Saturday, October 13, 2007

Sex, Death and Lust

The germination seed was planted during my communication with Delhi based journalist on the topic of Khushwant Singh. There was a mutual agreement about his easy writing skills and his keen sense of observation that gets reflected in his syndicated column ‘With Malice towards One and All’, But his penchant for sex-centric theme made my friend a bit sceptical of his senile behaviour. Just a week before, I had seen a Video by Prof Randy Pausch , a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor, on last lecture series, wherein the professor goes on to describing his life being aware that his living days on this planet are numbered. These two subjects ‘SEX’ and ‘DEATH’ played on mind to bring another fascinating subject of ‘LUST’. I started day dreaming about possible association of ‘cradle to grave ‘and ‘sex to death’.

Sex and Death are most esoteric, weird topics that bring excitement to me but they do come with a fair degree of trepidation. I relate Sex to a Creation while Death to a Destruction – an analogy similar to the Trinity in Hindu Religion ; Brahma – The Creator and Shiva – The Destroyer. But then there lie an anomaly. Why would followers of Hindu worship Shiva Linga – Phallic symbol of Lord Shiva? Is it because, Sex is a symbol of annihilation? If yes - whose? Man’s or Woman’s? Is it Man’s Libido or does it symbolize subjugation and surrender of womanhood. The more I read about great learned people’s views on ‘sex’; it does dawn upon me that sex is indeed a symbol of destruction. Sigmund Freud says ‘sexual activity is incompatible with the accomplishment of any great work’. Since he felt that the great work of creating and establishing psychotherapy was his destiny, he told his wife that they could no longer engage in sexual relations. From the age of forty until his death Freud was absolutely celibate ‘in order to sublimate the libido for creative purposes,’ Similar is the situation with another creative genius Van Gogh who too confessed that too much of sexual indulgence depletes his ability. Many of today’s competing athletes also carry the same impression. Great religious and spiritual practitioners felt ‘sex’ as the biggest obstacle in their pursuit of closer association with the almighty or oneself.

I am more comfortable in assuming Sex as a symbol of ‘creator’, Death as a symbol of ‘destroyer’ and Lust as a symbol of ‘sustainer’- Third part of Hindu Holy Trinity – Vishnu the Sustainer. If we look at the span between Life and Death, all that goes in between is either 'pursuance of Lust' or 'fantasy to Lust'. Lust for belonging, Lust for Power and authority, Lust for covetousness, Lust to usurp, Lust to Subjugate, Lust to Rule, Lust for Recognition and Lust for Eternity. Everything that goes on in this lifespan is Lust – No matter howsoever noble the cause may be or how moral /immoral acts may be or how ethical/unethical deeds may be. Lust is the single most determining factor that guides and shapes our life. Degree may differ, intensity may change but if a common denominator were to be found between all human individuals - rich and poor, accomplished or unaccomplished, successful or unsuccessful – that would be LUST.

Long long ago, when I was travelling from USA to Singapore, there was a Singaporean student sitting next to me. He was returning home after his studies. During our talk, he questioned if Mahatma Gandhi was indeed a charitable person or a man who was possessed by Lust to do something spectacular and go down the history as a man sacrificed everything he had and championed the cause of those who were relatively less resourced. He championed for minorities – religious, ethnic, financial, social. But did he live without LUST? There was strong stimulant in his argument and part of the answer I secured while watching a play ‘ Gandhi versus Gandhi’ when his own son questions the motive of Mahatma Gandhi if he indeed was fair or he just wanted the world to see him as a charitable person. It is possible that Lust for recognition across international world in fighting omnipotent British Imperialism became a dominant factor. So would be the case with Mother Teresa. Lust to go down as a person in the service of god and get recognised by the god could have been her motive too. Arguments may sound feeble or even illogical but it has an element of objectivity to at least take cognizance of it.

There is nothing more unknown in this world than Death. No matter, how much one is prepared for this moment- I wonder if one can accept it with tranquillity. Unfortunately, people who have faced gallows are never there to retell their story. I admire those who are curious and inquisitive to dwell upon all three aspects of our life span, Birth, Life and Death with equipoise and nonchalance. I like the courage of those who are audacious to bury their head to understand and decipher different nuances of Sex, Lust and Death and in the bargain take the wrath of contemporary society. I can think of Osho, Socrates, in that category. They have gone further and succeeded in creating a new dimension of it and with that brought hoards of followers and critics. Some others have dabbled superficially to create their own ripples – and most of them were novelist - and Khushwant Singh belonged to them.

The most convincing argument came from Osho. He says’ Sex creates your body and not YOU and Death takes away your body and not YOU ‘. What lie between Sex and Death is YOU. How wonderful!!. And I feel LUST determines if YOU float or sink between SEX and DEATH.

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Blogger fantasy queen said...

an interesting read...gave me things to think about deeply.

9:24 PM  
Blogger Subba said...


Pardon my straight talk,but you have mixed up several issues here as you try to string From Kushwant Singh to Osho and throw in the good old Gandhi and Mother Theresa in between.

Given my time constraint, I will just stick to 2 key themes:

Lust -- from both a psychological standpoint as well as a practical standpoint, denotes something specific, often in a depraved, debased context. It is a an affliction of the mind, a psychosis of sorts. So, while the dictionary meaning may bring this closer to craving, the ramifications of being in the lust circle is terrible.

Hence I have to take strong exception to your rather sweeping assertion and I quote you: "If we look at the span between Life and Death, all that goes in between is either 'pursuance of Lust' or 'fantasy to Lust'. Lust for belonging, Lust for Power and authority, Lust for covetousness, Lust to usurp, Lust to Subjugate, Lust to Rule, Lust for Recognition and Lust for Eternity."

The other issue on a related note is the issue of Gandhi. Even Gandhi's worst critic would be hard pressed for evidence to say that he was either "lusty" to get the British out or that he was really after fame and that he wanted to do something spectacular. He remained the quintessential karma yogi, just doing what he believed to be right. For a man, who never sought power, how could he be "lustful" to go down in History.

Though I have not seen the play, I can speculate the context of the conversation, given the charachter of Hiralal. He was a alcoholic, with lots of debts, womanizer and wanted to ride on his father's name. MK Gandhi decided not to have anything with him. And you base your conviction of Gandhi as a "lustful seeker of recognition" based on such a evidence.

I would strongly urge you to read some authentic biographies of Gandhi or even watch the movie or listen to at the very least listen to the lecture series of Prof Emeritus Michael Nagler (Berekeley) before you make such an assertion.

Finally, I would like to plead with you, to please include my response in the blog. I think a great deal of responsibility rests on you as you try to bridge Lust and Gandhi or even Lust and Mother Theresa. Lesser developed minds would further distort your statements and even justify their reactions.

What you have written is just not blasphemy, but utter distortion of reality.

Please pardon my straight talk here again.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Asha Sasi said...

Dear Milind

I am not substantiating it with any reasons.Today, i felt that i should talk to you,, and i just went thro' goggly.

I don't have that skill to write in english, though I manage with the language, some how.
I appreciate the ease with which you write,and about the worship of the phallus,..

milind, actually, when we worship shiva in the phallus form, it is not phallus alone,, it is worshiped along with the yoni.. the feminine,
it is worshiped in the form of "the phallus in the yoni" which depicts everything sivasakthi union.. a symbol of creation, though shiva is often describd as the lord of annihilation...and taking your view of lust as the power of sustenance, union of phallus and yoni is sustenance tooo..

so it is sristi-stithi-samhara.. three in one.. in my view, I dont know if others agree to my view..
in temples of south india, you can see phallus, without yoni..
that is not shiva,
that is a prathista called "brahmarakshassu"
it is just a spirit,, not a god

Asha Sasi

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Asha Sasi said...

in fact, milind, there is no destruction,,, there is only a transformation
and i like to add some thing, not for the blog, but to be contained, here only,
it is about osho's line with which you conclued it..
sex creates your body, death takes away yuor body and not you..
"what lies in between the birth and death is you"
what i feel is that within the boundary of birth and death only your body lies,, and not you.... and yes, ofcourse, lust determines, whether to sink or float...

8:10 PM  
Anonymous capri_1459 said...

the last para has surmised life beautifully

7:28 PM  

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