Indian Sastras almost universally lay down three/four aims of life for a normal human being. These, consisting of Artha, Dharma and Kama, are called Trivarga and to these a fourth, Moksa which is dependent upon the proper performance of the preceding three, has been added by Vatsyayana. The sages, from the earliest times have devoted themselves to the formulation of the maxims and norms for each of these aims of life. Therefore the treatment of Kamasastra or Erotics also received their serious attention. As a consequence even in the Rgveda (X. 129, 4-5), besides a glorification of spiritual exaltation, this aspect of human life has not been ignored. In fact there is a frank recognition of sexuality as the most powerful impulse of human mind. This impulse of Kama has been described as the 'first seed of mind', the first impulse for creation. Even the cosmogenic principles themselves are spoken of as both male and female, as impregnators and receptive powers, as 'energy below and impulse above'. Thus, in this cosmic conception of Kama we have the earliest acknowledgement in the world literature of sex-desire in an individualized form as the primal source of all existence. Even the act of consummation has been openly described in the Wedding Hymn of Rgveda (X. 85, 37).
In the later literature Kama become personified as a god of love. One of the Atharvanic spells (III. 25) mentions the arrows of this god with which he pierces the human hearts. These arrows are winged with pains, barbed with longing and shafted with desire. Erotic imagery is freely used in the subsequent Brahmanic and Upanisadic literature as well. The Satapatha Brahman, in a systematic manner says that the fire-altar, who is a woman (yoga) and the fire being her man (vrsan), should be constructed in shapely elegance, that is, broad about the sides, narrow between the shoulders and contracted in the middle. These and numerous such mentions clearly illustrate the obsession with the sexual imagery even in descriptions religious and ritualistic practices.
However, although the power of sex to enthrall and disturb is fully recognized in the Vedic literature, yet it is usually subservient to religious theory and practice. The Vedic Gods are, as a rule, sexually moral and scarcely any erotic word or act is ascribed to them. But in the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad we find for the first time the sex problem beginning to occupy the attention of the sages. This Upanisad loftily declares that sex-desire stands on the same level as any other desire. It also gives a brief exposition of the mystery of sex relationship by Pravahana Jabali of the Pancala country who is sought for instructions by Uddalaka Aruni at the instance of his inquisitive son Svetaketu. The discourse here represents the sexual act, for which woman is said to have been created by Prajapati. Rules are also given for approaching a woman, for dealing with the lover of one's own wife and for obtaining desirable progeny. It is interesting to note that the passage (Brih. Up. VI. 4, 4) distinctly refers to Uddalaka Aruni as one of the former teachers of the Erotic science and that its knowledge is associated with Pancala country to which both Pravahana Jabali and Uddalaka Aruni belonged.
Many centuries later, the first systematic work on Indian Erotics that we possess, written by Vatsyayana, confirms the tradition by naming Auddalaki Svetaketu as the first human founder of Kamasastra and indicates the Pancala country as its original venue by connecting therewith another of its original teachers Babhravya. It is probable that Auddalaki Svetaketu further developed the rudiments of knowledge which he had received from his father Uddalaka Aruni on the basis of Pravahana Jaibali's teachings and made the Pancala country a centre of its specialized instruction.
From all this discussion it would appear that the Kama-sastra, like any other Sastra, arose in very close connection with religion and religious practice. The knowledge of the mysteries of love may be deemed excluded by the austerity of religious practices, but there was a possible connection, partly through eroticism involved in certain Vedic rites, and partly through consideration of questions relating to conception and procreation in certain ceremonies, the esoteric knowledge of which is foreshadowed in the Birth. Up. And the Asvalayana Grhya Sutra (I. 13, 1), besides many other Brahmanas and Upanisads. Thus one thing is clear that whatever might have been the cause, the subject was never tabooed, and we actually find a glimpse of the dim beginnings of Kamasastra within the Vedic Schools, the holy Svetaketu becoming in course of time a recognized authority.
The Sastras of Artha and Kama, wealth and love, more than that of Dharma or duty, would naturally spread beyond the narrow groups of ritualistic thinkers and become more thoroughly secularized and specialized with a greater appreciation of the realities of life. It is possible to assume that there must have been a time when primitive Kamasastra was studied and taught quite as seriously in the same schools as the other Sastras in their primitive form, to reconcile the three recognized aims of life by emphasizing their equal importance and harmonious blending. Strangely enough this is the position in most of the highly civilized societies today. The sex-education imparted to young children in most of the developed western countries is meant to acquaint them with the subtleties of sex life and thus equip them for better adjustment in their marital life later. Vatsyayana, author of the famous Kama-sutras, claims that he has not imagined Kama under of the cover of Dharma, and assures that if he has spoken attractively of things which inflame desire it is because his subject demanded it. He, however, concludes that he has composed it with the deepest thought and utmost purity of life for the good of the world and not for libidinous purposes. (Cf. Ibid. VII. 2, 54ff.).
Vatsyayana does not claim to be the first author of the subject. He ascribed the first formulation of this discipline to Prajapati or the Creator, and thus claims a divine provenance for the subject, Thereafter he tells us that Auddalaki Svetaketu, a vedic sage, first gave an exposition in five hundred chapters, which Pancala Babhravya condensed into a hundred and fifty chapters under definite Sections, namely General Principles (Sadharana), Sexual Unions (Samprayogika), Courtship and Marriage (Kanya-samprayogika), the Wife (Bharyadhikarika), Wives of other People (Paradarika): the Prostitute (Vaisika) and Secret Lore of Extraneous Stimulation (Aupanisadika). Of these topics, Dattaka, at the request of the courtesans of Pataliputra, chose the sixth (Vaisika) section as his special subject and wrote a treatise on it. His example was followed by Carayana, and Kucumara, each of whom wrote a monograph on one of the remaining subjects in the order given above. In view of the fractional and specialized nature of separate treatises of these ancient authorities and the difficulty of mastering Babhravya's extensive work as a whole, the Sastras were getting lost. Under these circumstances Vatsyayana undertook to write a comprehensive compendium containing all the seven sections of Babhravya's work within a reasonable dimension. That the predecessors of Vatsyayana were not mythical names, but learned and respectable persons is established from various other independent source. Both Vatsyayana and his commentator Yasodhara of 13th century, cite and amply quote from these early authorities (Cf. Ks. II. 1, 25; 2, 4-5 V. 4, 31; VI. 6, 36; VII. 2,56, etc.). Thus there can be no doubt that Vatyayana's work draws upon and fixes a floating mass of traditional material arranged them in a methodical form in seven sections on the accepted model of Babhravya's original treatise.
The Kamasutra, in course of time, became such a definitive treatise that it eclipsed all previous works, which unfortunately were getting extinct, and as the position stands today, Kama Sutra is the oldest existing work on Erotics in India, and no work prior to it is known to exist even in any other language of the world. Hence it would be no exaggeration to say that Erotics as a Science and Art found its earliest recognition and exposition in India and from here it may have traveled to different parts of the world.
However, after Kamasutra, numerous other works were written and some of them have their own importance and authenticity. Rati Rahasya of Kokkoka is perhaps the earliest such work after Kamasutra. It professes to follow Vatsyayana closely but also claims to have used Nandikesvara and Gonikaputra. Nagarasarvasva of Padmasri, Pancasayaka of Maithila Jyotirisvara, Anangaranga of Kallyanamalla, Ratiratnaprdipika of Maharaja Devaraja, Ratimanjari of Jayadeva, Kandarpacudamani of King Virabhadra are some other important works written after Ratirahasya and have their own significance. In addition to these there are several other smaller works on the subject of which some are published while many others still remain unpublished.
All this discussion would reveal that Erotics had never been a neglected subject. Besides the treatment given to it makes it both an Art and a Science, and non of the classical works could be branded as vulgar or obscene. However, with an exception of a few, these ancient works are not available and translations in English are confined only to the Kamasutra, Ratirahasya and Anangaranga. Therefore I have tried to assemble all the information contained in the works mentioned and describe their technical terms on the basis of all the extant Texts whether published or unpublished and refer each description to its original source. Thus the entire range of material of this science has been incorporated in the present Encyclopedia and discussed in an authentic and fairly comprehensive manner. It would thus be found that most of the classical matter, now being not available and with an exception of the three mentioned about none ever translated in English this work alone contains all the material from Texts presented for the first time in English.
To avoid obscenity I have deliberately avoided pictures. Moreover, I wanted to present all the matter bearing on the subject in an authentic manner and provide more of mental food than visual. How far I have succeeded is now left to the judgment and evaluation of the readers.
Original Tantric Texts (23)
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