Category Archives: Kama and Kama Sutras and Shastras

Kamasutra Book 3: Virgins

The Kamasutra is an ancient Hindu text composed by Vatsyayana. The Kamasutra is believed to be a manual of sexual intercourse positions by most western societies, but the Kamasutra is a guide that helps people to achieve moral and noble lifestyles. The text discusses the nature of love, family lifestyles, forms of marriage, duties of a wife, behavior a man and woman should exhibit, traits to consider when choosing a partner and ways to develop physical attraction (Doniger 2007:66).

Marriage is the union of two people as partners in a legal relationship recognized by law. According to Rig Veda, marriage is the union of a male to a female virgin of the same class system. When a female is married to a male of equal class, the Dharma and Artha are satisfied based on the holy writing. They will be blessed with offspring and everlasting love. A man must become responsible and find a girl who comes from a noble and respected family, whose parents are alive, and is two or three years younger than himself. The female virgin must come from wealth, well connected, have stable and firm relationships with relatives and friends, good health and all her overall self must be beautiful. The man should, of course, also possess these qualities that the female virgin has (Doniger 2007).

Book three of the Kamasutra text, named Virgins, emphasizes exclusively on marriage, how to create confidence in a girl, on courtship and the display of the feelings by gesture and signs, things to be done only by the man on the acquisition of the girl, what a girl should do to win over a man and make him subject to her and forms of marriage (Doniger and Sudhir 2002).

There are five chapters in the text, Virgins, which focuses on the aspects of marriage. These five chapters are: (1) Courting the girl, (2) Winning a virgin’s trust, (3) Making advances to a young girl, (4) Advances a man makes on his own, (5) Devious devices for weddings.

Courting the Girl

When a man decides to court a beautiful girl from a respectable, well-connected and wealthy family with lucky marks on her body who is in good health., he has acquired both Dharma and Artha (Doniger and Sudhir 75). His parents and friends helps him court the girl especially the mutual friends of both his parents. The male friends tend to point out faults about the girl’s other suitors, and boost their friend’s good qualities to please the girl’s parents especially the girl’s mother. His friends dress like a fortune teller, and declare the future good fortune and wealth of the couple by showing the existence of all the lucky omens and signs, the good influence of planets, the auspicious entrance of the sun into a sign of the Zodiac, propitious stars and fortunate marks on his body (Doniger and Sudhir 75). However, girls who are pregnant, have a disgusting name like the name of one of the twenty-seven stars, or the name of a tree, or of a river, and whose name ends in ‘r’ or ‘l (Doniger and Sudhir 76)., are sick, betrothed to another, sweat a lot and are pimply should be avoided. The girl’s family dresses her up elegantly to events during the time of courtship. The girl’s family receive the man’s family who has come to court her (Doniger and Sudhir 77). Both family come to decision on how long they will wait to test the working of fate from the gods before giving her away. A man must marry by a wedding in the way of Brahma.

Winning a Virgin’s Trust

The Kamasutra prescribes that after the first three nights of the marriage, the couple should sleep on the floor, refrain from any sexual union and not eat any food that has salt or spices. The next seven days, they bathe with musical instrument playing, dress well, eat together, go to events together and visit their relatives. This is required to persons of all class systems. On the tenth night, the husband can begin gentle advances towards his wife when they are alone at night, thereby creating confidence in the girl. Babhravya followers say that when the husband does not initiate talk for three days with her, she assumes he is spiritless like pillar and begins to despise him (Doniger and Sudhir 78). Vatsyayana advices that the husband should slowly seduce her to win her trust and create confidence in his wife, by not forcing her but by gentle persuasion (Doniger and Sudhir 78-79). The husband should use tactics which she would like and become more confident with him. These tactics are as follows (Doniger and Sudhir 79):

He should embrace her the way she likes but not make it last a long time.

He should start by embracing her with the upper part of his body because it easier. He can embrace in the light if she is older and they are familiar with one another, but embrace in the dark if she younger.

When his wife accepts the embrace, the man should put a betel leaf in her mouth and if she does not accept it, he should use appeasing words, promises, and kneeling at her feet to seduce her. He should then begin by giving her some soft kisses, without making a sound. He should then encourage her to talk and ask him questions, which he will pretend to not know or answer with a few words (Doniger and Sudhir 79). He should not scare her if she does not talk but keep asking her if she has any questions over again and over again in a sweet manner, and he should urge her to talk if she does not after that. When she pestered again, she should reply by shaking her head.

When he asks her if she wants him or not, she should remain silent for a long time and when at last importuned to reply, should give him a promising answer by a nod of her head. He could call in the favor of a female friend, who they both trust, to continue the conversation (Doniger and Sudhir 79). When she engages in putting in scented oil near him or ties it in his upper cloth after becoming accustomed to him without talking, the man should touch her young breasts. If she prevents him from doing this, he should tell to her, I will not do it again if you will embrace me (Doniger and Sudhir 80)., thereby causing her to embrace him. While embracing, he should caress her whole body tenderly to gain her consent and when she does not give consent, he can scare her by saying, I shall impress marks of my teeth and nails on your lips and breasts, and then make similar marks on my own body, and shall tell my friends that you did them. What will you say then (Doniger and Sudhir 80). By doing this, he seduces her to gain her trust. On the second and third night, there is increase with confidence and she begins to trust him more, he can then begin to engage more sexual intercourse with his wife. He demonstrates his love to her by promising to be faithful to her in the future, and that she should dismiss all her fears with respect to any rival women (Doniger and Sudhir 81). He then begins to enjoy her in a way that does not scare her.

Making Advances to a Young Girl

A man with no money, no opportunity, a neighbor, dependent on his family, seen as a child or a guest, should not court a virgin. He can court a virgin if she falls in love with him from childhood (Doniger and Sudhir 82). Only men living with their uncle’s can try to gain over uncle daughter or some other girl, even if she is promised to another. When a man has decided the girl, he wants to court, he begins by spending time with her and her friends. He pleases her by playing various games with her, buying her flowers, cooking meals for her and playing six pebbles. He must become kind to the daughter of the girl’s nurse to gain her trust because she can affect the union between him and the girl he loves. The daughter can also talk about his good qualities to the girl’s parents and relatives. He should work hard to grant the girl’s wishes and buy gifts for her, so she sees him as someone who would do anything for her in the future. These gifts can be given privately or publicly. His reason for giving her gifts in private, is the fear that parents of both of them might be displeased (Doniger and Sudhir 84). When her love for him grows, he should amaze her with magic tricks, storytelling, music, moonlight festival and gifts like jewelry. To inform the girl of his sexual experience, he teaches the daughter of the girl’s nurse the sixty-four means of pleasure practiced by men. He finds out if she has sensual feelings for him by observing her gestures and signals like: She never looks the man in the face and becomes embarrassed when she is looked at by him, show some parts of her body to him, speaks to her attendants in an unusual way to gain his attention when she is far away from him, talks to her lover’s friends, shows gentleness to his servants and being sad when any other suitor is mentioned by her parents (Doniger and Sudhir 85).

Advances a Man Makes on His Own

After gestures and signals have been displayed, the man should gain various ways to make advances towards her like:

He should initiate hand holding whenever they are playing a game, engage in touching embrace, and giving her pair of human being couples cut out of a leaf a tree (Doniger and Sudhir 86).

He should dive close to her when playing water sports and tell her about his beautiful dream about her, but using other women’s names.

He sits near her during events and caress her foot and whenever he gives anything to her or takes anything from her, he should show her by his gesture how much he loves her (Doniger and Sudhir 87).

When he comes to know the depth of her feelings for him, he should pretend to be ill and invite her to his house to talk, and tell her that only she can make the medicine for him and nobody else. This pretense must last three days and three nights during which whenever she comes to visit, they should have long discussions. After the girl if finally won over, he may begin to enjoy her fully. The daughter of the girl’s nurse, or a female friend in which she trusts, comes handy when the man does not know how make advances to the girl.

When a girl makes advances towards a man she loves, she does so visiting him regularly with her friends or the daughter of her nurse. She offers him flowers and perfumes, talk to him about his hobbies, she should take care of him and engage in talks about ways to win a girl love. When a girl offer herself because of love, she loses her self-respect and is rejected. She should only be kind to a man who wishes to court her, and she may change her demeanor towards him but oppose when he tries to kiss her or ask for sexual union. If he agrees to not urge her, it proves her lover is devoted to her and she tells him to marry her soon, so that she would give herself to him. She should tell friends that she trusts when she loses her virginity.

Devious devices for weddings

When a girl’s love is won over, the man should cause fire to be brought from the house of a Brahman and spread the kusha grass upon the ground and make an offering of oblations to the fire, then he can marry her according to the guidelines the religious law (Doniger and Sudhir 92). After doing this ritual, he can inform his parents and her parents. The relatives both the girl and man should become familiar of the affair and the girl relatives should be told in a way that allows the marriage, and they should be offered gifts. A man should marry the girl according Gandharva form of marriage (Doniger and Sudhir 92). When the girl cannot make up her mind to marry him, he must come up with ways to make her marry him. The following ways are:

Using her female friends who he trusts and her family trusts, ask them to bring the girl to his house surprisingly, and he would then bring fire from the house of a Brahmin, and proceed as before described.

When the marriage of the girl to another suitor is drawing close, the man should mock the suitor’s future to the mother of the girl, and then have the girl to come to see him, with her mother’s consent, in a neighboring house, he would bring fire from the house of a Brahmin, and proceed as above.

The man should form a bond with the girl’s brother and ask for his help and bribe him with gifts. He tells the brother about his love for his sister and since young men will do anything for a fellow man with the same age, the brother finds a way to bring his sister to some secure place, and the man will bring fire from the house of a Brahmin and proceed as before.

The man can give the daughter of the girl’s nurse, an alcoholic substance to give the girl, and then she will be brought under pretense to a secure place for business, and before she recovers from her woozy state, the man should bring fire from the house of a Brahmin, and proceed as before.

The man should, with the help of the daughter of the nurse, take the girl away from her house while she is asleep, before she recovers from her sleep, the man should bring fire from the house of a Brahmin, and proceed as before.

When the girl visit some village in the neighborhood, the man should, with his friends, scare away her guards and forcibly carry her off, and proceed as before.




Doniger, Wendy (2002) “On the Kamasutra.” Daedalus 131:126-29.

Doniger, Wendy (2007) “Reading the “Kamasutra”: The Strange & the Familiar.” Daedalus

Sharma, Shailja (2002) “Kamasutra.” Counterpoints 169:103-07

Vatsyayana (2002) Kamasutra. Translated by Doniger Wendy and Sudhir Kakar. New York: Oxford University Press.


Related Topics for Further Investigation





Caste system




Game of six pebbles

Betel leaves


Kusha grass


Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic


Article written by: Trust In God Odudu (March 2017) who is solely responsible for its content.

A Summary of Book 6 of the Kama Sutra

The Kamasutra is an ancient Hindu text on the art of attainting kama, or pleasure, one of the three prescribed goals for twice born males in the Hindu tradition (Doniger, Kakar and Vatsyayana XI). It was composed by Vatsyayana Mallanaga, possibly in the third century CE and has since been the subject of commentaries, criticisms, and translations. Vatsyayana drew on many scholars before him, and this text is certainly not the only of its kind. In the west, the book is often perceived as a catalogue of sex positions. For Hindus, it is a unique and elaborate text containing several books on topics such as finding and pleasing a wife, and the use of drugs and other substances to enhance kama.

For many years, the translation by Sir Richard Burton, published in the 19th century stood as the western world’s best understanding of the erotic Kamasutra (Burton and Vatsyayana, 1981). However, a more recent translation by Wendy Doniger and Sudhir Kakar provides a fresh insight into the discussions of the Kamasutra, its nature, its function as a religious text, and the argument of whether it is to be a descriptive versus prescriptive text. Of course, in ancient India and even today, the reader should decide with discretion. The 2002 translation by Doniger and Kakar was used for this summary.

An important aspect of the Kamasutra is that its audience was most likely male, but according to Wendy Doniger in her book, Redeeming the Kamasutra, the Kamasutra can be useful to women (Doniger 93). In Doniger and Kakar’s translation, Vatsyayana suggests nuns and courtesans are the only women in Hindu society who are truly [socially] free (Doniger, Kakar and Vatsyayana XIV); Book 6 of the Kamasutra is dedicated entirely to the courtesan (a high class entertainer for men), which exposes an attitude towards courtesan’s that is very different from the popular opinion in the west. Vatsyayana’s text suggests that courtesans have long played an important role in the Hindu social order. What sets Book 6 apart from the other books of the Kamasutra is that it appears to be written by the courtesan, for the courtesan. She appears to be faithful and affectionate towards her lover at all times, yet she is often involved with more than one man. The courtesan’s main concern is profit, although she makes it appear to her lover that he is her top priority (Doniger, Kakar and Vatsyayana 137).

Chapter one of book six explores how the courtesan “decides on a friend, an eligible lover, and an ineligible lover” (Doniger, Kakar and Vatsyayana 131-136). Men trust women who are driven by desire, sex, and passion, and this is how the courtesan poses herself. Vatsyayana suggests that every woman possesses these traits to an extent, and because the courtesan’s main goal is to make money, she is a natural born tradesperson. She exhibits no greed as she displays herself as goods for purchase, always beautiful but secretive (Doniger, Kakar, and Vatsyayana 131). The courtesan may choose the men with whom it is appropriate to keep company, particularly what kind of company, as she has the whole community at her disposal. Policemen and powerful individuals may offer protection, “ward off loses” and “get money” for her. These men should be considered friends; men who sell goods that aid in the seduction of lovers could also be considered friends because they can ultimately bring her greater wealth and more lovers with their services and connections (Doniger, Kakar, and Vatsyayana 131). Even when choosing a lover, there are certain guidelines that deem whether or not a man is suitable: some lovers are good only for money (jealous, greedy, or impotent men), while other men possess good qualities (knowledgeable, poetic, generous men) and are, therefore, considered the prescribed lovers (Doniger, Kakar and Vatsyayana 133-135). The courtesan should stay away from sick men, old men, and men who are devoted to their wives.

Hindu social norms dictate a woman should be intelligent, honest, of sound mind and body; she should only speak when spoken too, and be knowledgeable enough in the Kamasutra to please her man. Additionally, a courtesan must be all these things, as well as being beautiful, young, versed in the arts, and of course, have a sexual nature (Doniger, Kakar, and Vatsyayana 133-134). These traits will make her a suitable lover.

There are various reasons for taking a lover that Vatsyayana’s predecessors suggested, including passion, fear, gain, religion, and future prospects. Vatsyayana suggests, for the courtesan, that “gain, warding off loses, and love” are reasons she may take a lover; however, gain should come first for her, as her goal is to make money, but she should use her judgement and consider other reasons as well (Doniger, Kakar and Vatsyayana 135).

Before a courtesan engages a lover, she must get his attention and learn about him. Even if he has propositioned her, the courtesan remembers that men want most what is difficult to attain. A courtesan may utilize her friendships to send gifts to her potential lover, in an attempt to mediate the beginnings of the relationship. After this, the courtesan may meet with her prospective lover, and attempt to seduce him (Doniger, Kakar and Vatsyayana, 135-136).

The second chapter of the Kamasutra discusses how the courtesan properly entertains her lover by giving him what he desires (Doniger, Karkar, and Vatsyayana 137-142). She may act as a wife does, infatuated with him, inquiring about his interests and behaving as if he is the centre of her life, suggesting that she may even become ill if he does not make love to her. Of course, this is all a façade, as the courtesan must act attached even though she is not (Doniger, Kakar and Vatsyayana 137 lies). If questions of infidelity arise, the courtesan may refuse to eat in order to show that she is upset and remains dedicated to her lover. At the same time, she is known to be deceptive—such as inventing a demanding mother to whom the courtesan is obligated or devoted—when she is to meet with another man.

The traditional Hindu wife, as depicted in the Kamasutra via the perspective of Vatsyayana and the courtesan, is that of a devoted, infatuated woman, who speaks only of things her husband knows and prays for him while he is away, even taking up ritual responsibilities in order to honour him. She affirms his intelligence and proclaims a love that will last beyond life itself. A courtesan may actually engage in some or all of these practices, but she most definitely portrays herself as a loving devotee to her man—as Vatsyayana comments at the end, however, this is the nature of the courtesan, as she is really just playing a part.

Of course, as previously mentioned, the courtesan has a goal, which is to make money. According to chapter three of Book 6 in the Kamasutra, there are natural and contrived ways in which a courtesan may be able to extort money from her lover (Doniger, Kakar and Vatsyayana 142-147). Vatsyayana disagrees with previous scholars when he says that the courtesan can heavily increase her profits if she uses contrived means. She may create debts to creditors, or even terrible scenarios, such as being robbed of her jewellery, or a fire that burned down her home and all of her belongings, in order to gain sympathy and ‘reimbursement’ from her lover (Doniger, Kakar and Vatsyayana 142-143). She may even pretend to need money in order to bring gifts to him, or help friends of his/hers that are in need. The courtesan may also then express to her lover how much his kindness has helped her and made her happy. The lover often obliges and gives the woman money or gifts, as it is implied throughout Book 6 of the Kamasutra that this is how a man shows attachment, or at least this is his understanding of showing attachment.

Occasionally, her lover may shows signs that his passion is fading or that he is no longer interested, and the courtesan is a master at picking up on these signs (Doniger, Karkar, and Vatsyayana 145). He may portray his receding desire through his body language or his actions, by giving her too much or too little money, sleeping elsewhere, or breaking his promises. A courtesan knows that a devoted man does not act in this way, and because her affection is only manufactured for profit, she’ll make one final attempt to hustle what remains of his money from him, and then she will get rid of him. In Doniger’s commentary text, she suggests that this may reflect the courtesan’s attitudes and point of view (Doniger 105).

There is an entire section of chapter three dedicated to getting rid of a lover (Doniger, Karkar, and Vatsyayana 145-147). The courtesan needs very few reasons to abandon her lover; if he is depleted of funds to give her, if he desires another woman, or if his passion diminishes, she will leave. In Redeeming the Kamasutra, Doniger suggests that the courtesan “employs…passive-aggressive behavior to indicate that it is time to [end the affair]” (Doniger 105). This includes refusing to sleep with him, showing contempt for his interests, making herself seem unattractive and uninterested in him. This will often result in the ending of the relationship. At the end of this section, Vatsyayana includes a verse that summarizes the job of the courtesan: she is to enchant man, take his money, and then release him (Doniger, Kakar and Vatsyayana 147).

A courtesan may, after careful consideration, get back together with an ex-lover. There are conditions, of course, she must consider, which are outlined in chapter four of the sixth book of the Kamasutra (Doniger, Kakar and Vatsyayana 147-151). In fact, there are six different scenarios that the courtesan should consider, and then there are suggestions as to how to deal with these different scenarios. Essentially, the courtesan should only get back together with her ex-lover if he still has money or has made more money, if he is still interested in/attached to her, and/or can continue to provide the courtesan with a source of income. She should reject him if he is fickle or ungenerous. If the relationship rekindles, a courtesan will begin courting her lover again. She may bring back her demanding mother to make her lover believe that it was the mother who was keeping them apart all along. A messenger may suggest to her man that even though she has a new lover, she is not in love, and only desires this one man. At the end of the chapter, Vatsyayana once again disagrees with his predecessors when he suggests that, between a new lover and an old one, a new lover is more aligned with her goals. He then comments that this can be dependent on the nature of the man (Doniger, Kakar and Vatsyayana 150).

In the fifth chapter, Vatsyayana discusses how the courtesan may weigh or prioritize her profits, posing it as a discussion between himself and past scholars. A courtesan should not limit herself to one lover if she feels she can make more money this way, but there are scenarios to consider. In the choice between lovers, Vatsyayana suggests that the one who gives gold is preferable to the one who gives her what she wants, because gold is most valuable and can give her the greatest monetary return. Vatsyayana elaborates on other scenarios, but the answer is always the same. However, he does suggest that there are certain situations in which avoiding conflicts or losses can be more beneficial to the courtesan than monetary profit.

The sixth chapter in the Kamasutra’s sixth book contains methodological approaches to calculating gains and losses, consequences, and doubts (Doniger, Kakar and Vatsyayana 155-159). Losses are the result of fate, or of some fault of character or decision making. These losses may have terrible consequences and should therefore be carefully avoided. As a business person, a courtesan should focus on gains. Vatsyayana says that there are three losses: money, religious merit, and hatred; and three gains: money, religious merit, and pleasure (Doniger, Kakar and Vatsyayana 155). Vatsyayana suggests a formula that considers doubt as either pure or mixed, and consequences as having one sided, two sided, or group results. This formula can help the courtesan control her losses. The discussion that follows is one of contemplation, and suggests that gains and losses of the three types can occur depending on the level of doubt that is present. Essentially, because the courtesan wants to maximize gains and minimize losses, she should consider these arguments for the purpose of her business.

The last chapter of book six, entitled “Types of courtesans” (Doniger, Kakar and Vatsyayana 159-160) suggests that there are certain women more suited to this profession than others. In contrast to women who are virgins, courtesans may be women known for dancing, artistry, or simply for being an intelligent member of an upper class. These women may be more inclined to money than passion (as opposed to virgins and wives), and could therefore be considered for this particular kind of work.

Ultimately, Book 6 of the Kamasutra depicts courtesans as intelligent, masters of deceit and feminine sexuality. They are not portrayed as shameful women who are degraded in society; instead, they are respectable business women who play a major role in cultivating a Hindu man’s sexual experience. They reverse the conventional gender norms that Doniger discusses in her commentary; instead of being passive and innocent, she is active and powerful (Doniger 109). The Kamasutra and the courtesan are similar in this way, neither are well known [in the west] for their religious and social functions in Hindu society. At the end of the second chapter of Book 6, Vatsyayana writes a verse that could be used to sum up the portrayal of women, mostly courtesans, in this book of the Kamasutra:

Because of the subtlety and excessive greed of women,

And the impossibility of knowing their nature,

The signs of their desire are hard to know,

Even for those who are its object.

Women desire and they become indifferent,

They arouse love and they abandon,

Even when they are extracting all the money,

They are not really known (Doniger, Karkar, and Vatsyayana 142).




Burton, R. and Vatsyayana (1981) The Kama Sutra: The Richard Burton Classic Translation. London: Unwin Paperbacks.

Doniger, Wendy (2016) Redeeming the Kamasutra. New York: Oxford University Press.

Doniger, W., Sudhir Kakar, and Vatsyayana (2002) Kamasutra: Oxford world’s classics. New York: Oxford University Press Inc.


Related Readings & Websites


Doniger, Wendy (2002) “On the Kamasutra.” Daedalus 131: 126-129.

Doniger, Wendy (2007) “Reading the ‘Kamasutra’: the strange & the familiar.” Daedalus 136: 66-78


Courtesans, Kamasutra:

Kamasutra Summary:









This article was written by: Jessica Freehill (Spring 2017), who is entirely responsible for its content.

The Kamasutra: Book Three

The Kamasutra is the most widely known document within the Kamasastra genre of books in the Hindu tradition. This text deals with Kama, one of the four worthy goals in life, according to Hindus, and how to pursue it. Kama can be described as desire, sensory pleasure, and the fulfillment of sexually pleasurable human needs (Rodrigues 114-117). This goal is to be pursued within the householder life stage to help love between the married couple flourish (Rodrigues 117). The Kamasutra explains many aspects of the sexual experience, as well as other elements that are involved in enhancing the erotic occasion. The first book describes how a single man should behave, the second explains the many sexual positions, and the third clarifies exactly what kind of woman the man should be pursuing (Doniger 20). The fourth book depicts the man’s marriage and how he should live with his chosen mate(s), the fifth details the ways in which the man could woo the wives of other men (Doniger 20-21). Lastly, the sixth book explains courtesans and their place within desire, and the seventh book talks about magic used to enhance the sexual experience (Doniger 21). Book three is the main focus here and this section focuses on a man’s attention being directed toward virgins; mainly discussing how to pick one and what it takes to seduce her. This book, however, does have a small section dedicated to instructing virgins on the techniques to use when seducing a man (Doniger 21).

Book three’s first chapter goes into detail about the qualities a man should search for in a virgin, as well as qualities that should be avoided, and the various techniques that could be used to court the right girl (Doniger and Kakar 75-78). In this chapter, viable virgins are under scrutiny in regard to their looks and other personal qualities. She, for instance, should not be “pimply, like a bull, or promiscuous” (Doniger and Kakar 76) among other unsatisfactory qualities, she must come from a good family, and many of her traits cannot be excessive nor insufficient (Doniger and Kakar 75). The ideal qualities are normally described in regard to what a woman should not be. In this chapter there is mention of the woman being “like any other piece of merchandise,” (Doniger and Kakar 77) and therefore should be displayed as such (Doniger and Kakar 76-77). This union between two individuals is also about the union of two families, so both families should be happy and fully satisfied with the prospective wedding (Doniger and Kakar 78). After presenting what kind of women a man should be looking for, chapter two establishes exactly how said virgin should be charmed and led to trust the man attempting to woo her (Doniger and Kakar 78-82). She must first be able to trust him in order to proceed sexually with him, or else she may begin to feel scared of the entire process and men in general (Doniger and Kakar 81). This chapter explains that a man can provide too much attention and affection, or he can offer too little, and that he should attempt to avoid both extremes (Doniger and Kakar 78-81).

After the virgin begins to trust him, he may begin to make greater sexual advances involving her, like those that are laid out in chapter three (Doniger and Kakar 82-86). These advances include: playing games with her, giving her gifts, impressing her, and having sex with her foster-sister (Doniger and Kakar 83-84). These advancements will lead to responses from her, and those are also laid out in the third chapter to ensure that the man will be able to understand how she is feeling in regard to his actions (Doniger and Kakar 85-86). Many of the advances that a man can carry out are with the help of other women communicating with the one he wants. These conversations normally involve confessions of his good qualities, or their own established love for him, in order to make the desired woman also want to love him (Doniger and Kakar 83). The fourth chapter discusses how consistent a man should be with his particular advances to eventually wear her down, and it also specifies how a virgin can advance toward a man she desires (Doniger and Kakar 86-90). In order to wear her down he has to invest in a regime of touching her whenever possible, especially her feet and toes. He is encouraged to touch her toes enough “so that she eventually tolerates it,” (Doniger and Kakar 87) and then he can continue to touch her feet and eventually the rest of her. The few techniques that he can carry out alone are explained in chapter four, alongside the advances that the virgin can make toward him (Doniger and Kakar 87-89). In this portion of the Kamasutra, the woman is able to become an active agent in the courting process. This is accomplished by the fact that she is able to decide when the man can take her virginity because she is already interested in this event occurring with him (Doniger and Kakar 89).

The second, third, and fourth chapters all develop different features of the courting process, whereby the man uses the methods described in the book to seduce a virgin into marriage and bed with him. The fifth and last chapter entails the devious ways the man can acquire the woman he desires, and help the virgin desire him as he desires her (Doniger and Kakar 90-93). This last chapter is interesting because it defends rape as a viable marriage device in order for the man to get the woman he desires (Doniger and Kakar 93). This chapter is about the methods that a man should employ if he is not winning the virgin over. Aside from rape he can persuade other women to talk to his desired woman about all his good qualities along with the terrible qualities of other suitors (Doniger and Kakar 92). He may also talk to the girl’s mother, or to her brother in order to become the most favourable suitor and stamp out the competition (Doniger and Kakar 92). In all these situations, he will begin a wedding ceremony with the woman he desires, after whichever conversation occurs, therefore creating a circumstance that cannot be avoided or stopped (Doniger and Kakar 92). This is the beginning of a “love-match wedding,” (Doniger and Kakar 92) where a certain fire ritual initiates the ceremony and cannot be taken back (Doniger and Kakar 92).

There are many people around the world who view the Kamasutra as a sex textbook containing only the sex positions and other notions about sex (Doniger 18). This is not entirely true as there is just one book entirely focused on sex and sexual positions, but even that book eludes to other arts besides sex that are necessary for Kama. Book three, for instance, is focused on how to marry the right woman. This is accomplished by allowing a virgin to slowly trust him and any advances that would precede marriage and sex. The third book also examines how these advances could influence the desired woman negatively and/or positively. The Kamasutra was able to lay out and control sexual practices, and allow Hindu people to explore Kama and their erotic pleasures alongside love and Dharma (Gautam 4-6). The Kamasutra as a whole has also been viewed as a text that does not fully explore both genders sexually, especially in regard to women’s pleasures, but that has been disputed through a newer translation release (Doniger 18). This newer translation is able to give a better idea of how women were able to be active in many aspects of Kama, like what is described in sections of book three even when they are being courted.


Doniger, Wendy, and Sudhir Kakar (2002) Vatsyayana Kamasutra. New York: Oxford University Press.

Doniger, Wendy (2003) “The “Kamasutra”: It Isn’t All About Sex.” The Kenyan Review 25(1):18-37. Accessed February 6, 2017.

Gautam, Sanjay K. (2014) “The Courtesan and the Birth of Ars Erotica in the Kamasutra: A History of Erotics in the Wake of Foucault.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 23(1):1-20. Accessed February 6, 2017.

Rodrigues, Hillary (2016) Hinduism – The eBook: An Online Introduction. Journal of Buddhist Ethics Online Books, Ltd.

Related Topics for Further Investigation

Kamasutra Book One
Kamasutra Book Two
Kamasutra Book Four
Kamasutra Book Five
Kamasutra Book Six
Kamasutra Book Seven
Householder stage
Feminist influences on Kama
Cultural influences on Kama

Websites Related to the Topic

Article written by: Justine Fisher (Spring 2017), who is entirely responsible for its content.

The Kama Sutra (Book Seven: Erotic Esoterica)

Vatsyayana’s Kamasutra is an ancient Hindu text belonging to the Kama Sastra genre of literature (Rodrigues 152). The title, Kamasutra, is composed of two Sanskrit words: kama meaning “desire/pleasure,” and sutra meaning “treatise” (Doniger and Kakar 13). The Kamasutra covers a variety of topics, among them ways of attaining the goals of life (dharma, kama, and artha), finding and keeping a partner, sexual positions and techniques, adultery, and dealing with or as a courtesan (Danielou 20-21).

The last section of the Kamasutra, Book Seven, deals with “erotic esoterica” (Doniger and Kakar 233) or “occult practices” (Danielou 487). Book Seven consists of two chapters, “Making Luck in Love,” and “Rekindling Exhausted passion,” each of which is made up of three sub-divisions (Doniger and Kakar 233-242).

The first chapter, “Making Luck in Love” begins with a preamble stating that the methods and recipes mentioned in Book Seven should be utilized only if the methods discussed in previous books have proven unsuccessful (Danielou 489). From there, the chapter continues with methods to make yourself lucky in love. Techniques in this section claim to either enhance beauty or sex appeal, promote good luck, or make one “lucky in love” (Danielou 490-491). Methods include: wearing a garland of lotus flowers, wearing an amulet made with a conch shell or jujube berries while chanting verses from the Atharvaveda, or applying a makeup, cream, or ointment made from honey or butter and a variety of plants, flowers, or fruits. The section ends with methods specifically for courtesans and performers- many of which involve extending a daughter or servant girl’s hand in marriage in exchange for money or “special favours on a musical instrument” (Doniger and Kakar 233-235).

The second subdivision of the first chapter deals with “Putting Someone in Your Power” and contains a variety of recipes for ointments and powders which claim to enchant, captivate, or subdue a person or their sexual partner when applied to certain parts of the body (Doniger and Kakar 235). One recipe involves mixing powdered milk hedge, red arsenic, and sulphur with monkey feces; it is stated that if you sprinkle this mixture over a girl, she will not feel attraction towards anyone else (Danielou 497).

The final part of chapter one covers “Stimulants for Virility” (Doniger and Kakar 236). This portion contains multiple recipes one may consume to increase virility, and/or lifespan (Danielou 499-503). Most of these recipes include milk and/or butter, sugar, and honey. Other ingredients include, but are not limited to, “dog’s-fang,” asparagus, and prickly-fruit (Doniger and Kakar 233-237). There are also multiple recipes that claim to provide the ability to copulate with numerous women. A recipe for biscuits made from crushed sweet potatoes, sugar, honey, cow’s milk, ghee, and wheat flour claims that consumption will provide a man with the capability to sleep with countless women (Danielou 501).

The chapter comes to a close with a passage that says one may learn erotic techniques from magicians, experienced people, and the Vedas. It is stated that one should not employ procedures that are harmful, dangerous, painful, or unhygienic; apply only methods prescribed by Brahmins or other competent people (Doniger and Kakar 237-238).

The second chapter, “Rekindling Exhausted Passion” begins with a section of the same title. It is stated that if a man is unable to satisfy a woman, he should fondle her with his hand prior to copulation, engage in oral sex, or make use of an artificial phallus (some of which may require harnesses or attachments) that may be made of copper, gold, horn, iron, ivory, lead, tin, or wood (Danielou 508-510). According to Vatsyayana, those made of wood most closely resemble a real penis, and therefore are the most sought after (Doniger and Kakar 238-239). The rekindling passion section concludes with methods for piercing a penis, including ways to clean, widen, and accessorize said piercing (Danielou 512-513). According to the Kamasutra, “a man whose penis has not been pierced does not experience real sex. And so the people of the South pierce a boy’s penis just like his ears” (Doniger and Kakar 239).

The next section of chapter two is “Methods of Increasing The Size of The Male Organ” (Doniger and Kakar 240). The techniques mentioned claim to cause swelling of the penis that can last up to a month, six months, or a lifetime- depending on the technique used. One technique that is said to produce permanent swelling involves rubbing the penis for ten nights with a mixture of oil and the hairs of tree-inhabiting insects; when swelling begins, one should sleep face-down on a wooden cot and allow the penis to hang through a hole in the cot (Danielou 514-515). The Kamasutra warns that all of the methods for increasing penis size should be learned from an expert (Doniger and Kakar 241).

The final section “Unusual Techniques” contains methods for making objects invisible, turning iron pots into copper, removing passion, changing hair color, and causing insanity, among other things (Doniger and Kakar 241-241). One technique claims that if a woman bathes in buffalo’s milk with mint, extract of cow’s bile, and yellow amaranth mixed in, any man who sleeps with her afterwards will become impotent (Danielou 516). The Kamasutra comes to a close by stating that sensible people will not be consumed by passion; one must know when it is appropriate to make use of the practices mentioned (Danielou 520).



Danielou, Alain (1994) The Complete Kamasutra. Rochester: Park Street Press.

Doniger, Wendy (2003) “The “Kamasutra“: It Isn’t All About Sex.” The Kenyon Review 25(1): 18-37.

___ (2002) “On the Kamasutra.” Daedalus 131(2): 126–129.

Rodrigues, Hillary (2006) “Hinduism the eBook: an Online Introduction.” Journal of Buddhist Ethics Online Books. 0-9747055-4-3.

Vatsyayana, Mallanaga (2009) Kamasutra. Translated by Wendy Doniger and Sudhir Kakar. New York: Oxford University Press.

Related Topics for Further Investigation



Kama Sastra

Mlecchita vikalpa









Noteworthy Websites related to the Topic


Article written by: Riley Wilcox (April 2016) who is solely responsible for its content.

Sexuality in Hinduism

Sexuality in Hinduism is most notable through the observance of kama, one of Hinduism’s catur-purusartha’s (four human aims).  Within the Dharma Sastras contain prescriptions for how one should live one’s life, as well as outlining various religious duties (dharma).  Kama in this instance refers to fulfilment of sensual and sexual pleasure (Lidke 108).  Attainment of kama for males is prescribed in the second of the four asramas (life stages), the grhastha stage. This stage of life is known as the householder stage, and in it Hindus are expected to marry.  Sexual relations within a Hindu marriage are meant to be for procreation, however it is expected that couples will be intimate for pleasure also.  Sexual indulgence can become a problem that will cause unhappiness for grhasthas and self-restraint is cautioned.  Mentioned in various scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita is extramarital sex, considered taboo as marriage is seen as contractual and for life (Mehta 66-67).  The catur-purusartha exists within Hinduism’s caste system, and only the upper three classes undergo the rituals that transition from one asrama to the next (Mehta 63).

Rgveda 10.85 begins by telling us that there is a divinity to human marriage, in that it is modeled after the gods, before focusing on more on the humanness of marriage.  Simply by being a woman, a bride is seen as having inherent value to not only her husband, but her husband’s family as well.  This has to do with the expectation that children will be the result of a marriage (Menski 56).  If a husband dies before the woman has conceived, she is not destined to remain a widow, but can be married to another member of her husband’s family in the hopes of conception.  Ideally the original marriage will bear children, and so gods are invoked in certain rituals in the context of fertilization; Indra is invoked for strong sons while Agni is invoked for many sons (Menski 56).  At the same time that a bride is seen as an asset to her husband and his family, she may also be seen as a danger.  On a couples’ wedding night there is an expectation that the hymen will break and a woman will bleed during the act of intercourse.  This, of course, will defile the bedding, but it is also seen as a destructive blood in a Vedic marriage.  For this reason, a husband may consult a Brahmin to purify the cloth and bring longevity to the marriage (Menski 58).

Some Puranas personify kama as Kamadeva, the god of desire and passion.  By contrasting this god with Siva in the Siva Purana, this Purana is full of insight into how Hindus view sexuality.  As Siva is sometimes seen as the eternal brahmacarin and supernaturally chaste, his interactions with Kamadeva show the sexual side of Hinduism (O’Flaherty 141). Much of the literature focuses on Kamadeva as he relates to Siva, but the information gathered in these texts give the reader some idea of what influenced Hindu attitudes and rituals relating to sexuality.

While Siva is seen as chaste in many rituals, the idea that he is tempted or does not remain chaste throughout are common. Some of the myths actually place him in the position of the creator, with an erect penis (linga) and seminal fluid that acts as the seed of creation (O’Flaherty 143).  Siva’s chastity is, however, his most powerful weapon in myths in which he is juxtaposed with Kamadeva.  In one such myth, Siva is responsible for burning Kamadeva up, destroying him.  Modern interpretations of this myth hold it as a temptation story, whereas early interpretations view it as a wholly asexual act.  Siva, being compared to fire, when the two interacted is said to have melted or destroyed Kamadeva, who is likened to snow.  In this analogy, Siva is so pure and chaste that Kamadeva’s sexuality could not possibly have affected him (O’Flaherty 143-34).

The Puranas include a different story of Siva burning Kamadeva.  Siva may be aroused by the act or bring Kamadeva back more powerful.  In the Puranas, it is suggested that Siva, rather than being so chaste that he is not affected by Karmadeva, in fact recognizes his power and possibly admires him (O’Flaherty 145).

Hinduism is unlike many western religions in that it does not have a single canonical text, but many.  Other texts from early Hinduism that mention sexuality include the Upanisads and the Tantras (Doniger 2011).  Some Upanisads compare Vedic rituals to sexuality, such as the oblation of butter into the fire resembling the acts of procreation.  Each action taken in the ritual has a counterpart in love-making and eventual birth.  The Tantras take this notion one step farther and suggest that sexual intercourse is not simply like a ritual, but that the act itself is a ritual (Doniger 2011). The most in-depth text dealing with kama is the Kamasutra, a text from approximately the third century B.C.E.  By modern standards, the Kamasutra is a liberal text, with thoughts put forth on subjects such as women’s sexuality and homosexual behavior (Doniger 2011).  In opposition to the Vedas, the author of the Kamasutra, Vatsyayana, dismisses the notion that people should only have to procreate.  There is also the idea that since people of all ages are capable of understanding sexual acts, all should be familiar with the text.  The idea of female pleasure and sexuality is strong in the text, even suggesting a woman leave her husband if he is not satisfying her, in contrast to what earlier law texts say (Doniger, 2011).

The Dharma Sastras’ view of homosexuality is one of taboo; a man who engages in same sex activity is to be punished, however slightly, for the transgression. Vatsyayana holds different ideas, where instead of the defamatory kliba [translated as eunuch, but holds many other meanings] he uses hijra, a term that means third gender.  Rather than transgressive, third genders in the text are described in a more neutral way; hermaphrodites and bi-sexuals are treated the same as all others.  Throughout the Kamasutra are references to servants and friends who perform oral sex on members of the same sex.  The Kamasutra is unlike other texts, it is not a law book, but rather one that categorizes and attempts to explain sexuality.  In this way, it is not judgmental (Lidke 124).  This lighter view of homosexuality and transsexuality is found throughout both ancient and modern India (Doniger 2011).

Homoeroticism is an important aspect of Hindu literature, even if textual authorities disagree on its morality.  The Hindu concept of rebirth, as well as its views of gods as being androgynous, means that gender and sexuality can be viewed as fluid.  Heterosexuality, however, is still highly regarded as the normative sexuality (Lidke 124-125).  Hijras can also be found in the stories of the epics, such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.  In the former is the story of Sikhandhin, who begins the tale as Amba and is captured by a warrior.  After spurning his advances in favor of one she loves elsewhere, she is eventually rejected by both the one she loves and later the warrior and his brother.  She is granted a boon by Siva and asks to be reborn a male.  She is reborn as a female hijra, her boon having not been granted as she had hoped (Lidke 126-127).  Despite a long history of hijra populations and homoeroticism attitudes about sexuality and behavior changed during and after colonization. The British imposed anti-sodomy laws in 1860 and worked to impose Christian values (Lidke 127).  Despite the efforts of the British, hijras still exist in India to this day and include those who proclaim themselves neither man nor woman.  For a majority of Hijras the dominant gender is female, with dress and mannerisms being feminine whether one is biologically male or biologically female.  In lesbian relationships this means that both partners are feminine, since masculine hijras are rare (Penrose 4).

The Kamasutra also speaks explicitly about females and their sexuality, not only in regards to hijras and males but also in regards to their relations with other females.  There are references to penetration with sex toys, both of males and females.  The word used for the penetrator is svairini, although some translators also put forth that svairini can also mean oral sex partner or prostitute (Penrose 15).  The Kamasutra describes women as penetrators, both of men and of other women.  The text, while describing homosexual acts, does not categorize the women as such (see Kama Sutra 2.8.13).  Women’s sexuality in this context is defined by her dominance in the act of penetrating, not by the gender of her partner (Penrose 16).

Sexuality in Hinduism has been influenced by divine myths and written and revealed texts and has an effect on many aspects of life.  Each of the four stages of life (asram vyavastha) have something to say on the topic and dharmic prescription in place.  Sexuality also includes how gender is defined for Hindu’s, as the large and continuing hijras population is proof of.  The texts also often have a lot to say about how one should conduct oneself in regards to sexuality, although with multiple texts there are often times contradictions.



Benton, Catherine (2006) God of Desire: Tales of Kamadeva in Sanskrit Story Literature. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Doniger, Wendy (2011) “From kama to karma: the resurgence of Puritanism in contemporary India.”   Social Research 78:1. Accessed February 7, 2016.

Herdt, Gilbert H (1994) Third sex, third gender: beyond sexual dimorphism in culture and history. New York: Zone Books

Kalra, Gurvinder “Hijras: the unique transgender culture of India” International Journal of Culture and Mental Health 5:121-26. DOI:10.1080/17542863.2011.570915

Lidke, Jeffrey S (2003) “A Union of Fire and Water: Sexuality and Spirituality in Hinduism.” In   Sexuality and the World’s Religions, edited by David W. Machacek and Melissa M. Wilcox, 101-32. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.

Mehta, J.M (2009) Four Spans of Human Life: Ashram Vyavastha. Daryaganj: Hindoology Books.

Menski, Werner F (1991) “Marital Expectations as Dramatized in Hindu Marriage Rituals.” In Roles and Rituals for Hindu Women, edited by Julia Leslie, 47-67. Jawahar Nagar: Shri Jainendra Press.

Nanda, Serena (1990) Neither Man Nor Woman: The Hijaras of India. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

O’Flaherty, Wendy Doniger (1973) Siva the Erotic Ascetic. London: Oxford University Press.

Penrose, Walter (2001) “Hidden in History: Female Homoeroticism and Women of a “Third Nature” in the South Asian Past.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 10:3-39. Accessed February 7, 2016.


Related Topics for Further Investigation

The Kamasutra

Ashram vyavastha






The marriage of the Pandeva’s

The Ramayana

The Mahabharata


Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic


Article written by: Adam Smith (April 2016) who is solely responsible for its content.




The Kama Sutra (Book Two: Sex)

The Kama Sutra is one of the most recognizable titles in much of the literate world.  The reasons for this, however, are largely misinformed.  Thanks, in large part, to both common misspelling and mispronunciation many assume the text’s title is actually Karma Sutra.  However, the book is not about karma.  Additionally, due to publications like The Cosmo Kama Sutra: 99 Mind-blowing Sex Positions, Kama Sutra: A Position a Day, and other such titles readily available in a Chapters bookstore or on the Amazon website, it is also widely believed that the Kama Sutra in its entirety is all about sex.  Again, this is not true.  Rather, it is better regarded as a guide to the pursuit of sensory pleasure.  Kama refers to more than simply sexual pleasure (Rodrigues 152).

Nevertheless, this article is indeed about the segment of the Kama Sutra that is dedicated to sexuality.  Wendy Doniger and Sudhir Kakar offered their translation of Vatsyayana Mallanaga’s ancient text in 2002.  Although this is not the first or only translation, it will be the translation used throughout this article.  The entire text is divided into seven “books”, each with its own chapters.  For the purposes of this article, the word “book” will refer to the portion of the Kama Sutra which Doniger and Kakar title as “Part Two: Sex”.  The purpose of this book is educational in nature.  Richard Shusterman contends as much, indicating that it was created with the understanding that “human sexual performance therefore can and should be rendered more enjoyable and rewarding through the application of knowledge, methods and refinements introduced by learning, thought, and aesthetic sensitivity” (Shusterman 61).  As such, the pages of this book are divided into chapters providing information on everything from genital size to sexual positions to the manner in which an encounter of sexual intercourse should be ended.  The rest of this article will be spent examining each chapter.

The first chapter deals with “sexual typology.”  Men and women are categorized according to the size of their genitals, and regarding the joining together for sexual intercourse, it is suggested that “among these, the equal couplings are the best” (Doniger and Kakar 29).   Additionally, temperament and endurance are discussed in terms of their variations.  The author discusses a variety of arguments regarding differences in orgasm for men and women.  He concludes that “the woman should be treated in such a way that she achieves her sexual climax first” (Doniger and Kakar 35).  Different types of love are said to take four forms, listed as “arising out of habit, erotic arousal, transference, and the objects of the senses” (Doniger and Kakar 37).

Chapter 2 is titled “Ways of Embracing.”  These ways are divided into two categories, the first of which occur “when a man and woman have not yet made love together”, and are intended to “reveal the signs of their love” (Doniger and Kakar 40).  Some of the descriptions are very specific and provide an incredibly intimate understanding of the culture (Doniger 2007:75).  The second category describes embraces that are meant to be used during the act of lovemaking.   Vatsyayana specifically notes that massaging does not qualify as a form of embrace, as it “takes place at a particular time set aside, has a different use, and is not enjoyed by both partners” (Doniger and Kakar 41).

The next three chapters discuss kissing, scratching and biting.  The author argues that there is no specific order in which these three actions must occur, because they all involve passion; “Vatsyayana says: Everything at any time, because passion does not look before it leaps” (Doniger and Kakar 42).  Having said that, kissing is the first topic discussed.  Despite noting the near endless variety of kisses, Vatsyayana argues that varying local customs permit specific types only and, as such, not all types of kisses are for all people (Doniger and Kakar 42).  Types of kissing are outlined, as well as the best kisses to be used depending on how comfortable and familiar the individuals are with each other.

Following the chapter on kissing comes a chapter on scratching.  Vatsyayana is careful to note that scratching is not for everyone, and not meant for all times: “Scratching is for their first time together, or on a return from a journey or a departure for a journey, or for a woman who has just relented from her anger or is drunk” (Doniger and Kakar 45).  He discusses different sized fingernails and the types of scratching the sizes are capable of.  Additionally, he suggests that illicit lovers ought to leave marks only in concealed places, so as to “increase their passion and make them remember” (Doniger and Kakar 47).  It is worth noting that, right before this remark, he contends that variety can help keep the passions alive.  This variety extends beyond the imaginations of a monogamous couple; indeed, an entire portion of the Kama Sutra is devoted to showing men how to win other men’s wives.  This chapter ends with the words “there are no keener means of increasing passion than acts inflicted with tooth and nail” (Doniger and Kakar 48).

Biting is the next topic discussed, in chapter five.  It is said that all “the places for kissing are also for biting, except for the upper lip, the inside of the mouth, and the eyes” (Doniger and Kakar 48).  Vatsyayana briefly notes that there are both good teeth and bad teeth; he then discusses the types of biting.  Ultimately, when a man scratches or bites, “he is making advances” (Doniger and Kakar 49).  However, it is important that a man “treat a woman according to the nature of the region she comes from” (Doniger and Kakar 49); Vatsyayana then outlines the different sexual demeanors of women from a variety of areas in and around India.

Chapter six is the chapter that spawned the idea of the Kama Sutra as a guide to sexual positions.  Indeed, this chapter discusses the “Varieties of Sexual Positions” (Doniger and Kakar 51).  Sexual positions are described largely in terms of the size of one’s genitals.  For example, a woman thought to have a small vagina, in terms of both depth and circumference, is referred to as “doe” (Doniger and Kakar 28).  Vatsyayana says, “A ‘doe’ generally has three positions to choose from”; he then proceeds to outline three positions in which, one assumes, it would be easier and more comfortable for such a woman to receive a larger penis into her vagina (Doniger and Kakar 52).  It could be said that at least some of the information presented surely must have been intended to teach readers how to give a woman pleasure (Doniger 2003:30).  Further general positions are mentioned, some of which “can only be done with practice” (Doniger and Kakar, 54).  Doniger suggests that even Vatsyayana himself regarded some of the positions as “over the top” (Doniger 2007: 77).  Vatsyayana then mentions “unusual sexual acts”, some of which simply include different sexual positions; however, he also mentions threesomes and group sex.  The final unusual sexual act mentioned is “sex below”, that is, anal sex (Doniger and Kakar 56).

Chapter seven of the book is entitled “Modes of Slapping and The Accompanying Moaning.”  Much of the chapter is devoted to outlining manners in which a man might strike his lover during sex.  While some of the described acts seem rather violent and might elicit cries from the woman, there is no mention of stopping the action.  Doniger suggests that this passage “inculcates what we now recognize as the rape mentality – ‘her mouth says no but her eyes say yes’” (Doniger 2007: 70).  Vatsyayana does warn of the dangers of certain regional customs and practices, mentioning two women who had died and one who had been blinded as a result of certain slapping techniques (Doniger and Kakar 59).

The next chapter begins with “The Woman Playing the Man’s Part.”  It briefly discusses the woman-on-top position during sex, before delving into the various movements a man might make with his penis while having intercourse.  Of note, there is mention of certain movements causing a woman’s eyes to “roll when she feels him in certain spots” (Doniger and Kakar 62).  This could represent an ancient recognition and understanding of what we refer to as the G-spot (Doniger 2007: 75).  There is further discussion of a multitude of manners in which a man may thrust during intercourse, along with a brief mention of movements a woman can make whilst on top, or “playing the man’s part”.  It is said that “a man can learn everything – a woman’s personality, what sort of sex excites her – from the way she moves on top” (Doniger and Kakar 64).  At the same time, Doniger argues, Vatsyayana “acknowledges a woman’s active agency and challenges her stereotyped gender role” when he discusses women taking on the “man’s role” during sex (Doniger 2003:29).

Chapter nine discusses oral sex, in terms of both the act itself as well as the type of people who like to engage in it.  Eight acts of oral sex are outlined when it is performed by a “person of the third nature” (Doniger and Kakar 67).  This “third nature” may be reference to cross-dressing men and women, and Doniger discusses this particular portion of text at length in a separate article (Doniger 2003: 26-28).  Ultimately, though Vatsyayana himself seems opposed to the idea of oral sex, he nonetheless suggests that, “since learned men disagree and there are discrepancies in what the religious texts say, one should act according to the custom of the region and one’s own disposition and confidence” (Doniger and Kakar 68).

The tenth and final chapter of the book begins by discussing the “start and finish of sex.”  Vatsyayana mentions a specific room in a man’s house, “dedicated to sex” (Doniger and Kakar 70).  There is mention of friends, alcohol, music, and touching, utilizing “the embraces and so forth that have already been described” (Doniger and Kakar 70).  When it has been determined that the woman is aroused, and at which point the friends have been sent away, the man loosens the knot of the woman’s waistband; “that is the beginning of sex” (Doniger and Kakar 70).  The end of sex is outlined in great detail.  The man and woman leave the room separately, to bathe, “embarrassed, not looking at one another, as if they were not even acquainted with one another (Doniger and Kakar 70).  Upon returning from bathing, they are no longer embarrassed.  Indeed, they relax and enjoy some food and drink, sometimes retiring to the rooftop porch to “enjoy the moonlight and tell stories to suit their mood” (Doniger and Kakar 71).  Furthermore, “as she lies in his lap, looking at the moon, he points out the rows of the constellations to her; they look at the Pleiades, the Pole Star, and the Garland of the Seven Sages that form the Great Bear.  That is the end of sex” (Doniger and Kakar 71).

Before the chapter is complete, Vatsyayana mentions the “different kinds of sex” according to levels of passion or levels of class (Doniger and Kakar 72).  He finishes the chapter, and this book, with a brief discussion of the causes of “lovers’ quarrels”.  How might one avoid such quarrels?  The solution comes in studying the sixty-four arts alongside the Kama Sutra.  Indeed, “the lover who employs in this way the sixty-four arts of love that Babhravya taught is successful with the best women” (Doniger and Kakar 73).



Betageri, Ankur (2011) “Books at a Glance.” Indian Literature 55, No. 2: 222-224.

Doniger, Wendy (2007) “Reading the ‘Kamasutra’: The Strange and the Familiar.” Daedalus 136, No. 2: 66-78.

Doniger, Wendy (2003) “The ‘Kamasutra’: It Isn’t All about Sex.” The Kenyon Review 25, No. 1: 18-37.

Grant, Ben (2005) “Translating/’The’ ‘Kama Sutra’” Third World Quarterly 26, No. 3: 509-516.

Kureishi, Hanif (2011) “It’s a sin: the Kama Sutra and the search for pleasure.” Critical Quarterly 53, No. 1: 1-5. Accessed February 4, 2016. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8705.2011.01984.x

Rodrigues, Hillary (2006) Hinduism – The eBook. Journal of Buddhist Ethics Online Books, Ltd.

Shusterman, Richard (2007) “Asian Ars Erotica and the Question of Sexual Aesthetics.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 65, No. 1: 55-68.

Vatsyayana. (2002) Kamasutra. Translated by Wendy Doniger and Sudhir Kakar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Related Topics for Further Investigation

Alternate translations of the Kama Sutra (Richard Burton, Alain Danielou)


Kama Sastras


Tantric Sex


Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic


Article written by: Eric Selles (2016) who is solely responsible for its content.


The Kamasutra (Book Four: Wives)

The Kamasutra is an old Hindu book on love. Kama in Sanskrit means sensory pleasure, and sutra is a word for a text. Contrary to popular belief in western society however, the Kamasutra does not solely focus on sex positions and erotic love. The Kamasutra not only contains positions for sexual intercourse, but also features information on many other topics. These topics include, but are not limited to: finding a partner, virgins, courting, marriage, marriage to more than one woman, wives, the role of women, the role of the man, committing adultery, and living with courtesans.

The Kamasutra was written by Vatsyayana Mallanaga. Not a lot is known about Vatsyayana besides the fact that he was a Hindu from India. The Kamasutra was originally written in Sanskrit but since then has been translated numerous times by numerous people. This article will mainly focus on the translation done by Wendy Doniger and Sudhir Kakar in 2002. Both Doniger and Kakar are accomplished authors and scholars and both have studied religion at university.

Book Four in the Kamasutra is all about wives and that is the main focus of this article. Book Four consists of two chapters and within the two chapters are eight topics. These topics include: The Life of an Only Wife, Her Behaviour during his Absence, The Senior Wife, The Junior Wife, The Second-hand Woman, The Wife Unlucky in Love, Women of the Harem, and A Man’s Management of Many Women.

The first chapter and topic in Book Four of the Kamasutra is The Life of an Only Wife. An only wife is to treat her husband as if he were a God. Everything she does is to be done for him. She also takes on the responsibilities and actions of a housewife. This includes keeping the house clean and beautiful to look at at all times. This also includes making the proper offerings three times a day to keep the household in good standings with the gods, and to make sure the gods are getting the proper amount of worship. The only wife is to treat her husband’s relatives based on their merits (Doniger & Kakar 94).

The only wife also tends to a garden. She should plant herbs, vegetables, flowers, mustard seed, sugar-cane, lemon grass, and much more. The garden should always be weeded. It should also have a pond and should be a wonderful display to look at. Her relationships are limited and she may not have a close one with any of the following: a  beggar, a Buddhist nun, a fortune-teller, or a magician. When preparing meals the only wife puts her husband first. She cooks meals that depend on what he likes, what he does not like, what is good for him, and what is not (Doniger & Kakar 94).

When she is called by her husband she is always ready to serve. She is never seen in his eyes without makeup or jewellery on, she is always to be made up and to be a pleasant sight to look at. She is only allowed to go out to an event, such as a wedding, or even just out with her friends with her husband’s permission. He is very much in control. Her sleep schedule depends on his. She is to only get slightly offended at her husband’s infidelities, making sure he is not too humiliated. The only wife makes sure to keep herself clean. This includes having clean teeth, no body odour, and she tries not to sweat at all, as this would not be pleasing to her husband. When going to make love to her husband, she must be dressed up in her finest clothes, jewellery, and oils. When her husband fasts or vows the only wife also undergoes these things with him (Doniger & Kakar 95).

When she has the money, the only wife spends money on household items, perfumes, oils, seeds for the garden, and more. She never tells anyone about these assets however. She strives to be much better than any other women in her grouping in every way. The only wife has a number of duties. She is to keep track of the finances, make meals, and after meals make things such as butter with the leftovers, she makes clothing out of cotton and thread, she works in the fields, and she takes care of the livestock (Doniger & Kakar 95-96).

The only wife finds use for all her husband’s old and worn out clothes. She stocks, uses, buys, and sells wine and liquor properly. She honours her husband’s friends and serves his parents. She likes the people her husband likes and hates the people he hates. She is kind and considerate to servants. That is the life an only wife is to lead (Doniger & Kakar 96).

The second topic in Book Four of the Kamasutra is Her Behaviour During his Absence. When her husband is away, the only wife fasts, dedicates herself to the gods, and takes care of the household. She goes to older relatives to get the same guidance she would normally receive from her husband. She is not to act on her own accord. She takes on her normal daily tasks and also needs to finish anything her husband has started and left. She is only allowed to see her own relatives on special occasions and even at that time she has to be escorted and cannot stay as long as she would like. She tries to make as much money as possible while her husband is gone by spending less and selling more (Doniger & Kakar 97).

When her husband returns from his absence, she honours the gods and gives offerings unto them. An only wife who cares about her husband tends to his every need, no matter what type of woman she is. Successful wives make their husbands happy in every way without the need of a co-wife (Doniger & Kakar 97).

The third topic begins chapter two in Book Four of the Kamasutra. It is The Senior Wife. If the only wife fails in her duties, her husband is to find a co-wife to aid her. A woman tries to avoid this in every way by working hard to make sure her husband is satisfied. If she cannot have children, she herself is to ask for a co-wife. She however, puts herself in the higher position. She becomes the senior wife (Doniger and Kakar 98).

The senior wife looks at the new wife like a sister. She helps her in every way she can. She does not concern herself if the new wife gets hostile or even makes a mistake with their husband. She might give some advice to the wife but will reveal everything that has happened to her husband privately (Doniger and Kakar 98).

She does not give special treatment to her co-wife’s children. She treats her servants and her friends special but does not give any special attention to her own relatives. She does however give special attention to the other woman’s relatives. If there is more than one co-wife, the senior wife will only associate herself with the wife directly below her. She will pick fights with the favourite and cause problems with the one her husband likes most. She keeps this fight going until the husband favours her, then she lets it go. This is the life a senior wife is to lead (Doniger and Kakar 98-99).

The fourth topic in Book Four of the Kamasutra is The Junior Wife. The junior wife is to look up to her co-wife and see her as a mother. She reports everything to her. She gets permission from her to sleep with the husband. She never gossips. She cares for other women’s children more than her own. Secretly however, she serves the husband more than the other wife. She tries to win all his love.  (Doniger & Kakar 99).

If the senior wife cannot have children the junior wife tries to get the husband to pity her, unless there is a chance that the junior wife can get rid of her altogether. If she can do this then the junior wife will assume role of the only wife. This is the life a junior wife is to lead (Doniger & Kakar 99).

The fifth topic in Book Four of the Kamasutra is The Second-hand Woman. A second-hand woman is a widow who gets to find a husband for a second time. She, however, is already tormented and so tries to find a good one who will make her happy. She seeks to find physical pleasure and so searches for a husband who is well endowed (Doniger & Kakar 100).

She will get the husband to cover costs of her parties and entertainment. If she is to leave the man, she has to return everything except for love gifts he has given her. If he decides she has to leave, however, she gets to keep everything. She takes over the house. She has great skill and knowledge from her past experiences. She does favours for her co-wives by paying special attention to their children. They are to serve her in return. She is always in the mood for partying. This is the life a second-hand woman should lead (Doniger & Kakar 100-101).

The sixth topic in Book Four of the Kamasutra is The Wife Unlucky in Love. The wife unlucky in love seeks support from the favourite wife of the husband. She has no secrets. She does the job of nurse for all her husband’s children. She leads the house in religious offerings and fasts. She treats the servants well and actually sees herself no greater than they are. She mends fights with the women and the husband. This is the life a wife unlucky in love should lead (Doniger & Kakar 101).

The seventh topic in Book Four of the Kamasutra is Women of the Harem. The woman of the harem brings gifts from the queens to the king. The king gives these back to the queens as a gift. The women of the harem are all very well dressed. At the end of the day the king goes to see them all together. He treats the women according to how long they have been in the harem. That is what their worth is based on. After this he goes to see his second-hand women, his courtesans, and his dancing girls (Doniger and Kakar 102).

When the king wakes in the afternoon, the servants of the woman whose turn it is to sleep with him, the woman who has been passed over, and the woman who is fertile go to him bringing scented oils and the stamp of each woman. Whichever one the king takes is the woman he will sleep with that night (Doniger and Kakar 102).

At festivals and other events all of the women of the harem are honoured. These women however never go out, and only select few are allowed in so as the worlds do not mix. This is the life women of the harem should lead (Doniger and Kakar 102).

The eighth topic in Book Four of the Kamasutra is A Man’s Management of Many Women. A man must treat all of his acquired wives equally. He must not tell the wives about the others. A man should keep his wives happy by honouring her, giving her gifts, and confiding in her. He should spend time with each wife individually. A woman who behaves properly puts her husband in power  (Doniger & Kakar 103).

Another popular translation of the Kamasutra is the translation done by Richard Burton. Although similar, the translation done by Richard Burton varies from the translation done by Wendy Doniger and Sudhir Kakar. In Book Four of Burton’s translation of the Kamasutra, the chapter titles are much more detailed but the chapters themselves are more condensed. Book Four in Burton’s translation is called About A Wife and it only consists of two sections. These sections are: Chapter One: the Manner of Living of a Virtuous Woman, and of Her Behaviour During the Absence of Her Husband, and Chapter Two: On the Conduct of the Elder Wife Towards the Other Wives of Her Husband, and on That of a Younger Wife Towards the Elder Ones. Also on the Conduct of a Virgin Widow Remarried; of a Wife Disliked by Her Husband; of the Women in the King’s Harem; and Lastly on the Conduct of a Husband Towards Many Wives. Doniger and Kakar separate the topics into specific, easy to follow, subheadings. Burton, however, places everything within Book Four into two very broad chapters. Although the contents of Book Four in both translation are very similar the wording is very different and each and each translation focuses on different specific points.


References and Further Recommended Reading

Vatsyayana (2002) Kamasutra.Translated by Wendy Doniger and Sudhir Kakar. New York: Oxford University Press.

Vatsyayana (2006) Kamasutra. Translated by Richard Burton. New York: Dover Publications.


Related Topics for Further Investigation


Kamasutra Book Four

Hindu Wives

Wendy Doniger

Sudhir Kakar

Richard Burton

The Senior Wife

The Junior Wife

The Only Wife

Women of the Harem


Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic


Article written by: Nicole Atkinson (March 2016), who is solely responsible for its content.

The Kama Sutra

The purpose and the meaning of the Kama Sutra have been widely misconstrued throughout most of the Western world to be a text regarding the positions in sexual intercourse. Though the Kama Sutra does contain information about intercourse and the various ways of performing sexually, it is much more than that. It is a text about a certain way of living – “about finding a partner, maintaining power in a marriage, committing adultery, living as or with a courtesan, and using drugs” (Doniger and Kakar xi). This text describes in great detail the principles and rules (sutra) of love (kama). The Kama Sutra was originally composed in the ancient Sanskrit language of India. It is not known when the text was written and there is little information on its author, Vatsyayana Mallanaga. Clues as to the origins of this text are found within the writings but scholars have not come to a collective decision about the exact dates of authorship. Vatsyayana begins the Kama Sutra with an allusion to the four goals of life: dharma, kama, artha, and moksa. Righteousness, pleasure, wealth, and liberation respectively describe the terms used above. Vatsyayana explains that he wrote the Kama Sutra in order that others may learn about pleasure just as other texts such as the Dharma Sastras are used to learn about other goals in life.

The Kama Sutra belongs to a set of texts that are part of an erotic science known as kamashastra (the science of kama). Vatsyayana lays out particular guidelines and methods in this text that he believes to be the appropriate and standard ways of living, not just sexually, but more broadly sensual. Sensuality includes food, perfume, and music in addition to the obvious sexuality. Vatsyayana says that “because a man and a woman depend on each other for sex, it requires a method” (9). The Kama Sutra is therefore, a text explaining methods required to please both the man and the woman in sexual intercourse. The text is mainly directed at men because men are supposed to be in power when it comes to sexual prowess. They must learn the techniques and processes involved in order to be successful.

The understanding of the text is a science because Vatsyayana’s prose can be very obscure and mysterious. One must understand the connections that are being made within the text by being aware of the context and subject of the words. Because the text is written in sutras (similar to the English words ‘sew’ and ‘suture’) one can describe the Kama Sutra as having threads of meaning that are connected throughout the entire body of literature. Because of this ambiguity it is easy to understand why most people think of just sexual positions when they hear the name Kama Sutra. Most people do not understand the deeper meanings and religious significance behind sexual intercourse and the life of a woman and a man pursuing kama.

Vatsyayana produces information about sexual behaviour in the Kama Sutra which can be interpreted as merely guidelines. He is not stating in this text that one has to use a specific sexual position or that one must act in a certain way around one’s spouse, he says that one ‘should’ act in a certain way or perform in a certain sexual manner. After describing one method of oral sex Vatsyayana states that “when a man has considered the region, and the time, and the technique, and the textbook teachings, and himself, he – or may not – make use of these practices (Mallanaga 69).

The pursuit of kama is the main focus of this text because Hindus believe that kama is one of the four main goals of life. This concept is related to the idea that pleasure is the most important pursuit of humanity. This way of thinking is related to the philosophy of hedonism. The pursuit of pleasure is placed at the highest importance in hedonistic thinking. The Kama Sutra can be considered a hedonistic text because it portrays how men and women can strive to achieve the highest state of kama through desire and pleasure. He describes how to kiss, how to perform oral sex, how to win a virgin, and many other situations that would arise throughout one’s quest for pleasure.

Although the Kama Sutra contains many books describing the acquisition of pleasure, it also has many books on other aspects of sexual relationships that are not quite as positive but can still be considered hedonistic. Chapters such as “Ways to Get Money from Him” (Mallanaga 142-145) and “Ways to Get Rid of Him” (Mallanaga 145-147) are surprising to people who only believe the Kama Sutra to be about sexual positions. The text contains many of these surprisingly harsh and blunt subjects that one would not expect to see in a book about love and lust.

One of these surprising subjects is homosexuality. In book five, Vatsyayana discusses female homoeroticism in the women who are part of a harem. The women of the harem have one husband shared by many so he explains how the females satisfy themselves sexually without the aid of a man. According to Vatsyayana, a woman may satisfy her sexual needs through the use of masturbation or homosexuality. A servant girl can dress up as a man and relieve the desires of another woman through the use of “dildos or with bulbs, roots, or fruits that have that form” (Mallanaga 126). The female plays a role as a man in order to fulfill sexual needs.

The concept of homoeroticism and the ambiguity of gender can be seen through the writings of other authors who are interested in this text as well. Walter Penrose discusses female homoeroticism and the ambiguity of fixed gender roles in his article entitled “Hidden in History: Female Homoeroticism and Women of a “Third Nature” in the South Asian Past.” Penrose states that the Hindu religion allows “institutionalized gender variance” (4). This confirms Vatsyayana’s belief that women are allowed to act as men when their purpose is to relieve their desires. However there are a great number of stories that claim homosexuality is not something to be desired.

Ruth Vanita discusses the story of Bhagiratha’s birth to two women in her article entitled “Born of Two Vaginas”. According to this story, a child born as a result of female on female sexual intercourse results in the conception and birth of a lump of flesh or jelly. The child has no bones because a male was considered to be the one who contributes the bones to the baby. This story can be read in the Sushruta Samhita, written in the first century. Vatsyayana refers to this story in the Kama Sutra in the chapter entitled “Sexual Typology” (28-37). He agrees that sexual desire must be between a man and a woman because “the man is the active agent and the young woman is the passive locus” (Mallangaga 34). They complement each other in such a way that a woman and a woman could not.

There are numerous books in modern literature that clam to be influenced by Vatsyayana Mallangaga’s Kama Sutra but all that they entail is a detailed description of sexual positions and the pleasure that sex gives to men and women. The Kama Sutra does indeed include descriptions and pictures of sexual positions but it is not the main focus of the text. The text focuses on power in the relationship, methods in which to please your partner in ways other than sexual and just general advice on how to live a life in which kama is fully achieved.


Vatsyayana, Mallanaga. Kamasutra. Trans. Wendy Doniger and Sudhir Kakar. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003

Penrose, Walter. “Hidden in History: Female Homoeroticim and Women of a “Third Nature” in the South Asian Past.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 10.1 (2001) 3-39. 31 January 2009

Rodrigues, Hillary. Hinduism – The eBook. Journal of Buddhist Ethics Online Books,  2006

Vanita, Ruth. “Born of Two Vaginas: Love and Reproduction between Co-Wives in Some Medieval Indian Texts”. A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies11.4 (2005) 547-577. 31 January 2009

Related topics for further investigation




Sushruta Samhita



Noteworthy Wesites Related to the Topic

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

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.


Burton, R (1885) The Ananga Ranga (Translation). Internet Sacred Text Archive. Retrieved February 10, 2009, from

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Article written by: Lindsay Kleiner (March 2009) 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).


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


Artha Sastra




Rati Rahasya

Koka Pandit

Ananga Ranga






Courtesans (Act Six)

Aphrodisiacs and drugs (Act Seven)

64 arts

Women in the Kamasutra

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