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Kama Sutra – Section 6. About courtesans

by Beth Divine 16 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:


The sixth book discusses the vaishika, or the courtesan. The Kama Sutra says that the courtesan is necessary in order to ensure that men have companions in times of need, or to build their confidence before they begin pursuing a wife. 

Some women are born courtesans, depending on their caste and status of birth, and there is no stigma to being a courtesan, as long as one behaves with decency and propriety. This may sound odd to Western ears, but that is because of the West’s long history of sexual repression and denial of human desire. A courtesan must be careful to attract desirable patrons and paramours, as well as suitable protectors, to ensure her safety - but her first priority is making sure she chooses patrons who can be depended upon for monetary support. Getting money is an art that has to be developed by a courtesan through manipulation and artifice, which includes flattery, lies, and elaborate game-playing. 


In the end, once a vaishika sees that a man is beginning to lose interest in her, she must quickly move on and end the relationship before he does so himself. After all, it is better to be the dumper than the dumpee, something most of us all know to be true today too…

Thus the sixth section boasts six very pragmatic chapters on advice on the choice of lovers – and who to ask for assistance therein, looking for a steady lover, ways of making money, renewing friendship with a former lover, and various profits and losses and how to make the former rather than the latter!