The Kama Sutra was originally intended to teach people the true principles of preserving and balancing Dharma (virtue, religious merit), Artha (worldly wealth), and Kama (love, pleasure, sensual gratification). Today’s society focuses only on the last of these. The Kama Sutra is a distilled compilation of 13 books written by different people.
This edition is beautifully illustrated. It takes on sensitive subjects with graceful prose that is truly poetic. While some illustrations are graphic, they remain tasteful to those with some sexual sophistication.
There are sections devoted to kissing, biting, and scratching. Couples are encouraged to role-play during sex, be vocal about their pleasure, use sex toys and indulge in foreplay. Surprisingly, oral sex is discouraged.
There is a section devoted to courtship and marriage. The laundry list of what a bride should and should not be goes on ad nauseam. Grooms must wait ten days before initiating sex, but then are given instructions on how to seduce the woman before marriage.
The description of wifely duties will make feminists howl with indignation. If a husband is displeased with his wife, she must encourage him to take another younger wife.
There are sections that give systematic instructions on how to be a philanderer and how to be a courtesan. Also included is advice on making disgusting aphrodisiacs: “drinking milk, in which testicles of a ram or goat have been boiled and mixed with sugar, increases sexual stamina.” On the other hand, female readers may cheer at the barbaric descriptions of how to enlarge the orifice of the phallus and enlarge the phallus itself.
The Kama Sutra provides some fascinating insights into sexual practices, chiefly that sex is more than a bodily function. While a good read, this book - originally written between the first and sixth centuries A.D. - is neither for the sexually squeamish nor for those who are morally offended by the suggested subjugation of women.