Kissing: Exploring The Intimate Act of Love

Kissing: Exploring The Intimate Act of Love

Kissing is an intimate act that has always held great significance for lovers.   We in India had discussed kissing in our scriptures and also the amazing Vatsayana – the sex scholar – had documented 30 different types of kisses in his treatise Kamasutra.   One wonders if a normal human being attempts even  a fifth of this list!

Historical records show that poetry – quite explicit at that – was written in Sumerian literature which included the act of kissing as far back as that!

Sumerian poetry mentions kissing [Kramer, Samuel Noah (1981). History Begins at Sumer (3rd revised. ed.). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 72ff. ]

When my sweet precious, my heart, had lain down too, each of them, in turn, kissing with the tongue, each in turn, then my brother of the beautiful eyes did it fifty times to her, exhaustedly waiting for her, as she trembled underneath him, dumbly silent for him. My dear precious passed the time with my brother laying his hands on her hips. [A balbale to Inana (Dumuzid-Inana D)]

To one’s great disappointment, a rather un-romantic Japanese professor has surmised that this act of love comes to us from.. a bunch of ancient rats!

Kazushige Touhara and colleagues at the University of Tokyo believe that our affinity for kisses descends from an ancient rat. Mice and men have a surprisingly similar genetic makeup and share a common ancestor that lived sometime between 75 and 125 million years ago. This ancient rat-like creature was called Eomaia scansoria (Eomaia, Greek for “ancient mother” and scansoria, Latin for “climber”). The science team theorizes that this creature would rub noses with a mate to sample his or her pheromones and signal desire. So basically, human kissing is really rodent behavior.

Unlike the ancient Sumerian ancestors, who had a great sense of poetry to share how two lovers shared a kiss, scientists – brethren of our Jap professor – reduce the kissing down to some useless technical mumbo-jumbo.   Obviously making it rather unattractive.

The anatomical juxtaposition of two orbicularis oris muscles in a state of contraction. (Dr. Henry Gibbons)

Btw, have you ever noticed that couples turn their head to the right when kissing?   Well, a study has been done for that as well!

But one thing lovers have little control over is how they’ll turn their heads when they go in for the kiss. Chances are they’ll turn their heads to the right, according to a German psychologist who observed the head-tilting preferences of 124 kissing couples.   The psychologist, Onur Güntürkün of Ruhr-Universität-Bochum, is not so much a voyeur as he is a scientist trying to figure out why humans have a preference for their right side, which from kissing a lover to kicking a soccer ball is twice as popular as the left.

No wonder then, that Rodin’s famous masterpiece – “The Kiss” has the head tilted right as well!

Auguste Rodin, The Kiss (1886, Rodin Museum, Paris)

Auguste Rodin, The Kiss (1886, Rodin Museum, Paris)

Interestingly, the world record for the longest kiss stands at well over two days by Ekkachai Tiranarat and Laksana Tiranarat.   A couple who set it in around Valentine’s day in 2013, with a kiss lasting 58 hours, 35 minutes, and 58 seconds.   Must have sure left them breathless and some sore lips and tongues!

Kissing not only is driven by passion between two people but it also facilitates intimacy further.   The intimacy and the impact on the hormones and the nervous system tend to bring about the closeness between two people.   Here is an interesting list of facts on kissing.

  • Two-thirds of people tilt their head to the right when they kiss
  • When you kiss someone your heart beats faster and more oxygen reaches your brain.
  • Endorphins released during kissing bring on waves of euphoria
  • Kissing triggers the release of oxytocin in your body.
  • More kissing in a relationship is related to how satisfied people say they are in that relationship.
  • Women tend to rate kissing as more important in relationships than men do
  • Your lips have a disproportionate number of nerve endings compared to other parts of your body
  • When your lips touch someone else’s 5 out of 12 of your cranial nerves are engaged
  • Over time, kissing lowers your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, making you feel all safe and secure
  • Most people remember their first kiss more vividly than the first time they had sex

Bollywood and Kissing

What started off as a common phenomenon – with most actresses including the first lady of Bollywood – Devika Rani kissing her co-star and husband Himanshu Rai multiple times in the movie “Karma”, soon got thrown out of Bollywood because of our prudish sensibilities thereafter.

Here is a good compilation of the top 10 Bollywood kisses of all time.   They are obviously biased towards the last 20 years or so, but then kissing came into vogue in Bollywood very recently.   Is there any other kissing scene that you think should have been added here?

Final Word – Kissing

From a time when Bollywood movies had almost taught the uninitiated that kissing leads to pregnancy, what with the ultra-secrecy around it, to a time when passionate kisses and in record-breaking numbers in a movie are now commonplace, Indian sensibility has come a long way in acceptance of this basic and very intimate act of love. With other depictions of intimacy from sites similar to still being considered taboo by many, but one day we hope that sexual acts along with kissing will become more accepted in society in general. There is nothing to hide or be secretive about this very natural of acts.   In any society which is comfortable with itself and its basic productive ability (via sexual intimacy) should have no qualms or shame in any natural act.   Anything becomes ugly ONLY when it is hidden and done surreptitiously and becomes entangled with the popular social morality, which in any case is contextual in space and time!

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Drishtikone - Online Magazine on Geopolitics and Culture from Indian Perspective.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.