Kamashastra: Wikis


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In Indian literature, Kāmashastra refers to the tradition of works on Kama. It therefore has a practical orientation, similar to that of Arthashastra, the tradition of texts on politics and government. Just as the former instructs kings and ministers about government, Kāmashastra aims to instruct the townsman (nāgarika) in the way to attain enjoyment and fulfillment.

The earliest text of the Kama Shastra tradition, said to have contained a vast amount of information, is attributed to Nandi the sacred bull, Shiva's doorkeeper, who was moved to sacred utterance by overhearing the lovemaking of the god Shiva and his wife Parvati. During the 8th century BC, Shvetaketu, son of Uddalaka, produced a summary of Nandi's work, but this "summary" was still too vast to be accessible. A scholar called Babhravya, together with a group of his disciples, produced a summary of Shvetaketu's summary, which nonetheless remained a huge and encyclopaedic tome. Between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC, several authors reproduced different parts of the Babhravya group's work in various specialist treatises. Among the authors, those whose names are known are Charayana, Ghotakamukha, Gonardiya, Gonikaputra, Suvarnanabha, and Dattaka.

However, the oldest available text on this subject is the Kama Sutra ascribed to Vātsyāyana who is often erroneously called "Mallanaga Vātsyāyana". Yashodhara, in his commentary on the Kama Sutra, attributes the origin of erotic science to Mallanaga, the "prophet of the Asuras", implying that the Kama Sutra originated in prehistoric times. The attribution of the name "Mallanaga" to Vātsyāyana is due to the confusion of his role as editor of the Kama Sutra with the role of the mythical creator of erotic science. Vātsyāyana's birth date is not accurately known, but he must have lived earlier than the 7th century since he is referred to by Subandhu in his poem Vāsavadattā. On the other hand Vātsyāyana must have been familiar with the Arthashastra of Kautilya. Vātsyāyana refers to and quotes a number of texts on this subject, which unfortunately have been lost.

Following Vātsyāyana, a number of authors wrote on Kāmashastra, some writing independent manuals of erotics, while others commented on Vātsyāyana. Later well-known works include Kokkaka's Ratirahasya (13th century) and Anangaranga of Kalyanamalla (16th century). The most well-known commentator on Vātsyāyana is Jayamangala (13th century).



Kamaa (काम kāma) is a Sanskrit word that has the general meanings of "wish", "desire", and "intention" in addition to the specific meanings of "pleasure" and "(sexual) love".[1] Used as a proper name it refers to Kamadeva, the Hindu god of Love.

List of Kamashastra works

Lost works

  • Kâmashâstra of Nandi or Nandikeshvara. (1000 chapters)
  • Kâmashâstra of Auddalaki Shvetaketu (500 chapters)
  • Kâmashâstra or Bâbhravyakârikâ
  • Kâmashâstra of Chârâyana
  • Kâmashâstra of Ghotakamukha
  • Kâmashâstra of Gonardîya
  • Kâmashâstra of Gonikâputra
  • Kâmashâstra of Dattaka. According to the legend, the author Dattaka was transformed into a woman during a certain time.
  • Kâmashâstra or Ratinirnaya of Suvarnanâbha

Medieval and modern texts

  • Kalyanmalla's Anangaranga
  • Dattakasûtra by king Mâdhava II of the Ganga dynasty of Mysore
  • Janavashya by Kallarasa, Based on the Ratirahasya of Kakkoka.
  • Jayamangala, (Jayamangla), by Yashodhara, important commentary on the Kama Sutra
  • Jaya by Devadatta Shâstrî Hindi commentary on the Kama Sutra, 20th century.
  • Kâmasamuha by Ananta (15th century)
  • Kama Sutra
  • Kandarpacudamani
  • Kuchopanishad or Kuchumâra Tantra of Kuchumâra
  • Kuchumara's Kuchopanisad (10th century)
  • Kuttanimata by the Kashmirian poet Damodaragupta (8th century). (Dāmodaragupta's Kuṭṭanīmata, though often included in lists of this sort, is in fact really a verse novel in Sanskrit in which an aged bawd (kuṭṭanī) called Vikarālā gives advice to a young, beautiful but as yet unsuccessful courtesan of Benares. Most of the advice comes in the form of two long moral tales, one about a heartless and therefore successful courtesan, called Mañjarī, and the other about a tender-hearted and therefore foolish girl, called Hāralatā, who makes the mistake of falling in love with a client and thus eventually expires of a broken heart.)
  • Mânasollâsa or Abhilashitartha Chintâmani by king Someshvara or Somadeva III of the Châlukya dynasty by Kalyâni A part of this encyclopedia, the Yoshidupabhoga, is devoted to the Kamashastra. (Manasolasa or Abhilashitachintamani) [1] [2]
  • Nagarasarvasva by Bhikshu Padmashrî (buddhist) (Nagarsarvasva) (10th/11th century)
  • Panchashâyaka by Jyotirîshvara Kavishekhara (Panchasakya, Panchsayaka) (14th century)
  • Rasamanjari (Rasmanjari) by poet Bhânudatta
  • Ratikallolini by Dikshita Samaraja.
  • Kokkoka's Ratirahasya
  • Ratimanjari by poet Jayadeva Synthesis of the Smaradîpika by Minanatha
  • Ratiratnapradîpika by Praudha Devarâja, Maharaja of Vijayanagara (15th century)
  • Shringararasaprabandhadîpika by Kumara Harihara
  • Smaradîpika by Minanatha
  • Ksemendra's Samayamatrka
  • Harihar's Shrngaradipika
  • Smarapradîpika by Gunâkara, son of Vachaspati (Smara Pradipa)
  • Sûtravritti by Naringha Shastri 18th century, commentary on the Kama Sutra
  • Vâtsyâyanasûtrasara by Kshemendra, Kashmiri author, commentary on the Kama Sutra (11th century)

Kamashastra and Kāvya poetry

One of the reasons for interest in these ancient manuals is their intimate connection with Sanskrit ornate poetry (Kāvya). The poets were supposed to be proficient in the Kamashastra. The entire approach to love and sex in Kāvya poetry is governed by the Kamashastra.


  1. ^ Arthur Anthony Macdonell. A Practical Sanskrit Dictionary. p. 66.
  • The Complete Kama Sutra, Translated by Daniélou, Alain. ISBN 0-89281-492-6

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