The Parrots of Desire: 3,000 Years of Indian Erotica – Edited by Amrita Narayanan


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The erotic tradition in India is thousands of years old. In The Parrots of Desire, the modern reader, to whom the anthology is dedicated, will find a wealth of Indian erotic writing—beyond the famously unbridled passages of the Kama Sutra and Koka Shastra. There is, for instance, the extract ‘Why does sex exist?’ recreated from the 3,000-year-old Rig Veda; the work of the Tamil Sangam poets, whose contemporary finesse belies their antiquity; Bhakti poets Antal and Mahadeviyakka, who describe women’s fantasies of men (whether human or godly); short stories by Kamala Das that have been out of print for decades; excerpts from the work of contemporary writers like Mridula Garg and Ginu Kamani and much more.

Whether it is the trepidation of the first time or the delirium and delicious rapture of subsequent ones, the anguish of being abandoned or the ennui of steadfast fidelity; passion, jealousy, suspicion, bitterness or even regret— every aspect of the experience of erotic love, timeless and universal, is manifest in these pages. What emerges from the dozens of pieces in this volume can be called the ‘core’ of Indian erotica: the notion that the erotic, like the human imagination itself, is powerful, unquenchable, passionate and essential to the best life we should seek to make for ourselves.