Many people think it is called the ‘Karma Sutra’, as in ‘karma’s a bitch, and then you die’, but the text is actually titled ‘Kama Sutra’. Kama means desire, including sexual desire, which is one of the four central goals of Hindu life, while Sutra refers to a binding line or thread, or – more metaphorically – can also mean a unifying principle or formula. Thus, the title tells us that the text is about the pursuit of the satisfaction of desire and how such a pursuit is a positive thing, rather than (as many other cultures posit) something to be ashamed of and repressed wherever possible. The Kama Sutra is also not purely about sexual positions – although those chapters do exist, they comprise a mere twenty per cent of the work. Instead, the book offers a way for Hindus to become well-rounded, contented citizens: Read on to learn more:
Contrary to most beliefs most Hindu texts woman traditionally have always had the right to choose their own husband. It is only with more modern tendencies and stricter adherence to the caste system that has seen many women expected to conform to the strictures of their families and communities.
This means that women were increasing proscribed in their choice of a partner – he must be in the right social strata, be sufficiently well off, and be of a good family. Gradually, over time, this evolved into families coming up with a list of suitable matches and eventually into fully arranged marriages. Now, there is nothing wrong with arranged marriages as long as both parties are in agreement, and as long as the families take into account the preferences of their children when it comes to arranging the nuptials. Problems arise when greed, lack of concern, or other negative issues are permitted into the negotiations. This is when young girls are married off to older men, or when women are forced into matches they neither want nor ask for.
Section 4 continues with the expected behaviour of the wife or wives – polygamy is legal for some people in some parts of India (on Goa a man can have two wives, and Muslims can have up to four wives) – with details of not only what behaviour is expected of her but how she should be treated too. There is also a wealth of detail on how to make a woman feel comfortable in your company, both before and after marriage, and even how to manage alone in the event that a wife is lost or away for a time. The section features five chapters in total.