Excerpt from the book "Kama: The Riddle of Desire"

"If you are daunted by the 550 page 'door-stopper', which is how one critic referred to my latest book, Kama: The Riddle of Desire, here is a short appetizer that an international online magazine offered as a Christmas gift to its readers in the West. I pass it along with my best wishes for 2019!"

A Hindu's Reflections on Desire and the Human Condition


"Our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness," wrote Vladimir Nabokov in the opening lines of his memoir, Speak Memory.

Nabokov believed that human beings are more afraid of the abyss after death and viewed the one before birth more calmly.

Whereas the fearful unknown of the dark voids drove my Hindu father to mystical religion, I was drawn to the bright side. There I found kama or "desire" in Sanskrit.

Unlike animals, human beings are not governed by instinct alone. Instinctual desire travels from our senses to our imagination, from where it creates a fantasy around a specific individual.

These fantasies become the source of intense "pleasure," and this happens to be the other meaning of kama. Ever fearful of too much devotion to erotic love, most societies are worried about this charming human inclination, and instituted monogamy via the institution of marriage.

This was done for the sake of social harmony. Fancying a neighbour's wife or husband can be an intoxicating temptation. Reaching for it can bring pain and tragedy, destroying families and peace.

Kama can be a desire for anything, but like the English word "desire," it refers generally to erotic desire.

Read More: http://gurcharandas.org/magazines/hindus-reflections-desire-and-the-human-condition

Arranged marriages are a compromise between kama optimists and kama pessimists, writes Gurcharan Das

Das's new book explores kama through personal experiences and philosophical readings.

Arranged marriages are a compromise between kama optimists and kama pessimists, writes Gurcharan Das

Sharma-ji was itching to talk about what was uppermost in his mind. At the first opportunity, he asked if we could suggest a suitable boy for Avanti. Both his wife and daughter were embarrassed but they were resigned to his coarse ways.

"Avanti is still young, what's the hurry?" asked my mother.

With self-important gravity, Sharma-ji rose to his full height, like a doctor proclaiming a diagnosis, and explained that the problem lay in an inherent conflict between the biological and social nature of women. Quoting Manu, he asserted, "Every woman desires every man she sees."

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Is sex more important than friendship in marriage?

Is sex more important than friendship in marriage?

After more than a dozen years of marriage, I suffered from the inescapable sulk of a lover. Avanti no longer felt the same physical desire. I remembered wistfully the blissful months immediately after our marriage when both of us used to rush home from work in anticipation of the evenings and nights of utter delight. But slowly and inexplicably, desire receded from her end, especially after the children came along. I felt resentful. My work too became more demanding and I came home later and later. I felt our marriage was caught in a middle-age inertia and it was beginning to dull my sensual feelings. Every desire seemed to become a decision in our unloving proximity.

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