The Kama Sutra of Work: Why Work is the New Sex and How to Make Sure Youre Getting Enough

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The new normal

This first European edition by Burton does not faithfully reflect much in the Kamasutra because he revised the collaborative translation by Bhagavanlal Indrajit and Shivaram Parashuram Bhide with Forster Arbuthnot to suit 19th-century Victorian tastes. The original composition date or century for the Kamasutra is unknown. For these reasons, she dates the Kama sutra to the second half of the 3rd-century CE. The place of its composition is also unclear. The likely candidates are urban centers of north or northwest ancient India, alternatively in the eastern urban Pataliputra now Patna.

Vatsyayana Mallanaga is its widely accepted author because his name is embedded in the colophon verse, but little is known about him. This suggests he lived before the 5th-century CE. The Hindu tradition has the concept of the Purusharthas which outlines "four main goals of life". Each of these pursuits became a subject of study and led to prolific Sanskrit and some Prakrit languages literature in ancient India. Along with Dharmasastras, Arthasastras and Mokshasastras, the Kamasastras genre have been preserved in palm leaf manuscripts.

The Kamasutra belongs to the Kamasastra genre of texts. Other examples of Hindu Sanskrit texts on sexuality and emotions include the Ratirahasya called Kokashastra in some Indian scripts , the Anangaranga , the Nagarasarvasva , the Kandarpachudmani , and the Panchasayaka. He makes a passing mention of the fourth aim of life in some verses. The earliest foundations of the kamasutra are found in the Vedic era literature of Hinduism. Auddalaki is an early Upanishadic rishi scholar-poet, sage , whose ideas are found in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad such as in section 6.

Among with other ideas such as Atman self, soul and the ontological concept of Brahman , these early Upanishads discuss human life, activities and the nature of existence as a form of internalized worship, where sexuality and sex is mapped into a form of religious yajna ritual sacrificial fire, Agni and suffused in spiritual terms: [41]. A fire — that is what a woman is, Gautama. Her firewood is the vulva, her smoke is the pubic hair, her flame is the vagina, when one penetrates her, that is her embers, and her sparks are the climax.

In that very fire the gods offer semen, and from that offering springs a man.

According to the Indologist De, a view with which Doniger agrees, this is one of the many evidences that the kamasutra began in the religious literature of the Vedic era, ideas that were ultimately refined and distilled into a sutra -genre text by Vatsyayana.

Human relationships, sex and emotional fulfillment are a significant part of the post-Vedic Sanskrit literature such as the major Hindu epics: the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. The ancient Indian view has been, states Johann Meyer, that love and sex are a delightful necessity.

Though she is reserved and selective, "a woman stands in very great need of surata amorous or sexual pleasure ", and "the woman has a far stronger erotic disposition, her delight in the sexual act is greater than a man's". The Kamasutra manuscripts have survived in many versions across the Indian subcontinent. While attempting to get a translation of the Sanskrit kama-sastra text Anangaranga that had already been widely translated by the Hindus in regional languages such as Marathi, associates of the British Orientalist Richard Burton stumbled into portions of the Kamasutra manuscript.

They commissioned the Sanskrit scholar Bhagvanlal Indraji to locate a complete Kamasutra manuscript and translate it. Indraji collected variant manuscripts in libraries and temples of Varanasi, Kolkata and Jaipur. Burton published an edited English translation of these manuscripts, but not a critical edition of the Kamasutra in Sanskrit.

According to S. Upadhyaya, known for his scholarly study and a more accurate translation of the Kamasutra , there are issues with the manuscripts that have survived and the text likely underwent revisions over time. Vatsyayana's Kama Sutra states it has verses, distributed over 36 chapters in 64 sections, organised into 7 books.

The Kamasutra uses a mixture of prose and poetry, and the narration has the form of a dramatic fiction where two characters are called the nayaka man and nayika woman , aided by the characters called pitamarda libertine , vita pander and vidushaka jester. This format follows the teachings found in the Sanskrit classic named the Natyasastra. In any period of life in which one of the elements of the trivarga — dharma, artha, kama — is the primary one, the other two should be natural adjuncts of it.

Under no circumstances, any one of the trivarga should be detrimental to the other two. Across human cultures, states Michel Foucault, "the truth of sex" has been produced and shared by two processes. One method has been ars erotica texts, while the other has been the scientia sexualis literature. The first are typically of the hidden variety and shared by one person to another, between friends or from a master to a student, focusing on the emotions and experience, sans physiology. These bury many of the truths about sex and human sexual nature.

It discusses, in its distilled form, the physiology, the emotions and the experience while citing and quoting prior Sanskrit scholarship on the nature of kama. The Kamasutra is a " sutra "-genre text consisting of intensely condensed, aphoristic verses. Doniger describes them as a "kind of atomic string thread of meanings", which are so cryptic that any translation is more like deciphering and filling in the text.


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In the colonial era marked by sexual censorship, the Kamasutra became famous as a pirated and underground text for its explicit description of sex positions. The stereotypical image of the text is one where erotic pursuit with sexual intercourse include improbable contortionist forms. It is also a psychological treatise that presents the effect of desire and pleasure on human behavior. For each aspect of Kama , the Kamasutra presents a diverse spectrum of options and regional practices.

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According to Shastri, as quoted by Doniger, the text analyses "the inclinations of men, good and bad", thereafter it presents Vatsyayana's recommendation and arguments of what one must avoid as well as what to not miss in experiencing and enjoying, with "acting only on the good". The text, according to Doniger, clearly states "that a treatise demands the inclusion of everything, good or bad", but after being informed with in-depth knowledge, one must "reflect and accept only the good".

The approach found in the text is one where goals of science and religion should not be to repress, but to encyclopedically know and understand, thereafter let the individual make the choice. The 3rd-century text includes a number of themes, including subjects such as flirting that resonate in the modern era context, states a New York Times review. In the party, a poem should be read with parts missing, and the guests should compete to creatively complete the poem. The boy should dive into the water away from the girl he is interested in, then swim underwater to get close to her, emerge out of the water and surprise her, touch her slightly and then dive again, away from her.

Book 3 of the Kamasutra is largely dedicated to the art of courtship with the aim of marriage. The book's opening verse declares marriage to be a conducive means to "a pure and natural love between the partners", states Upadhyaya. It suggests involving one's friends and relatives in the search, and meeting the current friends and relatives of one's future partner prior to the marriage.

Vatsyayana recommends, states Alain Danielou, that "one should play, marry, associate with one's equals, people of one's own circle" who share the same values and religious outlook. It is more difficult to manage a good, happy relationship when there are basic differences between the two, according to verse 3.

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Vatsyayana's Kamasutra describes intimacy of various forms, including those between lovers before and during sex. For example, the text discusses eight forms of alingana embrace in verses 2. The last four are forms of embrace recommended by Vatsyayana to increase pleasure during foreplay and during sexual intimacy. Vatsyayana cites earlier — now lost — Indian texts from the Babhraya's school, for these eight categories of embraces.

The Kama Sutra of Work

The various forms of intimacy reflect the intent and provide means to engage a combination of senses for pleasure. For instance, according to Vatsyayana the lalatika form enables both to feel each other and allows the man to visually appreciate "the full beauty of the female form", states S. Some sexual embraces, not in this text, also intensify passion; these, too, may be used for love-making, but only with care.

The territory of the text extends only so far as men have dull appetites; but when the wheel of sexual ecstasy is in full motion, there is no textbook at all, and no order. Another example of the forms of intimacy discussed in the Kamasutra includes chumbanas kissing.


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  • Vatsyayana also mentions variations in kissing cultures in different parts of ancient India. During sex, the text recommends going with the flow and mirroring with abhiyoga and samprayoga. Other techniques of foreplay and sexual intimacy described in the kamasutra include various forms of holding and embraces grahana , upaguhana , mutual massage and rubbing mardana , pinching and biting, using fingers and hands to stimulate karikarakrida , nadi-kshobana , anguli-pravesha , three styles of jihva-pravesha french kissing , and many styles of fellatio and cunnlingus.

    The Kamasutra , states the Indologist and Sanskrit literature scholar Ludo Rocher , discourages adultery but then devotes "not less than fifteen sutras 1. According to Doniger, the Kamasutra teaches adulterous sexual liaison as a means for a man to predispose the involved woman in assisting him, as a strategic means to work against his enemies and to facilitate his successes. It also explains the signs and reasons a woman wants to enter into an adulterous relationship and when she does not want to commit adultery. The Kamasutra has been one of the unique sources of sociological information and cultural milieu of ancient India.

    It shows a "near total disregard of class varna and caste jati ", states Doniger. In the pages of the Kamasutra , lovers are "not upper-class" but they "must be rich" enough to dress well, pursue social leisure activities, buy gifts and surprise the lover. In the rare mention of caste found in the text, it is about a man finding his legal wife and the advice that humorous stories to seduce a woman should be about "other virgins of same jati caste ".

    In general, the text describes sexual activity between men and women across class and caste, both in urban and rural settings. The Kamasutra includes verses describing homosexual relations such as oral sex between two men, as well as between two women. According to Doniger, the Kamasutra discusses same-sex relationships through the notion of the tritiya prakriti , literally, "third sexuality" or "third nature". In Redeeming the Kamasutra, Doniger states that "the Kamasutra departs from the dharmic view of homosexuality in significant ways", where the term kliba appears.

    In contemporary translations, this has been inaccurately rendered as "eunuch" — or, a castrated man in a harem, [note 1] a practice that started in India after the arrival of Turkish Sultans. The Kamasutra does not use the pejorative term kliba at all, but speaks instead of a "third nature" or, in the sexual behavior context as the "third sexuality".

    The text states that there are two sorts of "third nature", one where a man behaves like a woman, and in the other, a woman behaves like a man. In one of the longest consecutive sets of verses describing a sexual act, the Kamasutra describes fellatio technique between a man dressed like a woman performing fellatio on another man. The Kamasutra also mentions "pretend play" sadomasochism, [91] [92] and group sex. The historical records suggest that the Kamasutra was a well-known and popular text in Indian history, states Wendy Doniger. This popularity through the Mughal Empire era is confirmed by its regional translations.

    The Mughals, states Doniger, had "commissioned lavishly illustrated Persian and Sanskrit Kamasutra manuscripts". He did not translate it, but did edit it to suit the Victorian British attitudes. The unedited translation was produced by the Indian scholar Bhagwan Lal Indraji with the assistance of a student Shivaram Parshuram Bhide, under the guidance of Burton's friend, the Indian civil servant Forster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot.

    The Burton version of the Kamasutra was produced in an environment where Victorian mindset and Protestant proselytizers were busy finding faults and attacking Hinduism and its culture, rejecting as "filthy paganism" anything sensuous and sexual in Hindu arts and literature. The "Hindus were cowering under their scorn", states Doniger, and the open discussion of sex in the Kamasutra scandalized the 19th-century Europeans. Yet, states Doniger, it became soon after its publication in , "one of the most pirated books in the English language", widely copied, reprinted and republished sometimes without Richard Burton's name.

    Burton made two important contributions to the Kamasutra. First, he had the courage to publish it in the colonial era against the political and cultural mores of the British elite. He creatively found a way to subvert the then prevalent censorship laws of Britain under the Obscene Publications Act of For example, the original Sanskrit Kamasutra does not use the words lingam or yoni for sexual organs, and almost always uses other terms.

    Burton adroitly avoided being viewed as obscene to the Victorian mindset by avoiding the use of words such as penis, vulva, vagina and other direct or indirect sexual terms in the Sanskrit text to discuss sex, sexual relationships and human sexual positions. Burton used the terms lingam and yoni instead throughout the translation. However, Burton's Kamasutra gave a unique, specific meaning to these words in the western imagination. The problems with Burton mistranslation are many, states Doniger.

    First, the text "simply does not say what Burton says it says". Third, it changes the force of words in the original text. For example, when a woman says "Stop! It has led to a misunderstanding of the text and created the wrong impression of it being ancient "Hindu pornography".

    In , S. Upadhyaya published his translation as the Kamasutra of Vatsyayana: Complete Translation from the Original. Sometimes, they are simply clueless or have poor self-worth. If you ask total strangers, who are not advertising for a sex-only interaction, questions about their sexual preferences or tell them about yours, you have poor boundaries. If you are rejected after doing any of the aforementioned behaviors or after any other unwanted advances and you verbally attack the person who rejects you, then you definitely belong in this category.

    This last one just slays me. Everyone seems to want to establish if meeting for a date will end in sex or will lead to sex or if sex is on the table at all without once considering that there might not be chemistry in person or that some people want to get to know you before stripping off all their clothes and going at it. We see all those glaring red flags, and yet we still continue the interaction because of attraction. Even recently, I found myself on a dating site, swiping right on people I had to later delete because I was ignoring all the warning signs.

    We often self-sabotage for many reasons. It could stem from poor self-esteem, but it often comes from a history of unhealthy relationships. Our jobs pay us with money. Work on ourselves also has a payoff with self-love, a higher energetic vibration, and healthier relationships.

    No one will complete you. Stop looking for completion in another person. You have always been whole and complete as you are. We should want to be better for ourselves. Relationships should be partnerships that add value to our lives, not drain the energy from one person for the benefit of another. You may find it all to be dissatisfying if you refuse to participate at all in the dating culture. Sometimes, it gets to be too much, and we need to take breaks from participating at all.

    Take the rule book of online dating and throw it out the window. If online dating is just the worst, try to become more involved in the community and in doing things you enjoy to try to make a connection in real life. Do you, and see what happens. This is another category that stands out to me. We often have ideas about sex and intimacy that are largely misinformed. Here are just a few examples:. People have such terrible ideas surrounding masturbation. For women, sites like OMGYes offer tutorials to help us learn about our bodies and techniques of pleasure.

    Louder for the people in the back! Nor are you having healthy sex.

    Margaret Farley on the Kama Sutra

    Sex should be pleasing for more than one person having it, unless of course you are masturbating alone at home by yourself. When only one person is satisfied by the sexual encounter, there are huge red flags in play about the rest of the relationship. Not only is it ignorant and disrespectful, it shows a disregard for the experience of the person who is not experiencing pleasure. If an encounter ends simply because one person reached orgasm, this is a deeply unhealthy sexual experience.

    Three I learned from the Kama Sutra

    We use sex as a weapon. There are even people who use sex to make someone else angry or jealous- engaging in revenge sex or other unhealthy behaviors that treat people like objects rather than humans. Either way, sex should not be a weapon we use against someone. Again, louder for the people in the back!

    There are people who cannot separate the idea of just having sex and making love. They think these ideas are synonymous. But making love does bring intimacy into an encounter. No means no, for starters. Consent also extends to what we do within a sexual encounter. There are people who can never give true consent.

    I could start with children and animals, but that should be obvious. Tread carefully in these scenarios. This is an enormous cause of dissatisfaction in sexual and intimate relationships. It can also mean that we ask for what we want surrounding intimacy, informing our partners of our love language and how we prefer to experience intimacy in relationships. It could even be asking that we have more intimacy in our sexual encounters. People can open up their bodies and still close off their minds and spirits.

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