Kama: The Riddle of Desire(Hardcover Edition)
by Gurcharan Das
India is the only civilization to elevate kama-desire and pleasure-to a goal of life. Kama is both cosmic and human energy, animating life and holding it in place. Gurcharan Das weaves a compelling narrative soaked in philosophical, historical and literary ideas in the third volume of his trilogy on life's goals: India Unbound, the first, was on artha, 'material well-being'; 7he Difficulty of Being Good, the second, was on dharma, 'moral well-being'. Here, in his magnificent prose, Das examines how to cherish desire in order to live a rich, flourishing life, arguing that if dharma is a duty to another, kama is a duty to oneself.
This fascinating account of love and desire sheds new light on love, marriage, family, adultery and jealousy. Are the erotic and the ascetic two aspects of our same human nature? What is the relationship between romantic love and bhakti, the love of god? How do we prepare for the day when desire disappears and turns bitter?
Gurcharan Das shows us that kama is a product of culture and its history is the struggle between kama pessimists and optimists. The yogis and renouncers regarded kama as an enemy of their spiritual project. Opposed to them were those who brought forth Sanskrit love poetry and the Kamasutra. In the clash between the two emerged the Kama realists, who offered a compromise in the dharma texts by confining sex to marriage. Ultimately, this ground-breaking narrative leaves us with puzzles and enigmas that reveal the riddle of kama.