Sexual desire is give importance in Indic philosophy; kama is one of the four ends of purushartha or life, writes K M Gupta
In Indic philosophy, kama or sexual desire has been acccorded an important place. There are four kinds of purushartha, ends of life, and one of them is kama. This is because the world was born out of kama. We know that all beings are born out of kama. What we don’t know is that the cosmos itself is a product of kama. How was the world born?
In the very beginning, according to the Upanishads, was sah akamayata. There was the ‘worldstuff’ or sad vastu in the begining, and it was seized with kama or desire. It agitated in kama and desired expansion. At the height of this agitation, there was bindu visphota or what we now called the Big Bang.
The word bindu means both a point and semen. When the guru advises his disciples to practice celibacy, he says: “Falling of bindu is death; keeping of bindu is life.” Visphota means bursting out. Therefore bindu visphota denotes the orgasm. The world was born out of bindu visphota. One can think of this bindu visphota as what modern scientists speak of as the ‘Big Bang’ that generated the universe. The big bang is the orgasm of kama in the worldstuff.
Bindu is also known variously as teja, prana, kam and vaishwanara. It is the bindu’s kam or energy that becomes kham or space. From this energy was born matter in the form of the panchabhutas. The panchabhutas are mostly misunderstood. As Vedanta explains it, the panchabhutas include the solid prithvi, the liquid apa, the gaseous vayu, the energy within matter, agni, and the amount of space an object takes up for its shape, called akasha. This way, the world was born out of kama.
Since energy is kama, the universe is imbued with kama. Matter in all its states and diversity is kama, and the space that houses matter is also an expanse of kama. Kama is the substance of the universe. That is why kama is such an indomitable force in the life of beings. There is no beating it.
In the Mahabharata, Kamadeva, the God of Kama and love, brags: “If anyone tries to beat me, I grow manifold over his beating.” The atempt to subdue or win kama makes it burst out with greater force. Since kama is the origin and quiddity of existence, it has to be accorded its rightful place. Therefore kama is considered as one of the purusharthas. The ultimate purushartha is moksha — liberation of the soul from the clutches of finite existence.
Generally, kama is regarded as an obstacle to moksha and brahmacharya while celibacy is seen as an essential prerequisite. The guru commands: keep the bindu, don’t let it fall. The reason given as to why kama has to be overcome for the attainment of moksha is that kama is the opening up of cosmic energy while moksha is its opposite — which is shutting energy in all its diversity up in its primordial cause, the worldstuff or sad vastu, So they are deemed natural contraries.
However, anything that belongs to this world can be turned into an instrument for moksha and kama is no exception. Kama also can be a means to moksha. But actually doing this needs extraordinary skill. Some sects of tantra use kama as an instrument of moksha. For these, kama is more spiritual and less carnal. Genuine practitioners of tantra achieve an experience of oneness with the Divine at the height of the physical orgasm. For them, kama is a magnetic pull towards the divine and the orgasm is a perfect communion.
Kama as a means for moksha is extremely individualistic, slippery, esoteric and unreliable as far as lay practitioners are concerned, and therefore its use is not advisable for the general public. An example is Osho, who took this individualistic practice to the public domain and became controversial.
The Speaking Tree, Page: 4, June, 6, 2010.