New version of 'Kama Sutra' a guide for modern life

Last Updated 25 October 2010, 07:07 IST

Instead of the erotic drawings and sexual illustrations that have accompanied various translations of the ancient Hindu text, the new edition, to be published by Penguin, will be a text-only pocket-sized handbook, described as a "classy" manual "covering every aspect of love and relationships", The Daily Telegraph reported.

The new version, written by A.N.D. Haksar, an Indian scholar and a leading translator of Sanskrit texts, will include chapters with headings such as "Making a Pass", "Why Women Get Turned Off", "Girls to Avoid", "Is he Worthwhile?", "Getting rid of him", "Easy Women", "Moves towards sex," and "Some Do's and Don'ts".

Haksar was quoted as saying: "The common perception of the 'Kama Sutra' is that it is only about sex, but any honest reading of the book shows that it is about lifestyle and social relations between human beings.

"My effort with the new translation has been to stay as close as possible to the original text but to present it in a contemporary language which reflects the contemporary issues within the book."

The book is originally believed to have been written in the third century by Indian sage Vatsyayana, as a guide for the courtly gentleman of the time.

"Kama" means "the desire for sensual pleasure", but in contrast to popular theory, only one of the Kama Sutra's seven "books" is dedicated purely to sex.

The second and longest book outlines tips on how to enhance sexual pleasure and provides detailed descriptions of intricate sexual positions.

The six other sections deal with social etiquette and good-living, courtship, marriage, extramarital relations, mistresses and courtesans and advice on how to enhance one's physical attractiveness.

The book also includes relationship advice for women, such as avoiding men who talk too much or who have "breath which smells of crows".

The book also encourages women to seek out either a "fatalist wanting to spend his money fast" or a man "with a steady income" who is "as strong as a bull in sex", "full of life and not addicted to drinking" and "who flirts with them but is not in their control".

Alexis Kirschbaum, the editorial director at Penguin, said the new version of the book, to be published in February, would be "less pornographic, and more a lifestyle guide for the urbane and modern gentleman and woman".

"This is the most accurate, authentic version to date. Until now, the 'Kama Sutra' has always been presented as a scandalous, 1960s hippie-influenced pornographic sex book. But it was originally written as advice to a courtly gentleman on how to live a well-rounded life, not just a passionate life," she said.

"We are therefore stripping away all of those pornographic interpretations people have put on it and presenting the book as a modern and savvy guide for how to live well."

(Published 24 October 2010, 14:00 IST)

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