The Kamasutra, composed in the third century CE, is the worlds most famous textbook of erotic love. There is nothing remotely like it even today, and for its time it was astonishingly sophisticated. Yet, it is all but ignored as a serious work in its country of origin sometimes taken as a matter of national shame rather than pride and in the rest of the world it is a source of amused amazement, and inspires magazine articles that offer mattress-quaking sex styles such as the backstairs boogie and the spider web.
In this scholarly and superbly readable book, one of the worlds foremost authorities on ancient Indian texts seeks to restore the Kamasutra to its proper place in the Sanskrit canon, as a landmark of Indias secular literature. She reveals to us fascinating aspects of the Kamasutra as a guide to the art of living for the cosmopolitan beau monde of ancient India, its emphasis on grooming and etiquette (including post-coital conversation), the study and practice of the arts (ranging from cooking and composing poetry to colouring ones teeth and mixing perfumes), and discretion and patience in conducting affairs (especially adulterous affairs). In its encyclopaedic social and psychological narratives, it also displays surprisingly modern ideas about gender and role-playing, female sexuality and homosexual desire