhara around 12th century CE. There is also a contemporary Hindi commentary called Jaya written in the 20th century. But I don’t have acccess to it. So we would be sticking to Kamasutra and its Jayamangala commentary.

In this article, we would particularly be doing a close reading of verse 36 in the 9th chapter of section 2. So let’s dive in!

tathā nāgarakāḥ kecidanyonyasya hitaiṣiṇaḥ |
kurvanti rūḍhaviśvāsāḥ parasparaparigraham ||

And, in the same way (tathā), certain city-dwelling-men (kecid nāgarakāḥ) who desire for one another’s welfare (anyonyasya hitaiṣiṇaḥ) and have established-trust (rūḍha-viśvāsāḥ) do (kurvanti) this service [oral sex] for one another (paraspara-parigraham).

— Verse 2.9.36

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Refutation of God being the creator of the world

Refutation of the view of God being the creator of the world and of the view of Visnu being the sole creator of the whole world

Īśvarakartṛtva-nirākṛtiḥ-viṣṇoḥekakartṛtvanirākaraṇa

(Attributed to the Philosopher Nagarjuna)
  

[It is claimed by some that] there exists a God, who is the creator [of the world]. Let he be critically examined [by us also].

 

The creator is one who creates. One who performs a [certain] action is called the creator [in relation to that action].

 

In this regard, we argue [as follows].

 

He can create something which we know as existent (siddha) or which we know to be non-existent (asiddha).

 

First, it may be remarked here that He cannot be the creator of something which we know as existent, because the concept of the creator cannot be applicable to such an object. For example, we know that man exists. Creating him further cannot be an act of creation; because his existence is already established [i.e. before this alleged 
creation by God].But it may be argued that God creates something which is [already] known to us as non-existent. [To this we answer as follows]; Let it be that He also Creates those objects: oil [crushed] out of sand, which is known to us as nonexistent; wool on a tortoise, which is known to us as non-existent. [Let God create all these also]. But He does not have the power of creating these objects. Why? Because these are known to us as non-existent,And He [God] is also similar [i.e. God also is non-existent].

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