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  • Writer's pictureScarlett Demy

The Kama Sutra

Did you know that the Kama Sutra was a treatise on 64 arts in the subject of love? It was composed by the Indian philosopher Vātsyāyana with an overall aim at the cultivation of men and women in order to cultivate proper intimacy and love connections. The recommendations are not unlike the subjects of modern finishing schools among the elite studied in various societies of Europe and the Old World as well as today. Only about 20% (Only 1 out of 7 books contain the various positions) of the text is related to the Western (often edited) content we associate it with today.

While the text is not directly related to Tantra (Tantra seeks the transcendence of sexual energy), some Tantric schools recommend the initial exploration and fulfillment of the desire (Kama relates to affection, desire, sensual aspects) so as to have better practical understanding of the spiritual practices.

In the text, it highlights: “A public woman, endowed with a good disposition, beauty and other winning qualities, and also versed in the above arts, obtains the name of a Ganika, or public woman of high quality, and receives a seat of honour in an assemblage of men.... A man who is versed in these arts, who is loquacious and acquainted with the arts of gallantry, gains very soon the hearts of women, even though he is only acquainted with them for a short time.”


The 64 arts are:

1. gita - art of singing

2. vadya - art of playing on musical instruments

3. nrtya - art of dancing

4. natya - art of theatricals

5. alekhya - art of painting

6. visesakacchedya - art of painting the face and body with colored unguents and cosmetics

7. tandula-kusuma-bali-vikara - art of preparing offerings from rice and flowers

8. puspastarana - art of making a covering of flowers for a bed

9. dasana-vasananga-raga - art of applying preparations for cleansing the teeth, clothes and painting the body

10. mani-bhumika-karma - art of making the groundwork of jewels

11. sayya-racana - art of covering the bed

12. udaka-vadya - art of playing on music in water

13. udaka-ghata - art of splashing with water

14. citra-yoga - art of practically applying an admixture of colors

15. malya-grathana-vikalpa - art of designing a preparation of wreaths

16. sekharapida-yojana - art of practically setting the coronet on the head

17. nepathya-yoga - art of practically dressing in the tiring room

18. karnapatra-bhanga - art of decorating the tragus of the ear

19. sugandha-yukti - art of practical application of aromatics

20. bhusana-yojana - art of applying or setting ornaments

21. aindra-jala - art of jugglery

22. kaucumara - art of kaucumara - a kind of art

23. hasta-lagava - art of sleight of hand

24. citra-sakapupa-bhaksya-vikara-kriya - art of preparing varieties of salad, bread, cake and delicious food

25. panaka-rasa-ragasava-yojana - art of practically preparing palatable drinks and tinging draughts with red color

26. suci-vaya-karma - art of needleworks and weaving

27. sutra-krida - art of playing with thread

28. vina-damuraka-vadya - art of playing on lute and small x-shaped drum

29. prahelika - art of making and solving riddles. 29a. pratimala - art of reciting verse for verse as a trial for memory or skill.

30. durvacaka-yoga - art of practicing language difficult to be answered by others

31. pustaka-vacana - art of reciting books

32. natikakhyayika-darsana - art of enacting short plays and anecdotes

33. kavya-samasya-purana - art of solving enigmatic verses

34. pattika-vetra-bana-vikalpa - art of designing preparation of shield, cane and arrows

35. tarku-karma - art of spinning by spindle

36. taksana - art of carpentry

37. vastu-vidya - art of engineering

38. raupya-ratna-pariksa - art of testing silver and jewels

39. dhatu-vada - art of metallurgy

40. mani-raga-jnana - art of tinging jewels

41. akara-jnana - art of mineralogy

42. vrksayur-veda-yoga - art of practicing medicine or medical treatment, by herbs

43. mes-kukkuta-lavaka-yuddha-vidhi - art of knowing the mode of fighting of lambs, cocks and birds

44. suka-sarika-prapalana - art of maintaining or knowing conversation between male and female cockatoos

45. utsadana - art of healing or cleaning a person with perfumes

46. kesa-marjana-kausala - art of combing hair

47. aksara-mustika-kathana - art of talking with letters and fingers

48. mlecchita-kutarka-vikalpa - art of fabricating barbarous or foreign sophistry

49. desa-bhasa-jnana - art of knowing provincial dialects

50. puspa-sakatika-nirmiti-jnana - art of knowing prediction by heavenly voice or knowing preparation of toy carts by flowers

51. yantra-matrka - art of mechanics

52. dharana-matrka - art of the use of amulets

53. samvacya - art of conversation

54. manasikavya-kriya - art of composing verse mentally

55. kriya-vikalpa - art of designing a literary work or a medical remedy

56. chalitaka-yoga - art of practicing as a builder of shrines named after him

57. abhidhana-kosa-cchando-jnana - art of the use of lexicography and meters

58. vastra-gopana - art of concealment of cloths

59. dyuta-visesa - art of knowing specific gambling

60. akarsa-krida - art of playing with dice or magnets

61. balaka-kridanaka - art of using children's toys

62. vainayikividya - art of enforcing discipline

63. vaijayikividya - art of gaining victory

64. vaitalikividya - art of awakening with music at dawn

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