This Part VI., about courtesans, was prepared by Vatsyayana, from a treatise on the subject, that was written by Dattaka, for the women of Pataliputra (the modern Patna), some two thousand years ago. Dattaka’s work does not appear to be extant now, but this abridgement of it is very clever, and quite equal to any of the productions of Emile Zola, and other writers of the realistic school of to-day.
Although a great deal has been written on the subject of the courtesan, nowhere will be found a better description of her, of her belongings, of her ideas, and of the working of her mind, than is contained in the following pages.
The details of the domestic and social life of the early Hindoos would not be complete without mention of the courtesan, and Part VI. is entirely devoted to this subject. The Hindoos have ever had the good sense to recognise courtesans as a part and portion of human society, and so long as they behaved themselves with decency and propriety, they were regarded with a certain respect. Anyhow, they have never been treated in the East with that brutality and contempt so common in the West, while their education has always been of a superior kind to that bestowed upon the rest of womankind in Oriental countries.
In the earlier days the well-educated Hindoo dancing girl and courtesan doubtless resembled the Hetera of the Greeks, and being educated and amusing, were far more acceptable as companions than the generality of the married or unmarried women of that period. At all times and in all countries, there has ever been a little rivalry between the chaste and the unchaste. But while some women are born courtesans, and follow the instincts of their nature in every class of society, it has been truly said by some authors that every woman has got an inkling of the profession in her nature, and does her best, as a general rule, to make herself agreeable to the male sex.
The subtlety of women, their wonderful perceptive powers, their knowledge, and their intuitive appreciation of men and things, are all shown in the following pages, which may be looked upon as a concentrated essence that has been since worked up into detail by many writers in every quarter of the globe.
OF THE CAUSES OF A COURTESAN RESORTING TO MEN; OF THE MEANS OF ATTACHING TO HERSELF THE MAN DESIRED; AND OF THE KIND OF MAN THAT IT IS DESIRABLE TO BE ACQUAINTED WITH.
By having intercourse with men courtesans obtain sexual pleasure, as well as their own maintenance. Now when a courtesan takes up with a man from love, the action is natural; but when she resorts to him for the purpose of getting money, her action is artificial or forced. Even in the latter case, however, she should conduct herself as if her love were indeed natural, because men repose their confidence on those women who apparently love them. In making known her love to the man she should show an entire freedom from avarice, and for the sake of her future credit she should abstain from acquiring money from him by unlawful means.
A courtesan, well dressed and wearing her ornaments, should sit or stand at the door of her house, and without exposing herself too much, should look on the public road so as to be seen by the passers by, she being like an object on view for sale. She should form friendships with such persons as would enable her to separate men from other women, and attach them to herself, and repair her own misfortunes, to acquire wealth, and to protect her from being bullied, or set upon by persons with whom she may have dealings of some kind or another.
These persons are:
The guards of the town, or the police.
The officers of the courts of justice.
Powerful men, or men with interest.
Teachers of the sixty-four arts.
Pithamardas or confidants.
Vitas or parasites.
Vidushakas or jesters.
Vendors of spirits.
And such other persons as may be found necessary for the particular object to be acquired.
The following kinds of men may be taken up with simply for the purpose of getting their money.
Men of independent income.
Men who are free from any ties.
Men who hold places of authority under the King.
Men who have secured their means of livelihood without difficulty.
Men possessed of unfailing sources of income.
Men who consider themselves handsome.
Men who are always praising themselves.
One who is an eunuch, but wishes to be thought a man.
One who hates his equals.
One who is naturally liberal.
One who has influence with the King or his ministers.
One who is always fortunate.
One who is proud of his wealth.
One who disobeys the orders of his elders.
One upon whom the members of his caste keep an eye.
The only son whose father is wealthy.
An ascetic who is internally troubled with desire.
A brave man.
A physician of the King.
On the other hand, those who are possessed of excellent qualities are to be resorted to for the sake of love, and fame. Such men are as follows:
Men of high birth, learned, with a good knowledge of the world, and doing the proper things at the proper times, poets, good story tellers, eloquent men, energetic men, skilled in various arts, far-seeing into the future, possessed of great minds, full of perseverance, of a firm devotion, free from anger, liberal, affectionate to their parents, and with a liking for all social gatherings, skilled in completing verses begun by others and in various other sports, free from all disease, possessed of a perfect body, strong, and not addicted to drinking, powerful in sexual enjoyment, sociable, showing love towards women and attracting their hearts to himself, but not entirely devoted to them, possessed of independent means of livelihood, free from envy, and last of all free from suspicion.
Such are the good qualities of a man.
The woman also should have the following characteristics, viz.:
She should be possessed of beauty, and amiability, with auspicious body marks. She should have a liking for good qualities in other people, as also a liking for wealth. She should take delight in sexual unions resulting from love, and should be of a firm mind, and of the same class as the man with regard to sexual enjoyment.
She should always be anxious to acquire and obtain experience and knowledge, be free from avarice, and always have a liking for social gatherings, and for the arts.
The following are the ordinary qualities of all women, viz.:
To be possessed of intelligence, good disposition, and good manners; to be straightforward in behaviour, and to be grateful; to consider well the future before doing anything; to possess activity, to be of consistent behaviour, and to have a knowledge of the proper times and places for doing things; to speak always without meanness, loud laughter, malignity, anger, avarice, dullness, or stupidity, to have a knowledge of the Kama Sutra, and to be skilled in all the arts connected with it.
The faults of the women are to be known by the absence of any of the above mentioned good qualities.
The following kinds of men are not fit to be resorted to by courtesans, viz.:
One who is consumptive; one who is sickly; one whose mouth contains worms; one whose breath smells like human excrement; one whose wife is dear to him; one who speaks harshly; one who is always suspicious; one who is avaricious; one who is pitiless; one who is a thief; one who is self-conceited; one who has a liking for sorcery; one who does not care for respect or disrespect; one who can be gained over even by his enemies by means of money; and lastly, one who is extremely bashful.
Ancient authors are of opinion that the causes of a courtesan resorting to men are love, fear, money, pleasure, returning some act of enmity, curiosity, sorrow, constant intercourse, Dharma, celebrity, compassion, the desire of having a friend, shame, the likeness of the man to some beloved person, the search after good fortune, the getting rid of the love of somebody else, the being of the same class as the man with respect to sexual union, living in the same place, constancy, and poverty. But Vatsyayana decides that desire of wealth, freedom from misfortune, and love, are the only causes that affect the union of courtesans with men.
Now a courtesan should not sacrifice money to her love, because money is the chief thing to be attended to. But in cases of fear, etc., she should pay regard to strength and other qualities. Moreover, even though she be invited by any man to join him, she should not at once consent to an union, because men are apt to despise things which are easily acquired. On such occasions she should first send the shampooers, and the singers, and the jesters, who may be in her service, or, in their absence the Pithamardas, or confidants, and others, to find out the state of his feelings, and the condition of his mind. By means of these persons she should ascertain whether the man is pure or impure, affected, or the reverse, capable of attachment, or indifferent, liberal or niggardly; and if she finds him to her liking, she should then employ the Vita and others to attach his mind to her.
Accordingly, the Pithamarda should bring the man to her house, under the pretence of seeing the fights of quails, cocks, and rams, of hearing the maina (a kind of starling) talk, or of seeing some other spectacle, or the practice of some art; or he may take the woman to the abode of the man. After this, when the man comes to her house the woman should give him something capable of producing curiosity, and love in his heart, such as an affectionate present, telling him that it was specially designed for his use. She should also amuse him for a long time by telling him such stories, and doing such things as he may take most delight in. When he goes away she should frequently send to him a female attendant, skilled in carrying on a jesting conversation, and also a small present at the same time. She should also sometimes go to him herself under the pretence of some business, and accompanied by the Pithamarda.
Thus end the means of attaching to herself the man desired.
There are also some verses on the subject as follows:
“When a lover comes to her abode, a courtesan should give him a mixture of betel leaves and betel nut, garlands of flowers, and perfumed ointments, and, showing her skill in arts, should entertain him with a long conversation. She should also give him some loving presents, and make an exchange of her own things with his, and at the same time should show him her skill in sexual enjoyment. When a courtesan is thus united with her lover she should always delight him by affectionate gifts, by conversation, and by the application of tender means of enjoyment.”