कामसूत्र

I have read कामसूत्र as a child.

Long before I started reading novels as a teenager.

  • Clive Cussler
  • John Lecarré
  • Dick Francis
  • James Patterson
  • Alistair MacLean
  • Tom Clancy
  • Robert Ludlum
  • Dale Brown

I actually only read The Art of War written by Sun Tzu in late-sixth century BC during my college years.

The कामसूत्र book I read was printed on a glossy paper and quality ink. Unlike today’s printed books which are of no comparison to the quality. That was the quality of books before. I also read history books that have the same quality of paper and ink when I was a child. I wonder why publishing companies cannot produce that quality anymore.

कामसूत्र has been translated into many languages from the original manuscript of Vātsyāyana, who lived during time of the Gupta Empire (4th to 6th centuries AD). One english translation was published in 1883 by Richard Francis Burton and the latest translation was published in 1994 by Alain Daniélou. In 1883 translation, “Chapter III. ON THE ARTS AND SCIENCES TO BE STUDIED” of “Part I: Introductory”, our sports is listed as one of these 64 arts. Although the list might be missing 2 arts as it only contains 62.

Let me put it this way, our sports is known to the author as an art to be mastered. And that was 1500-1700 years ago.

Below is the introduction of Chapter III as published online.

MAN should study the Kama Sutra and the arts and sciences subordinate thereto, in addition to the study of the arts and sciences contained in Dharma and Artha. Even young maids should study this Kama Sutra along with its arts and sciences before marriage, and after it they should continue to do so with the consent of their husbands.

Here some learned men object, and say that females, not being allowed to study any science, should not study the Kama Sutra.

But Vatsyayana is of opinion that this objection does not hold good, for women already know the practice of Kama Sutra, and that practice is derived from the Kama Shastra, or the science of Kama itself. Moreover, it is not only in this but in many other cases that, though the practice of a science is known to all, only a few persons are acquainted with the rules and laws on which the science is based. Thus the Yadnikas or sacrificers, though ignorant of grammar, make use of appropriate words when addressing the different Deities, and do not know how these words are framed. Again, persons do the duties required of them on auspicious days, which are fixed by astrology, though they are not acquainted with the science of astrology. In a like manner riders of horses and elephants train these animals without knowing the science of training animals, but from practice only. And similarly the people of the most distant provinces obey the laws of the kingdom from practice, and because there is a king over them, and without further reason. 1 And from experience we find that some women, such as daughters of princes and their ministers, and public women, are actually versed in the Kama Shastra.

A female, therefore, should learn the Kama Shastra, or at least a part of it, by studying its practice from some confidential friend. She should study alone in private the sixty-four practices that form a part of the Kama Shastra. Her teacher should be one of the following persons: the daughter of a nurse brought up with her and already married, 2 or a female friend who can be trusted in everything, or the sister of her mother (i.e. her aunt), or an old female servant, or a female beggar who may have formerly lived in the family, or her own sister who can always be trusted.

The following are the arts to be studied, together with the Kama Sutra:

  1. Singing
  2. Playing on musical instruments
  3. Dancing
  4. Union of dancing, singing, and playing instrumental music
  5. Writing and drawing
  6. Tattooing
  7. Arraying and adorning an idol with rice and flowers
  8. Spreading and arranging beds or couches of flowers, or flowers upon the ground
  9. Colouring the teeth, garments, hair, nails and bodies, i.e. staining, dyeing, colouring and painting the same
  10. Fixing stained glass into a floor
  11. The art of making beds, and spreading out carpets and cushions for reclining
  12. Playing on musical glasses filled with water
  13. Storing and accumulating water in aqueducts, cisterns and reservoirs
  14. Picture making, trimming and decorating
  15. Stringing of rosaries, necklaces, garlands and wreaths
  16. Binding of turbans and chaplets, and making crests and top-knots of flowers
  17. Scenic representations, stage playing Art of making ear ornaments Art of preparing perfumes and odours
  18. Proper disposition of jewels and decorations, and adornment in dress
  19. Magic or sorcery
  20. Quickness of hand or manual skill
  21. Culinary art, i.e. cooking and cookery
  22. Making lemonades, sherbets, acidulated drinks, and spirituous extracts with proper flavour and colour
  23. Tailor’s work and sewing
  24. Making parrots, flowers, tufts, tassels, bunches, bosses, knobs, etc., out of yarn or thread
  25. Solution of riddles, enigmas, covert speeches, verbal puzzles and enigmatical questions
  26. A game, which consisted in repeating verses, and as one person finished, another person had to commence at once, repeating another verse, beginning with the same letter with which the last speaker’s verse ended, whoever failed to repeat was considered to have lost, and to be subject to pay a forfeit or stake of some kind
  27. The art of mimicry or imitation
  28. Reading, including chanting and intoning
  29. Study of sentences difficult to pronounce. It is played as a game chiefly by women, and children and consists of a difficult sentence being given, and when repeated quickly, the words are often transposed or badly pronounced
  30. Practice with sword, single stick, quarter staff and bow and arrow
  31. Drawing inferences, reasoning or inferring
  32. Carpentry, or the work of a carpenter
  33. Architecture, or the art of building
  34. Knowledge about gold and silver coins, and jewels and gems
  35. Chemistry and mineralogy
  36. Colouring jewels, gems and beads
  37. Knowledge of mines and quarries
  38. Gardening; knowledge of treating the diseases of trees and plants, of nourishing them, and determining their ages
  39. Art of cock fighting, quail fighting and ram fighting
  40. Art of teaching parrots and starlings to speak
  41. Art of applying perfumed ointments to the body, and of dressing the hair with unguents and perfumes and braiding it
  42. The art of understanding writing in cypher, and the writing of words in a peculiar way
  43. The art of speaking by changing the forms of words. It is of various kinds. Some speak by changing the beginning and end of words, others by adding unnecessary letters between every syllable of a word, and so on
  44. Knowledge of language and of the vernacular dialects
  45. Art of making flower carriages
  46. Art of framing mystical diagrams, of addressing spells and charms, and binding armlets
  47. Mental exercises, such as completing stanzas or verses on receiving a part of them; or supplying one, two or three lines when the remaining lines are given indiscriminately from different verses, so as to make the whole an entire verse with regard to its meaning; or arranging the words of a verse written irregularly by separating the vowels from the consonants, or leaving them out altogether; or putting into verse or prose sentences represented by signs or symbols. There are many other such exercises.
  48. Composing poems
  49. Knowledge of dictionaries and vocabularies
  50. Knowledge of ways of changing and disguising the appearance of persons
  51. Knowledge of the art of changing the appearance of things, such as making cotton to appear as silk, coarse and common things to appear as fine and good
  52. Various ways of gambling
  53. Art of obtaining possession of the property of others by means of muntras or incantations
  54. Skill in youthful sports
  55. Knowledge of the rules of society, and of how to pay respect and compliments to others
  56. Knowledge of the art of war, of arms, of armies, etc.
  57. Knowledge of gymnastics
  58. Art of knowing the character of a man from his features
  59. Knowledge of scanning or constructing verses
  60. Arithmetical recreations
  61. Making artificial flowers
  62. Making figures and images in clay

A public woman, endowed with a good disposition, beauty and other winning qualities, and also versed in the above arts, obtains the name of a Ganika, or public woman of high quality, and receives a seat of honour in an assemblage of men. She is, moreover, always respected by the king, and praised by learned men, and her favour being sought for by all, she becomes an object of universal regard. The daughter of a king too as well as the daughter of a minister, being learned in the above arts, can make their husbands favourable to them, even though these may have thousands of other wives besides themselves. And in the same manner, if a wife becomes separated from her husband, and falls into distress, she can support herself easily, even in a foreign country, by means of her knowledge of these arts. Even the bare knowledge of them gives attractiveness to a woman, though the practice of them may be only possible or otherwise according to the circumstances of each case. A man who is versed in these arts, who is loquacious and acquainted with the arts of gallantry, gains very soon the hearts of women, even though he is only acquainted with them for a short time.

1994 Translation




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