Kama Sutra Summary
The Kama Sutra has seven books, and begins with a description of general principles. In the beginning, Brahma, the Lord of Beings, created men and women, and laid down rules for existence that dealt with dharma, artha, and kama. Dharma is the fulfillment of one's duty during one's life on earth, artha is the accumulation of material wealth, and kama refers to the pleasurable experience of the five senses. While many tend to discount the importance of kama, it is the goal of the Kama Sutra to guide those in the experience of sexual pleasure and the fulfillment of love. Dharma is more important than artha, and artha is more important than kama, and yet kama is often applied improperly, leading to an undue focus on it in relation to dharma and artha. The Kama Sutra says that kama should be studied not only by men, but also by women. Indeed, women should have a full knowledge of the arts and sciences, and especially those arts that are complimentary to the Kama Sutra. A full list of arts suitable for women are listed, including intellectual pastimes, useful athletics, magic, sorcery, and aphrodisiacs.
Men are divided into three classes, depending on the size of their lingam (or phallus): hare, bull, or horse. Women, meanwhile, are divided into categories based on the size of their yoni (or genitalia): deer, mare, or elephant. In order to produce an equal union, the size of a man's lingam should match that of his partner's yoni. Once a union is equal, a man and woman can begin practicing the Chatus-Shasti, or the 64 forms of sexual union, in an effort to achieve true fulfillment of pleasure. The first position is the Alinganam, or the embrace - and the final position is Adhoratam, or anal congress. The author says that which of the Chatus-Shasti is performed depends on "the liking of each individual, the generation of love, friendship, and the respect accorded to the woman."
The third book discusses betrothal and marriage. In order to bring about a marriage a man must take a kanya, or virgin maid, and both families should be called upon to assist in the matter. In addition, it should be verified with the astrologers that the union is auspicious. For the first three days after marriage, the new husband and wife should abstain from sexual pleasures. The male should build the female's confidence and gradually introduce her to the possibilities of sexual pleasure. Over the course of ten days, the man should continue to build her confidence until she is fully receptive and unafraid of sexual connection. This building of confidence is crucial, as a man must recognize the signs that indicate that a girl is not only ready for sexual connection, but that her affection has reached a sufficient point to allow him to assert his natural dominance over her.
The fourth book explains the role of the wife. There are four types of love: love that emerges by habit, love by imagination, mutual love as imagined by both parties, and love that is not defined as such by the parties, but is rather known to the outside world. A wife's main role is to keep the house functional - clean, with food on the table, well-maintained, and self-sufficient. Meals are a crucial part of a woman's duties and she should make sure to consider what her husband likes and dislikes and what things are good for him. If a wife shows folly or ill-temper, is disliked by her husband, cannot bear children, or continually births girls, the man is free to take a second wife, whom the first wife must care for like a daughter.
Book five explores the inherent nature of men and women, explaining that women tend to fall in love much harder, but not for any particular purpose. In other words, a woman will naturally shrink from a man because of the force of her love, and needs to be conquered and persistently approached in order to trust the man who would warrant such strong feelings. Men, on the other hand, tend to get indifferent when faced with rejection, and so the Kama Sutra instructs men to see it as a natural consequence of innate female resistance; it is the most persistent and devoted men who gain their true loves. The author also lays out a series of strategies a man can use to woo a female, including using friends, dootis (or go-betweens), and boastful behavior in front of the girl to show how powerful, special, or desirable he is. Most importantly, both the male and female must be attentive to the other's specific behavior in order to see how to manipulate, and likely modify their seduction. A king, however, is exempt from all of this, and is allowed to have as many wives as he wants without having to enter the whole process of seduction. If he likes a women, he can simply have her kidnapped and imprisoned on false causes in order to add her to his royal court.
The sixth book discusses the vaishika, or the courtesan. The Kama Sutra says that the courtesan is necessary in order to ensure that men have companions in times of need, or to build their confidence before they begin pursuing a wife. Some women are born courtesans, depending on their caste and status of birth, and there is no stigma to being a courtesan, as long as one behaves with decency and propriety. A courtesan must be careful to attract desirable patrons and paramours, as well as suitable protectors, to ensure her safety - but her first priority is making sure she chooses patrons who can be depended upon for monetary support. Getting money by all means is an art that has to be developed by a courtesan through manipulation and artifice, which includes flattery, lies, and elaborate game-playing. In the end, once a vaishika sees that a man is beginning to lose interest in her, she must quickly move on and end the relationship before he does so himself.
The final book is a short exploration of sexual lore, and offers a number of strategies for men and women to beautify the body in order to ensure that they are more sexually attractive. These include pastes, ointments, and oils for the body, including the genitalia. Also included are recipes for home remedies that can cure various sexual deficiencies like lack of stamina, impotence, lack of sexual ability, etc. In conclusion, the author states that an intelligent and prudent person, attending to dharma and artha and attending to kama also, without becoming the slave of his passions, obtains success in everything that he may undertake.
Kama Sutra Essays and Related Content
- Kama Sutra: Major Themes
- Kama Sutra: E-Text
- Kama Sutra: Questions
- Kama Sutra: Purchase the Novel and Related Material
- Vatsyayana: Biography
- Kama Sutra Summary
- About Kama Sutra
- Glossary of Terms
- Major Themes
- Summary and Analysis of Book 1
- Summary and Analysis of Book 2
- Summary and Analysis of Book 3
- Summary and Analysis of Book 4
- Summary and Analysis of Book 5
- Summary and Analysis of Book 6
- Summary and Analysis of Book 7
- Kama Sutra Image
- Kama Sutra Image 2
- Kama Sutra Image 3
- Kama Sutra Image 4
- Kama Sutra Image 5
- Related Links on Kama Sutra
- Suggested Essay Questions
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 1
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 2
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 3
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 4
- Author of ClassicNote and Sources