London: A new translation of the Kama Sutra and its adaptation to modern lives by Indian scholar A N D Haksar has been hailed in the British press as a "playful and wonderfully blunt translation." Published by Penguin, the book titled 'Kama Sutra: The Art of Pleasure' is presented as a lifestyle guide for the modern man and woman.
Citing extracts from the book, Sam Jordison wrote in The Guardian: "For a start it's a hoot and all the more so thanks to this new playful and wonderfully blunt translation by AND Haksar (No lingams or yonis here. This is a man who calls a cock a cock.) It's also a fascinating and if this isn't too much of a contradiction enlightening book." Bel Mooney wrote in the Daily Mail: "(There) is much more to the Kama Sutra than saucy sex, as this handsome, unillustrated new translation makes clear. The text forms part of a world view that sees human life as a trinity, summed up in the words Dharma, Artha and Kama."
Mooney quoted an extract from Haksar's introduction, that Kama Sutra "is the art of living - about finding a partner, maintaining power in marriage, committing adultery, living as or with a courtesan, using drugs - and also about
positions in sexual intercourse."
Its classical status as the world's first comprehensive guide to erotic love comes from its concentration on "essential, unchangeable human attributes - lust, love, shyness, rejection, seduction, manipulation, that are also a part of human sexuality." Calling Haksar's version of the Kama Sutra as "scrupulous and accessible," Boyd Tonkin wrote in The Independent: "Thanks to the under-the-counter renown of a famous Victorian translation in 1883 by the leading Orientalist Sir Richard Burton, most people in the West think of it as a manual of sex techniques.
Indian experts often dismiss this vulgar notion and evoke a philosophical account of good behaviour in courtship, love and marriage. As we can now discover from a scrupulous and accessible new version by the eminent Sanskrit scholar AND
Haksar, both are right. Here sense and spirit, etiquette and foreplay, always intersect."
Haksar, a leading translator of Sanskrit texts, has chapter headings such as "Making a Pass", "Why Women Get Turned Off", "Girls to Avoid", "Is he Worthwhile?", "Getting rid of him", "Easy Women", "Moves towards sex," and "Some Dos and Don'ts".
Alexis Kirschbaum, editorial director at Penguin, said: "This is the most accurate, authentic version to date. Until now, the Kama Sutra has always been presented as a scandalous, 1960s hippie-influenced pornographic sex book. But it was originally written as advice to a courtly gentleman on how to live a well-rounded life, not just a passionate life." She added: "We are therefore stripping away all of those pornographic interpretations people have put on it and presenting the book as a modern and savvy guide for how to live well."