Discover more about Kamasutra

An ancient sex guide

Contrary to popular opinion, the Kama Sutra is not a glossy coffee-table collection of sex positions and ways to use a peacock's feather. In truth, it's an ancient and holy text covering everything from genital piercings to cheating: there are chapters regarding sex work, the effects of various intoxicants on sexual intercourse, sadomasochism and much more. For something so old it really does justice to the depth and complexity of human sexuality.

The pared-down versions sold in sex shops the world over can be fun, but they're not quite the real deal - you'll have to hunt a little more carefully for a fuller translation. Flicking through the sex positions in the usual abridgements can be fun, but you'll learn a lot more from truly delving into the concepts behind tantra as a sexual philosophy.

What is the Kamasutra? 

An ancient Hindu text written by Vātsyāyana that is seen as a textbook on human sexuality. It contains some practical advice on sex but is mostly prose with some poetry added in. However, it is much more than a sex manual it is a guide to living a virtuous life that includes love and desire.

What is the Kamasutra all about?

‘Kama’ means desire and is one of the 4 goals of Hindu life and ‘Sutra’ literally means a thread holding things together but in this context is most likely to mean a collection of aphorisms. So there are pictures and instructions for complex sexual positions in the Kamasutra but that isn’t its only purpose. Most of it is philosophical, talking about what sparks desire and how to maintain it. There is a strong connection in the book between sexuality and spirituality. And many themes around pleasure and family life are covered from courtesans to finding a wife.

Are the Kamasutra positions usable?

Some of the more ambitious ones may depend on your flexibility but others are staples of sex tips articles. If you’re inspired, give one a go. Anything that encourages a bit of fun and spice in your sex life is a good thing.

Has the Kamasutra got anything to do with BDSM?

It isn’t a BDSM play book but there are themes in the Kamasutra which could enrich your BDSM play. It teaches respect for all partners and offers positions that emphasise dominance and submission.

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