Kamasutra, marvel of the 64 arts

January 13, 2014
sanskrit kamasutra

I recently watched a video that made me think about beauty and charm. Are they the same? Nah! They are not. In my quest I searched about beauty pageants. Wikipedia introduces the same as follows:

A beauty pageant or beauty contest is a competition that mainly focuses on the physical beauty of its contestants, although such contests also incorporate personality, intelligence, talent, and answers to judges’ questions as judged criteria.

The definition itself emphasizes on Physical Beauty. Should we expect charm? Not very likely. It may or may not be in someone’s nature to be beautiful & charming at the same time. Again while searching I came across several videos of previous beauty pageants. It made more questions arise. You could indeed see many beautiful girls in those contests, however not all of them are charming. While I would not expect everyone to be born with super-human skills & talent, I’d still hope some proper coaching during these contests. So, somehow the poor performance of contestants can be unloaded on their coach.

###Kamasutra, a treatise on human sexual behavior

When I was a teenager I was thrilled & amazed by the beautiful poetic literature of Kamasutra (कामसूत्र). It’s a priceless treatise on society & sex. It goes beyond any taboo related to the human sexual behaviour and dives deeper into the relationship between a man & woman. When Kamasutra is mentioned, people generally tend to think of colorful pictorial depiction of sex poses. Well, the sex poses are just a treatise coming from one chapter of Kamasutra.

Some when thinking of Kamasutra will picture erotic sculptures of Khajuraho. While I admit the Khajuraho temples having a vast collection of these erotic sculptures, are beautiful, they still do not depict the full message/teachings of Kamasutra.

Vātsyāyana compiled the treatise of Kamasutra in 1250 poetic verses. I was wondering how I could summarize that in one post, well, just have a look at this extract taken from Wikipedia:

1. General remarks
five chapters on contents of the book, three aims and priorities of life, the acquisition of knowledge, conduct of the well-bred townsman, reflections on intermediaries who assist the lover in his enterprises. 2. Amorous advances/Sexual union
ten chapters on stimulation of desire, types of embraces, caressing and kisses, marking with nails, biting and marking with teeth, on copulation (positions), slapping by hand and corresponding moaning, virile behavior in women, superior coition and oral sex, preludes and conclusions to the game of love. It describes 64 types of sexual acts. Artistic depiction of a sex position. Although Kama Sutra did not originally have illustrative images, part 2 of the work describes different sex positions. 3. Acquiring a wife
five chapters on forms of marriage, relaxing the girl, obtaining the girl, managing alone, union by marriage. 4. Duties and privileges of the wife
two chapters on conduct of the only wife and conduct of the chief wife and other wives. 5. Other men’s wives
six chapters on behavior of woman and man, how to get acquainted, examination of sentiments, the task of go-between, the king’s pleasures, behavior in the women’s quarters. 6. About courtesans
six chapters on advice of the assistants on the choice of lovers, looking for a steady lover, ways of making money, renewing friendship with a former lover, occasional profits, profits and losses. 7. Occult practices
two chapters on improving physical attractions, arousing a weakened sexual power.

As you can read, Kamasutra is not just about love-making & sex positions; a lot more than that.

What’s the link between my original quest (after watching the beauty pageant video) and all these stuffs about Kamasutra? The treatise compiles sixty four arts that altogether make a girl perfect. These six four arts are usually called as chausath kalās (chausath = 64, kalā = art). These arts are as follows:

(1) Geet vidya—art of singing.
(2) Vadya vidya—art of playing on musical instruments.
(3) Nritya vidya—art of dancing.
(4) Natya vidya—art of theatricals.
(5) alekhya vidya—art of painting.
(6) viseshakacchedya vidya—art of painting the face and body with color
(7) tandula-kusuma-bali-vikara—art of preparing offerings from rice and flowers.
(8) pushpastarana—art of making a covering of flowers for a bed.
(9) dasana-vasananga-raga—art of applying preparations for cleansing the teeth, cloths and painting the body.
(10) mani-bhumika-karma—art of making the groundwork of jewels.
(11) sayya-racana—art of covering the bed.
(12) udaka-vadya—art of playing on music in water.
(13) udaka-ghata—art of splashing with water.
(14) citra-yoga—art of practically applying an admixture of colors.
(15) malya-grathana-vikalpa—art of designing a preparation of wreaths.
(16) sekharapida-yojana—art of practically setting the coronet on the head.
(17) nepathya-yoga—art of practically dressing in the tiring room.
(18) karnapatra-bhanga—art of decorating the tragus of the ear.
(19) sugandha-yukti—art of practical application of aromatics.
(20) bhushana-yojana—art of applying or setting ornaments.
(21) aindra-jala—art of juggling.
(22) kaucumara—a kind of art.
(23) hasta-laghava—art of sleight of hand.
(24) citra-sakapupa-bhakshya-vikara-kriya—art of preparing varieties of delicious food.
(25) panaka-rasa-ragasava-yojana—art of practically preparing palatable drinks and tinging draughts with red color.
(26) suci-vaya-karma—art of needleworks and weaving.
(27) sutra-krida—art of playing with thread.
(28) vina-damuraka-vadya—art of playing on lute and small drum.
(29) prahelika—art of making and solving riddles.
(30) durvacaka-yoga—art of practicing language difficult to be answered by others.
(31) pustaka-vacana—art of reciting books.
(32) natikakhyayika-darsana—art of enacting short plays and anecdotes.
(33) kavya-samasya-purana—art of solving enigmatic verses.
(34) pattika-vetra-bana-vikalpa—art of designing preparation of shield, cane and arrows.
(35) tarku-karma—art of spinning by spindle.
(36) takshana—art of carpentry.
(37) vastu-vidya—art of engineering.
(38) raupya-ratna-pariksha—art of testing silver and jewels.
(39) dhatu-vada—art of metallurgy.
(40) mani-raga jnana—art of tinging jewels.
(41) akara jnana—art of mineralogy.
(42) vrikshayur-veda-yoga—art of practicing medicine or medical treatment, by herbs.
(43) mesha-kukkuta-lavaka-yuddha-vidhi—art of knowing the mode of fighting of lambs, cocks and birds.
(44) suka-sarika-prapalana (pralapana)? — art of maintaining or knowing conversation between male and female cockatoos.
(45) utsadana—art of healing or cleaning a person with perfumes.
(46) kesa-marjana-kausala—art of combing hair.
(47) akshara-mushtika-kathana—art of talking with fingers.
(48)dharana-matrika—art of the use of amulets.
(49) desa-bhasha-jnana—art of knowing provincial dialects.
(50)nirmiti-jnana—art of knowing prediction by heavenly voice
(51) yantra-matrika—art of mechanics.
(52)mlecchita-kutarka-vikalpa—art of fabricating barbarous or foreign sophistry.
(53) samvacya—art of conversation.
(54) manasi kavya-kriya—art of composing verse mentally.
(55) kriya-vikalpa—art of designing a literary work or a medical remedy.
(56) chalitaka-yoga—art of practicing as a builder of shrines called after him.
(57) abhidhana-kosha-cchando-jnana—art of the use of lexicography and meters.
(58) vastra-gopana—art of concealment of cloths.
(59) dyuta-visesha—art of knowing specific gambling.
(60) akarsha-krida—art of playing with dice or magnet.
(61) balaka-kridanaka—art of using children’s toys.
(62) vainayiki vidya—art of enforcing discipline.
(63) vaijayiki vidya—art of gaining victory.
(64) vaitaliki vidya—art of awakening master with music at dawn.

It is believed that Lord Krishna mastered all sixty four arts and thus was called the Great Lover.

When looking at beauty pageants, my mind still searches for these arts. How many of the contestants have a melodious voice, could play instruments, have charming gestures (eye contact, lip movement etc) … mastery of languages? Should they have come across the real literature of Kamasutra, may be they would have perfected in several of the above arts to perform better in the contests.

The aim of this post was to spread this message & maybe somehow measuring the gap between beauty & charm.

To my younger friends reading this, kiddos, time to read some worth-it literature rather than filmy gossips.

Additional reading
The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, by Sir Richard Burton (1883)

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