The ‘Kamasutra’ is perhaps the world’s oldest treatise on sex as civilized people practice it. A remarkable document which gives insight into the social and political ethos in India 2000 years ago, the Kamasutra is more than a literary “tour divorce”. Indeed, the paucity of written material pertaining to ancient India makes the Kamasutra an important source of information for understanding the world’s oldest living civilization.
It is truly remarkable that a detailed study of sexual behavior was done about two thousand years ago. What makes this book even more unique is the fact that many of the observations made by the author, Vatsayana, have withstood the test of time.
The Kamasutra derives its name from Kamadevta, the Hindu god of love. The text, parts of which date back to the first century of the Christian Era contains about one thousand two hundred and fifty slokas or verses, which are divided into seven parts comprising thirty-six chapters.
That Kama(love/sex) and religion are two sides of the same coin is depicted with illustrations in great Hindu epics like the Mahabharata. And nothing is lift to the imagination if one views the great temples adorned with what is inaccurately labeled ‘erotic art’. It must be understood that in the Indian ethos, a very thin line divides sex and religion. In fact, the sexual escapades of the Gods are woven into the rituals and customs of the Hindu religion.
Sexually explicit sculptures are carved on Hindu temples spread across India. The most famous of these temples are of Khajurahoin Central India and Konarak on the eastern coast dating back to the tenth and thirteen century AD, respectively. In Vedic times, the goals of human life, called purusharthas, were codified. They were divided under three heads-dharma, artha, kama and collectively known as trivarga. Dharma, or righteousness, is considered the most important as if is the right conduct of worldly life in accordance to the laws of nature. Artha means collecting worldly comforts and highlights the stage of the grihasth ashram (the stage of rising a family) during which one accumulates wealth and properly.
The Kamasutra dwells on the third purushartha, viz., Kama, or sexual desire that is central to the evolution of mankind. Here the law states that intercourse should be more than just an action to procreate-maximum pleasure should be derived from it. However, it should be enjoyed in moderation.