The Kissing Quarrel – Shastra and Shloka:

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

As the celebrated Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar says in his Thirukkural, “For all diseases in the world, the medicine is separate from the disease. In love, the lover is the disease and the medicine”

Lovemaking and the aesthetics associated with it, in the history of Indian literature were not looked down upon. It was celebrated as it deserves to be. For this valentine’s we embark on the journey of a kiss.

The Kamasutra - Period and author:

The Kamasutra is a text authored by Vatsyayana. Some scholars attribute his work to the 2nd century CE while others extend it to the 4th Century CE. Another text on Nyaya shastra (on Logic) also is attributed to a man by name Vatsyayana. The predominant consensus is that the two are different people.

The Kamasutra has been portrayed as a book of positions, while it is evidently more than that. It is a surreal experience to read the Kamasutra along with the Jayamangala commentary.

Kamasutra on the Kiss:

Vatsyayana dedicates a whole chapter to kissing during love making. He first classifies a kiss into four different types, after which he moves onto to state the other classifications that his predecessors have made. Jayamangala, the commentary adds flavor to the existing delight of the Sutras by quoting poetry and adding details.

After a detailed analysis of the various varieties of Kisses, Vatsyayana suggests a game of Kiss quarrel. He calls this game the ‘chumbanadyUtakalaha’. He suggests that the war game be started by both of them to decide who would hold the other’s lip first.(पूर्वमधर सम्पादनेन जितं स्यात) Should the lady lose, she should pretend to cry and should keep her lover away with hand gestures. She should order another round be started. (पुनरप्यस्तु पण इति ब्रूयात) If she loses the second round, she should pretend to be doubly distressed and when the lover is off guard, she shall win over him. She shall dance, sing, jump and speak whatever she wishes to in joy before him.

The Mocking of Gods over a kiss – Amaru Shatakam:

In ancient India gods were not sacrosanct as they are made to be today. Poets had the freedom to mock them or even negate their existence and it certainly was viewed as art, distinct in taste and context. One such example is found in the Amaru Shatakam, where the poet mocks the gods over the experience of a kiss.

The text and author:

Amaru Shataka is attributed to a poet named Amaru or Amaruka. Very less is known about the poet. Some people claim that this work was authored by Sankaracharya, as one of the works recording his life attributes a treatise on love to him (Madhava’s Sankaravijayam). The text as we have it today is a collection of hundred poems on various shades of love. This text also has various commentaries, of which the commentary called Shringaradeepika (the light of erotica), by Vemabhupala is very elaborate and interesting.

The stupid gods:

In the fourth shloka, the poet says:

संद्रष्टाधरपल्लवा सचकितं हस्ताग्रामा धुनवती मा मा मुंच शठेति कोपवचनैरानर्तितभ्रूलता । सीत्कारांचितलोचना सपूलकम यैश्चुम्बिता मानिनी प्राप्तं तैरमृतं श्रमाय मथितो मूढै: सुरै: सागर: ।।

"When her sprout like lip is bitten, she shakes her fingers and her creeper like eyebrows dance. She says "leave me you brute!” While with a 'hiss' she contracts her eyes. Those who, with the thrills of these pleasures enjoy her, obtain nectar! Why did the stupid gods churn the ocean ? for nothing ?"

The act of resistance to make the most of the moment as suggested by Vatsyayana is employed by the heroine here. She tells him to leave her, but invites him with her dancing eyebrows.

As Amir Khusro says, Let quarrel prevail, only in love. Let the war be lost, for the pleasure of losing in love is the actual victory. Let the Indian mind shun Victorian morals that it has imbibed as ‘Indian’ and let love triumph, ever.


1.Thirukkural- 1102 2.kAmasUtram JayamangalAkhyayA tIkayA samEtam – Haridas Gupta publication, Kashi 3.Amarushatakam vEmabhUpAla vyAkhyayA samalankrutam – Motilal Banarasidas

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