Saturday, May 06, 2006

Vats yana name / How's that for Plagiarism

Apparently Deepak Chopra has come up with a "new exciting version" of the Kamasutra. (hat tip: Amit Varma).

The new version has been re-written and improved by Chopra in an effort to make it less "staid and clinical". This re-write, if the ToI article is anything to go by, seems to consist entirely of adding the word spirituality to the text in liberal doses. One imagines that the new text reads: "And then he....and spirituality. Whereupon she....and spirituality." So much better.

Not content with adding New Age nonsense to the core text, Chopra decides to add two new sections to the book, in order to make it more relevant for our times. After all, as every teenager knows, the original authors of the book were at a considerable disadvantage while writing the book because sex hadn't been invented yet. But do Chopra's new sections update the book for all the exciting new inventions that sex is heir to (like Viagra, for instance. Or bondage)? No. Instead we get one section that talks about (hold your breath) spiritual energy. And the other that describes the "seven stages of romantic love including attraction, infatuation, communion, intimacy, surrender, passion, and ecstasy".

It should be obvious to everyone by now that Chopra hasn't a clue what he's talking about. As anyone who's been in a relationship in the last two decades knows, the real seven stages of romantic love are attraction, infatuation, late night phone calls, waiting at coffee shops, shopping for clothes, commitment panic and bitter recrimination. You would think the man would at least take the trouble to get his facts right.

As for all this stuff about the link between the spiritual and the sexual - come on - everyone knows the two are substitutes. Spirituality is just the evaporation of the libido. Look around you, have you ever seen anyone who had a hope in hell of getting laid going around spouting all this spiritual mumbo-jumbo? On the other hand, take a vow of celibacy and I guarantee you'll have spirituality pouring out of your ears before the week is up. Spirituality is what you do when you can't get any. What was it Auden said: "While an abstract insight wakes / Among the glaciers and the rocks / the hermit's sensual ecstasy".

Chopra, no doubt will take a different tack. I'm sure there'll be some mighty discourse about how sex helps to channel the spiritual energies. I'm sure the life force will be mentioned. I'd be amazed if there wasn't some talk about the Male and the Female powers.

The point is not that this new book of Chopra's is a cheap rip-off, a new attempt to package the "Indian mystique" by our most eminent of snake-oil sellers. The fact that it was written by Chopra already told us that. The real question is - why would you want to get advice about sex from a man whose photograph alone can put you to sleep?

Personally, I think it's time we started asking ourselves some tough questions about the implications of books like this for the future of the planet. Our parents understood what they were doing - they knew that sex was about drugs and rock and roll. Don't we have a responsibility to protect and honour that gift? What kind of sex do we want to leave behind for our children? Shouldn't Greenpeace be doing something about this? Surely saving sex is as important as saving whales?

Of course, no good article is complete without a little ToI bashing. Deepak Chopra, it seems, is now India's most famous export to the US. It almost makes you wish we'd got Osama instead. Oh, and Vatsyayana, the ToI assures us, will be pleased. Sure. Because that's what he's always wanted, right? Some New Age hack to come rewrite his book for him. Who wouldn't? I'm sure Shakespeare is writhing in envy. Just think what Chopra could do with Macbeth.

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Dexter said...

"Spirituality is what you do when you can't get any."
i used to think it was PhD :)

ozymandiaz said...

If you've not had a spritual experience during sex you haven't been doing it right.
Chopra's version - "Beware the ides of March...and spirituality..."

Just Mohit said...

"Just think what Chopra could do with Macbeth."

Dude: Please don't go about giving mr. chopra ideas on expanding his domain!
It's better to let him remain the gr8 peddler of indian spirituality to uninformed westerners!

confused said...


And we thought we would be spared of your ramblings for at least one day.

''spirituality is just the evaporation of libido''

Lol, no wonder I am turning so spiritual these days. :)

anantha said...

If you can write this after reading a book review, I'd lurve to read what you write after reading the book.

csm said...

after kavya's misadventure, chopra is not even trying to make any pretence by openly declaring his lifting intentions!!

as if he has not made enough bakras with his other crap books.

Anonymous said...

Deepak Chopra belongs to the breed of men who believe that their idiosyncratic ideas are actually great philosophies. Unfortunately, he is famous and most are not. So, his follies become the source of spiritual/philosophical writings.


Falstaff said...

dexter: No. A PhD is what you do when you can get bored of sex and decide you need intellectual stimulation instead.

Oz: Oh, I've been doing it right. Trust me. The thing I've never had is a sexual experience during a Chopra-style spiritual session. For which I'm entirely grateful.

just mohit: True. I didn't think of that. Too late now. Double Double Toil and Trouble, Fire burn and Spirituality bubble.

confused: no such luck, I'm afraid. And yes, I know what you mean. If spirituality really is inversely proportional to sexual activity, I'm well on my way to being the next Dalai Lama.

anantha: not going to happen. Even I'm not that masochistic.

csm: true.

AK: I think you give Chopra too much credit. Personally, I'd put him more in the P T Barnum camp. His philosophy, as far as I can tell is: 'suckers of the world unite. you have nothing to lose but your money.'

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