by Professor Sarojini Sahoo

Sexuality may well be the most rewarding bliss of all possible experiences that life can offer between two people passionately attracted to each other. The union it produces between men and women in love is so close and so complete that two finite individuals can interrelate almost as if they were one indivisible being. It involves not only physical but also psychological, spiritual, and somehow anthropological and social aspects. It is related to reproduction.

But because it does involve reproduction and transfer of genes, society has always tried to grip it under its control, denying any need of its other aspects. Even, anthropological theories are denied by the social gurus. Society or religion (I am unable to differentiate them) articulates its own definition of sex as all sexual activity ought to be potentially reproductive, that marriage must last forever, and that women must be subject to men. (Aquinas, Thomas, On the Truth of the Catholic Faith, Book 3 ”Providence,” Trans. Vernon J. Bourke, Doubleday, New York, 1967)

‘Dharma’ in Hinduism is different from the Western concept of religion. It is a code related to moral nature. There is a very negligible difference between this ‘dharma’ and ‘spiritualism’ whereas in the Western concept, ‘religion’ and ‘spiritualism’ are two different concepts. So society or religion always plays a role to suppress the sexuality and as the patriarchal dominance is more on these fields, questions about the morality and the politics of sex are usually considered in isolation from issues about gender and erotic sex.

But in spiritualism, it is related to an individual’s understanding for salvation and freedom. For Hindu spiritualism sexuality is represented as ‘kama’. It is one of the four necessities, four aims of life: Dharma, Artha (material goods), Kama and Moksha (liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth)

Kama is defined as the enjoyment of appropriate objects by the five senses of hearing, feeling, seeing, tasting and smelling, assisted by the mind together with the soul. The ingredient in this is a peculiar contact between the organ of sense and its object, and the consciousness of pleasure which arises from that contact. This is called Kama.

In Hindu spiritualism, Kama is not at all a ‘prohibited’ subject or we don’t find any ‘male dominancy’ there. Taking the lovers’ longing for reunion as a metaphor for the soul’s longing for union with the divine makes sexuality more acceptable in ‘Sufism.’ And in a later period, ‘Hindu Bhaktism’ by Sri Chaitanya also adopted this idea easily.

But in Western philosophy, the natural and the universal are sharply divided — like heaven and earth. The division of tasks between heaven and earth, suffering on earth and happiness beyond, is part and parcel of Western culture and its philosophy, religion and mythology. Westerners tend to see the sensuous world around us as false or illusory and the world ‘beyond’ as real. But in Hindu spiritualism, when you are in your sexual desire, you might sense complete presence in your sensuous world, a perfect moment which is spiritual, natural and carnal all at once.

Professor David Lee Miller in his book Philosophy of Creativity (Peter Lang Publishing Inc., New York, 1990) tries to define creativity as the “feeling” of pure experience vital to a realistic grasp of life with the ‘sensuous world’ (Miller named it ‘as-in-the-whole-Earth’). Plato first refused this ‘sensuous world’ and under Plato’s influence, Western thought has been dominated by a model (paradigm) of neglecting this knowledge and of value in experience. But Miller, in his book, tries to establish that creativity is of the whole Earth (or we can say ‘sensuous world’) rather than being limited to particular aspects.

It is the philosophy of sexuality in Hindu spiritualism that made Kalidas and Jaydev write two great masterpieces: Kumar Sambhav (Kalidas, fourth century B.C.) and Gita Govinda (Jaydev, twelfth century A.D.). These works depict lovers in separation and union; in longing and abandonment, and have been portrayed in thousands of exquisite miniature paintings in India.

Kumar Sambhav , is about the begetting of Kartikeya, the god of war who was the son of Siva and P?rvati, and depicts the monogamous form of sexuality. In contrast, the erotic love of Radha and Krishna in Gita Govinda is not limited to the love of only two persons, but is extended to the 1,600 women known as ‘gopis.’ Unlike in Kumar Sambhav, the love of Radha and Krishna was not at all a monogamous example as Radha never was the wife of Krishna and the ‘gopis’ were also well-connected with the god ‘Lord Krishna’ in sexual desire and lovemaking.

We can say the love of Krishna was polyamorous and was more an evocation and elaboration of passionate love or an attempt to capture the exciting, fleeting moments of the senses. It could also be an evocation of the baffling ways in which love’s pleasures and pains were felt before retrospective recollection, trying to regain a lost control over emotional life. This is why this love story grips our imagination every time we encounter the animated expressions, flashing eyes, and sinuous movements of a dancer, who as Radha, expresses her anger at Krishna’s infidelities or who as Krishna, begs forgiveness for his irresponsible dalliance.

Gita Govinda was first of its kind to be included in the ritual service of the temple of Lord Jagannath at Puri, one of the four most sacred pilgrimage places of Hinduism. So, as the concept of Brahmacharya (suppression of sexual desire) exists, so also exists the concept of spiritual sexism in every authentic entity in this Eastern religion.
But the fundamentalists always try to prohibit sex though no doubt, we are the product of sexuality and our mind characterizes what it experiences, which has a great influence on how our mind perceives the creative process. This creative process, as an inherent sexuality, is always enhanced when we are in sexual desire or find ourselves in the grip of sexuality.

The writing process is a sexual process. When a writer wants to expose a physical life or an energetic life, a creative tension and a flow of energy is generated in the creative process. This creative tension can be experienced as a sexual tension and the flow of energy creates life or describes a new life.

Religion or society never cares for any artistic sensibility as Plato’s domination and so this inherent sexual influence over creativity has also always been denied by our sexual gurus. So, we find there are descriptions of fetishism, voyeurism, and exhibitionism in the writings after the Second World War. We also find our writers/artists/musicians always have an inclination towards their sexual orientation and sexual behaviour and we encounter how much sexual desire they have.

We find Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Mary Wollstonecraft, Willa Cather, Emily Dickinson, Sarah Orne Jewett, A. E. Housman, T. S. Eliot, Federico García Lorca, Charlotte Mew, Viscountess Rhondda, Cicely Hamilton, Elizabeth Robins,Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoire were either homosexual or bisexual. In contrast, very few of Indian writers have had the courage to admit such truth but Amrita Pritam, Maitreyi Pushpa, Kamala Das, Harivanshrai Vachchan, and Rajendra Yadav are among them.

Still, Asian and African writers have not shown any admissible indication to point out their sexual inheritance in their writings, though their culture is more open to nature than Western cultures. This is a peculiar situation of contradiction and one which we cannot pass up.

Professor Sarojini Sahoo is an author and a feminist and can be reached at Her blog and website are and

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