- Gender and Relationships
The Kama Sutra - Not Just a Sex Manual
All Temple Art; Believe it or Not
Anyone who has been to India or has read enough about India would have seen ancient Indian sculptures or pictures of them; even someone with the most rudimentary idea about India would we familiar with the Kama Sutra. If you have visited temples like Khajuraho or Konark and many others in India, you would have seen frescoes and sculpture featuring exceedingly sexual, even orgiastic postures, various sex positions, even group sex and same sex scenes.
In the old days, India faced the problem of under population (as against over population today). So the kings routinely commissioned the court sculptors to design sculptures so erotic that they acted as an aphrodisiac to encourage people to produce more babies to populate their land! Perhaps the Kama Surta had just such a beginning.
In the west, the Kama Sutra is viewed as an ancient sex manual only, which is it, but it is much more than that. It is also a book about social values, etiquette, duties, economic obligations etc. Understandably the sex manual part of this voluminous work is what has gained maximum popularity. Kama, simply put is sex, but more specifically it means enjoyment using all the five sense of touch, taste, smell, hearing and smell and enjoyment not just for the body but for the mind and spirit as well.
One part of the manual deals with sexual positions, how to embrace and kiss, foreplay (marking with nails is one chapter), role playing and even the appropriate sounds to be made! One entire segment is devoted to advice about how to acquire a wife, another segment is about other people's wives! Another segment is allocated to courtesans, how they should earn money, how to live behave and conduct themselves, how to live as a man's wife etc.
The final part of the text deals with personal adornment and love potions and other methods of making a person attractive. It also deals with methods of arousal and miscellaneous experiments. All in all I would conclude that it was a book way ahead of its times.
Some years back a film was made about the period of Indian history when the Kama Sutra was written. It was a film called Utsav and was set in the period of Vatsyayana (the author). This film was about the renowned courtesan of the time, Vasantsena; the haunting melodious songs of the film are still very popular.
Courtesans were, in those days viewed with respect, insofar as sex was viewed as an art to be learned and taught. Some parts of the film were very funny too, when Vatsayana is shown peering into various rooms of a brothel collecting material for his book.
So really sex was not talked of in hushed tones the way it is now; it was as much part of social life as anything else and the Kama Sutra perhaps best reflects this.