Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana

October 6, 2010

Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana: we are glad to announce the release, in ebook format, of the Kama Sutra written by Vatsyayana.

In the literature of all countries there will be found a certain number of works treating especially of love. Everywhere the subject is dealt with differently, and from various points of view. In the present publication it is proposed to give a complete translation of what is considered the standard work on love in Sanscrit literature, and which is called the ‘Vatsyayana Kama Sutra,’ or Aphorisms on Love, by Vatsyayana.

While the introduction will bear with the evidence concerning the date of the writing, and the commentaries written upon it, the chapters following the introduction will give a translation of the work itself. It is, however, advisable to furnish here a brief analysis of works of the same nature, prepared by authors who lived and wrote years after Vatsya had passed away, but who still considered him as a great authority, and always quoted him as the chief guide to Hindoo erotic literature.

It may be interesting to some persons to learn how it came about that Vatsyayana was first brought to light and translated into the English language. It happened thus. While translating with the pundits the ‘Anunga runga, or the stage of love,’ reference was frequently found to be made to one Vatsya. The sage Vatsya was of this opinion, or of that opinion. The sage Vatsya said this, and so on. Naturally questions were asked who the sage was, and the pundits replied that Vatsya was the author of the standard work on love in Sanscrit literature, that no Sanscrit library was complete without his work, and that it was most difficult now to obtain in its entire state. The copy of the manuscript obtained in Bombay was defective, and so the pundits wrote to Benares, Calcutta and Jeypoor for copies of the manuscript from Sanscrit libraries in those places. Copies having been obtained, they were then compared with each other, and with the aid of a Commentary called ‘Jayamangla’ a revised copy of the entire manuscript was prepared, and from this copy the English translation was made.

On the text of the ‘Aphorisms on Love,’ by Vatsyayana, only two commentaries have been found. One called ‘Jayamangla’ or ‘Sutrabashya,’ and the other ‘Sutra vritti.’ The date of the ‘Jayamangla’ is fixed between the tenth and thirteenth centuries A.D., because while treating of the sixty-four arts an example is taken from the ‘Kávyaprakásha,’ which was written about the tenth century A.D. Again, the copy of the commentary procured was evidently a transcript of a manuscript which once had a place in the library of a Chaulukyan king named Vishaladeva, a fact elicited from the following sentence at the end of it:

“Here ends the part relating to the art of love in the commentary on the ‘Vatsyayana Kama Sutra,’ a copy from the library of the king of kings, Vishaladeva, who was a powerful hero, as it were a second Arjuna, and head jewel of the Chaulukya family.”
Now it is well known that this king ruled in Guzerat from 1244 to 1262 A.D., and founded a city called Visalnagur. The date, therefore, of the commentary is taken to be not earlier than the tenth and not later than the thirteenth century. The author of it is supposed to be one Yashodhara, the name given him by his preceptor being Indrapada. He seems to have written it during the time of affliction caused by his separation from a clever and shrewd woman, at least that is what he himself says at the end of each chapter. It is presumed that he called his work after the name of his absent mistress, or the word may have some connection with the meaning of her name.

This commentary was most useful in explaining the true meaning of Vatsyayana, for the commentator appears to have had a considerable knowledge of the times of the older author, and gives in some places very minute information. This cannot be said of the other commentary, called “Sutra vritti,” which was written about A.D., by Narsing Shastri, a pupil of a Sarveshwar Shastri; the latter was a descendant of Bhaskur, and so also was our author, for at the conclusion of every part he calls himself Bhaskur Narsing Shastra. He was induced to write the work by order of the learned Raja Vrijalala, while he was residing in Benares, but as to the merits of this commentary it does not deserve much[11] commendation. In many cases the writer does not appear to have understood the meaning of the original author, and has changed the text in many places to fit in with his own explanations.

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