Reading the Kama Sutra – 7

Part the Sixth is titled simply “About Courtesans”. In six chapters, it covers – in great, broad swaths – the professional sex worker. Not just your basic everyday prostitutes, but any woman who trades sex and / or the “appearance” of love for money or goods. The high-class call girl, the “gold digger”, the “kept woman”…. All the ways women make a nice living with their beauty.

I can’t tell if this is a “How To” guide, a “What to Watch Out For” warning, or even the usual “This is How It’s Done” overview. The tone wanders all over the place, and the topics don’t seem very organized. The modern commentary notes that at the time the original texts were written, there were places where sex work was not only perfectly legal, but regulated by the government. So it makes sense for the Kama Sutra to devote some words to the “oldest profession”. Continue reading

Reading the Kama Sutra – 6

Part Four, “Duties and Privileges of the Wife”, is the shortest part. There are two chapters: “Conduct of the Only Wife” and “Conduct of the Chief Wife and Other Wives”.

The first chapter basically says that the wife should not do anything without her husband’s approval, and strive to please him in everything. Yes, that’s damned sexist. But it’s also from a cultural milieu over 1,500 years old. We’ve got no business condemning the Past for the sins of the Present.

The second chapter is a catch-all for other situations. Does the guy already have a wife? How about widows and divorced women? Or the harem of a king? It’s all on the order of “If there’s another wife or concubine, be nice and don’t make a fuss”, and “Don’t get married a lot, because then people will think you’re a whore.”

Good thing it’s the shortest section.

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Reading the Kama Sutra – 5

Part Three carries the title “Acquiring a Wife”. You can ignore the individual chapter headings; they are misleading. For example, “How to Manage Alone” does NOT have to deal with masturbation (as I suppose you were thinking); rather, it’s about how to court a wife when neither of you has a family member, friend, or servant to help you out.

Anyway, this whole section is on what can best be described as courtship and marriage. Continue reading

Reading the Kama Sutra – 4

And, well, it’s more stuff made dull by the need to make lists. Here we have a list of the possible ways to have intercourse. The first several are “How To Do It” when the partners are of different “sizes”, as described in Chapter One. I didn’t count them, but there are definitely fewer than sixty-four. There’s mention of group sex and homosexual relations, and how you can get ideas by watching animals in the wild. Note that there’s absolutely nothing about how any of the positions provide extra or special stimulation to your partner.

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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.

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Reading the Kama Sutra – 1

Way back in the mists of time, I belonged to a book club. Not one of those where a bunch of middle-aged housewives sit around talking about the latest books, but one where they sent you an actual little catalog of the discount publisher’s offerings every month.

One month, one of the highlighted offerings was The Complete Kama Sutra: The First Unabridged Modern Translation of the Classic Indian Text by Alain Daniélou. Like most of you, I’d only heard of the Kama Sutra as an erotic guide to making love. Here was a chance to actually read the darn thing, and then be able to say I’d read it.





And not just because it didn’t have any pictures. As I liked to put it, whoever wrote it had “the mind of an accountant”. Everything was in lists. From a list of the Types of Arranged Marriage to the Types of Fingernail Marks One Can Leave on Their Lover. Seriously, that was one of the lists.

It sat on my bookshelf for many a year, begging to be re-read. I shied away from it, recalling the boredom.

But now, I have this blog. And I need something to write about.

So, why not follow along with me as I have another go at it?

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