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Kama Sutra

For generations people have giggled nervously at the very mention of the Kama Sutra, but few actually know what the book is about.

1. The exact origins of the Kama Sutra are vague, but it was written between the 1st and 4th Centuries AD by a man called Vatsyayana, who lived in the North Indian city of Benares - now called Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh.

2. It was written in the ancient Sanskrit language. In Sanskrit, Kama means desire and Sutra means rules. In the context of the book "desire" includes singing, reading, poetry and dancing as well as sex.

3. The Kama Sutra contains a total of 64 sexual positions. Vatsyayana believed there were eight ways of making love, multiplied by eight positions within each of these. In the book, they are known as the 64 Atrs.

4. Only about 20 per cent of the book is devoted to sexual positions. The remainder gives guidance on how to be a good citizen and insights into men and women in relationships.

5. The Kama Sutra describes making love as "divine union".

6. Lovers who suffer from medical complaints such as back pain and arthritis are warned not to attempt some of the Kama Sutra's positions. .

7. Kama is the Hindu god of love. The word also refers to the pursuit of love or pleasure, one of the four aims of life in Hindu traditions. Kama is always depicted as a handsome youth, shooting arrows of love that produce love. His wife is Rati.

8. It recommends both biting and scratching as ways of improving love-making, but insists on high standards of cleanliness. It states: "The qualities of good nails are that they should be bright, well set, clean, entire, convex, soft, and glossy in appearance. The

9. There are 10 methods of kissing in the Kama Sutra (including) - the nominal kiss, the probing kiss, the touching kiss, the straight kiss, the bent kiss, the turned kiss, the pressed kiss and the greatly pressed kiss - and four ways to administer the kiss. That gives a total of 40 different ways to kiss a lover.


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