James W. Hicks, M.D.

The Kamasutra

In Cultures, Media on September 7, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Since I refer to this blog as a “kamasutra,” I should give a shout out to the original, which was written seventeen hundred years ago by the sage Vatsyayana in what is now India. The Kamasutra was written for metropolitan playboys in pursuit of women, and it catalogued a variety of sexual practices without judgment. A fascinating and authoritative translation by Wendy Doniger was published in 2002 and is now available in paperback (the following quotes are from her translation).

Vatsyayana was well aware of the bisexual potential of men and women. The description of oral sex between men is among the longest and most ecstatic descriptions of a sex act in the entire book (which is saying something). Vatsyayana describes eight stages, from the initial placement of the lips on the head of the penis to the swallowing at climax. He reports men “who care for one another’s welfare and have established trust do this service for one another,” though oral sex was more commonly obtained from a masseur. A commentary by the scholar Yashodhara goes further, describing how men “take one another, in friendship, and give one another the sensual pleasure of ejaculation. They say, ‘You do it for me now, and I will do it for you later.’ Or both of them do it at the same time, by turning their bodies head to foot, losing all sense of time because of their passion.” These Indian sages were referring to men who were otherwise straight and interested in sex with women.

The same commentary by Yashodhara also describes oral sex between women: “Certain women in the harem, unable to get any tools, trusting in one another, excite one another with their mouth on the vagina.” Vatsyayana also describes how sexually unfulfilled women in a harem would “give pleasure to one another with the following techniques. They dress up a [girl] like a man and relieve their desire with dildos or with bulbs, roots, or fruits that have that form. They lie on statues of men that have distinct sexual characteristics.” Again, these were not lesbians in the modern sense but women who were otherwise expected to enjoy sex with men.

See also my posts on Sex Among South Asian Men and Bisexuality among Indian Women.

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