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Kama Sutra

Dharmo ca artho ca kamas ca mokshas ca bharatharshaba |
Yad iha asti tad sarvatra Yannehaasti tad na kutra chit ||

Oh! Best of Bharatha! Righteousness, Wealth, Love and Liberation
What ever is here is elsewhere and whatever is not here is not anywhere

Forward

No points for guessing where the quote is from. It is one of the last slokas of Mahabharata. The statement that what is not in Mahabharatha does not exist anywhere may be true for other Aims of Life. But as far as love and sex is concerned, the Kama Sutra is the reference book for humans. Sadly or not, not all of the world has accepted that Mahabharatha as the greatest book. For more than half the world still the "greatest" epics are the Greek Illyad and Odyssey. But it is definitely true that Kamasutra is the defacto book of love throughout the world. No other book has probably been more candid about human reproductive sensations for so long. It is only recent times, that many Western "experts" have come out writing various books ranging from 101 Ways to Have Sex;Sex, Marriage and Love: Essentially in the same order; How to sleep normally? and of course not to be left out, Sex for Dummies. These books are very similar to TV Exercise shows hosted by "experts". They take a few asanas from Yoga, transpose and stretch them a little here and there, play a background music of M.C.Hammer or some hard-hitting-head-ache-producing rock band and put their own name in front of the work-outs and call it their own methodology for relaxation. It is a simple form of plagiarism, nevertheless. Same goes with the sex-book authors. They steal ideas from such classics and declare it as their own methods. Well, different ways of making money. |


Definition

The word Kama Sutra reminds everyone immediately of erotic poses. It triggers the hypothalamus in every ones brains. It creates (chemical formula) and sends a current of pleasure throughout the body. But when you read this book you will find that, apart from containing passages for one's love life, it unmistakably reflects the society of that time. Vatsyayana has mentioned many important things which we may leave us wondering.

One of the striking assets of the book is: Classification. He tries to classify whatever he expresses. There is a fantastic chapter on Courtesans, which clearly reflects the behaviour, custom and circumstances of the ancient Indian society at that time. These courtesans were also called as Temple Dancers. Another name for them is Deva Dasi - Women-Servers of God. In Tamil, they were called Devaradiar, the meaning of which currently has derogated. From "servant-maids of god" they have now come to be called as "servant-maids of men".

The courtesans attained greatest heights during the Buddhist period. Those who have read Kalki's Sivakamiyin Shabadam will recall that the heroine of the story, Sivakami leaves Narasimhavarma Pallava I and turns into a Buddha-Bhikshini. Becoming a Buddha-Bhikshini was considered a greatest honor at that time. The kings, priests and every one respected them for their knowledge in various arts. Vatsyayana frequently states that courtesans would be "hired" to educate young girls the various methods of sex before she is given to marriage. He even gives what qualification should a courtesan have to educate young girls. So much for sex education.

Year 1838, January. The English explorer namewades through snakes of the Central Indian jungle and "discovers" an almost lost temple. Looking from far, he wonders "What a magnificient structure!". But as he nears the temple and sees the sculptures of the wall is dumbfounded, perplexed and could not believe himself. He later quotes "The religion of India could not have been a chaste one!". His Victorian upbringing and Christian way of thinking leads him to conclude that the religion of Hindus is mean and the West was infinitely superior and Christianity was more moral than other religions. The West was not able to understand the fact that "Love" is a way of life. Ok, until recent times. The lost temple: The Temple of Khajuraho.

There is another thread that runs through-out Kamasutra: He extols materialism. When most of India was preaching spirituality with only a few probably knowing what a "soul" is, and others just pretending, and denouncing earthly life supported by a wide range of apparently contradictory verses written in the Upanishads and other similar scriptures, here is a book which boldly puts forth the rules of how to live and enjoy reproduction! What sort of Brahmin is he in an orthodox Brahminical society!

Vatsyayana, the revolutionist

Vatsyayana, the ultimate revolutionist of his time, goes beyond all tradition. What does a normal Hindu do when you buy a new note book? You leave the first page for Lord Ganesha and/or start off with a 'distorted' Om symbol on the top of the page. What does a Carnatic musician do when he/she starts off a concert? He/she usually sings a brisk kriti on Lord Ganesha on Nattai, Hamsadwani or Gaula, given that there are only so many songs on Ganesha, its anybody's guess. What does a student usually do before going to exam hall for writing 10 or +2 exams? He prays Ganesha and promises openly "Pillayarappa, I will "break" 108 coconuts if I pass this exam..." and secretly adds "and If I get into college and I get a job and I get a visa to USA and when I come back on my first trip". An kid of more imagination could add more to it. For us Hindus, Ganesha is the formost of all the Gods. But, what does Vatsyayana do when he writes an epic called Kamasutra? No, he does not invoke Lord Ganesha. Look at the first sloka:

Praised be the three aims of life: virtue [dharma], prosperity [artha] and love [kama] which are the subject of this work.

There is no place for moksha in this book. Kamasutra is a book of living the life. But this does not mean that Vatsyayana is an atheist.

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History

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----The LXIV arts
Every one of us have probably heard about the 64 arts. The Silappadikaram mentions that Madhavi (a courtesan - ganika- on whose profession Vatsyayana has heavily relied on his materials) was well versed with all the 64 arts What exactly are they? I tried to find them in various literature. But at last I found and from an unexpected source. Vatsyayana gives a description of all the 64 arts.

I still am not convinced that these are distinct 64 arts. Some seem to be overlapping. Some are merely subsets of other art. For example, Jalatarangam, Vina are subsets of Instruments. Some arts very close to really distinguish. For example, Developing memory and Reciting texts are closely related. I am currently researching details on each of these arts and update.

  1. Vocal music
  2. Instruments
  3. Dance
  4. Drawing
  5. Cutouts
  6. Carpets
  7. Flower bouquets
  8. Dyes
  9. Mosaics
  10. Bed arrangement
  11. Jalatarangam
  12. Water-spewing games
  13. Use of charms/drugs/magic words chitra yoga
  14. Garland making
  15. Crowns and head ornaments
  16. Art of dressing
  17. Ivory ornaments
  18. Preparation of perfumes
  19. Jewelery
  20. Conjuring Indrajala
  21. Magic Kuchumara
  22. Manicure
  23. Cooking
  24. Preperation of drinks
  25. Needlework
  26. Lace-making
  27. Vina
  28. Conundrums
  29. Completing a quotation Pratimala
  30. Riddles
  31. Book-binding
  32. Story-telling
  33. Quoting Classics
  34. Plaiting cane baskets
  35. Woodwork
  36. Carpentry
  37. House decoration
  38. Knowledge Stones & Gems
  39. Polishing
  40. Evaluating shape and color of stones
  41. Arboriculture
  42. Stockbreeding
  43. Teaching birds to talk
  44. Massage
  45. Sign language
  46. Understanding foreign languages
  47. Speaking regional languages
  48. Decorating chariots with flowers
  49. Observing omens
  50. Fabricating machines
  51. Developing memory
  52. Reciting texts
  53. Puns
  54. Dictionary
  55. Poetic meter
  56. Versification
  57. Cheating
  58. Disguise Vastagopanam
  59. Gambling
  60. Chess
  61. Childrens games
  62. Good manners
  63. Rules for success
  64. Physical Culture

----Forms of marriage
For many reasons, our society is a damned society. We claim that "Bharata desha" is a "Punya bhoomi". But we see so many "Papi's" around us. Giving birth to a girl child is considered extremely dangerous for the mother in many parts of India. Our marriage is a necessary evil. The evil of dowri is hanging almost everywhere in our country. Especially in the south, the Brahmin community is notorious for saving and maintaining this tradition. Not to speak of spineless grooms. Times have of course changed. 10 years ago the common dowri materials were TV, VCR, Fridge and other similar "foriegn" goods items not available at that time in India. And not to forget the scooter. Now its time for computer (probably internet-ready) and other sophisticated goods.

What does Vatsyayana say about marriage? Plenty. Plenty. For example here is a list of different forms of marriages.

Name Name in English Remarks Example
Brahma Priestly girl covered with jewels is given with nothing in return the current day dowry system
Royal Prajapatya girl is given by her father without counterpart  
Ancestral Arsha girl is exchanged for cattle  
Astral Daiva girl is given to the officiating priest during a sacrifice  
Gandharva Heavenly Musician Type love marriage without ceremony or agreement of families Romeo & Juliet. Most of the silly Indian movies belong to this category
Asura Genies girl is bought from parents  
Paisacha Incubus girls is kidnapped without her consent Ravana's kidnapping of Sita
Rakshasa Demons girl is taken as booty after her family has been destroyed in war  

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----Sciences

  1. Materialistic philosophy
  2. Archery
  3. Strategy
  4. Chariots
  5. Horses
  6. Elephants
  7. Elephant medicine
  8. Veterinary science
  9. War machines
  10. Trade
  11. Alliances
  12. Agriculture
  13. Zoology
  14. Cattle medicine
  15. Arboriculture
  16. Carpentry
  17. Athletics, body-building
  18. Interior decoration
  19. Eloquence
  20. Drawing
  21. Writing lipi
  22. Measurements mana
  23. Mineralogy dhatu
  24. Mathematics
  25. Precious stones
  26. Fortificatioins atta
  27. Tantrism
  28. Architecture
  29. Magic
  30. Executions suda
  31. Chemistry
  32. Ichthyology
  33. Ornithology
  34. Herpetology
  35. Languages
  36. Art of theiving charu
  37. Midwifery