What Is Kama Sutra? More Than Just Spicy Sex Positions

What is Kama Sutra?

In the West, “Kama Sutra” seems to be synonymous with contortionist sex positions — ones that combine acrobatics, yoga, and perhaps primeval pornography.

Well, this is only partially true.

Actually, the Kama Sutra covers a lot more than meets the Western eye, and to call the Kama Sutra a book of spicy sex positions is doing this sacred, ancient Hindu text a huge disservice.

Here’s why.

It’s not fancy positions that turn everyday sex into tantric, sacred, lovemaking — that’s only really about 20% of it. True, sacred lovemaking is mostly about spirit and connection… Which is precisely why the sexual positions only make up about 20% of the Kama Sutra.

The rest of this sacred text could be considered a guide on the Art of Love and Living Virtuously; including, but certainly not limited to:

  • The philosophy and nature of love
  • Family life
  • What triggers desire (and what sustains it)
  • Etiquette
  • Self-care
  • Proper grooming
  • Practice of various arts, such as perfume mixing, poetry, and cooking
  • Balancing feminine and masculine energies (in oneself and within a partnership)
  • Many other faculties of (non-sexual) pleasure-oriented facets of life

Essentially, it is a manual for living the “good life.”

What Is Kamasutra?


So, exactly what is Kamasutra?

The word “Kamasutra” comes from two different Sanskrit words — “kama” and “sutra.” Each word has a definite meaning. Combined, the two meanings make up the premise of the book.


The word “kama” in Sanskrit means desire. As a whole, “kama” is made up of both sensual and aesthetic desires. However, in regard to the Kamasutra, an emphasis is placed on sensual desire.

In most world religions, sexual desire (and desire, in general) is considered taboo.

However, Hinduism holds “kama” as one of the Four Goals of Hindu Life. In their goals of life, “kama” is followed by “artha” (abundance, success), “dharma” (virtue, truth), and “moksha” (release).


Sutra” in Sanskrit means line or thread, but refers to a thread of verses that form a manual.

Where Does The Kama Sutra Come From?

The Kama Sutra is an ancient Hindu book composed by the ancient Indian philosopher and sage, Vātsyāyana Mallanaga, sometime between 400 – 200 BCE.

Strangely enough, Vātsyāyana claimed to be a celibate monk. He also claimed that his compiling of sexual wisdom was a form of meditation and a contemplation of deity.

Rather than being the teacher of this sensual wisdom, Vātsyāyana merely composed the Kamasutra from a much earlier work (7th century BCE), Kamashastra, or Rules of Love. The Kamashastra was a much larger text, which also deeply studied partner compatibility and the love-customs of Northern India.

Vātsyāyana wrote the Kamasutra is a rather complex and difficult to understand form of Sanskrit. Even when translated into English, the ideas a bit abstract to the modern reader.

To provide an example of an English translation (special thanks to Sir Richard Francis Burton and Bhagwan Lal Indraji), here is an excerpt from the Kamasutra regarding the varieties of moaning during lovemaking:

The whimper, the groan, the babble, the wail, the sigh, the shriek, the sob and words with meaning, such as ‘Mother!’ ‘Stop!’ ‘Let go!’ or ‘Enough!’ Cries like those of doves, cuckoos, green pigeons, parrots, bees, moorhens, geese, ducks and quails are important options for use in moaning.

… Not quite your 21st-century sonic landscape.

Luckily, there has since been an updated version of the Kamasutra. The 15th century provided us with the Ananga-Ranga, a much more concise and comprehensible text about human sexual pleasure, which, for many centuries, actually superseded the Kama Sutra.

To learn more about the 7 different parts of the Kama Sutra book read Beyond Contortionist Sex Positions: The Full Kama Sutra Book.

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Natasha Wanderly

Natasha is a happy no-mad with a love for living lucidly, dancing with fire, and talking to strangers. From living with Shamans in the Amazon to studying hieroglyphs in Egypt, she is always on some type of adventure. Every day, she wakes up with two goals: 1.) Be here 2.) Be love.

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