The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana by Vatsyayana

Thus ends, in seven parts, the Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, which might otherwise be called a treatise on men and women, their mutual relationship, and connection with each other.

It is a work that should be studied by all, both old and young; the former will find in it real truths, gathered by experience, and already tested by themselves, while the latter will derive the great advantage of learning things, which some perhaps may otherwise never learn at all, or which they may only learn when it is too late (“too late” those immortal words of Mirabeau) to profit by the learning.

It can also be fairly commended to the student of social science and of humanity, and above all to the student of those early ideas, which have gradually filtered down through the sands of time, and which seem to prove that the human nature of to-day is much the same as the human nature of the long ago.

It has been said of Balzac [the great, if not the greatest of French novelists] that he seemed to have inherited a natural and intuitive perception of the feelings of men and women, and has described them with an analysis worthy of a man of science. The author of the present work must also have had a considerable knowledge of the humanities. Many of his remarks are so full of simplicity and truth, that they have stood the test of time, and stand out still as clear and true as when they were first written, some eighteen hundred years ago.

As a collection of facts, told in plain and simple language, it must be remembered that in those early days there was apparently no idea of embellishing the work, either with a[179] literary style, a flow of language, or a quantity of superfluous padding. The author tells the world what he knows in very concise language, without any attempt to produce an interesting story. From his facts how many novels could be written! Indeed much of the matter contained in parts iii. iv. v. and vi., has formed the basis of many of the stories and the tales of past centuries.

There will be found in part vii., some curious recipes. Many of them appear to be as primitive as the book itself, but in later works of the same nature these recipes and prescriptions appear to have increased, both as regards quality and quantity. In the Anunga Runga or “The Stage of Love,” mentioned at page 5 of the Preface in Part i., there are found no less than thirty-three different subjects for which one hundred and thirty recipes and prescriptions are given.

As the details may be interesting, these subjects are described as follows:

For hastening the paroxysm of the woman.
For delaying the organs of the man.
For thickening and enlarging the lingam, rendering it sound and strong, hard and lusty.
For narrowing and contracting the yoni.
For perfuming the yoni.
For removing and destroying the hair of the body.
For removing the sudden stopping of the monthly ailment.
For abating the immoderate appearance of the monthly ailment.
For purifying the womb.
For causing pregnancy.
For preventing miscarriage and other accidents.
For ensuring easy labour and ready deliverance.
For limiting the number of children.
For thickening and beautifying the hair.
For obtaining a good black colour to it.
For whitening and bleaching it.
For renewing it.
[180]For clearing the skin of the face from eruptions that break out and leave black spots upon it.
For removing the black colour of the epidermis.
For enlarging the breasts of women.
For raising and hardening pendulous breasts.
For giving a fragrance to the skin.
For removing the evil savour of perspiration.
For anointing the body after bathing.
For causing a pleasant smell to the breath.
Drugs and charms for the purposes of fascinating, overcoming, and subduing either men or women.
Recipes for enabling a woman to attract and preserve her husband’s love.
Magical collyriums for winning love and friendship.
Prescriptions for reducing other persons to submission.
Philter pills, and other charms.
Fascinating incense, or fumigation.
Magical verses which have the power of fascination.
Of the one hundred and thirty recipes given, many of them are absurd, but not more perhaps than many of the recipes and prescriptions in use in Europe not so very long ago. Love-philters, charms, and herbal remedies have been, in early days, as freely used in Europe as in Asia, and doubtless some people believe in them still in many places.

And now, one word about the author of the work, the good old sage Vatsyayana. It is much to be regretted that nothing can be discovered about his life, his belongings, and his surroundings. At the end of Part vii. he states that he wrote the work while leading the life of a religious student [probably at Benares] and while wholly engaged in the contemplation of the Deity. He must have arrived at a certain age at that time, for throughout he gives us the benefit of his experience, and of his opinions, and these bear the stamp of age rather than of youth; indeed the work could hardly have been written by a young man.

In a beautiful verse of the Vedas of the Christians it has been said of the peaceful dead, that they rest from their labours, and that their works do follow them. Yes indeed, the works of men of genius do follow them, and remain as a[181] lasting treasure. And though there may be disputes and discussions about the immortality of the body or the soul, nobody can deny the immortality of genius, which ever remains as a bright and guiding star to the struggling humanities of succeeding ages. This work, then, which has stood the test of centuries, has placed Vatsyayana among the immortals, and on This, and on Him no better elegy or eulogy can be written than the following lines:

“So long as lips shall kiss, and eyes shall see,
So long lives This, and This gives life to Thee.”
[1]Dharma is acquisition of religious merit, and is fully described in Chapter 5, Volume III., of Talboys Wheeler’s ‘History of India,’ and in the edicts of Asoka.

[2]Artha is acquisition of wealth and property, etc.

[3]Kama is love, pleasure and sensual gratification.

These three words are retained throughout in their original, as technical terms. They may also be defined as virtue, wealth and pleasure, the three things repeatedly spoken of in the Laws of Manu.

[4]These were certainly materialists who seemed to think that a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush.

[5]Among the Hindoos the four classes of men are the Brahmans or priestly class, the Kshutrya or warlike class, the Vaishya or agricultural and mercantile class, and the Shoodra or menial class. The four stages of life are, the life of a religious student, the life of a householder, the life of a hermit, and the life of a Sunyasi or devotee.

[6]Bali was a demon who had conquered Indra and gained his throne, but was afterwards overcome by Vishnu at the time of his fifth incarnation.

[7]Dandakya is said to have abducted from the forest the daughter of a Brahman, named Bhargava, and being cursed by the Brahman, was buried with his kingdom under a shower of dust. The place was called after his name the Dandaka forest, celebrated in the Ramayana, but now unknown.

[8]Ahalya was the wife of the sage Gautama. Indra caused her to believe that he was Gautama, and thus enjoyed her. He was cursed by Gautama and subsequently afflicted with a thousand ulcers on his body.

[9]Kichaka was the brother-in-law of King Virata, with whom the Pandavas had taken refuge for one year. Kichaka was killed by Bhima, who assumed the disguise of Draupadi. For this story the Mahabarata should be referred to.

[10]The story of Ravana is told in the Ramayana, which with the Mahabarata form the two great epic poems of the Hindoos; the latter was written by Vyasa, and the former by Valmiki.

[11]The author wishes to prove that a great many things are done by people from practice and custom, without their being acquainted with the reason of things, or the laws on which they are based, and this is perfectly true.

[12]The proviso of being married applies to all the teachers.

[13]This term would appear to apply generally to an inhabitant of Hindoostan. It is not meant only for a dweller in a city, like the Latin Urbanus as opposed to Rusticus.

[14]Gift is peculiar to a Brahman, conquest to a Kshatrya, while purchase, deposit, and other means of acquiring wealth belongs to the Vaishya.

[15]Natural garden flowers.

[16]Such as quails, partridges, parrots, starlings, &c.

[17]The calls of nature always performed by the Hindoos the first thing in the morning.

[18]A colour made from lac.

[19]This would act instead of soap, which was not introduced until the rule of the Mahomedans.

[20]Ten days are allowed when the hair is taken out with a pair of pincers.

[21]These are characters generally introduced in the Hindoo drama; their characteristics will be explained further on.

[22]Noonday sleep is only allowed in summer, when the nights are short.

[23]These are very common in all parts of India.

[24]In the ‘Asiatic Miscellany,’ and in Sir W. Jones’s works, will be found a spirited hymn addressed to this goddess, who is adored as the patroness of the fine arts, especially of music and rhetoric, as the inventress of the Sanscrit language, &c., &c. She is the goddess of harmony, eloquence, and language, and is somewhat analogous to Minerva. For further information about her, see Edward Moor’s ‘Hindoo Pantheon.’

[25]The public women, or courtesans (Vesya), of the early Hindoos have often been compared with the Hetera of the Greeks. The subject is dealt with at some length in H. H. Wilson’s ‘Select Specimens of the Theatre of the Hindoos,’ in two volumes, Trubner & Co., 1871. It may be fairly considered that the courtesan was one of the elements, and an important element too, of early Hindoo society, and that her education and intellect were both superior to that of the women of the household. Wilson says, “By the Vesya or courtesan, however, we are not to understand a female who has disregarded the obligation of law or the precepts of virtue, but a character reared by a state of manners unfriendly to the admission of wedded females into society, and opening it only at the expense of reputation to women who were trained for association with men by personal and mental acquirements to which the matron was a stranger.”

[26]According to this description a Pithamarda would be a sort of professor of all the arts, and as such received as the friend and confidant of the citizens.

[27]A seat in the form of the letter T.

[28]The Vita is supposed to represent somewhat the character of the Parasite of the Greek comedy. It is possible that he was retained about the person of the wealthy and dissipated as a kind of private instructor, as well as an entertaining companion.

[29]Vidushaka is evidently the buffoon and jester. Wilson says of him that he is the humble companion, not the servant, of a prince or man of rank, and it is a curious peculiarity that he is always a Brahman. He bears more affinity to Sancho Panza, perhaps, than any other character in western fiction, imitating him in his combination of shrewdness and simplicity, his fondness of good living and his love of ease. In the dramas of intrigue he exhibits some of the talents of Mercury, but with less activity and ingenuity, and occasionally suffers by his interference. According to the technical definition of his attributes he is to excite mirth by being ridiculous in person, age, and attire.

[30]This means, it is presumed, that the citizen should be acquainted with several languages. The middle part of this paragraph might apply to the Nihilists and Fenians of the day, or to secret societies. It was perhaps a reference to the Thugs.

[31]This term does not apply to a widow, but to a woman who had probably left her husband, and is living with some other person as a married woman, maritalement, as they say in France.

[32]Any woman fit to be enjoyed without sin. The object of the enjoyment of women is twofold, viz., pleasure and progeny. Any woman who can be enjoyed without sin for the purpose of accomplishing either the one or the other of these two objects is a Nayika. The fourth kind of Nayika which Vatsya admits further on is neither enjoyed for pleasure or for progeny, but merely for accomplishing some special purpose in hand. The word Nayika is retained as a technical term throughout.

[33]High unions are said to be better than low ones, for in the former it is possible for the male to satisfy his own passion without injuring the female, while in the latter it is difficult for the female to be satisfied by any means.

[34]The strength of passion with women varies a great deal, some being easily satisfied, and others eager and willing to go on for a long time. To satisfy these last thoroughly a man must have recourse to art. It is certain that a fluid flows from the woman in larger or smaller quantities, but her satisfaction is not complete until she has experienced the “spasme génêsique,” as described in a French work recently published and called “Breviare de l’Amour Experimental par le Dr. Jules Guyot.”

[35]This is a long dissertation very common among Sanscrit authors, both when writing and talking socially. They start certain propositions, and then argue for and against them. What it is presumed the author means, is, that though both men and women derive pleasure from the act of coition, the way it is produced is brought about by different means, each individual performing his own work in the matter, irrespective of the other, and each deriving individually their own consciousness of pleasure from the act they perform. There is a difference in the work that each does, and a difference in the consciousness of pleasure that each has, but no difference in the pleasure they feel, for each feels that pleasure to a greater or lesser degree.

[36]This paragraph should be particularly noted, for it specially applies to married men and their wives. So many men utterly ignore the feelings of the women, and never pay the slightest attention to the passion of the latter. To understand the subject thoroughly, it is absolutely necessary to study it, and then a person will know that, as dough is prepared for baking, so must a woman be prepared for sexual intercourse, if she is to derive satisfaction from it.

[37]From this it would appear that in ancient times the breasts of women were not covered, and this is seen in the painting of the Ajunta and other caves, where we find that the breasts of even royal ladies and others are exposed.

[38]Men who are well acquainted with the art of love are well aware how often one woman differs from another in her sighs and sounds during the time of congress. Some women like to be talked to in the most loving way, others in the most abusive way, and so on. Some women enjoy themselves with closed eyes in silence, others make a great noise over it, and some almost faint away. The great art is to ascertain what gives them the greatest pleasure, and what specialities they like best.

[39]This practice appears to have been prevalent in some parts of India from a very ancient time. The “Shushruta,” a work on medicine some two thousand years old, describes the wounding of the lingam with the teeth as one of the causes of a disease treated upon in that work. Traces of the practice are found as far back as the eighth century, for various kinds of the Auparishtaka are represented in the sculptures of many Shaiva temples at Bhuvaneshwara, near Cuttack, in Orissa, and which were built about that period. From these sculptures being found in such places, it would seem that this practice was popular in that part of the country at that time. It does not seem to be so prevalent now in Hindustan, its place perhaps is filled up by the practice of sodomy, introduced since the Mahomedan period.

[40]The fresh juice of the cocoa nut tree, the date tree, and other kinds of palm trees are drunk in India. It will not keep fresh very long, but ferments rapidly, and is then distilled into liquor.

[41]The characteristics of these three individuals have been given in Part I. page 31.

[42]A definition of the sixty-four parts, or divisions, is given in Chapter II., page 45.

[43]The flight of a blue jay on a person’s left side is considered a lucky omen when one starts on any business; the appearance of a cat before anyone at such a time is looked on as a bad omen. There are many omens of the same kind.

[44]Such as the throbbing of the right eye of men and the left eye of women, etc.

[45]Before anything is begun it is a custom to go early in the morning to a neighbour’s house, and overhear the first words that may be spoken in his family, and according as the words heard are of good or bad import, so draw an inference as to the success or failure of the undertaking.

[46]A disease consisting of any glandular enlargement in any part of the body.

[47]A woman, the palms of whose hands and the soles of whose feet are always perspiring.

[48]These last few lines have been exemplified in many ways in many novels of this century.

[49]There is a good deal of truth in the last few observations. Woman is a monogamous animal, and loves but one, and likes to feel herself alone in the affections of one man, and cannot bear rivals. It may also be taken as a general rule that women either married to, or kept by, rich men love them for their wealth, but not for themselves.

[50]These forms of marriage differ from the four kinds of marriage mentioned in Chapter I., and are only to be made use of when the girl is gained over in the way mentioned in Chapters III. and IV.

[51]About this, see a story on the fatal effects of love at page 114 of “Early Ideas; a Group of Hindoo Stories,” collected and collated by Anaryan. W. H. Allen and Co., London, 1881.

[52]About the Gandharvavivaha form of marriage, see note to page 28 of Captain R. F. Burton’s “Vickram and the Vampire; or Tales of Hindu Devilry.” Longman, Green & Co., London, 1870. This form of matrimony was recognised by the ancient Hindus, and is frequent in books. It is a kind of Scotch Wedding—ultra-Caledonian—taking place by mutual consent without any form or ceremony. The Gandharvas are heavenly minstrels of Indra’s court, who are supposed to be witnesses,

[53]This probably refers to a girl married in her infancy, or when very young, and whose husband had died before she arrived at the age of puberty. Infant marriages are still the common custom of the Hindoos.

[54]A name given to the maid servants of the zenana of the Kings in ancient times, on account of their always keeping their breasts covered with a cloth called Kanchuki. It was customary in the olden time for the maid servants to cover their breasts with a cloth, while the Queens kept their breasts uncovered. This custom is distinctly to be seen in the Ajunta cave paintings.

[55]The meaning of this word is a superior woman, so it would seem that a Mahallarika must be a person in authority over the maid servants of the house.

[56]This was also appertaining to the rank of women employed in the harem. In latter times this place was given to eunuchs.

[57]As Kings generally had many wives, it was usual for them to enjoy their wives by turns. But as it happened sometimes that some of them lost their turns owing to the King’s absence, or to their being unwell, then in such cases the women whose turns had been passed over, and those whose turns had come, used to have a sort of lottery, and the ointment of all the claimants were sent to the King, who accepted the ointment of one of them, and thus settled the question.

[58]On peut tout attendre et tout supposer d’une femme amoureuse.—Balzac.

[59]The wife of the sage Gautama, she was seduced by Indra the king of the Gods.

[60]The heroine of one of the best, if not the best, of Hindoo plays, and the best known in Sanscrit dramatic literature. It was first brought to notice by Sir William Jones, and has been well and poetically translated by Dr. Monier Williams under the title of Sakoontala, or the lost ring, an Indian drama, translated into English prose and verse from the Sanscrit of Kalidasa.

[61]It is presumed that something like the following French verses are intended.

Quand on a juré le plus profond hommage
Voulez-vous qu’infidè le on change de langage
Vous seule captive mon esprit ou mon cœur
Que je puisse dans vos bras seuls goûter le bonheur;
Je voudrais, mais en vain, que mon cœur en délire
Couche où ce papier n’oserait vous dire.
Avec soin, de ces vers lisez leur premiers mots,
Vous verrez quel remède il faut à tous mes maux.

Or these:

Quand on vous voit, on vous aime;
Quand on vous aime, où vous voit-on.
[62]It is supposed that storms, earthquakes, famines and pestilent diseases are here alluded to.

[63]This is a phrase used for a man who does the work of everybody, and who is fed by the whole village.

[64]The exact date of the reign of these kings is not known. It is supposed to have been about the beginning of the Christian era.

[65]The modern country of Tailangam, which is to the South of Rajamundry.

[66]Supposed to be a tract of the country to the south of Malwa.

[67]Now known by the name of Berar. Its capital was Kundinpura, which has been identified with the modern Oomravati.

[68]Also called Aparantakas, being the northern and southern Concan.

[69]The modern provinces of Katteeawar. Its capital was called Girinaguda, or the modern Junagurh.

[70]These are Lust, Anger, Avarice, Spiritual Ignorance, Pride, and Envy.

[71]The way to make oneself invisible; the knowledge of the art of transmigration, or changing ourselves or others into any shape or form by the use of charms and spells; the power of being in two places at once, and other occult sciences are frequently referred to in all Oriental literature.

[72]This may be considered as meaning religious influence, and alludes to persons who may be gained over by that means.

[73]It may be noted from the above remarks that eunuchs do not appear to have been employed in the King’s harem in those days, though they seem to have been employed for other purposes. See Part II., page 43.

[74]In England the lower classes of courtesans walk the streets; in India and other places in the East they sit at the windows, or at the doors of their houses.

[75]On the completion of a vow a festival takes place. Some trees such as the Peepul and Banyan trees, are invested with sacred threads like the Brahman’s, and on the occasion of this ceremony a festival is given. In the same way when gardens are made, and tanks or temples built, then also festivals are observed.

[76]The souls of men who die with their desires unfulfilled are said to go to the world of the Manes, and not direct to the Supreme Spirit.

[77]It is a custom of the courtesans of Oriental countries to give their daughters temporarily in marriage when they come of age, and after they have received an education in the Kama Sutra and other arts. Full details are given of this at page 76 of “Early Ideas, a group of Hindoo stories, collected and collated by Anaryan. W. H. Allen and Co., London, 1881.”

[78]From the earliest times Oriental authors have occupied themselves about aphrodisiacs. The following note on the subject is taken from page 29 of a translation of the Hindoo Art of Love, otherwise the Anunga Runga, alluded to in the preface of this work, Part I., pages 3 and 5:—”Most Eastern treatises divide aphrodisiacs into two different kinds: 1., the mechanical or natural, such as scarification, flagellation, etc.; and 2., the medicinal or artificial. To the former belong the application of insects, as is practised by some savage races; and all orientalists will remember the tale of the old Brahman, whose young wife insisted upon his being again stung by a wasp.”

Works issued by the Council of the Kama Shastra Society.

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