Understanding the Fascinating World of The Kamasutra
Kamasutra. Even the way that word rolls off the tongue has a sensual feel to it. Equal parts exoticism and equal parts sensual, even forbidden, delights, this ancient Indian sexual instruction manual has continued to intrigue people interested in the sexual arts for ages. And why wouldn’t it?
It catalogs hundreds of positions with a meticulousness, thoroughness, and attention to detail that would make most technical writers feel like uninspired slackers.
Here are some guidelines and tips for Understanding Kamasutra
More than meets the eye
Besides its value as a catalog of, to say the least, interesting ways to hide the salami, this text also has a very interesting history and actually contains more value than simple physical pleasure. While partners can definitely add a lot of spice and excitement to love making sessions with the help of this book, this book’s focus on sexual technique also has a transcendent element. This ancient love manual, far from just a simple list of ways to move body parts, appears to be intended to also act as a gateway to transcendent personal experiences.
A Guide to Living
Don’t let the exciting and often titillating traditional media presentation of this age-old tome throw you off, it packs quite a bit of ancient Hindu philosophy, spirituality, and practical advice. While the sexual component of the book gets most of the public’s attention, the sex guide is just one portion of this book. Most of the book, around 80%, focuses on how to live the good life as it relates to love, desire, right and wrong sexual behavior, family, and other pleasurable aspects of life. That’s right-only 20% of the Kama Sutra deals with positions couples could try when having sex. As discussed below, this book can go quite ‘deep’-ways you might not have originally anticipated.
The Origins of The Kamasutra
As far as original publication date goes, scholars speculate that this book was written as early as 400 BCE to as recent as 200 CE. The one things most modern scholars can agree on is that this book was compiled in pretty much its present form around 200 CE.
Contrary to popular belief, this book is not authored by one singular author. In fact, it’s easy to look at this very old publication as a compilation of previous books. Written originally in the ancient Hindu Sanskrit script, this book’s nominal author, Vatsyayana gives credit to previous authors of books which detailed positions compiled in this book. He specifically mentions that this book included shortened versions of originally longer publications by the following ancient Hindu authors: Kuchumara, Charayana, Gonikaputra, Gonardiya, Ghotakamukha, Suvarnanabha, and Dattaka.
The modern English translation of the kamasutra is based on a publication released privately in 1883 by Sir Richard Francis Burton. This version of the kama sutra came about because Burton kept running into mentions of Vatsya when he was working with Indian scholars to translate another work, the “Anunga Runga” or ‘stages of love.’ Burton was told that Vatsya’s work on sex was the seminal Hindu literature on this aspect of the human experience. Burton worked through his network of Indian scholars to get a copy of Vatsyayana’s tome and translate it and publish it. Burton’s English translation of the camasutra was a compilation of four original sources gathered from four cities in India.
Organization and Layout
Composed of 1250 verses, this book is comprised of 36 chapters which are, in turn, grouped into 7 different parts. Here is quick summary of each of the seven sections:
Section 1: General
Composed of five chapters, this part of the book deals with the priorities and ‘three aims’ once should have in life. It talks about how one goes about acquiring knowledge, proper conduct for a gentleman, and thoughts on people who help the lover with his goals.
Section 2: Sex
This is the most famous part of the Kama Sutra – it deals with sex acts. Contrary to popular perceptions, this book isn’t all about sexual positions though-although this section describes many of them. This section also educates the reader on how to turn on a lover through caresses, embraces, kissing, sexy slapping, moaning, and other actions. The reader is instructed to how to set up a love making session and how to conclude it. All in all, this section covers 64 different types of sex acts.
Section 3: Finding a wife
This section’s five chapters deal with the different forms of marriage in ancient India, how to obtain a woman and get her to relax, and the marriage union.
Section 4: Expectations on the wife
This section has two chapters and focuses on the proper behavior of a wife or the relationship between a main wife and secondary wives.
Section 5: How to deal with other men’s wives
Comprised of six chapters, this section deals with how to read the signals sent by married women and how to hook up with them.
Section 6: Sex workers section
Spanning six chapters, this part deals with the money making aspect of sex and how to find steady sources of paid sex.
Section 7: The Occult
Composed only of two chapters, this section deals with how to use the occult to improve your ability to draw women and how to improve your overall sexual power.
Overall Philosophy: A life of Virtue
A true understanding of this book must frame it within the general hierarchy of Hindu virtues. According to this spiritual tradition, there are 4 key areas of life: Dharma or virtuous living, Artha or the need for material gain and prosperity, Kama or the desire for pleasure, and Moksha-spiritual release from the endless cycle of birth and rebirth. The virtuous life should be one’s highest goal followed by material gain. The need for pleasure is quite low in the totem pole of Hindu values.
Still, the interplay between the importance of sexual pleasure within the greater context of seeking to live a virtuous life plays out in this book. The section on sex positions and pleasure is surrounded by sections on and discussions involving making money, control, power, position-all within the context of doing things the virtuous way. Indeed, when it comes to priorities, the book advises that people should seek to take care of their material needs by acquiring wealth early on and focusing on pleasure in their youth. For the rest of one’s life, one is advised to focus on living virtuously.
This hierarchy of human needs roughly track the Hindu chakra system where basic needs like sex, food, drink, and domination of others are relegated to the lower levels of humans’ values while virtues like the ability to love others and experience the divine are placed at the top.
Relation to Tantric Sex
One of the most common and persistent myths surrounding the karma sutra is the idea that its sex positions are tantric in nature. Not so. This book is not a publication that deals with tantra and is not recognized as part of Tantric literature. While sexuality forms a key part of tantric literature, there are specific and precise sexual rites involved in Tantra which are plainly missing in the cama sutra.
Relation to Yoga Stances
Vatsyayana’s cataloging of compiled sexual positions is not much different from the compilations and mentions of historical yoga poses in Hindu literature. There is a tendency to categorize and cluster different positions based on overall headings. The big difference, of course, is that the kamashastra’s collection of sexual positions are purely for sexual instruction in the larger context of a relationship.
Sex Positions Typology and Analysis
Section 2 of this book, also known as the karmashastra, categorizes different sex positions into the following groupings:
Embracing – positions involving face to face or chest to chest positioning of the partners
Lying down – positions that involve either partner lying down or lying prone
Positions for Role Reversal – positions that make it easier for the man and woman to switch roles between active and passive partner
This ancient Hindu guide breaks down the embracing position as involving one of two actions if the lover is standing. First, the woman wraps herself around her man and embraces him. She is fully wrapped around him much like a creeping vine and she is not supported by either of her legs. The second variation of the standing embrace is when the woman places one of her legs on the foot of her lover. She stands on her lover while wrapping her other leg around his body. The woman’s upper body embraces her lover.
Other embracing positions involve the pairing of thighs against thighs and wrapping arms around each other. All these different variations share one thing in common: they press the lovers close to each other for maximum contact. Variations in contact points, sensations, and range of motion depend on which body parts are pressed against each other and how much leeway is involved. Some variations, for example thigh against thigh, are pretty straightforward and doesn’t take much effort. Other variations are more athletic in nature and can cause some discomfort if the person doing the thrusting isn’t used to a high level of physical activity.
Embracing positions are, of course, not just positions. In addition to the thrusting or rubbing action required for mutual sexual pleasure, lovers are advised to make sounds, coo, croon, or otherwise use verbal signals (in addition to the warmth produced by passionate embraces) to enhance intimacy.
These positions involve either the woman lying down and her partner on top of her, behind her or to her side or the reverse. Just like with the embracing positions, the intensity of the thrusts in these positions is impacted by how much leeway is involved between body parts. The karmasutra also guides partners on different ways to generate pleasurable sensations in a lying position in addition to thrust and going forward. Partners can rub, rock back and forth, and other actions. Still, the primary type of action producing pleasure in lying positions is the male partner thrusting the female.
Lying positions vary the angle and positioning of the thrusting action which impacts range of motion, impact, and depth and of thrust. Given the huge variety involved-from both partners lying down facing each other, side by side, or the man sitting, there is a wide variation of effort required. Put simply, some positions can look downright exotic but they sure can be tiring especially if the partners don’t consistently use these positions.
Positions for role reversal
For the most part, most of the work in the positions outlined in this age-old text is handled by the male. The male partner does the thrusting and rubbing. The male is the active participant while the woman generally takes the passive role. Sex positions dealing with role reversal flips the script among partners. The male might be tired, injured, or the partners simply want to try something new. Regardless of the partners’ reason for trying them out, these positions are all about the woman doing the active work of facilitating her penetration. In most cases, the man is simply lying back while the woman does all the work.
Two general role reversal positions are outlined by this book: woman gets on top in the middle of sex or she assumes the male role from the beginning.
Proper context for kamashastra positions
Instead of quickly running through a ‘menu’ of related positions, partners should focus on unlocking the tremendous wealth of pleasure these positions bring to the table by making them part of a larger ‘production.’ Make sex a ‘production’ that involves all your senses. Dress up or play roles, burn some incense or use fragrant oils. Whatever you do, unlock the huge diversity and exoticism of this ancient Hindu tome to take sex with your partner to the next level of intimacy and pleasure. As modern researchers have discovered, while there is a lot of physicality involved in truly pleasurable sex, partners should not overlook the psychological and emotional elements of sex. A little bit of curiosity, surprise, mystery, and a whole lot of a sense of possibility can turn sex with your partner from a morsel you regularly consume to a feast for the senses you can’t wait to indulge in.