Love is probably the most complex emotion felt by humans. The understanding of this concept has never really been clear to mankind for if that had been the case then marital lives of many would be very different from what they are today. We can’t simply blame the present rise in divorce rates in the current generation or on love marriages, for our understanding of a successful marriage is very narrow, and accepting one where the couple stays together till one of them dies. But a marriage or a relationship where you have felt like a captive is not a happy union at all. While we sure can’t change the mentality of the masses regarding arranged marriages, or simply marriages, what we can do is ensure that we find the right person to love, and that isn’t as simple as finding someone who loves you as much as you love him.
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The sixthpart of the Kama Sutra is titled ‘About Courtesans’. As the title implies, here Vatsyayana has given guidance to courtesans, on matters related to their work and how to get the most out of their situation. If we look at this part from a different perspective, it teaches us that love alone cannot sustain life, for there are other essentials that need to be present in your partner to make your life better. Of course, Vatsyayana’s tips need to be manipulated a little to fit the audience that I am aiming at here, however, the change is not of a great magnitude. Thus, here is a blog on what all needs to be kept in mind for the right kind of love and a happy life as well.
Being the Right Partner
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Before expecting anything from others we need to look within ourselves and make ourselves worthy of all that we desire. This portion of the blog is inspired by the qualities that Vatsyayana points out are the most important characteristics that must be present in a courtesan. Contrary to our regard for the courtesans, or prostitutes, as we more commonly call them today, back in the ancient days, those courtesans who “behaved themselves with decency and propriety (they) were regarded with a certain respect” for courtesans were provided with an education equal to, or maybe even better than, the high-born ladies of the day.
Let us understand here that monogamy was not a popular notion amongst the people of that time, especially the rich. Thus, even if your marriage was unsuccessful you could always resort to a courtesan who could provide you with everything you didn’t find in your wife. As the scenario has changed greatly now, the guide for a courtesan can be incorporated in our own personality as well to some extent, to be an agreeable partner, desired by many.
Physical appearance has been given a place in Vatsyayana’s list, however, it shouldn’t be the only virtue of the woman. She should have a liking for good qualities in other people, and should always incorporate these qualities within herself, rather than being jealous.
“She should take delight in sexual unions, resulting from love, and should be of a firm mind, and of the same class as the man with regard to sexual enjoyment.”
She should always be open to gaining more knowledge and experience, be free from avarice, be of a sociable nature, and should enjoy as well as engage in arts.
Intelligence, good disposition, good manners, and an active nature have been considered to be natural talents that a woman must possess. Along with these, special focus has been given to women being straight forward, as opposed to our general conception that things need to be said indirectly for good results; of a consistent behavior, for mood swings are the biggest turn-offs ever; and aware of the right time to say or do things.
Separating the Worthy from the Unworthy
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Vatsyayana comments that a courtesan engages in any sexual union with the primary motive of making a living for herself, which would make one think that all they need to look for is a wealthy man. However, there are some very strict and set qualities that Vatsyayana describes of men who a courtesan should and should not engage with, which can be very useful in choosing the right partner for anyone. Another very important thing that many of us tend to overlook these days is the fact that before engaging in a commitment of any sort we should know more about the person we are dealing with. In Kama Sutra, the courtesans have been asked to have certain friends that would help them with the process and we should do the same when dating someone we haven’t known for long, and trust me, even a year is a short time for knowing someone.
The man worthy of your acquaintance should be “learned, with a good knowledge of the world”, whom we refer to as educated these days, but a strong intellect along with education is highly recommended. Should know the proper time to say or do things, should be eloquent, energetic, skilled in various arts, and far-sighted, as those who live in the moment even with regards to things that matter rarely get anywhere.
The man should be “full of perseverance, of a firm devotion, free from anger, liberal, affectionate to their parents, of a sociable nature, showing love towards women and attracting them to himself, but not entirely attached to them, possessed of independent means of livelihood, free from envy, and last of all, free from suspicion”.
So, as Vatsyayana clearly enumerates, that being possessive is not the same as being abnormally envious and suspicious on the slightest of changes, but what also needs to be kept in mind is that Vatsyayana’s perfect woman doesn’t take advantage of this trust either.
Apart from the men that lack the above-mentioned qualities those which have been considered unfit to be resorted with are those that are consumptive, avaricious, pitiless, self-conceited, disrespectful, easily influenced, and lastly those that are extremely bashful.
Maintaining the Perfect Union
So you have become the ideal woman and have also found the ideal man, what next? Don’t be deceived into thinking that next comes the happily ever after for this is not a fairy tale. Our life before a relationship doesn’t end after we are committed to one, which is a mistake that people generally make and when their dream romance ends badly, going back to the way things were, becomes the biggest problem. Through Vatsyayana’s lessons of gain and losses, we can learn many things that should be done and avoided to lead a happy life with your partner, for it is possible for two perfect people to not get along, even when both of them were without any faults.
Vatsyayana advises that when the choice is between a lover who is generous and one that is really attached to you, the preference should be given to the latter, for the man attached to a woman can be made generous. Although this advice has been given in terms of the money that a courtesan can make, I urge the readers of this blog to understand the implication of such rules in their own love life. Vatsyayana is also of the opinion that a generous man should be chosen over one that is ready to do any service for you, for the latter would feel himself entitled to a service in exchange while the former’s act would be unconditional. The choice between a liberal and a grateful man is tough, however Kama Sutra suggests that liberal men generally being haughty, plain spoken, and wanting in consideration towards others should be passed over for a grateful lover, for a liberal is more prone to arguments and being easily offended as they expect everything to be according to their ideals, which have been formed after much deliberation, however a grateful lover shall always keep in mind the pains that you must have gone through to please him.
Friends should not be taken for granted over lovers, for firstly they have been with you for longer and will be there for you most certainly, while the same cannot be said about the lover, and second, friends get easily offended when they are kept aside for the lover as for them life hasn’t changed because of your relationship, you have. It is thus always preferable to maintain the same regard and importance for friends as was held prior to the present engagement with the lover.
Thus, end Vatsyayana’s tips for a happy relationship or married life. Of course, when you read this part there are lots of tips that I have skipped in my blog for those were the tips exclusively for courtesans. This text although old, holds lots of relevance in the present-day context, even the parts specifically targeted for a certain group can be useful to all of us in this day for times have changed a great deal and with that should change our application of the Kama Sutra. Hence, in the end, I once again urge my readers to not let their minds be biased by the fact that the guidance provided in this text should be used only by courtesans for if women in those days read and applied these to their married lives then their husbands would probably have not resorted to courtesans at all.