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Vātsyāyana's Kama Sutra

Vātsyāyana, also spelled Vatsayana, is an ancient Indian philosopher, known for writing the Kama Sutra, the most ancient book in the world on human sexuality. He lived in India during the second or third century CE, probably in Pataliputra (modern day Patna). He is not to be confused with Pakṣilasvāmin Vātsyāyana, the author of Nyāya Sutra Bhāshya, the first preserved commentary on Gotama's Nyāya Sutras. His name is sometimes erroneously confused with Mallanaga, the prophet of the Asuras, to whom the origin of erotic science is attributed.


  • Kama is also learnt from the Kama Sutra (aphorisms on [[love) and from the practice of citizens.
    • In: "The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana: Translated from the Sanskrit. In seven parts, with preface, introduction, and concluding remarks", p. 18
  • When all three viz., Dharma, Artha, and Kama 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 be always practiced 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 to the other two, and these are exceptions to the general rule.
    • In: "The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana: Translated from the Sanskrit. In seven parts, with preface, introduction, and concluding remarks", p. 18
  • After reading and considering the works of Babhravya and other ancient authors, and thinking over the meaning of the rules given by them, this treatise [Kama Sutra] was composed, according to the precepts of the Holy Writ, for the benefit of the world,... while leading the life of a religious student at Benares, and wholly engaged in the contemplation of the Deity. This work is not to be used merely as an instrument for satisfying our desires...
  • The whole subject of embracing is of such a nature that men who ask questions about it, or who hear about it, or who talk about it, acquire thereby a desire for enjoyment. Even those embraces that are not mentioned in the Kama Shastra should be practised at the time of sexual enjoyment, if they are in any way conducive to the increase of love or passion. The rules of the Shastra apply so long as the passion of man is middling, but when the wheel of love is once set in motion, there is then no Shastra and no order.

Kama Sutra[edit]

Vatsyayna Mallanaga in: Kama Sutra, New Line Publishing, 1 January 2004

  • Man, the period of whose life is one hundred years, should practice Dharma, Artha, and Kama at different times and in such a manner that they may harmonize, 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, that is, release from further transmigration.
    • In: p. 13
  • Whatever things may be done by one of the lovers to the other, the same should be returned by the other, if she strikes him he should also strike her in return.
    • In: p. 29
  • 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.
    • In: p. 30
  • ...the semen of the female falls in the same way as that of the male.
    • In: p. 33
  • Anything may take place at any time, for love does not care for time or order.
    • In: p. 39
  • In short, nothing tends to increase love so much as the effects of marking with the nails, and biting.
    • In: p. 45
  • ...variety is necessary in love, so love is to be produced by means of variety.
    • In: p. 45
  • A man should gather from the actions of the woman of what disposition she is, and in what way she likes to be enjoyed. A man during her monthly courses, a woman who has been lately confined, and fat woman should not be made to act the part of man.
    • In: p. 50
  • Though a man loves a girl ever so much, he never succeeds in winning her without a great deal of talking.
    • In: p. 69
  • When a woman reproaches a man, but at the same time acts affectionately towards him, she should be made love to in every way. A woman, who meets a man in lonely places, and puts up with the touch of his foot, but pretends, on account of indecision of her mind, not to be aware of it, should be conquered by patience and by continued efforts.
    • In: p. 96
  • Women are hardly ever known in their true light, though they may love men, or become indifferent towards them, may give them delight, or abandon them, or may extract from them all the wealth that they possess.
    • In: p. 118

About Vātsyāyana[edit]

  • The 'Aphorisms on Love' by Vatsyayana, contains about one thousand two hundred and fifty slokas or verses, and are divided into parts, parts into chapters, and chapters into paragraphs. The whole consists of seven parts, thirty-six chapters, and sixty-four paragraphs. Hardly anything is known about the author.
  • It is impossible to fix the exact date either of the life of Vatsyayana orof his work. It is supposed that he must have lived between the first and the sixth centuries of the Christian era
  • The work being written in parts by different authors was almost unobtainable and, as the parts which were expounded by Dattaka and the others treated only of the particular branches of the subject to which each part related, and moreover as the original work of Babhravya was difficult to be mastered on account of its length, Vatsyayana, therefore, composed his work in a small volume as an abstract of the whole of the works of the above various authors.

Literary Vision[edit]

Basavaraj Naikar Literary Vision, Sarup & Sons, 1 January 2005

  • It is indeed strange that Indian critics should react to this novel so puritanically, forgetting the fact that a masterpiece of erotics i.e. Kama Sutra was produced by Vatsayana in the ancient days in India. Like all semi or fully pornographic novels, The Company of Women is widely sold, secret and publicly condemned.
    • In: p. 127
  • Sage of Sexology: A Historical Picture Kama which happens to be one of the four purusarthas of Hindu life has been systematically studied by the well-known sexologist Vatsayana. Kama Sutra has been published, read and enjoyed all over the world for its critical course on erotics.
    • In: p. 152
  • No details of Vatsayana is known except the fact that he bore the surname Mallanaga... He was a law giver like Manu or Kauitilya and was anxious to reconcile Dharma, Artha and Kama the three recognized ends of life by emphasizing their equal importance and harmonious blending, and hence it was not possible for him to reduce his work to gross sexual level as did his successors or imitators in the subsequent erotic writing.
    • In: p. 152
  • In order to convince the narrator that woman enjoys sex more intensely than man Vatsayana offers a few mythological examples. For example, Lord Shiva "on insulting a procession of barren women was cursed by the women with a change of sex. Later transformed back into his original state but now familiar with both men and women he is said to have dictated Dattaka’s text to that great teacher of erotics.
    • In: p. 163
  • ...showing the difference between men and women in their enjoyment of sex, Vatsyayan offers a good deal of information about human sexuality in general, Vatsyana offers a taxonomical picture of men and women as far as their genitals are concerned....Vatsyana talks of the hare man, the bull man and the stallion...similarly according to the width and depth of the vulva, he speaks of gazelle woman, the mare woman and the elephant woman.
    • In: p. 163-64
  • He suggests that mates should practice a variety of sexual postures in order to prevent mechanicality and predictability and to enhance the pleasure. He also points out the erotozones of a woman’s body and how different erotozones are awakened at different times according to the lunar influence.
    • In: p. 164
  • It is easy to remember the three-fold formula of success in a sexual union: size, time and temperament. Vatsayana has given his candid opinion about licking the vulva and sucking the penis. Licking the vulva is not forbidden by the acharyas or texts, if it is custom of the country...There are many countries where mouth congress is enjoyed.
    • In: p. 165
  • His travel with his father helped him to gather information about the sexual mores of different people of different parts of India and neighboring countries.
    • In: p. 165

External links[edit]

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