Reading the Kama Sutra – 2

The work is divided into seven parts, each of which is divided into individual chapters. The first part is titled “General Remarks”, and serves as an introduction and background. You will note right off the bat that the original text is in a “chapter and verse” format common to a lot of religious texts. I guess it makes it easy to look things up, but it also means that the work is a LOT shorter than you’d think.

The first chapter is basically the contents of the remaining sections and chapters, with a few notes on why the topics are important enough to get special mention.

The second chapter goes a bit more into the philosophy behind the work, with a discussion of the importance of balancing Artha, Dharma, and Kama in one’s life. There’s also some talk of how this stuff is not for children; they should concentrate on getting a normal education first. Then, when they are old enough to get married, they can worry about pleasing a lover.

There’s also some notes on why this work is needed. Surely, if animals can have sex and reproduce without any problems, humans shouldn’t need any special help, right? Ah, but humans have a society with all its codes of behavior. We aren’t simple beasts boffing out in the field. We need help in learning how to do it in a proper, cultured manner.

Chapter Three, “The Acquisition of Knowledge”, touches on all the things a cultured and respectable person should know. The many arts and crafts that make a well-rounded person. There are sixty-four of them, from “Vocal Music” to “Physical Culture” (I’m guessing that’s basic physical fitness methods). I get the sense from the list that the author simply wrote down everything he could think of, without bothering to edit the list afterwards. There’s a lot of overlap; I count four things that involve decorating with flowers….

In Chapter Four, we learn that the work is intended for the upper class gentleman, one of the “idle rich”. Here we are told about making one’s home a pleasant place to be, personal care (is it really necessary to be told to wash daily and trim your hair regularly?), dining habits, etc. Then there’s stuff on parties and hanging out with friends. Nothing about earning money or working for a living, though.

Chapter Five wraps up the introduction. It goes on about the sorts of women one can have affairs with. No, not physical or personality types, but according to their station in life and relationship with the reader. Here’s another bout of listmaking. Starting with the basic classes of “virgin, widow, and whore” (the only ones it is acceptable to take as a lover), it expands to touch on having an affair with a wealthy woman to improve your position, conspiring with your lover to steal from her husband, and having a woman in the “Friend Zone”. I suppose much of this made sense at the time.

With that out of the way, it’s time for the good stuff.

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