The Kama Sutra is an ancient Indian text on human sexual behavior, widely considered to be the standard work on love in the Sanskrit literature. The text was written by Vatsyayana. The full title of the text is vatsyayana kama sutra ("Aphorisms on Love, by Vatsyayana"). The author is believed to have lived sometime between the 1st to 6th centuries C.E, probably during the Gupta period.
The Kama Sutra contains 35 chapters, organized into seven parts, each of which are written by individual experts in the respective fields. The parts are:
Introduction (4 chapters) - on love in general, its place in a man's life, and a classification of women.
On Sexual Union (10 chapters) - an in-depth discussion of kissing, various types of foreplay, orgasm, a list of sex positions, oral sex, paraphilia, and ménage à trois.
About the Acquisition of a Wife (5 chapters) - courtship and marriage.
About a Wife (2 chapters) - proper conduct of a wife.
About the Wives of Other People (6 chapters) - mainly seduction.
About Courtesans (6 chapters).
On the Means of Attracting Others to Oneself (2 chapters).
The Kama Sutra contains a total of 64 sexual positions and depicts positions as arts. Vatsyayana believed there were eight ways of making love, multiplied by eight positions within each of these. In the book, they are known as the 64 Arts. The chapter listing sexual positions is the most well-known, and a translation (different from Burton's) is in wide circulation on the Internet. It is commonly mistaken to be the entirety of the Sutra.
However, only about 20 percent of the book is devoted to sexual positions. The remainder gives guidance on how to be a good citizen and insights into men and women in relationships. The Kama Sutra describes making love as "divine union". Vatsyayana believed that sex itself was not wrong, but doing it frivolously was sinful. The Kama Sutra has helped people enjoy the art of sex at a deeper level and can be considered a technical guide to sexual enjoyment, as well as providing insight into the sexual mores and practices of India in those times.
The most widely known English translation of the Sutra is that of Sir Richard Francis Burton in 1883. Another key translation is that of Indra Sinha, done in the 1970s. The original text was translated from Sanskrit again in 2002 by Wendy Doniger (professor of the history of religions at the University of Chicago) and Sudhir Kakar (Indian psychoanalyst and senior fellow at Center for Study of World Religions at Harvard). The book ISBN number is ISBN 0192802704.
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