Showing posts with label kamasutra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kamasutra. Show all posts

Dating Vatsyayana's Kamasutra

Vatsyayana Kamasutra played a significant role in the history of Indian Literature, particularly Sanskrit Kavya literature in which Shringara rasa(Erotic sentiment) was one of the main rasas to be evoked by the poet. The tradition in erotics grew in association with esoteric religious practices in later Vedic period, but acquired an independent status by the the time of Babhravya of the panchala region, a pre vatsyayana authority on the subject, who traces his work to nandikeshava and Uddalaka shvetaketu. Similar to Babhravya , we have charayana, suvarnanabha, Ghotakamukha, Gonardiya, Gonikaputra,Dattaka and Kuchumara specialized in seven section namely sadharana, Samprayogika, kanyasamprayuktaka, bharyadhikarika, paradarika,vaishika and aupanishadika. Vatsyayana while condensing the individual contributions of Dattaka and others, retained the general scheme of Babhraya in his comprehensive work called kamasutra. Vatsyayana kamasutra became the standard and definitive work on the subject for years to come. It has eclipsed the previous writings on the subject and became the basis of later Kamashastras of 10th century AD.Learning of Kamasutra was mandatory in ancient and medieval India along with Dharmasastra and arthasastra. A Good poet were required to be proficient in knowledge of erotics as well as poetics, logic, grammer and other technical sciences. The work is Sanskrit Sutra Style.

Dated between 4th century BC to 4th century AD.
Vatsyayana mentions Grhya and Dharma Sutras , the Arthasastra of Kautilya and the Mahabhashya of Patanjali. Arthasastra is similar to Kamasutra and both cannot be separated by more than a century or so.They quote the same rare authorities like Charayana and Ghata(ka) mukha. Shamasastri quotes common passages in Arthasastra and Kamasastra. Kalidasa quotes Arthasastra in Sakuntala. Shamasastry also says that Kautilya did not know Panini. Varahamitra Brihatsanhita quotes Vatsyayana ,so the lowest limit can be 6th century AD. Shama Shastri says that Vatsyayana flourished between 137 AD to 209 AD, while Bhandarkar places him around 100 AD, and Keith before 4th century AD. A.K. Warder suggests that Kamasutra was probably produced in 3rd century AD. Doniger and Kakar (2003) almost agree with Warder by assuming that kamasutra must have been composed after 225 AD. Vatsyayana has referred king Satakarni by name. According to Puranas Kuntala Satakarni was 13th Andhra king in Satavahana dynasty. He was son of Mrgendra Svatikarna and he ruled in Kali era 2487-2481 (615-607 BC). The Satavahanas flourished till second century BC. So what is the date let us find out.

Two Vatsyayanas
One Vatsyayana also called Mallanaga, earlier than kalidasa wrote Kamasutra and belonging to Avanti to Banavasi. THe other Vatsyayana wrote Nyaya-Bhaya, a well known exposition on Nyayasutra. The latter is supposed by some scholars to have flourished about fourth century AD in Bihar, but not much is known. The Style of NYaya Bhasya resembles the Mahabhasya and is also comparable to Vartikas in the Astadhyayi. Subandhu, in his well-known prose-romance Vasavadatta refers to Mallanaga as the author of Kamasutra. Yasodhara, the author of Jayamangala, the most authentic commentary available in Sanskrit on this work, also says at the very outset of his commentary that the real name of the author of Kamasutra is Mallanaga, and , he again says that Vatsyayana is just the family name of the author of this text and the name given to him through Samskara (ritual for naming) is Mallanaga.

His name is sometimes confused with Mallanaga, the prophet of the Asuras, to whom the origin of erotic science is attributed. This is an error; as Danielou says -The attribution of the first name Mallanaga to Vatsyayana is due to the confusion of his role as editor of the Kama Sutra with that of the mythical creator of erotic science

Literary works

Babhravya of Panchala region
Babhravya of panchala region is pre vatsyayana authority who traces his works to uddalaka shvetaketu and Nandikeshavara. M M shastri identifies Savataketu Aryneya the highly cultured Philosopher of Upanishads. The Rig veda shows well organised family life with institution of Marriage fully developed in India, therefore the age of the institution of marriage developed should have preceded Rig veda by a very long period, since Rig veda does not discuss any development of the Institution. So the age of Svetaketu Aruneya - an age of of intense metaphysical speculation when the Upanishad literature grew, could certainly not be identical with it.

Vatsyayana quotes Auddalaki three places. One belongs to Samprayoga, another Paradarika and third Vaisika, the third is the longest quotation. Vatsyayana says Rig veda was called Dasatayi and he does not mention Auddalaki at all. Madhavavarman - II, a king of Ganga dynasty wrote a Vrtti on Datakasutras. He was the fifth ancestor of king Durvinita and lived around 380 AD. A fragment of his Vrtti has survived. So Auddalakai is prior to atleast 380AD. Besides these authors, Vatsyayana refers to the views of Babhravya, Ghotakamukha, Gonardiya, Gonikaputra, Carayana, refers to the views of Bharavya, Ghotakamukha, Gonardiya, Gonikaputra, Carayana, Ouddalaki and Suvarnanabha(All before 2nd century BC) very often in his text. He also cites the school of Babharavya or the followers of Babhravya. It seems that the texts of these Acaryas were available to Vatsyayana. But as time passed, these texts by his predecessors were made obsolete by his own work – Kamasutra.

The work follows in the footsteps of Kautilya, the author of Arthasastra, It has seven Adhikaranas or books, 36 chapters, and 64 Prakaranas or topics. Its extent in slokas is a thousand and a quarter. But unlike Kautilya, it gives the tradition of the Sastra first, and then gives its contents. Kautilya does not give the tradition at all. They are to be inferred from his quotations.  Hemacandra's Abhidhanacintamani and Yadavaprakasa's Vaijayanti say that Vatsyayana, Mallanaga, Kautilya, Paksilasvami etc. are the names of one and the same person. Another name associated with the authorship of kamasutra is that of Kamandaka, the famous author of a work Kamandakiya on ethics. We can conclude that both these works stand close to each other in respect of their period of composition. M. Krishnamachariar therefore places Vatsyayana the author of Kamasutra in 4th or 3rd century BC.

Kamasutra Tradition
The tradition of the kamasutra is exceedingly interesting. It says that Prajapati after the creation, delivered a work in one hundred thousand chapters on the three aims of human life. These three aims are : — Dharma, Artha and Kama (Law, Economics and Erotics ) Manu separated the portion assigned to Law and Vrhaspati that to Economics ,Nandi the follower of Mahadeva separated Erotics in one thousand chapters. Auddalaki Svetaketu abridged Erotics in live hundred chapters. Babhravya abridged Svetaketu's work in one hundred and fifty chapters divided into seven Adhikaranas or books, namely, :- (i) Sadharana (preliminary), (ii) Samprayogika (union), (iii) Kanyasamprayuktaka (induc- ing of girls), (iv) Bharyyadhikaranika (section about a wife) (v) Paradarika (adultery) (vi) Vaisika (about public women) (vii) Aupaniadika (secrets).

Gonardiya and Gonikaputra have been referred in the Mahabhasya of Patanjali. Kancinatha, a later author on Kamasastra also quotes from Gonikaputra, so that the work of Gonikaputra might have existed during his times. Jyotirisa, another author in Karnasastra also knew of Gonikaputra.Natyasastra prof. Batuknath Bhattacharya says it is hard to believe that kamasutra was later than Natyasastra. He says considering the style in which it is composed- distinctly Aphoristic in nature and reminiscent of Sutra period(600-200BC). Vatsyayana divides men into sasa , vrsa , Asva and woman into Mrgi,Badava, Hastini from their different capacities of Samproyoga. While Bhrarta in Natyasastra divides women into 24 varieties based on Aestheic, intellectual and Moral Standards. Kamasutra does not mention Natyasastra.

On the request of Pataliputra courtesans, Acharya Dattaka wrote work on Courtesans is used by Vatsyayana for kamasutra. Now Dattaka work is not avaialable in complete gives the vivid details of Pataliputra courtesans. The way Dattaka is mentioned in Kamasutra, it can be safely assumed that Dattaka preceded Vatsyayana by a couple of centuries. But Bana of Harshacharita quotes Dattaka, so the book was still in existence during Bana Period.

The story of dattaka is very interesting. A Brahmin from Mathiira migrated to Pataliputra. A son was born to him at his old age. The mother died at child bed, and the father gave the child to a Brahmani, who named him Dattaka (because he was given to her). The boy grew up, acquired a knowledge of all the Sastras and all the fine arts. On account of his great skill in the exposition of the Sastras, he became famous as Dattakacaryya. Attaining maturity, he was anxious to learn the ways of the world, which, he thought, could be best learnt from public-women. So he went to their quarters every day and learned their ways. So thoroughly did he learn, that at last they used to come to him for advice in matters erotic. Then Virasena and other noted courtesans of Pataliputra requested him to write a treatise on the art of winning lovers.
Father of Dattaka came from Mathnra to Pataliputra and the Brahmana who came there seem to have been attracted by the fact that it was the capital of a big monarchy. Now why are we going so much into Dattaka, because it is during his time the pataliputra was capital, so who was the king at that time.According to Puranas Pataliputra became capital during Guptas.

Vatsyana date may be uncertain ,but it is earlier than Kalidasa. But kalidasa does not talk about vatsyayana, but we have very similar techniques in kalidasa works, this may be from a common source. Kalidasa reveals the knowledge of erotics in the description of Yaksha's wife's svapnasamgama(Union in Dream), in which he specifies the exact period of kamasastra and many other instances as well.


Avagosha the buddist poet makes daring ride into Amorous depictions. The Avagosha seems to well versed with topics in Kamasastra and in Buddhacarita he describes the courtesans of Nanda king and also love-dalliance with his wife Sundari before his conversion to Buddhism.

Historical People and Places.

Vatsyayana mentions Abhiras and Andhras ruling side by side. He Speaks of Abhira Kottaraja Jayatsena, king of kotta in Gujarat, who was killed by Washerman employed by his brother. Then Again in the chapter on conduct of Woman confined to Harems, he describes the sexual abuses practiced in the seraglio of the Abhira kings among others.

King Isvarasena, son of Abhira sivadatta is mentioned as the ruling soverign in on one of the inscriptions. Now we have to get the date for inscriptions. Isvaradatta coins have been found in Malwa, Gujarat and Kathiwad(Saurastra). So there are no kshatrapas during this period. In the Inscription Abhira king names Madhariputra Isvarasena found at Nashik, Madhariputra Isvarasena is described as the son of sivadatta. It records the gift of sakani visnudatta, daughter of saka Agnivarman, wife of the Ganapaka Rebhila and mother Ganapaka visvavarman, of three investments of 2000,1000 and 500 Karspanas in the trade guilds of Govardhana for the purpose of providing medicines for the sick buddhist monks living at the monestery on mount Trirasmi. Following things can be deduced from the inscription

1. Sivadatta is not given any royal Honorific, so Isvarasena is first king of his line.
2. Satavahana mode of dating
3. Satavahanas are living in western maharastra and Guajarat possibly in the service of the Abhira lord.

Gunda inscription, shows the Abhira general Rudrabhuti referring to Rudrasimha as Ksatrapa, ignoring the existence of any Mahasatrapa altogether. This shows that though not assuming any higher title, the Abhira general was the de facto ruler in the state. Gerneral Rudrabhuti is described as the son of general Bapaka.
We have Inscription of Abhira Vasusena of the year 30 at NagarjunaKonda. We dont have any knowledge of Abhira ruling Guntur region, but the Inscripion is not about Pilgirmage. Kadamba King Mayurasarma (340-360AD) refers to a fight with Abhiras and Trikutakas (We dont know if Trikutakas are subordinates or overlords of Abhiras). But we don't have any evidence in inscriptions or Puranas of Abhiras and Andhras ruling side by side. In the Chapter Isvarakamita or the The Lust of the Rulers. Abhiras had been found from Mahabharata days. Abhiras had been found along with Alexander. Abhiras has been mentioned by Ptolemy. So dating Vatsyayana using Abhiras is not possible. And we have to find a period when Sakas were not there. Only Satavahanas and Abhiras were there. And Malwa is different from Abhira. So we can't date Vatsyayana to Gunda Inscription 180AD, when Abhira rule was in Malwa.

Saka, Bhoja, Gupta

Vatsyayana refers to Abhiras and Andhras lived side by side. And no mention of Sakas Vatsyayana refers to the scandal by Dandakya , the Bhoja who must have lived many centuries prior to him.  Guptas are not mentioned in Kamasutra. We have seen Bhoja's and Mahabhoja are just the titles of kings like Raja and Maharaja. Guptas are not mentinoed but the capital is mentioned as Pataliputra.

Vatsyayana mentions southern countries to be south of Karnata visaya and Vanavaso visya was east of Gokarna and Vaijayanti(Modern Banavasi) is place of his composition.

R. G . Bhandarkar points out that Kuntala Satkarni. According to Puranic list of Andhra's, Kuntala Svati or Svatikarna is the thirteenth in the descent from Simuka founder of the family. Vatsyayana has to be nearer to Kuntala satkarni because the sex scandal seems to be very fresh in presenatioan. K P Jayaswal points out Sri Malla Satakarni, the third monarch from the list with Hathigumpha inscription of Khravela. The difference between Kuntala and Malla is 168 Years from puranas. Again from Puranas Gautamiputra Satakarni is separated from him by 133years.

Vatsyayana mentions how Satakarni of Kuntala killed his queen Malayaevati with an instrument called kartari by striking her in the passion of love and vatsyayana quotes this case to warn people of the danger arising from some old customs of striking women when under influence of passion.. Vatsyayana mentions kuntala as tht country with Vaijayanti(Banavasi) as the capital. According to Puranas Kuntala Satakarni was 13th Andhra king. He was son of Mrgendra Svatikarna and he ruled in Kali era 2487-2481 (615-607 BC). The Satavahanas flourished till 3rd century BC.

Countries Mentioned
The tribes and tribal countries mentioned by him are Andhras, Vatsagulmakas, Vaidarbhas, Apaiantakas, Saurastrikas, Abhirakas, Strairajyakas, Gaudas, Saindhavas, Haimavatas, Pracyas, Vangas, Angas, Kalingas, Xagarakas, Madhyadesa- kas Valhikas, Avantikas, Malavas, Abhiras, the land en- closed by six rivers (with the Sindhu as the sixth). Lata, Kosala, Saketa, Ahicchatra, Saurasena Mahaiastra, Dravida, Vaaavasika and Cola. The commentator gives some accurate directions for finding out these countries or the habitations of these tribes. Vatsyayana describes various forms of sexual abuse practised by the kings. The Kings are Aparantakas, Vaidarbhas, Saurashtrakas, Vatsagulmakas and Andhras. The Andhras mentioned here is not the Imperial Andhras ,but Andhrabhrtyas or servants of Andhra dynasty. Among them Vastsyayana mentions Abhiras, Gardabinas,sakas.

Literary works
Prof Bhattacharya remarks that all the predecessors like Bhabharvya are before 4th century BC, while vatsyayana is pushed back to 3rd or 4th century AD. As Prof Bhattacharya says all the works that Vatsyayana quotes are in 4th century to 3rd Century BC. Vatsyayana does not quote Natyasastra. Varahamihira mentions Kamasutra, Virahamihira dated around 6th century AD.

Saka's are mentioned in Kamasutra, the period of sakas we know is between 6nd century BC(Darius) to 1st century AD(Saka Era). So Kamasutra can be any period between these dates, as it does not mention any Huns.

Andhra and Andhrabritya
The Only known king mentioned is Satakarni.. Shatakarni as such seems to be important position like commander of battalion in Andhra dyansty hierarchy. Now who is is this satakarni. Let us go to the basic identities. According to Puranas there are Andhra's and Andhrabritya's. However for Indology both are same. The puranas mention Andhras ruled Magadha before Guptas and dating is before 300BC. After start of Gupta rule, they Andhras lost power but Andhrabritya's (Servants of Andhra's) that is commanders, feudatories and Generals continue to rule as separate entities. Andhrabritya's are Ikshvakus, Abhiras, Chutu Nagas etc. While Andhras ruled from Magadha with Girivraja (Rajgir) as the capital. Andhrabritya's were confined to south of Vindhyas and Malwa. Without going any further let us treat Andhrabritya as different from Andhras. Now we have Satakarni, one of the Andhrabritya ruling in kuntala region. Also we have a Satakarni mentioned in Hathimgumpha inscription by Kharvela. Remember Kharvela when invading Magadha ransacks Capital Rajgir, not Pataliputra. So during Andhra shatakarni time the Magadha capital was still Rajgir.

One line of Andhrabritya Chutu Nagas have marital relation with Andhras. So we can see Andhra names in this Naga line as well. Megasthanes discusses about Andhras in south. So by time of Megasthanes the Andhra dynasty in Magadha is finished and already Andhrabritya's are ruling. As per Puranas Chutu Nagas are ruling in most parts of central and southern India. But shatakarni was ruling from kuntala. So we defintely speaking about one from kuntala or karnataka region. This Shatakarni is not before 300BC, but later. The Ashoka rock edict mention about satyaputo. We have already seen in Satavahana article, shatakarni means son of Sata, Satyaputo also means the same. Since both are same, we can come to a conclusion that Satyoputo in Edict means Andhrabritya. The chutus Nagas, who had marital relations with Andhras can be called satyoputo's. We know Saka rule ended in 78AD Saka era. So From these accounts we can say that Shatakarni of kamasutra can have ruled between 4th century BC to 1st century AD.

Kamasutra as inferred from literary sources to be after 3rd century BC as it quotes Arthasastra. Kamasutra is slightly ahead in literary style  than Kalidasa. We have already put kalidasa to be around 50BC. Now the Saka's are ruling upto 1st century AD. Our identification of Shatakarni or Abhira has hit a dead end. The Pataliputra became capital during Guptas. Now Guptas are dated to 4th and 5th century AD. So we have to date Dattaka to be that period. Then when do you date Kamasutra. This is now Indology dates ties us up in knots. We can very clearly see Guptas to be dated to 4th and 3rd century BC. So the dating of Vatsyayana Kamasutra will be century later that Dattaka (3rd Century BC) and Century Earlier than Kalidasa(1st century BC), that is 2nd century BC.

Social life in ancient India: studies in Vatsyayana's Kama Sutra By Haran Chandra Chakladar
The Positive Background of Hindu Sociology : 'Introduction to Hindu Positivism By Benoy Kumar Sarkar
Some early dynasties of South India  By S. Chattopadhyaya
Foreign influence on ancient India  By Krishna Chandra Sagar
The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland  1911
Kamasutra Of Vatsyayana by Radhavallabh Tripathi
The Encyclopaedia Of Indian Literature  By Amaresh Datta

Related Links
Date of Kalidasa
Origin of Satavahana
Did Megasthanes Meet Chandragupta