The Kama Sutra (or Kama Shastra) is one of three ancient Indian texts written in the Sanskrit language that describe the permissable goals of life. It is devoted to the pursuit of karma, a legitimate goal but less exalted than the goal of artha (power), while the pursuit of dharma (moral law) was considered the most worthy.
Since creating the next generation is a vital task in ensuring the stability of society, all adults should know methods of achieving it efficiently and pleasurably. According to tradition, the companion of Shiva, Nandi, who overheard the god making love to his wife Parvati and was consequently inspired, wrote the original Kama Sutra. The scholar Vatsayana redacted this version, sometime in the early centuries of the Common Era, possibly the fourth century. Vatsayana was an important commentator on the sutras, or aphorisms that were given by Gautama Buddha to humankind for assisting them in their spiritual development. However, Vatsayana’s version seems to incorporate works from other scholars and his own observations according to the accepted Indian tradition.
Although the Kama Sutra has become widely known as a semipornographic work of erotica, this is not the sole topic of its content. The acts of love or sexual congress are divided into eight different methods, each of which may be performed in one of eight different positions. There are, therefore, 64 different arts of love. Both heterosexuality and homosexuality are addressed, as well as female sexual satisfaction. These sections may be seen as strengthening the bonds between people because they include details not just on how to create the next generation but also on how to provide pleasure and variety to each other without seeking a new domestic situation. The remainder of the 35 chapters also cover methods to attract a spouse and how to be a good wife, among a variety of other topics. Many people continue to follow the precepts of the Kama Sutra in the modern world, and some self-help manuals were inspired by it.