Category Archives: Hinduism and Sexuality

The Ananga Ranga

The book The Ananga Ranga was written by Kalyana Malla in 1885 in the Sanskrit language; this book was translated by Richard Francis Burton into English and includes nine chapters and two appendixes. The Ananga Ranga is heavily condensed with specific categorizations. As a result, I will provide a brief summary of the translated version for each chapter or appendix; this paper will also discuss additional information that is pertinent to the inquiry.

Chapter one contains two sections that explain the four orders of women. They are known as Padmini, Chatrini, Shankhini, and Hastini. A Padmini is also known as the Lotus-woman, and is described as having a yoni [a yoni is a woman’s vagina] that resembles the open-lotus bud; she only sleeps a small amount, is respectable, and religious. She possesses the walk of a swan. A Chitrini is also known as the Art-woman, and is described as having a medium sized body, her yoni has hair that is thin, and her walk is described as being like that of an elephant. A Chitrini also loves to sing and loves pets. A Shankhini is also known as the Conch-woman, and is described as having a bilious temperament that sometimes makes her hot headed and confused; a Shankhini is also described as having a body that is large with small breasts and a yoni that is moist. A Hastini is short, has dead white skin, large hips and a harsh voice. A Hastini can only be truly satisfied by prolonged sex.

In chapter one, and also in section three, there is a table which classifies the greatest days of enjoyment for the four classes of women. In section four there are the hours prescribed which gives one the highest enjoyment.

In chapter two, Malla describes “The Various Seats of Passion in Women”. This means the four classes of women have different ways to enjoy their sexual desires and achieve satisfaction. Malla advises the husband to continue his action until he sees the body-hair bristle and hears the Sitkara, and then he will know that his wife is truly satisfied.

There are four different tables of manipulation [a manipulation is a way of pleasuring one’s wife] in chapter two, each one relating to one of the four different classes of women. Manipulation is directed towards a woman’s body and certain body part. A Padmini can be manipulated by her throat, cheek, hair, waist, breast, back, bosom, side, thigh, belly, arm, lip, nipple, space between her eyes, and her foot. A Chitrini can be manipulated through her yoni, lower lip, throat, waist, navel, lip, breast, ear, thigh, back, butt, forehead, chest, hair, eye, and the middle of her body. A Shankhini can be manipulated by her body in general, lower lip, arm, breasts, belly, chest, throat, ear, foot, mouth/face, yoni, lip, inch below her head, and the lower edge of her yoni. A Hastini can be manipulated through her yoni, navel, lip, side, breast, chest, nipple, body generally, eye, and armpit.

In chapter three, section one, Malla describes three types of men. A Shastra (Hare-man) is described as having a linga [a linga is a man’s penis] that does not exceed three inches while erect. He has features that are clear, well proportioned, and large eyes. He is humble, moderate in carnal desires, and nothing is offensive about his semen. A Vrishabha (Bull-man) is portrayed as having a linga that is four and a half inches, and a body that is robust and tough. He is cruel, violent, restless, and his semen is ever ready. An Ashwa (Horse-man) has a linga that is six inches long; he is tall, muscular, and has coarse and thick hair. An Ashwa is passionate, reckless and lazy, full of sleep, and his semen is copious, salty and goat-like.

In chapter three, section two, the women are further subdivided into three categories; this is dependent upon the depth and extent of their yoni. They can be categorized into: Mrigi (Harini) (Deer-woman) who has a yoni that is six fingers deep, Vadava (Ashvini) (Mare-woman) who has a yoni that is nine fingers deep, and Karini (Elephant-woman) who has a yoni that is twelve fingers in depth.

In Chapter two, section three, there are prescriptions to how men from section one, and how the women from section two, should be placed together in a relationship. This is done by tables which go on to describe a person’s best, middle, and worst match.

In Chapter two, section four, Malla describes four minor distinctions in sex. He describes the various degrees in sexual lust among the women. Malla reports that there are twenty-seven different kinds of congress [congress meaning sex], and when multiplied by nine species and three periods, the total is two hundred and forty-three.

In Chapter four, Malla explains the “Description of the General Qualities,” characteristics, and temperaments among women. There are four periods of life for women. The first, Bala (11-16 years old), is in darkness towards congress. Second, Taruni (16-30 years old), is in light towards congress. The third, Praudha (30-55 years old), is both in light and darkness towards congress. Lastly, the fourth, Viddha (beyond 55 years old), becomes sick and infirm towards congress. Malla describes the principle causes that cause women to deviate from engaging in proper behavior; those being the twelve periods when women have the greatest desire for congress, four kinds of love-tie connections, and the four different kinds of yonis.

In chapter five, Malla explains the characteristics of the women from different lands. I will explain only a selected few, with brief examples. A woman from the middle region has red nails and is an excellent housekeeper. Mathra from Krishna’s Country (Cow-herds’ Land) is satisfied by various forms of kissing. A woman from Lata-desha exhibits pleasure that is frequent and violent, with pleasure being gained by gentle insertion, striking with the hand, and soft biting of her lips. Andhra-desha (Telangana) does not feel shame and is considered wicked when compared to others of her sex.

In chapter six, “Treating of Vashikarana,” Malla describes Vashikmuna who uses specific drugs and charms to have various effects; there are three prescriptions, four magical prescriptions for winning love and friendship, three prescriptions that reduce people to submission, a philter-pill (Vatika), four charms, and two different incenses.

In chapter seven, Malla illustrates different signs in men and women; for example, a woman should marry of equal rank, be free from vices, and have brothers. She should have hair that is as black as Bhramara’s, teeth that are clean, ears that are small and well-rounded, a stomach that is flat, and a walk like that of an elephant. She should not come from a bad family and have inappropriate features (e.g. eyes that are yellow) and characteristics (e.g. violent temper).

In chapter seven, Malla explains the following: four ways a man should be tried, different considerations that need to be taken into account when picking a man (learning, disposition, qualities, and action), twenty-one qualities of a excellent man, seven kinds of troubles that result as a consequence when a man has intercourse with a married woman, ten changes in the natural state of men, a list of women who should never be enjoyed, a list of women who serve as go-betweens, a list of women who cannot be easily subdued, signs and symptoms that women become charmed by, places where a woman should not be enjoyed, times when a woman should not be enjoyed, and a description for the best woman fitted for sexual intercourse.

Chapter eight references the “Treating of External Enjoyments” [this precedes sexual intercourse]. Malla explains eight Alinganas, which are ways in which a woman can be embraced such as Vrikshadhirudha, Tila- Tandula, Lalatika, Jaghan-alingana, Viddhaka, Urupagudha, Dughdanir-alingana (Kshiranira), and Valleri-vreshtita.

Malla describes seven places to kiss a woman, which are the lower lip, both the eyes, both the cheeks, the head, the mouth, both breasts, and the shoulders. There are ten types of kisses which are Mlita-kissing (mixing or reconciling), Sphurita-kissing [ this kiss is associated with twitching], Ghatika (neck-nape kissing), Tiyak (oblique kissing), Uttaroshtha (upper-lip kissing), Pindita (lump-kissing), Samputa (casket-kissing), Hanuvatra-kissing [this kiss is done in an irritating way such as a prank], Pratibodha (awakening kiss), and Samaushtha-kissing [this kiss is accomplished by the initiation of the wife].

Malla explains Nakhadana, which is titillating [titillating means sexually exciting another] and scratching with the nails. Nakhadana can be exerted to the neck, hands, thighs, breasts, back, sides, axillaes, the whole chest or bosom, hips, the mons veneris and all parts of the yoni, and the cheeks. There are certain times and seasons when a style of manipulation is suitable and Malla discusses seven ways of applying the nails.

Malla describes seven Dashanas, which are ways of applying the teeth to the human body. He explains the four Keshagrahana’s, which are the manipulations of the woman’s hair. He describes four Karatadana’s, which are known as soft tappings and pattings with the hand by the husband or wife. Sitriti is a sound that is produced through inhaling the breath between closed teeth; this sound is produced from women and can be divided into five categories. Also, Malla describes men inhabiting characteristics of the Ashtamahanayika (eight great forms of Nayika).

In chapter nine, Malla discusses the “Treating of Internal Enjoyment in its Various Forms,” this means different sex positions. The Uttana-bandha is a position where the woman lies on her back, and this can be divided into eleven different subdivision positions. Tiryak-bandha is a sex position where the woman lies on her side, and this can be further divided into three positions. Upavishta is known as a sitting sex position, and this can be further subdivided into ten different positions. Utthita is the standing posture, and can be divided into three different sex positions. Vyanta-banda is a sex position where there woman has her breast and stomach to the bed or carpet, and this is divided into two different subdivisions. Purushayitabandha is where the man lies on his back with the woman on top, and this can be divided into three different positions. Malla does note that there are women that need to be excluded from the Purushayita; an example would be a woman who is pregnant.

Appendix one explains how astrology can be connected with marriage. Malla shows where consonance or dissonance emerges due to the stars of a bride and groom to be. A table was made by Malla to predict this; there is the zodiacal sign, presiding planet, genus, and the caste of a person. Malla discusses eight Gunas that are dispersed under eight heads and these are the caste, vashya, the nakshatras, class, planets, groups, kuta, and the nadi or point of time.

Appendix two is brief and comprised of six recipes, which are related to Rasayana, which is the preparation of metals for medicinal reasons.

The Ananga Ranga has been slow to become appreciated and learned because of its controversial discussions on sex. Malla wrote this book primarily to have the husband and wife live happily together as one, and to prevent the separation of a married couple.

REFERENCES AND FURTHER RECOMMENDED READING

Burton, R (1885) The Ananga Ranga (Translation). Internet Sacred Text Archive. Retrieved February 10, 2009, from http://www.sacred-texts.com/sex/ar/ar01.htm.

Related Topics for Further Investigation

Alinganas

Ashwa

Bala

Chatrini

Dashanas

Hastini

Karatadana

Karini

Mrigi

Padmini

Praudha

Shankhini

Shastra

Sitkara

Sitriti

Taruni

Vadava

Vashikarana

Viddha

Vrishabha

Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ananga_Ranga

http://burtoniana.org/books/1885-Ananga%20Ranga/1885-Ananga%20Ranga.htm

http://www.caitlainscorner.com/content/view/488/55/

http://www.notelay.com/articles/books/ananga_ranga/

http://tantramag.com/e-library/ananga-ranga/

http://tfj.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/14/1/81

http://www.tantra-sex.com/anangaranga.html

Article written by: Lindsay Kleiner (March 2009) who is solely responsible for its content.

The Hijras

I hope to send “through the thickets of our separateness” the very human voices of individuals who seem, at first glance, very different from most people, exotic, perhaps even bizarre, but who share in our common humanity (Nanda 1999:xxi).

The hijras are a religious community of men who dress and act like women and whose culture centers on the worship of Bahuchara Mata, one of the many versions of the Mother Goddess worshiped throughout India (Nanda 1999:ix). There are many myths, legends, rituals, religious roles and themes in Hinduism which entertain the notion of “sexually ambiguous or dual gender manifestations” (Nanda 1999:20).

A true hijra is born intersex, that is, an individual displaying both male and female sexual characteristics and organs. While being intersex is rare, true hijras are also considered individuals that have had an emasculation operation, referred to as nirvana (cessation of rebirth) by hijras. During this operation, their genitals are removed to “become vehicles of the Mother Goddess’s power” (Nanda 1999:25). The emasculation ritual is considered a rite of passage for hijras as they are reborn from an impotent male into a hijra, an individual endowed with sakti (power).

In India, the emasculation operation is illegal, but it is still performed secretly in spite of potential urological consequences and operative mortality [Master and Santucci (2003) report on a case of male genital self-mutilation in America related to the desire to become a hijra]. A hijra, called a dai ma (midwife), performs the operation. The dai ma has no medical training, but believes that Bahuchara Mata gives them the power to perform the operation. Bahuchara Mata’s blessing is always sought prior to the operation by way of a puja (devotional worship). In addition, positive omens are sought after. For instance, the dai ma breaks a coconut; if it breaks evenly in half, the operation can take place, and if it breaks unevenly, the operation will be postponed (Nanda 1999:27).

The relationship between hijras, emasculation and Bahuchara Mata is told in the following legend of the origin of Bahuchara Mata’s worship.

Bahuchara was a pretty, young maiden in a party of travelers passing through the forest in Gujarat. The party was attacked by thieves, and, fearing that they would outrage her modesty, Bahuchara drew her dagger and cut off her breast, offering it to the outlaws in place of her virtue. This act, and her ensuing death, led to Bahuchara’s deification and the practice of self-mutilation and sexual abstinence by her devotees to secure her favour (Nanda 1999:25).

Hijras also refer to Indian epic literature in order to legitimize their existence and to gain respect in Indian society. From the Ramayana, hijras often allude to the following story.

In the time of the Ramayana, Rama fought with the demon Ravana and went to Sri Lanka to bring his wife, Sita, back to India. Before this, his father commanded Rama to leave Ayodhya [his native city] and go into the forest for 14 years. As he went, the whole city followed him because they loved him so. As Rama came to the banks of the river at the edge of the forest, he turned to the people and said, ‘Ladies and gents, please wipe your tears and go away.’ But those people who were not men and not women did not know what to do. So they stayed there because Rama did not ask them to go. They remained there 14 years and when Rama returned from Lanka he found those people there, all meditating. And so they were blessed by Rama (Nanda 1999:13).

Within the Mahabharata, hijras point to the following story involving Arjuna as the story of their origin.

Yudhisthira, one of the Pandava brothers, is seduced by his enemies into a game of dice in which the stake is that the defeated party should go with his brothers into exile for 12 years and remain incognito for the 13th year. The Pandavas lose and go into exile as required. When the 13th year comes around, Yudhisthira asks Arjuna what disguise he will take up for the 13th year in order to remain undiscovered. Arjuna answers that he will hide himself in the guise of a eunuch and serve the ladies of the court. He describes how he will spend the year, wearing white conch shell bangles, braiding his hair like a woman, dressing in female attire, engaging in menial works in the inner apartments of the queens, and teaching the women of the court singing and dancing (Nanda 1999:30) [See Lal (1999) for more accounts on the mythic dimensions of hijra origin stories].

Just as Arjuna participated in births and weddings as a eunuch (castrated man), hijras fulfill their traditional ritual roles by dancing and singing at auspicious occasions and by “conferring blessings of fertility on newborn males and on newlyweds” (Nanda 1999:5). In the process of conferring blessings in the name of Bahuchara Mata, hijras are able to give what they do not have, that is, “the power of creating new life, of having many sons, and of carrying on the continuity of [the] family line” (Nanda 1999:3). The faith in the powers of the hijras rests on the Hindu belief in sakti (Nanda 1999:5).

In addition to having the power to bless, hijras are also known to have the power to curse. If hijras feel that they have not been compensated (badhai) fully for their performance their audiences may face some extremely outrageous behaviour. The effectiveness of extortion through public shaming by hijras is legendary (Nanda 1999:49) [See Hall (1997) for a discussion on hijras and their use of insults].

As in Indian society, a hierarchical system is also evident in hijra communities. The relationships of gurus (teachers) and chelas (disciples) not only support social and family needs, but economic needs as well. In order to become part of a hijra community, one must be sponsored by a guru and a dand (fee) must be paid. For the most part, hijras live together in a household that is run by a particular guru. They are expected to contribute part or all of their earnings to the household as well as assist with household chores. In return they get a roof over their heads, food, protection from the police, and a place to carry on their business, whether this is performing, begging, or prostitution (Nanda 1999:39).

In addition to hijra households, hijras are also organized into seven houses, which are in essence symbolic descent groups. For each house within a region there is a leader called a naik (chief). These leaders get together in a jamat (meeting of the elders – modeled after the Muslim jamat) when there are new initiations as well as important decisions to be made, such as, “sanctioning hijras who violate community rules” (Nanda 1999:40). One of the most important norms in every hijra commune is honesty with respect to property (Nanda 1999:40) [Bockrath (2003) further explores the code and structure that hijras adhere to].

Considering hijras are unable to reproduce they engage in various patterns of recruitment in order to sustain their lineage. For instance, parents themselves may give a child to the hijras (especially one that is intersex), or upon growing up, individuals themselves may join the hijras, or in rare cases hijras may claim an intersex child as their right [Agrawal (1997) analyzes various recruitment practices of hijras as discussed in colonial literature].

As mentioned above, in addition to performing at auspicious occasions, hijras also earn a living by begging or prostitution [See Reddy (2003) for a discussion regarding hijras rapidly gaining visibility in contemporary Indian politics]. Hijras who earn a living performing at births and weddings are the elite of their community (Nanda 1992:10). Unfortunately the opportunities for these traditional ritual roles are declining, especially in light of the family planning programs the Indian government has been supporting, as such hijras have been required to find other means to support themselves. Hijras commonly view themselves as samnyasins (renouncers) since they have renounced all sexual desire and family life, and as such a second traditional and public occupation of hijras is that of asking for alms either from passersby on the streets or, more commonly, from shopkeepers (Nanda 1999:50).

Prostitution has also become a means of supporting hijras even though it contravenes the cultural ideal of the hijra as a samnyasin and it goes against the wishes of the hijra Mother Goddess, who is herself celibate (Nanda 1999:53). Hijras who are forced into prostitution as a way to earn a living are not only looked down upon by Indian society in general, but by their own hijra community as well. As one of the most marginalized groups in Indian society, “whether as performers or as prostitutes, hijras have effectively adapted to the society that surrounds them” (Nanda 1999:54), and in effect, they have created a place for themselves and will continue to survive as they fight to legitimize their existence and to gain respect [Bakshi (2004) further explores the possibilities and limits of the gendered performances that hijras undertake, including ritualistic and religious aspects].

References and Further Recommended Reading

Agrawal, Anuja (1997) “Gendered Bodies: The Case of the ‘Third Gender’ in India.” Contributions to Indian Sociology 31, no. 2, 273-297.

Bakshi, Sandeep (2004) “A Comparative Analysis of Hijras and Drag Queens: The Subversive Possibilities and Limits of Parading Effeminacy and Negotiating Masculinity.” Journal of Homosexuality 46, no. 3, 211-223.

Boccia, Maria (1995) “Physical Sex and Psychological Gender: Neither Man nor Woman, The Hijras of India.” Journal of Developing Societies 11, no. 2 (December): 276-278.

Bockrath, Joseph T. (2003) “Bhartia Hijro Ka Dharma: The Code of India’s Hijra.” Legal Studies Forum 27, 83-95.

Cohen, Lawrence (1995) “The Pleasures of Castration: The Postoperative Status of Hijras, Jankhas and Academics.” In Abramson, Paul & Pinkerton, Steven (Eds.), Sexual Nature, Sexual Culture. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Hall, Kira (1997) “’Go Suck Your Husband’s Sugarcane!’ Hijras and the Use of Sexual Insult.” Queerly Phrased: Language, Gender & Sexuality 430-460.

Hall, Kira & O’Donovan, Veronica (1996) “Shifting Gender Positions Among Hindi-Speaking Hijras.” In Bergvall, Victoria L., Bing, Janet M. & Freed, Alice F. (Eds.), Rethinking Language and Gender Research: Theory and Practice. London: Longman.

Khemka, Anita (2006) “Munna Guru: Portrait of a Eunuch.” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 7, 2.

Lal, Vinay (1999) “Not This, Not That: The Hijras of India and the Cultural Politics of Sexuality.” Social Text 61, 17, no. 4, 119-140.

Master, Viraj & Santucci, Richard (2003) “An American Hijra: A Report of a Case of Genital Self-Mutilation to Become India’s ‘Third Sex’.” Urology 62, no. 3 (December): 1121.

Nanda, Serena (1984) “The Hijras of India: A Preliminary Report.” Medicine and Law 3, no. 1 (January): 59-75.

Nanda, Serena (1992) “Third Gender: Hijra Community in India.” Manushi: A Journal About Women and Society 72 (September): 9-16.

Nanda, Serena (1999) Neither Man nor Woman: The Hijras of India. Toronto: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Ould, Patricia J. (2003) “Passing in India.” The Gay & Lesbian Review (May-June): 27-28.

Reddy, Gayatri (2003) “’Men’ Who Would Be Kings: Celibacy, Emasculation, and the Re-Production of Hijras in Contemporary Indian Politics.” Social Research 70, no. 1, 163-200.

Towle, Evan B. & Morgan, Lynn M. (2002) “Romancing the Transgender Native: Rethinking the Use of the ‘Third Gender’ Concept.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 8, no. 4, 469-497.

Related Topics for Further Investigation

Bahuchara Mata

Intersex

Emasculation

Nirvana

Sakti

Puja

Ramayana

Mahabharata

Arjuna

Eunuch

Auspicious

Badhai

Gurus

Chelas

Jamat

Commune

Samnyasins

Alms

Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic

http://www.pbase.com/maciekda/hijras

http://www.thewe.cc/contents/more/archive/aruvani.html

http://www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/hijras.html

http://www.librarygirl.org/portfolio/hijra/hijras.html

Article written by: Brooke Somers (April 2008) who is solely responsible for its content.

The Kamasutra

The full details of the composition of the Hindu literary text, Kamasutra, is not fully known but is estimated to have been composed around the first century B.C.E. (Peterson 135). It was composed by Vatsyayana in northern India and written in the ancient Indian literary language, Sanskrit. There is very little on the background of Vatsyayana but it is believed that he was a Hindu religious man who was a part of the upper classes (Peterson 135). Vatsyayana had taken pieces of earlier works from the Kamasastra [Tradition of works and literature on erotics, love and pleasure (science of love)] to put together what the western world terms the “paradigmatic textbook for sex” (Doniger 2003:18). Vatsyayana directs the reader’s attention towards the promotion of the greater whole. “He made this work in chastity and in the highest meditation, for the sake of worldly life, he did not compose it for the sake of passion” (Kakar 7.2.57). Since works from the Kamasastra were not easily accessible, Vatsyayana wanted to summarize these works into one. The Kamasutra is the aphoristic summary of the Kamasastra and since sutras precede the sastras in Indian history, it is given more religious authority than the Kamasastra (Doniger 2001:82). Hence the name sutra, which literally means a “thread of thoughts and pages” are put together in such a way to form a “string” of meaning (Doniger 2001:82). Another example of this type of literary composition consists of the literature on dharma, The Laws of Manu which is part of the Dharmasastras [Hindu legal treatises on moral, ethical and social laws. To get a further understanding on the Dharma Sastra texts in comparison to the Kamasutra, see Rocher (1985)].

The Kamasutra was first translated into English by Sir Richard Francis Burton in 1893 and the majority of the English world is familiar with the text through this translation. Many other translations have been composed over the past century by such people as Indra Sinha in 1980, and most recently by Wendy Doniger in 2002. People of today have a misconception of what the Kamasutra truly delivers in terms of its contents. Many consider it a text that is about sexual positions, or a guide to make one skilful with love making. The Kamasutra does help in this area of romance, but that is only a portion of what it has to offer to those who read it. This Hindu text covers all areas in the art of loving, from finding a partner, maintaining a marriage, committing adultery, living with courtesans, the use of drugs, and of course, positions of sexual intercourse (Doniger 2002:126). Other authors after Vatsyayana composed similar texts to that of his Kamasutra. During the 11th century a man named Koka Pandit composed the Rati Rahasya [Koka Pandit physically engaged in the arts of love, and therefore was able to give a more extensive study with his personal endeavours in the Rati Rahasya] based on Vatsyayana’s Kamasutra. Then a few centuries after, another man named Kalyanmalla in the 15th century composed the Ananga Ranga [Kalyanmalla had written the Ananga Ranga originally for the benefit of his own master, Lad Khan, who was a Muslim nobleman] which is based off the other two texts (Thomas 75). All three of these texts are highly regarded for its contents on love and its pursuit in life.

Within Hindu society and tradition, the Kamasutra is generally read by males who are a part of the twice-born (dvija) class in their second stage of life, that of the householder (grhasta), which is initiated with marriage (vivaha). Within this stage of life, the male must pursue and fulfill the goals that are prescribed for the householder. These goals are dharma (religious duties, morality, social obligation—the spiritual), artha (skill, attainment of wealth—political and economic welfare), and kama (desire/attachment—love and pleasure). These are what are known as the trivarga, and Vatsyayana generates a form of hierarchy with these three aspects of the trivarga (Rocher 521-522). Unlike kama, the texts that are associated with artha and dharma to fully understand and obtain the meanings of each, are laid out in the Dharmasastra and the Arthasastra [This text was written by Kautilya with its focus upon pursuing the attainment of material success for householders. Traditionally it was intended to help aid a king in his role and guidance of ruling a kingdom. To get a further understanding on the Artha Sastra in comparison to the Dharma Sastra and Kamasutra, see Rocher (1985)]. Notice the difference between the three goals and the texts that are generally associated with it. The Kamasutra is not a sastra because Vatsyayana asserts that the actions of kama comes naturally, where dharma and artha must be developed and learned (Rocher 522). According to Sir Richard Burton’s translation of the Kamasutra, “[h]e should acquire learning in his childhood; in his youth and middle age he should attend to artha and kama; and in his old age he should perform dharma…” (5).

Throughout the householder’s stage of life, it is the goal of kama and artha that are the primary concerns and in order to prosper in society one must pursue these goals relentlessly. As a result, this stage is the most crucial aspect of the life of a householder; to be able to cultivate the art of love to have children and to obtain wealth and power to leave for the children after the completion of this stage (Ostor 110).

Originally, according to traditional lore, the Kamasutra contained thousands of chapters, and over time it was reduced down to what it is considered to be “thirty-six chapters, in sixty-four sections, in seven books, consisting of 1,250 sutras” (Kakar 1.1.4-23). The written work of the Kamasutra is not composed in such a way that it resembles a rule book, where each rule is numbered and one must follow from one step to the next. The text is written along the lines of a work of dramatic fiction and underneath all the sexual content and details of married life it appears to take on the characteristics of classical Indian drama (Doniger 2003: 20). The Kamasutra therefore consists of characters whose sex lives are used to demonstrate the appropriate behaviours to be undertaken by the householders. The man and woman whose lives are illustrated throughout the text are called the hero (nayaka), the heroine (nayika), and the men who assist the hero are termed the libertine (pitamarda), pander (vita) and clown (vidushaka) (Doniger 2001:88 and Doniger 2003:20). Like most classical Indian dramas as noted above, the Kamasutra is composed of seven acts. Each act depicts the different phases of the hero’s life. Act one is an introduction into the text giving a general idea of love and its involvement in the lives of men and women. Act two is an in-depth discussion on the beginnings of sexual techniques. Act three describes the process of acquiring a potential wife and engaging in marriage. Act four is the section in which the text describes the proper conduct of a wife and her roles in a marriage. Act five depicts how a male goes about seducing other women and other men’s wives. Act six is the exploration of various women, more specifically those who are courtesans. Finally, act seven is the exposition of the male exploring different aphrodisiacs and magic spells as a means of attracting others to himself.

Throughout the text, there are a total of sixty-four chapters [The Kamasutra is not entirely composed of prose but also includes several loka verses which are cited at the end of each chapter. These loka verses comprise about a tenth of the total text, see Kakar (2002)]. Within the Indian culture, sixty-four is considered to be a sacred number, somewhat of a natural number. Hence the sixty-four various sexual positions or arts, depicted in the text (Kakar xxiii). Vatsyayana believed that there are eight different ways of making love, and within those eight there are eight different positions totalling sixty-four forms of the art on love. The Kamasutra does not only prescribe how the male should act throughout the householder stage in search of kama, but it also prescribes duties and actions of how a female should act as well. These sixty-four forms of art in which the female is encouraged to perform include, singing, dancing, cutting leaves into shapes, arranging flowers, playing water sports, making costumes, the science of strategy (Kakar 1.3.15) and many more. Therefore, Vatsyayana suggested that women should at one point be encouraged to read the Kamasutra, “[a] woman should do this before she reaches the prime of her youth, and she should continue when she has been given away, if her husband wishes it” (Kakar 1.3.2).

In total, about one-fifth of the text is committed to the art of love making and sexual pleasure, while the rest is guidance for males and females in their relationships and relationships of that with others. It has helped those who are in the householder stage of life on their pursuit to fulfill the goal of kama. Vatsyayana gave a positive definition of kama in which,

“[p]leasure, in general, consists in engaging the ear, skin, eye, tongue, and nose each in its own approptriate sensation, all under the control of the mind and heart driven by the conscious self. Pleasure in its primary form, however, is a direct experience by the sensual pleasure of erotic arousal that results from the particular sensation of touch. A man learns about pleasure from the Kamasutra and from associating with the circle of men-about town” (Kakar 1.2.11-13).

Although today in Western society, people still consider the Kamasutra to be solely based on depictions of sexual endeavours; those who follow tradition will find that the Kamasutra is a text of useful insight and guidance on their pursuit of love and pleasure. In summation, the fundamental effect one might feel while reading and following the Kamasutra is an overall experience of sukha (happiness).

REFERENCES AND FURTHER RECOMMENDED READINGS

Burton, Sir Richard and F.F. Arbuthonot (1997) Kamasutra of Vatsyayana. Mumbai; Jaico Publishing House.

Doniger, Wendy (2001) “On Translating the Kamasutra: A Gurudakshina for Daniel H.H. Ingalls.” Journal of Indian Philosophy. 29 no. 1-2 April, p 81-94.

______ (2002) “On the Kamasutra.” Daedalus. Spring, vol. 131 Issue 2, p126-129.

______ (2003) “The Kamasutra: It Isn’t All About Sex.” Kenyon Review. Winter, vol. 25 Issue 1, p 18-36.

Kakar, Sudhir (2002) Kamasutra. New York: Oxford University Press.

Ostor, Akos (1992) Concepts of Person: Kinship, Caste, and Marriage in India. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Peterson, Valerie (2002) “Text as Cultural Antagonist: The ‘Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana’.” Journal of Communication Inquiry. April vol. 26, Issue2, p 133-154.

Rocher, Ludo (1985) “The Kamasutra: Vatsyayana’s Attitude towards Dharma and Dharmasastra.” Journal of the American Oriental Society; Jul.-Sept., vol. 105, no. 3, p 521- 529.

Thomas, P. (1956) Kama Kalpa: The Hindu Ritual of Love. Bombay; D. B. Taraporevala Sons & Co. Private Ltd.

Related Topics for Further Investigation

Kama Sastra

Dharma Sastra

The Laws of Manu

Kautilya

Artha Sastra

dharma

artha

trivarga

Rati Rahasya

Koka Pandit

Ananga Ranga

Kalyanmalla

dvija

Grhasta

vivaha

shloka

Courtesans (Act Six)

Aphrodisiacs and drugs (Act Seven)

64 arts

Women in the Kamasutra

Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kama_Sutra

http://www.swaveda.com/

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Kama_Sutra

http://www.kamashastra.com/

http://www.kamat.com/kalranga/erotica/kamasutra/index.htm

http://www.spaceandmotion.com/kamasutra.htm

http://www.tantraattahoe.com/kama-sutra/indian-kama-sutra.htm

Article written by Alicia Penny (March 2006) who is solely responsible for its content.