Three I learned from the Kama Sutra

by Marlies Dekkers
Apart from the acrobatic sexual positions, this ancient love manual offers some weird and wonderful, but also surprisingly relevant advice for modern lovers.

When I had to research the Kama Sutra for a project in art school, some years ago, I expected an endless list of complicated sexual positions. (Prince’s ‘Get Off’ came to mind: ’23 positions in a one night stand’) But this almost 2000 year old philosophical work on kama shastra, or ‘science of love’, turned out to be a Hindu love manual with a universal, timeless message: sex is a sacred gift from a higher power, essential to life and worthy of study.

Sure enough, much of the text is dated and culture bound; it can be sexist and violent –no, hitting a woman against her will is NEVER okay! – and downright weird. How about this questionable advice: “Sprinkle a mixture of powdered milkweed thorns, hogweed, monkey’s shit and root of glory lily on a woman. She will not want sex with anyone else.” (Don’t believe me? Check the latest Penguin edition of the book with stunning cover art by Malika Favre

Some ideas however, really stood the test of time:

Sex is sacred: In our throw away society where pretty much anything can be bought, we sometimes forget that sex is so much more than just getting off. When two people open themselves up to each other during sex, they create a sacred bond. Or how the Kama Sutra describes it: “At the moment when the peak of bliss is attained, the internal and external world vanish. The man and woman cease to be separate entities and lose themselves in the beatitudes of being.” Now THAT’s sexy!

-Knowledge is power is sexy: When the Kama Sutra offers advice on how to be a ‘desirable woman’, it suggests that before marriage, women should learn ‘all the required forms of art’, ranging from reading about worldly affairs to playing an instrument or knowing how to make a bed. And of course she should study the 64 sexual positions that the Kama Sutra is known for! Despite perhaps sounding terribly old-fashioned, I like the idea that a well-rounded person is more attractive. My personal motto: squatting is great, but so is reading!

-Kissing is an art and so is scratching!):( I think kissing is one of the most intimate things two lovers can do. In a way, passionate kissing can be more intense than intercourse, something we seem to take for granted sometimes. So I really appreciate how the Kama Sutra has elevated kissing to an art, even distinguishing between three different types – the throbbing kiss, measured kiss and the brushing kiss- and recommending special spots such as the clitoris, hair and the inside of the mouth. Not only that, women are recommended to scratch their partners! Here, several varieties are described, such as the half-moon, the tiger’s claw and the lotus leap. Granted, this may boggle our 21st century minds, but I think we get the idea: foreplay is f*cking fun!

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