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the Kama Sutra :
The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana
About Kama Sutra: Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana ("Kama Sutra" is Sanskrit for "Aphorisms
of Love") is an extraordinary and fascinating work that deserves careful reading
and study. Written in ancient India, it is essentially a technical guide, a
scholarly treatise if you will, to sexual enjoyment and other sensual pleasures.
It also contains profound historical and anthropological insights into the mores
and customs of ancient India. The modern reader will often be surprised by how
markedly different the cultural paradigms presented in the Kama Sutra are from
those of today. Almost nothing is known about the writer, Vatsyayana, or the
exact date he wrote this work. Regarding the date, Sir Richard F. Burton (whose
1883 translation is used partially in this site„more on this below) determined
from internal evidence that the Kama Sutra was written sometime between the
first and sixth centuries A.D. Many scholars now believe the Kama Sutra was
written during, or shortly before, the Gupta period (320-540 A.D.), which has
also been called the Classical Age of India. Regarding the writer Vatsyayana,
Burton makes the following insightful remarks: "...He [Vatsyayana] states that
he wrote the work while leading the life of a religious student (probably at
Benares) and while wholly engaged in the contemplation of the Deity. He must
have arrived at a certain age at that time, for throughout he gives us the benefit
of his experience, and of his opinions, and these bear the stamp of age rather
than of youth; indeed the work could hardly have been written by a young man."
One comment should be made about the so-called "Kama Sutra" now available at
various sites on the Internet. That text document, the so-called "sexual positions
list" is only a very small snippet of the entire work (a portion of one chapter
out of a total of 35 chapters plus a Salutation.) It is also not from the Burton
translation. Although legal considerations compel us to state that this site
is For Adults Only (because Vatsyayana deals with the subject matter of human
sexuality in a frank and forthright manner), it is a shame that this restriction
must be applied since this site is clearly non-prurient in nature. The whole
scholarly (and some would say, practical) character of the Kama Sutra is nothing
like most works of erotica written today... some would even assert that the
Kama Sutra is wholly appropriate even for older teens to read because of its
historical and anthropological insights into our own culture and to human sexuality
in general. Of course, our society is a lot different from ancient Indian society.
Thus, many of the subjects and cultural practices Vatsyayana discusses are very
alien, and even bizarre, to our frame of reference. But that is what makes the
Kama Sutra so fascinating is something written almost two millennia ago, in
a culture far removed us, tells us today that there is more than one way for
a society to regulate human sexual practice and conduct. The obvious implication
for us today is that we need to be very careful when we promote certain societal
paradigms regarding human sexuality as somehow being fixed, absolute and timeless.
They clearly are not.
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