Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana (Illustrated with Introductory and Closing Remarks) by Vatsyayana
The Kama Sutra is an ancient Indian Hindu text widely considered to be the standard work on human sexual behavior in Sanskrit literature written by Vātsyāyana. A portion of the work consists of practical advice on sexual intercourse. It is largely in prose, with many inserted anustubh poetry verses. "Kāma" which is one of the three goals of Hindu life, means sensual or sexual pleasure, and "sūtra" literally means a thread or line that holds things together, and more metaphorically refers to an aphorism (or line, rule, formula), or a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual. Contrary to popular perception, especially in the western world, Kama sutra is not just an exclusive sex manual; it presents itself as a guide to a virtuous and gracious living that discusses the nature of love, family life and other aspects pertaining to pleasure oriented faculties of human life.
The Kama Sutra is the oldest and most notable of a group of texts known generically as Kama Shastra (Sanskrit: Kāma Śāstra). Traditionally, the first transmission of Kama Shastra or "Discipline of Kama" is attributed to Nandi the sacred bull, Shiva's doorkeeper, who was moved to sacred utterance by overhearing the lovemaking of the god and his wife Parvati and later recorded his utterances for the benefit of mankind.
Historians attribute Kamasutra to be composed between 400 BCE and 200 CE. John Keay says that the Kama Sutra is a compendium that was collected into its present form in the 2nd century CE.
Vatsyayana's Kama Sutra has 1250 verses, distributed in 36 chapters, which are further organized into 7 parts. According to both the Burton and Doniger translations, the contents of the book are structured into 7 parts like the following:
1. General remarks: 5 chapters on contents of the book, three aims and priorities of life, the acquisition of knowledge, conduct of the well-bred townsman, reflections on intermediaries who assist the lover in his enterprises.
2. Amorous advances/Sexual union: 10 chapters on stimulation of desire, types of embraces, caressing and kisses, marking with nails, biting and marking with teeth, on copulation (positions), slapping by hand and corresponding moaning, virile behavior in women, superior coition and oral sex, preludes and conclusions to the game of love. It describes 64 types of sexual acts. Although Kama Sutra did not originally have illustrative images, part 2 of the work describes different sex positions.
3. Acquiring a wife: 5 chapters on forms of marriage, relaxing the girl, obtaining the girl, managing alone, union by marriage.
4. Duties and privileges of the wife: 2 chapters on conduct of the only wife and conduct of the chief wife and other wives.
5. Other men's wives: 6 chapters on behavior of woman and man, how to get acquainted, examination of sentiments, the task of go-between, the king's pleasures, behavior in the women's quarters.
6. About courtesans: 6 chapters on advice of the assistants on the choice of lovers, looking for a steady lover, ways of making money, renewing friendship with a former lover, occasional profits, profits and losses.
7. Occult practices: 2 chapters on improving physical attractions, arousing a weakened sexual power.