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What is Pornography?

Amita Malik

By G.D. Khosla
Indian Book Company, 1976, 40.00

VOLUME II NUMBER 2 March-April 1977

During the recent Emergency, anyone who wanted to get the real news went over to the nearest newspaper office and, if he had a trustworthy friend, asked him if he could have a look at the list of for­bidden items from the censor. Till a few years ago, anyone who wanted to know what the Central Board of Film Censors considered obscene merely borrowed a copy of the Gazette of India. There, listed for those who wanted to leer, were the most titillating items about ‘Cut from where the low-necked blouse appears to where the camera plunges into it’, or words to that effect. The Gazette blissfully published enough graffiti of this type to provide voyeurs with free entertainment for years. G.D. Khosla, who has written more official wordage on censorship in India than perhaps any man or woman alive, and served on more Government of India committees on films than any other Indian, thus has a formidable back­ground on the subject. He is certainly in a position to know what the public wants. And, as far as this book is concerned, he plunges into the neckline, and much else besides, from the word 'Go' by opening his definition of porno­graphy—is what this book is about—by quoting extensively from the Indian scriptures. This is one of the oldest gambits to get past the censors, as Justice Khosla must know. My professor of English, who was once asked by the local police to define obscenity, stymied them by suggesting: ‘Have a look at the Bible, Shakespeare and the Puranas. You will get everything you want.’ And that is precisely what Khosla suggests too. In quoting extensively from the Dhamma­pada. the Geeta Govinda, the Mahabharata. the Rigveda and the Puranas, the ex-Chief Justice certainly assures himself of an avid readership, some of whom will be forgiven for looking over their shoulders, just in case. Indeed, Khosla not only gets a good deal of gold out of his chapter on The Golden Past, but he plunges into the most fashionable contemporary cult as well, by devoting his next chapter to the Tantric Cult. As elsewhere, the author has really done his homework. He has tabulated the main axioms or tenets of tantrism. And at the end of what is a very crisp exposition of its main tenets, which ought to be particularly helpful to its many ...

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