Dr. Haider Mehdi
Contrary to the general impression, Kama Sutra, the ingenious 8th century treatise, is not entirely and explicitly about eroticism and sexuality. The narrative and the text of the book deals with multi-faced lifecycle phenomena and carefully examines the nature of events in the external world and how those events affect the inadvertently induced imagination of human conduct, including spirituality, wealth and pleasure.
Kama Sutra is an imaginative expose of human behaviour by which mortals seek the pleasure of the body and soul and attain psychological self-gratification. The concept, in itself, is as much about erotic ecstasy as a source of physical pleasure and emotional power as well as about human relationships in a wider context – the socio-psychology of pleasure and power combined together as one.
Carried to a curiously metaphoric interpretation, Kama Sutra is about control and the attainment of the ultimate human pleasure (indeed for some only) – the existentialist experience of the ecstasy of having power over others. The greater the dimension of this control, the stronger is the sense of pleasure – the higher is the experience of ecstasy!
“The ecstasy of power” once experienced can be miraculous, a mesmerising mirage: it can induce a permanent sense of blissful exaltation of oneself, the possible intoxication of the human mind, the ebullient, excited and hyperbolic state of one’s own existence in which “power over others” becomes the erotic, spiritual, psychological and the only acceptable norm of life – nothing else then matters. The acquisition of “power over others” becomes synonymous with one’s existence.
“Such is the endowment and capability of experiencing the ecstasy of power.” The initial experience of the “power ecstasy” has a mystifying, magical and transformational impact on one’s personality. Those who experience it (indeed not everyone – only the very ambitious) undergo changes in their posture, language, appearance, body language, facial gestures, attitudes, self-perceptions, worldly orientation and, above all, in their views of the sociological and political realities of the world in which they exist – they develop a messiah complex. They tend to believe they are “all-knowing” and the entire world of existence of all others will suddenly and surely crumble without them.
Can you think of some political actors who might have undergone such a personality transformation in the post-December 2007 politics of Pakistan? If you try, you might be able to identify some of them – it would not be hard to locate a few in this altered state of mind. Just try – the ecstasy of power phenomenon is on the rampage in the corridors of political power in Pakistan these days!
Kama Sutra as a political ideology and a formidable political force has already hit Lahore more than once – just in case you have not noticed!
It made the first hit quite recently on the plush lawn of the Governor’s House in Lahore when the co-chairperson of the People’s Party’s mocked the Lawyers’ Long March and categorically informed the dancing, singing, chanting jayalas that soon a PPP stalwart will take over the presidency in Islamabad.
Read between the lines: Is Asif Zardari eyeing the presidency for himself? Mind it, the co-chairperson will not relinquish party leadership. So, in one sense, the question is irrelevant because so much concentration of political power in one individual is dictatorship, not democracy. In another sense, the question is gravely relevant because Zardari’s presidency would have far-reaching consequences for Pakistan’s democratic future.
Already the elected Prime Minister of Pakistan awaits the party chief’s orders to reinstate the 60 deposed judges of the apex courts. The entire political establishment runs on the instructions of the co-chairperson.
The political Kama Sutra has made the second mighty hit in Lahore in the Halls of Justice where Nawaz Sharif has been disqualified from contesting by-elections on the charges of hijacking the plane in 1999. Ironic, isn’t it? The NRO, November 3 and a number of other unconstitutional actions have been given legal cover – and yet an unproven allegation is legally used against one of the most important political players in the nation. Sad…and, indeed, a deplorable state of affairs…! A nation hijacked, blindfolded!
Gradually and consistently, the People’s Party’s leadership have adapted an almost ecclesiastical manner, notwithstanding the day-to-day rhetoric, when they talk about democracy and constitutionalism – it gives an eerie feeling of despotism mixed with absolutism and an abysmal determination.
Nice work so far!
Welcome to Pakistan’s nascent democracy…!
Welcome to political Kama Sutra in Pakistan…!
Let us await where it hits next…!
The writer is a professor and political analyst
The Nation, 26/6/2008