ancient Hindu text on erotic love
The Kama Sutra, by the ancient Indian scholar Mallanaga Vātsyāyana, is a treatise on human sexuality and its place in the well-ordered life. It was written in Sanskrit at some point during the first six centuries of the Christian era.
- Quotations are taken from Sir Richard Burton's translation (1883).
- Man, the period of whose life is one hundred years, should practise Dharma, Artha, and Kama at different times and in such a manner that they may harmonize, and not clash in any way. He 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, and thus seek to gain Moksha, that is, release from further transmigration.
- Part 1, ch. 2
- If variety is sought in all the arts and amusements, such as archery and others, how much more should it be sought after in the art of love.
- Part 2, ch. 4
- A man should fix his affections upon a girl who is of good family, whose parents are alive, and who is three years or more younger than himself. She should be born of a highly respectable family, possessed of wealth, well connected, and with many relations and friends. She should also be beautiful, of a good disposition, with lucky marks on her body, and with good hair, nails, teeth, ears, eyes and breasts, neither more nor less than they ought to be, and no one of them entirely wanting, and not troubled with a sickly body. The man should, of course, also possess these qualities himself.
- Part 3, ch. 1
- A girl who is called by the name of one of the twenty-seven stars, or by the name of a tree, or of a river, is considered worthless, as also a girl whose name ends in "r" or "l". But some authors say that prosperity is gained only by marrying that girl to whom one becomes attached and that therefore no other girl but the one who is loved should be married by anyone.
- Part 3, ch. 1
- A man who is of a low mind, who has fallen from his social position, and who is much given to traveling, does not deserve to be married; neither does one who has many wives and children, or one who is devoted to sport and gambling, and who comes to his wife only when he likes.
- Part 3, ch. 4
- A man may resort to the wife of another, for the purpose of saving his own life, when he perceives that his love for her proceeds from one degree of intensity to another. These degrees are ten in number, and are distinguished by the following marks:
1. Love of the eye
2. Attachment of the eye
3. Constant reflection
4. Destruction of sleep
5. Emaciation of the body
6. Turning away from objects of enjoyment
7. Removal of shame
- Part 5, ch. 1
- The extent of the love of women is not known, even to those who are the objects of their affection, on account of its subtlety.
- Part 6, ch. 2
- Women are hardly ever known in their true light, though they may love men, or become indifferent toward them; may give them delight, or abandon them; or may extract from them all the wealth that they may possess.
- Part 6, ch. 2
- The Kama Sutra was composed, according to the precepts of Holy Writ, for the benefit of the world, by Vatsyayana, while leading the life of a religious student, and wholly engaged in the contemplation of the Deity.
- Part 7, ch. 2
- The Kama Sutra is neither exclusively a sex manual nor, as also commonly believed, a sacred or religious work. It is certainly not a tantric text. In opening with a discussion of the three aims of ancient Hindu life – dharma, artha and kama – Vatsyayana's purpose is to set kama, or enjoyment of the senses, in context. Thus dharma or virtuous living is the highest aim, artha, the amassing of wealth is next, and kama is the least of three.
- Various taxonomies of season, landscape, times, gunas or qualities (and their material bases), tastes, characters, emotions, essences (rasas), etc., are basic to the thought-work of Hindu medicine and poetry, cooking and religion, erotics and magic… Even the Kama-Sutra is literally a grammar of love, which declines and conjugates men and women as one would nouns and verbs in different genders, voices, moods and aspects. Genders are genres. Different body-types and character-types obey different rules, respond to different scents and beckonings.
- A. K. Ramanujan, quoted from Malhotra, R., & Infinity Foundation (Princeton, N.J.). (2018). Being different: An Indian challenge to western universalism.