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   Chapter:   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

The Kama Sutra

By Vatsyayana

A Classic Love Guide

	IN the literature of all countries there will be found a certain number of works treating
especially of love. Everywhere the subject is dealt with differently, and from various points
of view. In the present publication it is proposed to give a complete translation of what is
considered the standard work on love in Sanscrit literature, and which is called the
`Vatsyayana Kama Sutra', or Aphorisms on Love, by Vatsyayana.
While the introduction will deal with the evidence concerning the date of the writing, and
the commentaries written upon it, the chapters following the introduction will give a
translation of the work itself. It is, however, advisable to furnish here a brief analysis of
works of the same nature, prepared by authors who lived and wrote years after Vatsyayana
had passed away, but who still considered him as the great authority, and always quoted
him as the chief guide to Hindoo erotic literature.
Besides the treatise of Vatsyayana the following works on the same subject are procurable
in India:
The Ratirahasya, or secrets of love
The Panchasakya, or the five arrows
The Smara Pradipa, or the light of love
The Ratimanjari, or the garland of love
The Rasmanjari, or the sprout of love
The Anunga Runga, or the stage of love; also called Kamaledhiplava, or a boat in the
ocean of love.
The author of the `Secrets of Love' was a poet named Kukkoka. He composed his work to
please one Venudutta, who was perhaps a king. When writing his own name at the end of
each chapter he calls himself `Siddha patiya pandita', i.e. an ingenious man among learned
men. The work was translated into Hindi years ago, and in this the author's name was
written as Koka. And as the same name crept into all the translations into other languages
in India, the book became generally known, and the subject was popularly called Koka
Shastra, or doctrines of Koka, which is identical with the Kama Shastra, or doctrines of
love, and the words Koka Shastra and Kama Shastra are used indiscriminately.
The work contains nearly eight hundred verses, and is divided into ten chapters, which are
called Pachivedas. Some of the things treated of in this work are not to be found in the
Vatsyayana, such as the four classes of women, the Padmini, Chitrini, Shankini and
Hastini, as also the enumeration of the days and hours on which the women of the
different classes become subject to love, The author adds that he wrote these things from
the opinions of Gonikaputra and Nandikeshwara, both of whom are mentioned by
Vatsyayana, but their works are not now extant. It is difficult to give any approximate idea
as to the year in which the work was composed. It is only to be presumed that it was
written after that of Vatsyayana, and previous to the other works on this subject that are
still extant. Vatsyayana gives the names of ten authors on the subject, all of whose works he
had consulted, but none of which are extant, and does not mention this one. This would
tend to show that Kukkoka wrote after Vatsya, otherwise Vatsya would assuredly have
mentioned him as an author in this branch of literature along with the others.
The author of the `Five Arrows' was one Jyotirisha. He is called the chief ornament of
poets, the treasure of the sixty-four arts, and the best teacher of the rules of music. He says
that he composed the work after reflecting on the aphorisms of love as revealed by the
gods, and studying the opinions of Gonikaputra, Muladeva, Babhravya, Ramtideva,
Nundikeshwara and Kshemandra. It is impossible to say whether he had perused all the
works of these authors, or had only heard about them; anyhow, none of them appear to be
in existence now. This work contains nearly six hundred verses, and is divided into five
chapters, called Sayakas or Arrows.
The author of the `Light of Love' was the poet Gunakara, the son of Vechapati. The work
contains four hundred verses, and gives only a short account of the doctrines of love,
dealing more with other matters.
`The Garland of Love' is the work of the famous poet Jayadeva, who said about himself
that he is a writer on all subjects. This treatise is, however, very short, containing only one
hundred and twenty-five verses.
The author of the `Sprout of Love' was a poet called Bhanudatta. It appears from the last
verse of the manuscript that he was a resident of the province of Tirhoot, and son of a
Brahman named Ganeshwar, who was also a poet. The work, written in Sanscrit, gives the
descriptions of different classes of men and women, their classes being made out from
their age, description, conduct, etc. It contains three chapters, and its date is not known,
and cannot be ascertained.
`The Stage of Love' was composed by the poet Kullianmull, for the amusement of Ladkhan,
the son of Ahmed Lodi, the same Ladkhan being in some places spoken of as Ladana Mull,
and in others as Ladanaballa. He is supposed to have been a relation or connection of the
house of Lodi, which reigned in Hindostan from A.D. 1450-1526. The work would,
therefore, have been written in the fifteenth or sixteenth century. It contains ten chapters,
and has been translated into English but only six copies were printed for private
circulation. This is supposed to be the latest of the Sanscrit works on the subject, and the
ideas in it were evidently taken from previous writings of the same nature.
The contents of these works are in themselves a literary curiosity. There are to be found
both in Sanscrit poetry and in the Sanscrit drama a certain amount of poetical sentiment
and romance, which have, in every country and in every language, thrown an immortal
halo round the subject. But here it is treated in a plain, simple, matter of fact sort of way.
Men and women are divided into classes and divisions in the same way that Buffon and
other writers on natural history have classified and divided the animal world. As Venus
was represented by the Greeks to stand forth as the type of the beauty of woman, so the
Hindoos describe the Padmini or Lotus woman as the type of most perfect feminine
excellence, as follows:
She in whom the following signs and symptoms appear is called a Padmini. Her face is
pleasing as the full moon; her body, well clothed with flesh, is soft as the Shiras or mustard
flower, her skin is fine, tender and fair as the yellow lotus, never dark coloured. Her eyes
are bright and beautiful as the orbs of the fawn, well cut, and with reddish corners. Her
bosom is hard, full and high; she has a good neck; her nose is straight and lovely, and three
folds or wrinkles cross her middle - about the umbilical region. Her yoni resembles the
opening lotus bud, and her love seed (Kama salila) is perfumed like the lily that has newly
burst. She walks with swan-like gait, and her voice is low and musical as the note of the
Kokila bird, she delights in white raiments, in fine jewels, and in rich dresses. She eats
little, sleeps lightly, and being as respectful and religious as she is clever and courteous, she
is ever anxious to worship the gods, and to enjoy the conversation of Brahmans. Such,
then, is the Padmini or Lotus woman.
Detailed descriptions then follow of the Chitrini or Art woman; the Shankhini or Conch
woman, and the Hastini or Elephant woman, their days of enjoyment, their various seats of
passion, the manner in which they should be manipulated and treated in sexual
intercourse, along with the characteristics of the men and women of the various countries
in Hindostan. The details are so numerous, and the subjects so seriously dealt with, and at
such length, that neither time nor space will permit of their being given here.
One work in the English language is somewhat similar to these works of the Hindoos. It is
called `Kalogynomia: or the Laws of Female Beauty', being the elementary principles of
that science, by T. Bell, M.D., with twenty-four plates, and printed in London in 1821. It
treats of Beauty, of Love, of Sexual Intercourse, of the Laws regulating that Intercourse, of
Monogamy and Polygamy, of Prostitution, of Infidelity, ending with a catalogue
raisonn\'e9e of the defects of female beauty.
Other works in English also enter into great details of private and domestic life: The
Elements of Social Science, or Physical, Sexual and Natural Religion, by a Doctor of
Medicine, London, 1880, and Every Woman's Book, by Dr Waters, 1826. To persons
interested in the above subjects these works will be found to contain such details as have
been seldom before published, and which ought to be thoroughly understood by all
philanthropists and benefactors of society.
After a perusal of the Hindoo work, and of the English books above mentioned, the reader
will understand the subject, at all events from a materialistic, realistic and practical point
of view. If all science is founded more or less on a stratum of facts, there can be no harm in
making known to mankind generally certain matters intimately connected with their
private, domestic, and social life.
Alas! complete ignorance of them has unfortunately wrecked many a man and many a
woman, while a little knowledge of a subject generally ignored by the masses would have
enabled numbers of people to have understood many things which they believed to be
quite incomprehensible, or which were not thought worthy of their consideration.
IT may be interesting to some persons to learn how it came about that Vatsyayana was first
brought to light and translated into the English language. It happened thus. While
translating with the pundits the `Anunga Runga, or the stage of love', reference was
frequently found to be made to one Vatsya. The sage Vatsya was of this opinion, or of that
opinion. The sage Vatsya said this, and so on. Naturally questions were asked who the sage
was, and the pundits replied that Vatsya was the author of the standard work on love in
Sanscrit literature, that no Sanscrit library was complete without his work, and that it was
most difficult now to obtain in its entire state. The copy of the manuscript obtained in
Bombay was defective, and so the pundits wrote to Benares, Calcutta and Jeypoor for
copies of the manuscript from Sanscrit libraries in those places. Copies having been
obtained, they were then compared with each other, and with the aid of a Commentary
called `Jayamangla' a revised copy of the entire manuscript was prepared, and from this
copy the English translation was made. The following is the certificate of the chief pundit:
`The accompanying manuscript is corrected by me after comparing four different copies of
the work. I had the assistance of a Commentary called "Jayamangla" for correcting the
portion in the first five parts, but found great difficulty in correcting the remaining portion,
because, with the exception of one copy thereof which was tolerably correct, all the other
copies I had were far too incorrect. However, I took that portion as correct in which the
majority of the copies agreed with each other.'
The `Aphorisms on Love' by Vatsyayana contain about one thousand two hundred and fifty
slokas or verses, and are divided into parts, parts into chapters, and chapters into
paragraphs. The whole consists of seven parts, thirty-six chapters, and sixty-four
paragraphs. Hardly anything is known about the author. His real name is supposed to be
Mallinaga or Mrillana, Vatsyayana being his family name. At the close of the work this is
what he writes about himself:
`After reading and considering the works of Babhravya and other ancient authors, and
thinking over the meaning of the rules given by them, this treatise was composed,
according to the precepts of the Holy Writ, for the benefit of the world, by Vatsyayana,
while leading the life of a religious student at Benares, and wholly engaged in the
contemplation of the Deity. This work is not to be used merely as an instrument for
satisfying our desires. A person acquainted with the true principles of this science, who
preserves his Dharma (virtue or religious merit), his Artha (worldly wealth) and his Kama
(pleasure or sensual gratification), and who has regard to the customs of the people, is sure
to obtain the mastery over his senses. In short, an intelligent and knowing person
attending to Dharma and Artha and also to Kama, without becoming the slave of his
passions, will obtain success in everything that he may do.'
It is impossible to fix the exact date either of the life of Vatsyayana or of his work. It is
supposed that he must have lived between the first and sixth century of the Christian era,
on the following grounds. He mentions that Satakarni Satavahana, a king of Kuntal, killed
Malayevati his wife with an instrument called kartari by striking her in the passion of love,
and Vatsya quotes this case to warn people of the danger arising from some old customs of
striking women when under the influence of this passion. Now this king of Kuntal is
believed to have lived and reigned during the first century A.D., and consequently Vatsya
must have lived after him. On the other hand, Virahamihira, in the eighteenth chapter of
his `Brihatsanhita', treats of the science of love, and appears to have borrowed largely from
Vatsyayana on the subject. Now Virahamihira is said to have lived during the sixth century
A.D., and as Vatsya must have written his works previously, therefore not earlier than the
first century A.D., and not later than the sixth century A.D., must be considered as the
approximate date of his existence.
On the text of the `Aphorisms on Love', by Vatsyayana, only two commentaries have been
found. One called `Jayamangla' or `Sutrabashya', and the other `Sutra vritti'. The date of
the `Jayamangla' is fixed between the tenth and thirteenth century A.D., because while
treating of the sixty-four arts an example is taken from the `Kavyaprakasha' which was
written about the tenth century A.D. Again, the copy of the commentary procured was
evidently a transcript of a manuscript which once had a place in the library of a
Chaulukyan king named Vishaladeva, a fact elicited from the following sentence at the end
of it.
`Here ends the part relating to the art of love in the commentary on the "Vatsyayana Kama
Sutra", a copy from the library of the king of kings, Vishaladeva, who was a powerful hero,
as it were a second Arjuna, and head jewel of the Chaulukya family.'
Now it is well known that this king ruled in Guzerat from 1244 to 1262 A.D., and founded a
city called Visalnagur. The date, therefore, of the commentary is taken to be not earlier
than the tenth and not later than the thirteenth century. The author of it is supposed to be
one Yashodhara, the name given him by his preceptor being Indrapada. He seems to have
written it during the time of affliction caused by his separation from a clever and shrewd
woman, at least that is what lie himself says at the end of each chapter. It is presumed that
he called his work after the name of his absent mistress, or the word may have some
connection with the meaning of her name.
This commentary was most useful in explaining the true meaning of Vatsyayana, for the
commentator appears to have had a considerable knowledge of the times of the older
author, and gives in some places very minute information. This cannot be said of the other
commentary, called `Sutra vritti', which was written about A.D. 1789, by Narsing Shastri, a
pupil of a Sarveshwar Shastri; the latter was a descendant of Bhaskur, and so also was our
author, for at the conclusion of every part he calls himself Bhaskur Narsing Shastri. He was
induced to write the work by order of the learned Raja Vrijalala, while he was residing in
Benares, but as to the merits of this commentary it does not deserve much commendation.
In many cases the writer does not appear to have understood the meaning of the original
author, and has changed the text in many places to fit in with his own explanations.
A complete translation of the original work now follows. It has been prepared in complete
accordance with the text of the manuscript, and is given, without further comments, as
made from it.


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