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Kama Sutra – Section 5. Other men's wives

by Beth Divine 17 Sep 2018
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:

Book five explores the inherent nature of men and women, explaining that women tend to fall in love much harder, but not for any particular purpose. In other words, a woman will naturally shrink from a man because of the force of her love, and needs to be conquered and persistently approached in order to trust the man who would warrant such strong feelings. Bear in mind, it was a man doing the writing here…

Men, on the other hand, tend to get indifferent or angry when faced with rejection, and so the Kama Sutra instructs men to see it as a natural consequence of innate female resistance; it is the most persistent and devoted men who gain their true loves. (NB harassment and stalking are terms that spring to the modern mind – sometimes a woman says ‘no’ because she means ‘no’!) The author also lays out a series of strategies a man can use to woo a female, including using friends, go-betweens, and boastful behaviour in front of the girl to show how powerful, special, or desirable he is. Again, modern minds might play it a little cooler these days!

Most importantly, both the male and female must be attentive to the other's specific behaviour in order to see how to manipulate, and likely modify their seduction. This is crucial in any relationship and sets a good precedent for the rest of their time spent together.

A king, however, is exempt from all of this, and is allowed to have as many wives as he wants without having to enter the whole process of seduction. If he likes a woman, he can simply have her kidnapped and imprisoned on false causes in order to add her to his royal court. Presumably, any woman kidnapped by a king would be so delighted with this  state of affairs that she could have no possible objection…

So, this section features six (‘slightly’ old-fashioned) chapters on the behaviour of men and women, how to get to know each other, and the behaviour of kings.