The Kama Sutra of Vatsayayana
ON THE ACQUISITION OF DHARMA, ARTHA AND KAMA
MAN, the period of whose life is one hundred years, should practise Dharma, Artha and Kama at different times and in such a manner that they may harmonize together and not clash in any way. He should acquire learning in his childhood, in his youth and middle age he should attend to Artha and Kama, and in his old age he should perform Dharma, and thus seek to gain Moksha, i.e. release from further transmigration. Or, on account of the uncertainty of life, he may practise them at times when they are enjoined to be practised. But one thing is to be noted, he should lead the life of a religious student until he finishes his education.
Dharma is obedience to the command of the Shastra or Holy Writ of the Hindoos 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.
Kama 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. But Artha should always be first practised by the king for the livelihood of men is to be obtained from it only. Again, Kama being the occupation of public women, they should prefer it to the other two, and these are exceptions to the general rule.
Some learned men say that as Dharma is connected with things not belonging to this world, it is appropriately treated of in a book; and so also is Artha, because it is practised only by the application of proper means, and a knowledge of those means can only be obtained by study and from books. But Kama being a thing which is practised even by the brute creation, and which is to be found everywhere, does not want any work on the subject.
This is not so. Sexual intercourse being a thing dependent on man and woman requires the application of proper means by them, and those means are to be learnt from the Kama Shastra. The non-application of proper means, which we see in the brute creation, is caused by their being unrestrained, and by the females among them only being fit for sexual intercourse at certain seasons and no more, and by their intercourse not being preceded by thought of any kind.
The Lokayatikas 1 say: Religious ordinances should not be observed, for they bear a future fruit, and at the same time it is also doubtful whether they will bear any fruit at all. What foolish person will give away that which is in his own hands into the hands of another? Moreover, it is better to have a pigeon today than a peacock tomorrow; and a copper coin which we have the certainty of obtaining, is better than a gold coin, the possession of which is doubtful.
It is not so. 1st. Holy Writ, which ordains the practice of Dharma, does not admit of a doubt.
2nd. Sacrifices such as those made for the destruction of enemies, or for the fall of rain, are seen to bear fruit.
3rd. The sun, moon, stars, planets and other heavenly bodies appear to work intentionally for the good of the world.
4th. the existence of this world is effected by the observance of the rules respecting the four classes of men and their four stages of life. 2
5th. We see that seed is thrown into the ground with the hope of future crops.
Vatsyayana is therefore of opinion that the ordinances of religion must be obeyed.
Those who believe that destiny is the prime mover of all things say: We should not exert ourselves to acquire wealth, for sometimes it is not acquired although we strive to get it, while at other times it comes to us of itself without any exertion on our part. Everything is therefore in the power of destiny, who is the lord of gain and loss, of success and defeat, of pleasure and pain. Thus we see that Bali 3 was raised to the throne of Indra by destiny, and was also put down by the same power, and it is destiny only that call reinstate him.
It is not right to say so. As the acquisition of every object presupposes at all events some exertion on the part of man, the application of proper means may be said to be the cause of gaining all our ends, and this application of proper means being thus necessary (even where a thing is destined to happen), it follows that a person who does nothing will enjoy no happiness.
Those who are inclined to think that Artha is the chief object to be obtained argue thus. Pleasures should not be sought for, because they are obstacles to the practice of Dharma and Artha, which are both superior to them, and are also disliked by meritorious persons. Pleasures also bring a man into distress, and into contact with low persons; they cause him to commit unrighteous deeds, and produce impurity in him; they make him regardless of the future, and encourage carelessness and levity. And lastly, they cause him to be disbelieved by all, received by none, and despised by everybody, including himself. It is notorious, moreover, that many men who have given themselves up to pleasure alone, have been ruined along with their families and relations. Thus, king Dandakya, of the Bhoja dynasty, carried off a Brahman's daughter with evil intent, and was eventually ruined and lost his kingdom. Indra, too, having violated the chastity of Ahalya, was made to suffer for it. In a like manner the mighty Kichaka, who tried to seduce Draupadi, and Ravana, who attempted to gain over Sita, were punished for their crimes. These and many others fell by reason of their pleasures. 4
This objection cannot be sustained, for pleasures, being as necessary for the existence and well being of the body as food, are consequently equally required. They are, moreover, the results of Dharma and Artha. Pleasures are, therefore, to be followed with moderation and caution. No one refrains from cooking food because there are beggars to ask for it, or from sowing seed because there are deer to destroy the corn when it is grown up.
Thus a man practising Dharma, Artha and Kama enjoys happiness both in this world and in the world to come. The good perform those actions in which there is no fear as to what is to result from them in the next world, and in which there is no danger to their welfare. Any action which conduces to the practice of Dharma, Artha and Kama together, or of any two, or even one of them, should be performed, but an action which conduces to the practice of one of them at the expense of the remaining two should not be performed.
ON THE ARTS AND SCIENCES TO BE STUDIED
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:
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.
THE LIFE OF A CITIZEN
HAVING thus acquired learning, a man, with the wealth that he may have gained by gift, conquest, purchase, deposit, 1 or inheritance from his ancestors, should become a householder, and pass the life of a citizen. 2 He should take a house in a city, or large village, or in the vicinity of good men, or in a place which is the resort of many persons. This abode should be situated near some water, and divided into different compartments for different purposes. It should be surrounded by a garden, and also contain two rooms, an outer and an inner one. The inner room should be occupied by the females, while the outer room, balmy with rich perfumes, should contain a bed, soft, agreeable to the sight, covered with a clean white cloth, low in the middle part, having garlands and bunches of flowers 3 upon it, and a canopy above it, and two pillows, one at the top, another at the bottom. There should be also a sort of couch besides, and at the head of this a sort of stool, on which should be placed the fragrant ointments for the night, as well as flowers, pots containing collyrium and other fragrant substances, things used for perfuming the mouth, and the bark of the common citron tree. Near the couch, on the ground, there should be a pot for spitting, a box containing ornaments, and also a lute hanging from a peg made of the tooth of an elephant, a board for drawing, a pot containing perfume, some books, and some garlands of the yellow amaranth flowers. Not far from the couch, and on the ground, there should be a round seat, a toy cart, and a board for playing with dice; outside the outer room there should be cages of birds, 4 and a separate place for spinning, carving and such like diversions. In the garden there should be a whirling swing and a common swing, as also a bower of creepers covered with flowers, in which a raised parterre should be made for sitting.
Now the householder, having got up in the morning and performed his necessary duties, 5 should wash his teeth, apply a limited quantity of ointments and perfumes to his body, put some ornaments on his person and collyrium on his eyelids and below his eyes, colour his lips with alacktaka, 6 and look at himself in the glass. Having then eaten betel leaves, with other things that give fragrance to the mouth, he should perform his usual business. He should bathe daily, anoint his body with oil every other day, apply a lathering substance 7 to his body every three days, get his head (including face) shaved every four days and the other parts of his body every five or ten days. 8 All these things should be done without fail, and the sweat of the armpits should also be removed. Meals should be taken in the forenoon, in the afternoon, and again at night, according to Charayana. After breakfast, parrots and other birds should be taught to speak, and the fighting of cocks, quails, and rams should follow. A limited time should be devoted to diversions with Pithamardas, Vitas, and Vidushakas, 9 and then should be taken the midday sleep. 10 After this the householder, having put on his clothes and ornaments, should, during the afternoon, converse with his friends. In the evening there should be singing, and after that the householder, along with his friend, should await in his room, previously decorated and perfumed, the arrival of the woman that may be attached to him, or he may send a female messenger for her, or go for her himself. After her arrival at his house, he and his friend should welcome her, and entertain her with a loving and agreeable conversation. Thus end the duties of the day.
The following are the things to be done occasionally as diversions or amusements:
On some particular auspicious day, an assembly of citizens should be convened in the temple of Saraswati. 12 There the skill of singers, and of others who may have come recently to the town, should be tested, and on the following day they should always be given some rewards. After that they may either be retained or dismissed, according as their performances are liked or not by the assembly. The members of the assembly should act in concert, both in times of distress as well as in times of prosperity, and it is also the duty of these citizens to show hospitality to strangers who may have come to the assembly. What is said above should be understood to apply to all the other festivals which may be held in honour of the different Deities, according to the present rules.
When men of the same age, disposition and talents, fond of the same diversions and with the same degree of education, sit together in company with public women, 13 or in an assembly of citizens, or at the abode of one among themselves, and engage in agreeable discourse with each other, such is called a Sitting in company or a social gathering. The subjects of discourse are to be the completion of verses half composed by others, and the testing the knowledge of one another in the various arts. The women who may be the most beautiful, who may like the same things that the men like, and who may have power to attract the minds of others, are here done homage to.
Men and women should drink in one another's houses. And here the men should cause the public women to drink, and should then drink themselves, liquors such as the Madhu, Aireya, Sara and Asawa, which are of bitter and sour taste; also drinks concocted from the barks of various trees, wild fruits and leaves.
Going to Gardens or Picnics
In the forenoon, men having dressed themselves should go to gardens on horseback, accompanied by public women and followed by servants. And having done there all the duties of the day, and passed the time in various agreeable diversions, such as the fighting of quails, cocks and rams, and other spectacles, they should return home in the afternoon in the same manner, bringing with them bunches of flowers, etc.
The same also applies to bathing in summer in water from which wicked or dangerous animals have previously been taken out, and which has been built in on all sides.
Other Social Diversions
Spending nights playing with dice. Going out on moonlight nights. Keeping the festive day in honour of spring. Plucking the sprouts and fruits of the mango trees. Eating the fibres of lotuses. Eating the tender ears of corn. Picnicing in the forests when the trees get their new foliage. The Udakakashvedika or sporting in the water. Decorating each other with the flowers of some trees. Pelting each other with the flowers of the Kadamba tree, and many other sports which may either be known to the whole country, or may be peculiar to particular parts of it. These and similar other amusements should always be carried on by citizens.
The above amusements should be followed by a person who diverts himself alone in company with a courtesan, as well as by a courtesan who can do the same in company with her maid servants or with citizens.
A Pithamarda 14 is a man without wealth, alone in the world, whose only property consists of his Mallika, 15 some lathering substance and a red cloth, who comes from a good country, and who is skilled in all the arts; and by teaching these arts is received in the company of citizens, and in the abode of public women.
A Vita 16 is a man who has enjoyed the pleasures of fortune, who is a compatriot of the citizens with whom he associates, who is possessed of the qualities of a houseliolder, who has his wife with him, and who is honoured in the assembly of citizens and in the abodes of public women, and lives on their means and on them. A Vidushaka 17 (also called a Vaihasaka, i.e. one who provokes laughter) is a person only acquainted with some of the arts, who is a jester, and who is trusted by all.
These persons are employed in matters of quarrels and reconciliations between citizens and public women.
This remark applies also to female beggars, to women with their heads shaved, to adulterous women, and to public women skilled in all the various arts.
Thus a citizen living in his town or village, respected by all, should call on the persons of his own caste who may be worth knowing. He should converse in company and gratify his friends by his society, and obliging others by his assistance in various matters, he should cause them to assist one another in the same way.
There are some verses on this subject as follows:
'A citizen discoursing, not entirely in the Sanscrit language, 18 nor wholly in the dialects of the country, on various topics in society, obtains great respect. The wise should not resort to a society disliked by the public, governed by no rules, and intent on the destruction of others. But a learned man living in a society which acts according to the wishes of the people, and which has pleasure for its only object is highly respected in this world.'
ABOUT THE KINDS OF WOMEN RESORTED TO BY THE CITIZENS, AND OF FRIENDS AND MESSENGERS
WHEN Kama is practised by men of the four castes according to the rules of the Holy Writ (i.e. by lawful marriage) with virgins of their own caste, it then becomes a means of acquiring lawful progeny and good fame, and it is not also opposed to the customs of the world. On the contrary the practice of Kama with women of the higher castes, and with those previously enjoyed by others, even though they be of the same caste, is prohibited. But the practice of Kama with women of the lower castes, with women excommunicated from their own caste, with public women, and with women twice married, 1 is neither enjoined nor prohibited. The object of practising Kama with such women is pleasure only.
Nayikas, 2 therefore, are of three kinds, viz. maids, women twice married, and public women. Gonikaputra has expressed an opinion that there is a fourth kind of Nayika, viz. a woman who is resorted to on some special occasion even though she be previously married to another. These special occasions are when a man thinks thus:
This woman is self-willed, and has been previously enjoyed by many others besides myself. I may, therefore, safely resort to her as to a public woman though she belongs to a higher caste than mine, and, in so doing, I shall not be violating the ordinances of Dharma.
This is a twice-married woman and has been enjoyed by others before me; there is, therefore, no objection to my resorting to her.
This woman has gained the heart of her great and powerful husband, and exercises a mastery over him, who is a friend of my enemy; if, therefore, she becomes united with me she will cause her husband to abandon my enemy.
This woman will turn the mind of her husband, who is very powerful, in my favour, he being at present disaffected towards me, and intent on doing me some harm.
By making this woman my friend I shall gain the object of some friend of mine, or shall be able to effect the ruin of some enemy, or shall accomplish some other difficult purpose.
By being united with this woman, I shall kill her husband, and so obtain his vast riches which I covet.
The union of this woman with me is not attended with any danger, and will bring me wealth, of which, on account of my poverty and inability to support myself, I am very much in need. I shall therefore obtain her vast riches in this way without any difficulty.
This woman loves me ardently, and knows all my weak points; if therefore, I am unwilling to be united with her, she will make my faults public, and thus tarnish my character and reputation. Or she will bring some gross accusation against me, of which it may be hard to clear myself, and I shall be ruined. Or perhaps she will detach from me her husband who is powerful, and yet under her control, and will unite him to my enemy, or will herself join the latter.
The husband of this woman has violated the chastity of my wives, I shall therefore return that injury by seducing his wives.
By the help of this woman I shall kill an enemy of the king, who has taken shelter with her, and whom I am ordered by the king to destroy.
The woman whom I love is under the control of this woman. I shall, through the influence of the latter, be able to get at the former.
This woman will bring to me a maid, who possesses wealth and beauty, but who is hard to get at, and under the control of another.
Or lastly thus:
My enemy is a friend of this woman's husband, I shall therefore cause her to join him, and will thus create an enmity between her husband and him.
For these and similar other reasons the wives of other men may be resorted to, but it must be distinctly understood that is only allowed for special reasons, and not for mere carnal desire.
Charayana thinks that under these circumstances there is also a fifth kind of Nayika, viz. a woman who is kept by a minister, or who repairs to him occasionally; or a widow who accomplishes the purpose of a man with the person to whom she resorts.
Suvarnanabha adds that a woman who passes the life of an ascetic and in the condition of a widow may be considered as a sixth kind of Nayika.
Ghotakamukha says that the daughter of a public woman, and a female servant, who are still virgins, form a seventh kind of Nayika.
Gonardiya puts forth his doctrine that any woman born of good family, after she has come of age, is an eighth kind of Nayika.
But these four latter kinds of Nayikas do not differ much from the first four kinds of them, as there is no separate object in resorting to them. Therefore, Vatsyayana is of opinion that there are only four kinds of Nayikas, i.e. the maid, the twice-married woman, the public woman, and the woman resorted to for a special purpose.
The following women are not to be enjoyed:
The followers of Babhravya say that any woman who has been enjoyed by five men is a fit and proper person to be enjoyed. But Gonikaputra is of opinion that even when this is the case, the wives of a relation, of a learned Brahman and of a king should be excepted.
The following are of the kind of friends:
These friends should possess the following qualities:
Charayana says that citizens form friendship with washermen, barbers, cowherds, florists, druggists, betel-leaf sellers, tavern keepers, beggars, Pithamardas, Vitas and Vidushekas, as also with the wives of all these people.
A messenger should possess the following qualities:
And this part ends with a verse:
'The man who is ingenious and wise, who is accompanied by a friend, and who knows the intentions of others, as also the proper time and place for doing everything, can gain over, very easily, even a woman who is very hard to be obtained.'
1 Dharma is acquisition of religious merit, and is fully described in Chapter 5, volume III, of Talboys Wheeler's History of India, and in the edicts of Asoka.
2 Artha is acquisition of wealth and property, etc.
3 Kama is love, pleasure and sensual gratification. These three words are retained throughout in their original, as technical terms. They may also be defined as virtue, wealth and pleasure, the three things repeatedly spoken of in the Laws of Manu.
1 These were certainly materialists who seemed to think that a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush.
2 Among the Hindoos the four classes of men are the Brahmans or priestly class, the Kshutrya or warlike class, the Vaishya or agricultural and mercantile class, and the Shoodra or menial class. The four stages of life are, the life of a religious student, the life of a householder, the life of a hermit, and the life of a Sunyasi or devotee.
3 Bali was a demon who had conquered Indra and gained his throne, but was afterwards overcome by Vishnu at the time of his fifth incarnation.
4 Dandakya is said to have abducted from the forest the daughter of a Brahman, named Bhargava, and, being cursed by the Brahman, was buried with his kingdom under a shower of dust. The place was called after his name the Dandaka forest, celebrated in the Bamayana, but now unknown.
Ahalya was the wife of the sage Gautama. Indra caused her to believe that he was Gautama, and thus enjoyed her. He was cursed by Gautama and subsequently afflicted with a thousand ulcers on his body.
Kichaka was the brother-in-law of King Virata, with whom the Pandavas had taken refuge for one year. Kichaka was killed by Bhima, who assumed the disguise of Draupadi. For this story the Mahabarata should be referred to.
The story of Ravana is told in the Ramayana, which with the Mahabarata form the two great epic poems of the Hindoos; the latter was written by Vyasa, and the former by Valmiki.
1 The author wishes to prove that a great many things are done by people from practice and custom, without their being acquainted with the reason of things, or the laws on which they are based, and this is perfectly true.
2 The proviso of being married applies to all the teachers.
1 Gift is peculiar to a Brahman, conquest to a Kshatrya, while purchase, deposit, and other means of acquiring wealth belongs to the Vaishya.
2 This term would appear to apply generally to an inhabitant of Hindoostan. it is not meant only for a dweller in a city, like the Latin Urbanus as opposed to Rusticus.
3 Natural garden flowers.
4 Such as quails, partridges, parrots, starlings, etc.
5 The calls of nature are always performed by the Hindoos the first thing in the morning.
6 A colour made from lac.
7 This would act instead of soap, which was not introduced until the rule of the Mahomedans.
8 Ten days are allowed when the hair is taken out with a pair of pincers.
9 These are characters generally introduced in the Hindoo drama; their characteristics will be explained further on.
10 Noonday sleep is only allowed in summer, when the nights are short.
11 These are very common in all parts of India.
12 In the 'Asiatic Miscellany', and in Sir W. Jones's works, will be found a spirited hymn addressed to this goddess, who is adored as the patroness of the fine arts, especially of music and rhetoric, as the inventress of the Sanscrit language, etc. etc. She is the goddess of harmony, eloquence and language, and is somewhat analogous to Minerva. For farther information about her, see Edward Moor's Hindoo Pantheon.
13 The public women, or courtesans (Vesya), of the early Hindoos have often been compared with the Hetera of the Greeks. The subject is dealt with at some length in H. H. Wilson's Select Specimens of the Theatre of the Hindoos, in two volumes, Trubner and Co., 1871. It may be fairly considered that the courtesan was one of the elements, and an important element too, of early Hindoo society, and that her education and intellect were both superior to that of the women of the household. Wilson says, 'By the Vesya or courtesan, however, we are not to understand a female who has disregarded the obligation of law or the precepts of virtue, but a character reared by a state of manners unfriendly to the admission of wedded females into society, and opening it only at the expense of reputation to women who were trained for association with men by personal and mental acquirements to which the matron was a stranger.'
14 According to this description a Pithamarda would be a sort of professor of all the arts, and as such received as the friend and confidant of the citizen
15 A seat in the form of the letter T.
16 The Vita is supposed to represent somewhat the character of the Parasite of the Greek comedy. It is possible that he was retained about the person of the wealthy and dissipated as a kind of private instructor, as well as an entertaining companion.
17 Vidushaka is evidently the buffoon and jester. Wilson says of him that he is the humble companion, not the servant, of a prince or man of rank, and it is a curious peculiarity that he is always a Brahman. He bears more affinity to Sancho Panza, perhaps than any other character in western fiction, imitating him in his combination of shrewdness and simplicity, his fondness of good living and his love of ease. In the dramas of intrigue he exhibits some of the talents of Mercury, but with less activity and ingenuity, and occasionally suffers by his interference. According to the technical definition of his attributes he is to excite mirth by being ridiculous in person, age, and attire.
18 This means, it is presumed, that the citizen should be acquainted with several languages. The middle part of this paragraph might apply to the Nihilists and Fenians of the day, or to secret societies. It was perhaps a reference to the Thugs.
1 This term does not apply to a widow, but to a woman who has probably left her husband, and is living with some other person as a married woman, maritalement, as they say in France.
2 Any woman fit to be enjoyed without sin. The object of the enjoyment of women is twofold, viz. pleasure and progeny. Any woman who can be enjoyed without sin for the purpose of accomplishing either the one or the other of these two objects is a Nayika. The fourth kind of Nayika which Vatsya admits further on is neither enjoyed for pleasure or for progeny, but merely for accomplishing some special purpose in hand. The word Nayika is retained as a technical term throughout.