Kāmaśāstra

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Kamasastra, KAmaZAstra, Kaamashaastra


Kāmaśāstra literally means ‘treatise dealing with love’.

Kāma or sexual love has been acknowledged as the third puruṣārtha[1] in the scheme of life embodied in the dharmaśāstras. Hence, like many other fields of knowledge kāmaśāstra or erotics also has been developed as a science.

Some Western scholars like Pisanus Fraxi have admired the decency and finesse with which the subject of erotics has been handled by the Indian writers. He believed that Indian writers were interested in preventing disharmony between the husband and the wife and not in promoting sensual indulgence.

Doyens of Kāmaśāstra

Erotic elements are not rare even in the Vedas. The Vedic seers appear to have a realistic approach to the process of procreation. Quite a few sages cited as the authorities in kāmaśāstra are:

  • Śvetaketu
  • Bābhravya
  • Dattaka
  • Cārāyaṇa
  • Kucumāra

Treatises on Kāmaśāstra

Works on Kāmaśāstra include:

  • Vātsyāyana’s Kāmasutras[2] - seems to be the earliest and basic work on erotics
  • Yaśodhara’s[3] Jayamañgalā
  • Nāgarasarvasva of Padmaśri
  • Ratirahasya of Kokkoka
  • Anañgarañga of Kalyāṇamalla deva
  • Kandarpacudāmani of Vīrabhadra

Kāmaśāstra in Ayurveda

The Vājīkarana section of the Ayurveda is related to the science of erotics.


References

  1. Puruṣārthas are the ends to be striven for in life.
  2. Vātsyāyana lived in 3rd century CE. He was also known as Mallanāga.
  3. Yaśodhara lived in 13th century CE.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore