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Kamashastra


Kamashastra science of sex, which deals with the sexual relationship between man and woman and discusses the ways of making sexual life enjoyable. It also classifies human beings according to their sexual indicators and describes those classes of men and women who are compatible and can have happy sexual relationships. According to hinduism, religion, earthly possessions, sex and salvation of the soul are of equal importance. The absence of any one of these principal pursuits of life will make human life incomplete. If sex is ignored, human society will disappear. This is why the art of sex, like the other three pursuits, is regarded in the Hindu scriptures as both sacred and important. The first discourse on the subject is found in Vrhadaranyaka Upanisad. Many writers, including Bengalis, wrote discourses on the subject up to the 17th century. The most important book on the subject is Kamasutra (c 3rd century BC) by Vatsyayana.

Mahadeva's disciple Nandi was the first to write Kamashastra in 1000 chapters. Subsequently Auddalaka Shvetaketu reduced it to 500 chapters, and Vabhravya reduced it still further to seven sections and 150 chapters. Later many writers wrote separate books on each of the sections of Vabhravya's book. Vatsyayana borrowed from these books to write his Kamasutra in 7 sections and 36 chapters. Apart from the art of love-making, Kamasutra discusses many aspects of Indian society, giving a detailed picture of the social life of ancient India. Kamasutra was very popular all over India and many commentaries were written on it in later years, such as, Damodargupta's Kuttanimata (8th century), Kuchumara's Kuchopanisad (10th century), Padmashrijnana's Nagarsarvasva (10th/11th century), Yashodhara's Jaymabgala and Ksemendra's Vatsyayanasutrasara (11th century), Ksemendra's Samayamatrka and Kokkok's Ratirahasya (12th century), Ananta's Kamasamuha (15th century). Kokkok's Ratirahasya earned a great deal of fame, and many commentaries were written on it, among them Jyotirishvar's Pavchashayaka (14th century), Immadi Paudhadevaray's Ratiratnapradipika (15th century) and Kalyanmalla's Anabgarabga (15th/16th century). Among these Anangaranga, written for Lad Khan, son of the ruler of Jaunpur, Ahmad Khan Lodi, was most famous. It was often referred to as Kokashastra. In the 17th century Vyasajanardan based Kamapravodha on this book. Kamapravodha was translated into Persian and, in the 19th century, Richard Burton published an English translation of it. The book was also translated into Urdu, French and German.

A number of sanskrit texts on Kamashastra were also written by Bengalis, among them were jaydev's Ratimavjari, Minanath's Smaradipika and Harihar's Shrngaradipika. These include printed books and manuscripts, some of which are preserved in the Dhaka University Library.

Kamashastra has also influenced both Sanskrit and Bangla literature. Among the Sanskrit poets who have used it in their compositions are kalidasa in Kumarasambhavam, Rtusangharam and Shrbgararasastakam, Magha in Shishupalavadham and Jaydev in gitagovindam. Its influence may also be seen on the Bengali poet baru chandidas in Shrikrsvakirtan and on kashiram das in his Mahabharata. Its use is also noticeable in several Sanskrit satires by Bengali writers, among them, Gopinath Chakrabarti's Kautukasarvasvam (16th-18th century) and kavitarkik's Kautukaratnakaram (17th century). [Dulal Bhowmik]