Kama Sutra Selections

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Western University
Comparative Literature and Culture
Comparative Literature and Culture 2125A/B

Chapter One CONTENTS OF THE BOOKInvocationOrigin and development of erotic science or Kama ShastraSummary of subjects dealt with in the Kama Sutra 12 Praised be the three aims of life virtue dharma prosperity artha and love kama which are the subject of this work Why does Vatsyayana begin his work thus without invoking other gods It is in order to explain this that I have written this commentary There are four social junctions in this world namely the priests the warriors the merchants and the artisans as well as four stages of life that of the student the married man withdrawal into the forest and the mendicant monk For Brahmans and others so long as they are heads of a family the search for spiritual realization is not practicable and the aims of life are limited to three The advocates of eroticism consider that love given its results is the most important inasmuch as virtue and prosperity both depend on it and without it they would not exist According to the most ancient scholars the prophet of the Asuras Mallanaga created this science after studying its means of accomplishment Treatises have been written on the ways to acquire 15 16 PART ONE GENERAL REMARKS virtue and wealth but love being practiced with another person requires other methods methods concerning mutual relations Such methods are expounded in the Kama Shastra and not in works on economy Artha Shastra or ethics Dharma Shastra Because it depends on relations with another because it deals with men and women love requires a knowhow that is explained only in the Kama Sutra The methods indicated by erotic science are easy to put into practice but are difficult for those who act alone or who follow the opinions of someone who does not know the Kama Sutra Inventing procedures one knows nothing about is like trying to read a text from the channels traced in wood by worms its accomplishment is absolutely impossible for the ignorant Since there are so many ways of doing things townsmen cannot without instruction behave like men of culture That is the reason for the saying Those that claim to accomplish something without knowing its theory are like those who read texts traced by worms Although those that know the texts may make mistakes if they are clumsy in putting them into practice it is not the fault of the texts The texts are valid for all cases Not everyone follows the same rules of eating and drinking laid down in medical books First of all one must respect and venerate the Scriptures and try to understand their meaning before putting them into practice This is why before bowing down before the gods Vatsyayana first invokes the Scriptures in order to remove any obstacles that may hinder the composition of his work hence the opening invocation I bow before virtue wealth and love since the aim of this work is to teach virtue prosperity and eroticism which are mutually interdependent The first things mentioned are those to which one wishes to give importance says the proverb This treatise begins by mentioning love together with virtue and wealth which are the three aims of life and it teaches the means of attaining them The three aims must be pursued simultaneously since they are connected to each other and are of the same nature Although procreation is connected to ethics and material goods however erotic desire rati is an instinctive impulse and is not tied to the pursuit of an aim In considering the order of values the gods are the most important but their worship depends on speech Virtue and prosperity are defined by words The gods cannot be greeted without using words The gods supremacy moreover depends on their worshipers Love is necessary to satisfy the mind ethics to satisfy the conContents of the Book 17 science and spiritual seeking for peace of soul Without food and clothes the body becomes thin and weak Without eroticism the mind becomes restless and unsatisfied Without virtue ethics the conscience goes astray Without spirituality the soul is degraded This is why even with the spiritual life in view it is necessary to earn money and enjoy women Whoever seeks money and pleasure without taking spiritual values into account is a materialist and sensualist When people are only attached to money and pleasure the decadence of their country is inevitable Only when profit and pleasure arc controlled by ethics can they become instruments of spiritual progress but not if they are contrary to ethics That is why Master Vatsyayana in his Kama Sutra describes a moral eroticism leading to spiritual realization and not the sating of the passions or the encouragement of pleasure seekers 34 I also salute the sages of old who expounded the concepts of their own time concerning our subject I bow before the wise men who have taught us the concepts of ethics prosperity and love of their own time since such concepts are not permanent but change according to custom I therefore bow before the writings representing the values of a certain epoch and not before others The masters of old were wont to say that ethics are based on knowledge Prosperity and ethics are the cornerstones of civilization Without satisfaction of a material kind no interest is felt for the spiritual life Just as the soul needs the spiritual life the conscience needs ethics the mind love and the body requires wellbeing Without wellbeing and sexuality no form of life can exist Like ethics and prosperity sexuality is one of the bases of civilization Eroticism like ethics and money is an aid to spiritual realization The fundamental aspirations of the individual are of three kinds alimentary sexual and social To fulfill the desire for wealth procreation and reputation is the very source of happiness The Taittiriya Upanishad says that beings issued forth from bliss ananda Born of bliss all things and all living creatures live in bliss and dissolve in bliss Bliss is everything The instrument for measuring success or failure in life is happiness If something is lacking it is considered an injustice Man derives happiness from his relationship to or with things
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