Texas A&M anthropology professor Vaughn Bryant Jr. created
a flutter in South Asian blogosphere when NY Times quoted him that kissing
originated about 1500 B.C. in India.
This may come as news to the puritanical Hindu right
wingers who have been strong arming to banish the public display of love and
kissing but perhaps not a surprise for the land of Kama Sutra.
For a Valentine’s Day story, KBTX TV of Bryan, Texas, tried
"to get to the bottom of the question what is the history behind a kiss?"
Who better to ask than Prof. Bryant, who has spent 35 years trying to answer the
question whether kissing is universal or not.
Dr. Bryant is the Director of the Texas A&M Palynology
Laboratory and the Paleoethnobotany Laboratory. His interests include
palynology –the study of pollen grains– and paleoethnobotany -the study of how
past cultures used plants.
This is not the only long journey to satisfy a curiosity
for Prof. Bryant, who moved to Texas A&M from Washington State University in
2003. At WSU, in 1970s he was involved with Prof. Grover Krantz’s
investigation of Bigfoot, initially to debunk it, as he said in a 2003
interview. He also said that after ten years he withdrew from it because he
didn’t want to get a reputation as a lunatic.
Back to the Act of Kissing. What Prof. Bryant found is that
the act of kissing is cultural. He cites early Vedic scriptures mentioning
people sniffing with their mouths, which later evolved into lovers setting
mouth to mouth.
His theory is that the western invasion of kiss was brought
on by the returning Greek armies of Alexander following their incursion in to
So perhaps some good was done by Alexander’s conquest
through Asia Minor and Punjab.