The mysterious kuchumAra

A modern Hindu might be deeply offended to learn about kuchumAra. He is a mysterious fellow mentioned in the kAmasUtra by vAtsyAyana as a teacher of the aupaniShadika section (i.e. the 7th division of the kAmashAstra) of the version of the kAmashAstra composed by bAbhravya pA~nchAla. Some say that this actually meant that he was the promulgator of the secret sexual teachings – on aphrodisiacs (vAjikaraNa) and seduction (vashIkaraNa). Others suspect that it may be teaching like that found in the kAmashAstra section of the bR^ihadAraNyaka upaniShad. But did this authority ever remain in the memory of Hindu tradition beyond the kAmashAstra? The answer to this lies in a text termed the kuchimAra-tantra (kuchumAra-tantra) that has remained unpublished. We had the opportunity to quickly study the contents of this tantra which was in the possession of the village school teacher – we unfortunately have no idea what its current fate is.

The work has 8 paTala-s, some of which show a few vulgar prakR^it (deshI) nouns while describing certain recipes. The main focus of the initial section is on increasing the size and firmness of li~Nga-s in puruSha-s (termed indrivardhana) and the kucha-s and shroNi-s in strI-s. Some preparations might incidentally also increase size hands and ears (?). Then there is description of lubricants to increase pleasure for strI and puman while engaged in maithuna. Then strI-vashIkaraNa is described using mantra-s combined with chUrNa-s, which are slyly dusted on the target, and rasa-s. Interestingly, the mantra-s are drawn both from the pA~ncharAtra tradition as well as that of kapAlIsha bhairava of the brahma-yAmala. Then recipes for vAjikaraNa reminiscent of those in charaka’s work are seen. Then there are descriptions of preparations for delaying the emission of retas during maithuna and stimulating the strI. Then there is a description of preparations and vidhi-s for the tightening of the yoni in strI-s. Then the text describes contraceptives and preparations to cause quick abortion. Finally, there is section on fertility and birthing. It may be noted that the ancient Hindu might have preferred the absence of loman in the upastha because multiple preparations are given for loma-nAshana or loma-shAtana in strI-s. In my quick survey I did not find the Mylabris beetle in the kuchumAra-tAntra (which is mentioned by the KS as being used by the drAviDa-s; the cantharidin producing beetle which in my youth was still abundantly seen in the karNATa country), but it shares the Vernonia species with the KS.

It is possible that it preserves an old tradition of kuchumAra with an overlay of tantric material drawn eclectically from different Agamic streams.

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