views updated

Kāmaśāstra (Skt., kāma, ‘love’, + śāstra, ‘teaching’). Any of a class of Skt. texts concerned with kāma—love, sexuality, and sensual enjoyment.

Bābhravya is said to have condensed the tradition of Kāmaśāstra into a work of 150 chapters in seven adhikaraṇa (sections), forming the basis of a school of sexology. The adhikaraṇa are: general principles; courtship; sexual union; marriage; how to steal other men's wives; prostitutes; and potions, spells, aphrodisiacs, mantras, and devices.

The most influential Kāmaśāstra texts are the Kāmasūtra of Vātsyāyana (c.450 CE), and the Anan̄ga-ran̄ga (Theatre of the Love God), attributed to Kalyāṇamalla (?1460–1530 CE). Other classic Kāmaśāstra texts include Dāmodaragupta's Kuṭṭanī-mata (Lessons of a Bawd), Kṣemendra's Samaya-māṭrikā (The Harlot's Breviary), Koka's Rati-rahasya (Mysteries of Passion), and Jyotirīśa's Pañcaśāyaka (Five Arrows). Hundreds of popular Kāmaśāstra texts exist, in which the Hindu deities enact the various sexual postures as paradigms for human performance.