Biography of Vatsyayana

Unfortunately, very little is known about the sage Mallanaga Vatsyayana, who compiled the notes that make up the Kama Sutra. For years, scholars believed that he lived sometime between the 6th century B.C. and the 6th century A.D. (the Gupta Period in Indian civilization) - a very wide berth of time - but recently evidence has arisen that indicates that Vatsyayana wrote the Kama Sutra around 150 B.C.

The Kama Sutra does reveal that Vatsyayana lived the life of a religious student, likely in Benares, and spent his time engaged in the contemplation of the highest Deity. Scholars believe that the tone Vatsyayana takes towards youth in the Kama Sutra suggests that he likely spent many years studying religion before beginning his life's work compiling the wisdom of the sages. Indeed, Vatsyayana was less of a groundbreaking philosopher and apparently more of a diligent academician. Besides transcribing the Kama Sutra more than 300 years after the Shastras had already been passed down, he also transcribed the Nyaya Sutras, an ancient Indian text of philosophy that was composed by the buddha Gotama in the 2nd century B.C. Whereas the Kama Sutra tackles kama (or sensual pleasures), the Nyaya Sutra delineates paths for achieving moksha, or spiritual liberation from the cycle of birth and death.


Study Guides on Works by Vatsyayana

The Kama Sutra is the seminal text on love in Indian civilization - and perhaps the world - and is considered a masterpiece of Sanskrit literature. As a result of its legendary status, the Kama Sutra has achieved a place in pop mythology as a...