Jack’s Naughty Bits: Bhartrhari, Poems from the Sanskrit

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Jack's Naughty Bits

Like most of the editors here, I’m often asked if I ever get tired of sex. Just like that, people ask it: Don’t you ever get tired of sex? I assume they are wondering about my job, wanting to know if I ever get sick of reading about sex, doing business about sex, writing about sex, and otherwise being steeped all the worklong day in sex. But despite all the subcomponents, their question comes out plain and simple: Don’t you ever get tired of sex? The answer, of course, is yes, I do get tired of sex, but that’s why there’s sleep and repose. A minimal dose of either tends to bring me around.


Tiring of sex in any other sense is hard to imagine, especially if you think not just of the procreative act, but of all the broad commerce between the potentially attracted. Sex, in the large sense, is that thing that makes me wake up in the morning, keeps me up at night, makes me walk, eat, think and breathe. I’ve lived thirty years on this earth’s crust, and I can’t say that I understand the motivation of other people. For me, the great bulk of human industry, when not directed toward finding, building or nurturing a great love, seems expendable. Philosophers are wont to look at the universe and ask why, but I, for one, have little doubt.


And thus sex, being the privileged vehicle toward arriving and communicating that love, is a logical terminus ad quem for most endeavors. It is the Rome all roads lead to. This is the sentiment of these probably fifth-century Sanskrit romantic poems, that naught matters in this dumbshow but ladies with lotus eyes.

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From Poems from the Sanskrit

Translated by John Brough

In this vain world, when men of intellect

Must soil their souls with service, to expect

A morsel at a worthless prince’s gate,

How could they ever hope to renovate

Their spirits? — were it not that fate supplies

The swinging girdles and the lotus eyes —

Women, with swelling breasts that comfort soon,

Wearing the beauty of the rising moon.

                      — Bhartrhari

Is she a pencil of ambrosia?

Is she a swelling flood of loveliness?

Is she the beauty of the lotus flower?

Is she a budding, flowering vine of love?

Now that I’ve seen this lovely, charming girl,

I cannot help but think that all the world,

Except for her, is utterly in vain.

                      — Anonymous

In this vain fleeting universe, a man

Of wisdom has two courses: first, he can

Direct his time to pray, to save his soul,

And wallow in religion’s nectar-bowl;

But, if he cannot, it is surely best

To touch and hold a lovely women’s breast,

And to caress her warm round hips, and thighs,

And to possess that which between them lies.

                      — Bhartrhari

© John Brough