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Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, The

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The Classic Hindu Treatise on Love and Social Conduct.

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Publisher's Synopsis

The Kama Sutra has endured for 1700 years as an indisputable classic of world literature. The 1964 publication of Sir Richard Burton's translation marked its first wide appearance in English, celebrated as a literary event of highest importance.

Written with frankness and unassuming candor, the Kama Sutra remains one of the most readable and enjoyable of all the classics of antiquity. A work of philosophy, psychology, sociology, Hindu dogma, scientific inquiry and sexology, the Kama Sutra's importance is so great that it has at the same time both affected Indian civilization and remained an indispensable key to understanding it.

Excerpt

CHAPTER II

ON THE ACQUISITION OF DHARMA, ARTHA AND KAMA

"MAN, the period of whose life is one hundred years, should practise Dharma, Artha and Kama at different times and in such a manner that they may harmonize together and not clash in any way. He should acquire learning in his childhood, in his youth and middle age he should attend to Artha and Kama, and in his old age he should perform Dharma, and thus seek to gain Moksha, i.e. release from further transmigration. Or, on account of the uncertainty of life, he may practise them at times when they are enjoined to be practised. But one thing is to be noted, he should lead the life of a religious student until he finishes his education.

Dharma is obedience to the command of the Shastra or Holy Writ of the Hindoos to do certain things, such as the performance of sacrifices, which are not generally done, because they do not belong to this world, and produce no visible effect; and not to do other things, such as eating meat, which is often done because it belongs to this world, and has visible effects.

Dharma should be learnt from the Shruti (Holy Writ), and from those conversant with it.

Artha is the acquisition of arts, land, gold, cattle, wealth, equipages and friends. It is, further, the protection of what is acquired, and the increase of what is protected.

Artha should be learnt from the king's officers, and from merchants who may be versed in the ways of commerce.

Kama is the enjoyment of appropriate objects by the five senses of hearing, feeling, seeing, tasting and smelling, assisted by the mind together with the soul. The ingredient in this is a peculiar contact between the organ of sense and its object, and the consciousness of pleasure which arises from that contact is called Kama.

Kama is to be learnt from the Kama Sutra (aphorisms on love) and from the practice of citizens.

When all the three, viz. Dharma, Artha and Kama, come together, the former is better than the one which follows it, i.e. Dharma is better than Artha, and Artha is better than Kama. But Artha should always be first practised by the king for the livelihood of men is to be obtained from it only. Again, Kama being the occupation of public women, they should prefer it to the other two, and these are exceptions to the general rule."

Biography

Sir Richard F. Burton (1821-1890) was one of the greatest traveler-explorers in history, whose life has been chronicled both in biography (Captain Sir Richard Burton) and film (Mountain of the Moon).

He became famous as the translator of The 1001 Arabian Nights, and was one of the most remarkable and controversial men of his century.

Author Vatsyayana
Translator Burton, Sir Richard
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 256 pp.
Publisher Penguin Books 1991
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