History of Sex Manuals The Kama Sutra Part 1

About the history of the Kama Sutra, history, overview and advice from the sexual manual.

The Development of the Sex Manual

KAMA SUTRA (100 A.D.-500 A.D.)

Instructor: Vatsyayana Mallanaga (dates unknown). Mallanaga was a religious student and poet of the Vatsyayana sect in India. During his time rulers had harems, seducing virgins was often an acceptable sport among the male elite and temple walls were polished in order to reflect the beautiful women that passed by. It was a sensual though not licentious age, in which women, appreciated for their orgasmic capacity, were nonetheless subservient to men. Many practices, such as anal intercourse and oral-genital gratification, were considered inferior and were used only by the lower castes. Mallanaga did not create the Kama Sutra (verses of Kama, god of love) alone; the book is a compilation of Sanskrit literature from previous centuries combined with contemporary ideas.

Overview: Far more than a sex manual, the Kama Sutra, directed at the young Indian bon vivant, gives advice on everything from etiquette to house furnishings. Its 64 practices make up a curriculum of arts, skills, and information recommended for the well-bred person: tattooing, calligraphy, fencing, cooking, solving riddles, knowledge of mining, practicing sleight of hand, the science of war, teaching a parrot to talk, and more. It tells how to choose a mate, obtain power and wealth through love, make love, seduce women, use aphrodisiacs and artificial stimulation.

Much is prescriptive. The forbidden is explicated; for example, a man should not make love with a leper, a friend, or a woman who cannot keep a secret. The women of Abhira enjoy oral intercourse, the book states, but it also notes that fellatio and cunnilingus are low-level practices. Though Mallanaga recommends ways of hitting women to achieve sexual pleasure for both partners, he cautions against "dangerous, painful, and barbarous" variations, such as using scissors--once tried by a ruler who accidentally killed his wife in an excess of passion.

The aphrodisiacs of the Kama Sutra have questionable efficacy. For example, it is doubtful that throwing vajnasubhi powder mixed with monkey dung over a virgin will keep her from marrying anyone else. Some artificial devices in the book could be downright dangerous (e.g., piercing the penis like an earlobe so that it can hold various adornments).

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