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The Kama Sutra

The literature of ancient India deals with a great number of scientific questions. According to ancient Hindu-wisdom, the life of a human serves has been described in various ways such as the theme of Astronomy, Geometry, Phonetics, Metrics, Grammar, Medicine, Politics etc and the total goal is the :

  • Dharma (the complete collection of virtuous, religious works as a basis for Families, Civilrights, Codex of Behaviour, Dharmashastra, written by Manu).

  • Artha (material possessions, earthly well-being, Arthashastra, written by Kautilya).

  • Kama (love and all its associated pleasures of the senses, Kamasutra, written by Vatsyayana).

  • Moksha 

Dharma is obedience to the command of the Shastra or Holy Writ of the Hindus to do certain things, such as the performance of sacrifices, which are not generally done, because they do not  belong to this world, and produce no visible effect and not to do other things such as eating meat, which is often done because it belongs to this world, and has visible effects. Dharma should be learnt from the Shruti (Holy Writ) and from  those conversant with it.

Artha is the acquisition of arts, land, gold, cattle, wealth, equipages and friends. It is further, the protection of what is acquired, and the increase of what is protected. Artha should be learnt from the king's officers and from merchants who may be versed  in the ways of commerce. Artha should always be first practiced by the king for the livelihood of men is to be obtained from it only.

Kama Sensuous love, emotional feeling of attachment. In ancient Indian thought is recognized as the stimulus of action and personified as the god of erotic love. This is the enjoyment of  appropriate objects by the five senses of hearing, feeling, seeing, tasting and  smelling, assisted by the mind together with the soul. The ingredient in this is a peculiar contact between the organ of sense and its object, and the consciousness of pleasure which arises from  that contact is called Kama. Kama is to be learnt from the Kama Sutra (aphorisms on love) and from the practice of citizens. When all the  three, viz. Dharma, Artha and Kama, come together, the former is better  than the one  which follows it, i.e. Dharma is better than Artha, and Artha is better than Kama.  Kama being the occupation of public women,  they should prefer it to the other two, and these are  exceptions to the general rule.

Moksha is freedom from birth and death. In Hinduism, liberation from the bondage of worldly action is based on detachment and freedom within oneself. The nearest English equivalent is salvation.

According to the Kamasutra, all of these aspects of the life of a human being, should be of equal importance, without any of these spheres taking precedence over the others. In order to attain a fulfilled and meaningful life, the striving after one goal shouldn't hamper the striving after the others. Neglecting one of these areas leads to a diminished stability and to a dangerous imbalance in man. Practicing dharma, artha and kama makes it possible to lead a meaningful and joyous life in this world and the next.

Sexuality and Erotic are seen as being important, integrated elements of the human existence - the same as eating - and apart from serving the sensual pleasures , also help mankind to propagate , just as eating keeps the body alive. The sensual pleasures of erotic and sexuality not only serve to increase the joy of life and maintain psychological balance, but aid the further development of the mental-spiritual spheres. The senses are perceived as being a refinement of the physical on a higher plane of consciousness whereby, in conclusion, sexuality and erotic contain the secret of life within them.

The Origin of the Kamasutra

According to old Indian sources, the ten thousand chapters of the Kamasutra were announced by Prjapati, an abstract deity who, for a long time, was regarded as the god of creation.

Mahadeva (the High-Deity Shiva) compiled the ten thousand chapters which in turn were compressed into five hundred chapters by Shvetaketu, a teacher of philosophy and the son of Udalaka. The Kamasutra was transcribed by Vatsyayana in the form of Sutras written in Sanskrit, the ancient Indian tongue, which even today is a living, academic language.

Sutras are directives or memory-jogs for adepts, which because they take the form of short, maxims in prose, which are difficult to understand without a commentary. We are dealing here most probably with predecessor of the teaching-books , which was handed down by word of mouth.

The treatises of Shvetaketu on which the Kamasutra was based, have been lost.
The translations from the Sanskrit which we have today, refer to recognized commentaries made in later centuries.

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Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana in English : A complete translation from the original Sanskrit by S. C. Upadhyaya.