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My Culture Teaches About Sex

Yes, my culture teaches about sex. I'm a Hindu Kashmiri Pandit born in the land of Kamasutra and the Tantra.

About 1,500 years a book came into existence, famously known as Kamasutra, compiled by Vātsyāyana.

When you read Kamasutra, you realise it is not a guidebook on sex but a manual on how to live a pleasurable life. In fact, only 20 percent of Kamasutra deals with sexual activity. Kamasutra tells us how a refined human is supposed to live and engage with friends, how their house should be designed so it can give them pleasure, and how they need the help of allies to find lovers.

Ten chapters of the book focus on the act of love, on erotica itself–the stimulation of desire, the different kinds of embraces, caressing, kissing, biting, scratching, various copulatory positions, slapping, moaning, behavior of women and oral sex. It talks about foreplay and after play.

Hindu texts often declare that the four goals of human life are dharma (ethics), artha (wealth), kama (pleasure), and moksha (liberation). As one goes through Hindu scriptures, one finds different sexual activities that can easily be classified as dharma sex, artha sex, kama sex, and moksha sex (not explored in Kamasutra).

  • In dharma sex, the purpose of sexual activity is only procreation. There is no love here, no desire, and no attachment, just duty.

  • In kama sex, the purpose is pleasure, nothing else. Here, the focus is to indulge the senses and excite the mind and achieve orgasm. This especially catered to the homosexuals and people in non-monogamous relationship(s).

  • In artha sex, sex is a transaction. They use sex as a service offered in exchange for material favours. This was most commonly used by women known as ganikas or courtesans who provided all kinds of pleasure to men who will pay for their services.

  • Finally, there is moksha sex, where sex is a technique to break free from the unending cycle of birth and death, an idea prevalent in Tantrik texts.

I'm born in the land of Kamasutra, yet today India seems to have a very conservative image in the world where we shy away from talking about sex and engaging in it in the false name of cultural policing that has only benefitted people of power or cishet population. The British and Mughal colonization and the values that were imported from the West influence and transform the current sexual mores of most of the country. And it still continues to do so. My point isn't to bad mouth any culture or religion. I strictly speak for mine and probably encourage everyone to feel comfortable to contest theirs, which shames them for being themselves. I was told as a Hindu female that my culture doesn't encourage sex. Females don't masturbate and we reserved sex for procreation only. Years later, when I started dwelling into this domain, Kamasutra and other Hindu scriptures had a different story to tell. And everything suddenly made sense!

Why am I sharing this?

Because Kamasutra is one of the most sort after and referred manual in the whole wide world and it needs to be decolonized. Over the years, many western countries have taken the liberty to dilute the perception of Kamasutra as a book that is gendered and focuses on penetration. On the contrary, Kamasutra is an exciting text of its time, covering the subject of sex practically. There is no condemnation of sex with courtesans and partners of other men, or polygamy. We see a very different world in the book than the one we live in, where sex itself is viewed as a shameful act, where women have to submit to men and partner(s) owe sex to each other.

These are the erotic traditions of India that no modern government will include in school or college curriculum or the western countries shed light on. Instead, they make us feel ashamed for having sexual desire in a world whose origins began with celebrating sex and pleasure for a sense of purpose and being.

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