A review of Kama Sutra: New Translation by A.N.D. Haksar

Reviewed by Sheri Harper

Kama Sutra: New Translation
by A.N.D. Haksar
Penguin Books

ISBN-13: 978-0143106593, Jan 2012, 240 pages

I’ve read the Kama Sutra before, but got bogged down in earlier translations with all the details about how to be a good person and all the rituals related to attracting a lover or spouse. What I most remember is how prescriptive everything was i.e. you needed to have sex in a certain fashion requiring that you make certain sounds, etc. The new translation of the Kama Sutra by A.N.D. Haksar is very much improved in my mind because of the organization of the book,  the helpful table of contents, and the useful explanations in very simple language that discuss love, lovemaking, roles in lovemaking, marriage, courtesans and wives etc.

At the opening of the book, A.N.D. Haksar provides an introduction to the Kama Sutra by Vatsayayana and its place in the literary history of Hindu culture. The author is a well-known translator and diplomat. He opens the discussion of the Kama Sutra by explaining the three ends to be achieved in life: Dharma or virtue and righteousness, Artha or wealth, power and wellbeing and Kama or the desire for sensual pleasures. At all places in this book, a translation of well-known Hindu terms such as Dharma are provided in parenthesis along with a generalized meaning of the term, which is very helpful for readers.

The first book covered is a generalized statement about how women and men learn, what is important to know and then covers the life of the gentleman. I’m not sure how many gentleman live the life thus described but it offers perhaps a historical view.

The second book is where all the action occurs. The introduction covers types of union between men and women based on the size of each other’s parts. It also covers how the stages of lovemaking may differ between men and women. Kissing is described as is a game to play with kissing. Touching, scratching, use of nails, massage, biting, hitting, moaning and other activities during sex are covered in detail. In conclusion, what occurs after sex to maintain a level of intimacy is described including a visit on the roof to see the moon and stars.

The third book covers how a man should deal with the first days of marriage with a maiden and how a maiden with modest means needs to be a bit more proactive about the search for a partner. The object of this chapter is for the husband to gain the confidence of the girl with little experience and for the girl of limited experience to protect her interests when finding a husband.

The fourth book deals with sexual relations beyond the marriage between a man and the wives of other men. Included is how to seduce the woman and how to pass messages back and forth.

The last book deals with sexual relations with a paid partner; the book uses the term courtesan. I guess it recognizes the fact that relationships are always about partnership and when you enter into them, people offer what they have to help the other make their way in life.

Overall, this new Kama Sutra edition is readable for most audiences. It offers ways that men and women can appreciate each other at all aspects in life.

About the reviewer: Sheri Fresonke Harper is a poet and writer. She’s been published in many small journals and is working on her second science fiction novel. See www.sfharper.com