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Readings: Sexuality

My main reading is taken from the Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, as translated in the nineteenth century by Sir Richard Burton and F F Arbuthnot. It was collected together from other material about 1700 years ago by the contemplative and sage Vatsyayana. He lived in the city of Benares, and composed the book to be easy to remember book about love. It was rooted in India society and remained relevant until the British arrived and took power. It is not simply a manual of sexual technique but about relationships, and it was also for highly intelligent, independent and unattached courtesans known as Ganikas, who supported themselves by giving the illusion of romance. A Ganika was well versed in the sciences, arts and sexual practice, these being the sixty four practices of the Kama Shastra.

This piece is taken from a section for courtesans, but to the twenty-first century reader, is translated to be about the motives and conduct of love.

The following kinds of men may he taken up with,
simply for the purpose of getting their money:

Men of independent income
Young men
Men who are free from any ties
Men who hold places of authority under the king
Men who have secured their means oflivelihood without difficulty
Men possessed of unfailing sources of income
Men who consider themselves handsome
Men who are always praising themselves
One who is a eunuch, but wishes to be thought a man
One who hates his equals
One who is naturally liberal
One who has influence with the king or his minister
One who is always fortunate
One who is proud of his wealth
One who disobeys the orders of his elders
One upon whom the members of his caste keep an eye
An only son whose father is wealthy
An ascetic who is internally troubled with desire
A brave man
A physician of the king
Previous acquaintances

On the other hand, those who are possessed of
excellent qualities are to be resorted to for the sake
of love, and fame. Such men are as follows:

Men of high birth, learned, with a good knowledge of the world, and doing the proper things at the proper times, poets, good story tellers, eloquent men, energetic men, skilled in various arts, farseeing into the future, possessed of great minds, full of perseverance, of a firm devotion, free from anger, liberal, affectionate to their parents, and with a liking for all social gatherings, skilled in completing verses begun by others and in various other sports. lice from all disease, possessed of a perfect body. strong, and not addicted to drinking, powerful in sexual enjoyment, sociable, showing love towards women and attracting their hearts to himself, but not entirely devoted to them, possessed of independent means of livelihood, free from envy, and last of all, free from suspicion. Such are the good qualities of a man.

The woman also should have the following characteristics:

She should be possessed of beauty, and amiability, with auspicious body marks. She should have a liking for good qualities in other people. as also a liking for wealth, She should take delight in sexual unions, resulting from love, and should he of a firm mind, and of the same class as the man with regard to sexual enjoyment.

She should always he anxious to acquire and obtain experience and knowledge, be free from avarice, and always have a liking for social gatherings, and for the arts.

The following are the ordinary qualities of all women:

To be possessed of intelligence, good disposition, and good manners; to he straightforward in behaviour, and to be grateful; to consider well the future before doing anything: to possess activity, to be of consistent behaviour, and to have a knowledge of the proper times and places for doing things: to speak always without meanness, loud laughter, malignity, anger, avarice, dullness, or stupidity; to have a knowledge of the Karma Sutra, and to be skilled in all the arts connected with it.

The faults of women are to he known by the absence of any of the above mentioned good qualities.

The following kinds of men are not fit to be resorted to by courtesans:

One who is consumptive; one who is sickly; one whose mouth contains worms: one whose breath smells like human excrement; one whose wife is dear to him; one who speaks harshly: one who is always suspicious; one who one is avaricious: who is pitiless; one who is a thief; one who is self-conceited: one who has a liking for sorcery; one who does not care or respect or disrespect; one who can be gained over even by his enemies by means of money; and lastly, one who is extremely bashful.

(Vatsyayana, trans. Sir Richard Burton and F F Arbuthnot (1992), Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, The promotional Reprint Company, p. 62.)