Vatsyayan’s Kama Sutra covers a total of sixty four arts including dancing, playing of musical instruments, singing, garland making, painting, calligraphy, cooking, sewing, looking after the infirm, and maintenance of proper hygiene to mention some of them. A girl must attain proficiency in some of them in order to become an ideal wife. While these are the general arts that need to be learned by a girl to run the household, when it comes to sex and physical relationships, Vatsyayan recommends expertise in sixteen arts that a girl must gain proficiency in, so that she and her partner can lead a harmonious and exciting marriage life. Some of them are the ability to read the partner’s mind, tacitly showing encouragement through seductive body postures, permitting the partner to fondle her body parts, be active with her mouth and nails in biting and scratching the partner’s body parts gently, art of seductive undressing, active participation in the sexual act and once done with, conceal the private parts adequately.
Other arts that Kama Sutra advocates is the ability to hold one’s partner to oneself, induce guilt in him if he has shown any neglect, turn down unfavourable and amorous advances from strangers and if need be abstain from sex for some time in order to tease the partner and test his will power.
What is the use, you may ask of knowing all these arts?
Well, the knowledge of the above arts accords character, virtue and a mystical aura to the woman and these arts are very useful especially for prostitutes and concubines. Ordinary women are able to prevent their partners from going astray. Moreover, knowledge of these arts enables widows to lead an active sexual life and they need not reconcile themselves to a life bereft of any physical relationship. A woman is able to understand her partner’s needs without the need for him to express it. Moreover, the arts which require the woman to don the aggressive partner role provide a great thrill in the sexual journey of the couple. The art of very coyly allowing the partner to explore her body infuses a current of eroticism that sparks off great passion and culminates in a very satisfying sexual episode.
The different sexual postures
Kama Sutra also refers to sixty-four postures by which physical contact can be achieved between a man and a woman. One underlying principle behind all these postures is that they should encourage conception and not abortion. The postures themselves are such that both partners feel immense joy during the sexual act and they facilitate easy sexual activity.
Kama Sutra strongly believes that physical intimacy must provide joy and pleasure without which sexual activity is meaningless. That is one of the reasons; it makes a strong case for physical compatibility as the main starting point for conjugal bliss. There is bound to be dissatisfaction in the sexual relationship if a couple is not well matched in terms of their physical structure. The Kama Sutra does provide answers in the form of innovative sexual positions to overcome such problems, but in general recommends physical compatibility between partners.
The Kama Sutra as mentioned before advocates a series of postures best suited to the body structure and size of the sex organs of the partners involved. Here’s looking at some of them.
a) Samarati or Equally Matched
When both the partners are of the same body structure, they can stretch their bodies and indulge in any kind of position for maximum sexual gratification without any problems or inconvenience.
b) Badava Asan or Cow Posture
This posture is recommended for females who are of normal body structure. However, if such a female has to facilitate the penetration of a male with a huge penis, she has to spread her thighs to the maximum to make this possible. When it comes to accommodating a male with a small sized penis, she has to contract her body to match that of her partner. In either case, it is the lubrication and wetness that is of utmost importance and that is achieved only through proper foreplay.
c) Bhugnak position
In this, the female while lying flat, raises her thighs while keeping her legs folded at the knees, which she rests on the torso of her partner, who penetrates her in a half sitting posture.
Here, the female after raising her legs rests them against the shoulders of her partner. The male while adopting a sitting position such that his knees come up to his partner’s shoulders enters her. This position causes a contraction of the sex organ of the female, making it easier for males with a small sized penis to enter.
This is a position that can be performed only if both partners are physically fit and should not be attempted by people with heart problems. Here, the female rests her folded legs on her partner’s chest, while he puts his legs on her shoulders and then enters her. It causes a significant quickening of heart beats and must be attempted only by fit couples.
Orgasm related facts
Having set the stage for hectic sexual activity, couples must know how to express the joy of having reached an orgasm. Remember, the sole objective of indulging in sex is to provide enjoyment and satisfaction to your partner and the activity itself needs to culminate in an orgasm, signifying the achievement of the objective.
This can be expressed by partners by hitting each other on the sides of the body or by biting each other. Females normally indicate that they are in the throes of an orgasm by scratching, biting or hitting their partner with their fists and palms.
At this point, partners may produce various moans and sounds including verbiage like, ‘it is killing me, stop it, leave me etc’ and these messages are actually meant to convey the opposite meaning. When things do settle down, there is silence as the partners experience deep bliss and a sense of satisfaction.
Many couples resort to change of roles after a torrid session and this time, it is the female who mounts the male and plays the dominant role. Kama Sutra recommends that the female must straight away take the initiative and actually behave like a male when adopting this posture for maximum sexual enjoyment to both the partners.
Kama sutra is not only about various sexual intercourse positions. It is a treatise on the art of living life, sourcing a good life partner, ensuring that both the partners are happy in marriage etc. The misunderstanding about Kama sutra being primarily a book about various sexual positions only stemmed from the unusual emphasis placed on a specific chapter, which discussed the various facets of sex like positions, biting, kissing, oral sex and other forms of unusual sex. Following versions of this chapter in other releases of Kama sutra went a step further and dotted the book with raunchy illustrations, there by overshadowing other useful and informative chapters in the book.
The western world was exposed to the Kama sutra through the efforts of Sir Richard Burton, who translated the original work of Vatsyayana. More than the translation, it was his attempt to publish his work in an extremely sexually repressive and moralistic Victorian period that was remarkable. This work became very popular in the year 1883 and kept getting pirated and clandestinely printed through the years till 1962, when the first formal publication got released in the UK and United States.
Kama sutra is regarded as a classic to this day due to its ability to discuss basic human emotions like lust, shyness, seduction, rejection and manipulation. In ancient India, this book was one of the three textbooks recommended in the study of human sciences, the other two being Dharma (morality/justice) and Artha (money/success). These three books were a must for every person seeking education and it is clear from this that ancient India accorded a lot of importance to not only sex education but also to the art of sensuality.
Kama sutra recognizes women as a very active participant and promotes the sexuality of women as an integral part of the whole sexual act. Vatsyayana actually devotes two full chapters to women, the sixth chapter to the courtesans and the fourth chapter to wives.
Women’s participation in Kama sutra
The unique aspect of the portrayal of women in Kama sutra is the active role that is assigned to her in the fulfillment of the sex act. She is not the passive partner at the receiving end of a man’s lust. Preliminary love which features the act of embracing the partner shows the women playing the active role on two different occasions. In the first one, she encloses her man totally and offers her inviting lips for a kiss which leads to tremendous sexual excitement in the man. The second instance shows her resting one of her feet on her man’s foot and the other on his thigh, while one of her arms is holding on to his shoulder with the other arm around his back. The posture depicts as if she is about to climb on top of him and shows her as a very active and aggressive participant. It only goes to show the stress that Kama sutra lay on the fact that a woman who enjoys sex by actively participating in foreplay can make the entire experience very thrilling for the man as well.
The Kama sutra presents women not as mere sexual objects, but as personalities with a lot of desire to enjoy sex. One of the other chapters also advocates the need for gentleness in a man when having sex with a virgin.
Kama sutra is therefore a full guide on how to enjoy one of life’s most thrilling and essential acts, while recognizing the desires and wants of women as equal partners in the journey.