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The Struggle between Kama Pessimists, Optimists and Realists

Kama: The Riddle of Desire by Gurcharan Das is a fascinating account of love and desire that sheds new light on love, marriage, family, adultery and jealousy. The book weaves a compelling narrative soaked in philosophical, historical and literary ideas while talking about Kama optimists, pessimists and realists.
But how are these characterised? Let’s find out in these extracts from the book!
Kama Optimists
“Kama is a masculine noun, and in this speculative hymn is the first allusion to the cosmogonist function of desire. Although it does not explain which causes what, it does suggest that desire was the first act of consciousness, and links cosmic desire to the great heat of tapas, the generative heat of sexuality and consciousness.”

“It recognizes as well that desire leads to intention and intention leads to action. So before one can act, one must have the desire and the intention to act.”
Kama Pessimists

“This powerful, instinctual force easily gets out of hand. The renouncers cautioned the people about its link to our negative moral emotions – to greed, anger, attachment and other frailties of the human ego.”
Kama Realists
“Since kama is needed for perpetuating the human race, the establishment struck a compromise between the kama optimists and pessimists.”

“The Dharmashastras affirmed that kama is legitimate as long as it is for procreation in the second ashrama of life. Unlike animals, people are also motivated by fancy. Desire travels from our senses to our imagination, whence it creates an illusion around a particular person. Society ensures that this human ability is employed for marriage and the stability of society and survival of the species. Marriage has made kama acceptable by converting it into ‘conjugal sexuality’.”

In his magnificent prose, Gurcharan 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. Available Now!

Gurcharan Das' Trilogy for Decoding Life

Gurcharan Das is a renowned author, commentator and thought leader. He is the author of two bestsellers, India Unbound and The Difficulty of Being Good, which are volumes one and two of a trilogy on life goals, of which Kama: The Riddle of Desire, is the third book.
His first book, India Unbound focuses on artha, ‘material well-being’; and The Difficulty of Being Good, his second book, lays emphasis on dharma, ‘moral well-being’. In his third book, Kama: The Riddle of Desire, he 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.
With his keen eye and magnificent prose, the author shares marvelous insights on decoding life. Here is a little more on his trilogy:
India Unbound: From Independence to the Global Information Age

This is the riveting story of a nation’s rise from poverty to prosperity and the clash of ideas that occurred along the way. Gurcharan Das analyses the highs and lows of independent India through the prism of history, his own experiences and those of numerous others he has met—from young people in sleepy UP villages to chiefs of software companies in Bangalore. Defining and exploring the new mindset of the nation, India Unbound is the perfect introduction to contemporary India.
The Difficulty of Being Good: On the Subtle Art of Dharma

Why should we be good? How should we be good? And how might we more deeply understand the moral and ethical failings–splashed across today’s headlines–that have not only destroyed individual lives but caused widespread calamity as well, bringing communities, nations, and indeed the global economy to the brink of collapse?
In The Difficulty of Being Good, Gurcharan Das seeks answers to these questions in an unlikely source: the 2,000 year-old Sanskrit epic, Mahabharata.
Kama: The Riddle of Desire

India is the only civilization to elevate kama-desire and pleasure-to a goal of life. Kama is both cosmic and human energy, which animates life and holds it in place.
Gurcharan Das weaves a compelling tale soaked in philosophical, historical and literary ideas in the third volume of his trilogy on life’s goals. He shows 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 Kamasutra. In the clash between the two emerged the kama realists, who offered a compromise in the dharma texts by confining sex to marriage.

Kama: The Riddle of Desire is a ground-breaking narrative that will leave you with puzzles and enigmas that reveal the riddle of kama. For more posts like this, follow Penguin India on Facebook!

Penguin Fever Schedule

It’s that time of the year again but this time it’s under the autumn sky. Six days of literature extravaganza is going to start from October 26, with numerous literary icons as panelists.
Here are the dates you should mark on your calendar.
October 26, 7PM: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Arundhati Roy in conversation with Shohini Ghosh
October 27, 7PM: Zara sa jhoom loo main – Shobhaa De on turning seventy – and having a blast! In conversation with Vidya Balan. Sonia Singh to moderate
October 28, 5PM: Inconvenient Truths: Are we heading for an environmental disaster – Sunita Narain, Prerna Bindra, and Pradip Krishen
October 28, 7PM: The Heart of the Matter – Ravinder Singh, Durjoy Datta, and Sudeep Nagarkar in conversation with RJ Ginnie
October 29, 5PM: The Man from the Hills – Ruskin Bond on life, writing, and his love for lemon cheesecake!
October 29, 7PM: Criminal Minds – Brijesh Singh, Ravi Subramanian, Novoneel Chakraborty. Poonam Saxena will moderate the session
October 30, 7PM: The Line of Beauty – Perumal Murugan, Kannan Sundaram, Bibek Debroy, Rana Safvi, Namita Gokhale as moderator
October 31, 7PM: The Rise of the Elephant – Shashi Tharoor, Gurcharan Das, Sonu Bhasin, Shireen Bhan as moderator
Open Air Library: October 26–31, 11AM onwards
If you haven’t already, register for the Penguin Fever here:
See you there!

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