Vātsyāyana  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Vātsyāyana is the name of a Hindu philosopher in the Vedic tradition who is believed to have lived during time of the Gupta Empire (4th to 6th centuries AD) in India. His name appears as the author of the Kama Sutra and of Nyāya Sutra Bhāshya, the first commentary on Gotama's Nyāya Sutras.

His name is sometimes confused with Mallanaga, the prophet of the Asuras, to whom the origin of erotic science is attributed. This is an error; as Danielou says:

The attribution of the first name Mallanaga to Vatsyayana is due to the confusion of his role as editor of the Kama Sutra with that of the mythical creator of erotic science.

Hardly anything is known about him. At the close of the Kama Sutra this is what he writes about himself:

After reading and considering the works of Babhravya and other ancient authors, and thinking over the meaning of the rules given by them, this treatise was composed, according to the precepts of the Holy Writ, for the benefit of the world, by Vatsyayana, while leading the life of a religious student at Benares, and wholly engaged in the contemplation of the Deity. This work is not to be used merely as an instrument for satisfying our desires. A person acquainted with the true principles of this science, who preserves his Dharma (virtue or religious merit), his Artha (worldly wealth) and his Kama (pleasure or sensual gratification), and who has regard to the customs of the people, is sure to obtain the mastery over his senses. In short, an intelligent and knowing person attending to Dharma and Artha and also to Kama, without becoming the slave of his passions, will obtain success in everything that he may do.'

It is impossible to fix the exact date either of the life of Vatsyayana or of his work. It is believed that he must have lived between the 1st and 6th century AD, on the following grounds: He mentions that Satakarni Satavahana, a king of Kuntal, killed Malayevati his wife with an instrument called Katamari by striking her in the passion of love. Vatsyayana quotes this case to warn people of the danger arising from some old customs of striking women when under the influence of sexual passion. This king of Kuntal is believed to have lived and reigned during the 1st century AD, and consequently Vatsyayana must have lived after him. On the other hand, another author, Varahamihira, in the eighteenth chapter of his "Brihatsanhita", discusses of the science of love, and appears to have borrowed largely from Vatsyayana on the subject. Varahamihira is believed to have lived during the 6th century, and therefore Vatsyayana must have written his works before the 6th century.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Vātsyāyana" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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