To learn Indian traditions concerning past sexual norms, it is best to consult the old Hindu love manuals. Such a study will prove interesting and rewarding in its way, especially for students who set out to read about, to re-imagine and or to re-discover the wealth of Indian erotic literature.
The Kama Sutra is still one of the most famous love manuals from the region. Well known among collector’s of erotica, the compiled illustrations of the Kama Sutra is still regarded as one of the most complete, adventurous and yes, creative collections to be in existence. With over a hundred illustrations, the book strongly encouraged lessons in pleasure between married couples and teaches over a hundred of sex positions, many of which were variations on a couple of basic positions.
However popular the Kama Sutra was, it was not the only Hindu love manual that garnered considerable attention. Although not as well-known, the Ananga-Ranga is another outstanding example of Indian erotic literature. The book is filled up with tips, advices and suggestions on how to solve a number of problems, many of which are marital problems. When the book comes to the section on sexual congress, a great deal of emphasis is put on variety and how it is the solution to most problems in the bedroom.
After all, monotony is the enemy that sets in after the possession has taken place. And if one has already taken possession, one or both parties may no longer be excited or thrilled to engage in carnal pursuits. Satisfaction is a great enemy. And variety is one of the most effective ways to keep satisfaction from completely settling in and turning an exciting marriage into a ho-hum one.
This is why the Ananga-Ranga teaches a number of variations on common sex positions. Though some are similar to Vatsyayana’s work in the Kama Sutra, the Ananga-Ranga differs from its predecessor in the sense that its sole purpose is to keep married couples together. Kalyana Malla, the author of Ananga-Ranga which appeared a thousand years after Kama Sutra, wrote down common beliefs at the time.
One of these beliefs discussed the ten states or conditions that indicated if an individual was already consumed by her desire and thus, must already engage in sexual contact. If one found herself in any of these states, she must already engage in coitus or risk harming her health. It was an accepted truth to people of the time.
And yes, under certain circumstances—when someone was deemed completely helpless and under control of her own desires that she must feel she is on the brink of death— that individual is free to engage in sexual relations with any man, even if she is married or if the man she fancies is married to someone else, with the full blessing of the family and sometimes, even of the entire community.
Based on the text, people of those times seemed to view sex without shame. There were few taboos. What was plenty was the instructions, suggestions on how to please one’s self and one’s partner in sexual congress, an indication of their openness to the subject. Sex was a shared experience, a public one, a way to purify one’s mortal body. And while the quality of their openness did not survive to today, it is still interesting to note the contrast, how that free-spirited perspective on sex transformed to the rigid, conservative sexual norms observed now in most of Asia.
One hopes that most new students bent on studying just to learn Indian sexual norms, upon re-reading these Hindu texts re-imagine that freedom and realize that sexual pleasure can never be complete or achieved without it.
To learn Indian sexual practices from the Ananga-Ranga is one of the most pleasurable ways to pass the time. The Ananga-Ranga, an erotic instruction text written a thousand years after the Kama Sutra, provides a number of ways through which a married couple can renew and even keep the excitement and thrill in their marriage.
As with all things that are done repeatedly, satiety becomes a problem. Familiarity breeds contempt, repetition breeds boredom. This is the same with love-making. When done in the same way, the same pace, the excitement and passion burns out, pleasure escapes and the sexual need becomes little more than memory.
This is basically what the Ananga-Ranga problematizes and addresses. To keep a married couple together, both must work at introducing spice into their lives, most especially into their sex life. When the novelty wears off and the flames of passion die back to a steady glow, great love manuals of the East like the Ananga-Ranga encourage men and women to perfect a variety of sexual techniques. Learning different sexual techniques is one way to keep the boredom from reaching the bedroom. Bring back that element of surprise, that sense of breathless wonder. Every time is the first time. The passion must leave both man and woman smoldering.
Kalyana Malla, author of the book, sees monotony as the primary reason for a husband or a wife to give in to temptation or for the other to be driven by jealousy. He believes it is rarely that both individuals inside a marriage love each other equally. There must always be the other one that loves more than his or her partner does. Thus, the other is always open, willing to be seduced by passion—for someone else.
The Ananga-Ranga offers a very apt advice to our time. Knowing full well how fights and squabbles often happen, what causes them, and how some of them may be attended to, can be the first steps in curing the boredom, especially if these often spring from problems in the marital bed. By educating themselves, married couples can and will know how to give as well as receive sexual pleasure. With this, man and woman ensure that their relationship, their marriage is solid, that monotony is far from happening.
One technique is for the man to lift the girl by passing his elbows under her knees. He can enjoy her as she hangs trembling with her arms forming a garland around his neck. This coupling is called Janukurpura, the Knee Elbow.
Another technique is when the woman buries her face in the pillow and goes on all fours like an animal. The man can have sex with her from behind as though he were a wild beast. This position is Harina, the Deer.
When straightening her legs, the woman grips the man’s penis like a stallion, it is Vadavaka, the Mare. This coupling is not easily done and must be learned through practice. If lying with her face turned away, the woman offers the man her buttocks and he presses his penis into the vagina or what Malla calls the house of love. This variation is called Nagabandha, the coupling of the Cobra.
To learn Indian sexual techniques, even a few, from the Ananga-Ranga, may provide just the perfect bit of surprise, challenge and thrill missing when the couple find themselves in between the sheets.
0. The coming of the prophet 1. Love 2. Marriage 3. Children 4. Giving 5. Eating and Drinking 6. Work 7. Joy and Sorrow 8. Houses 9. Pets 10. Clothes 11. Buying and Selling 12. Crime and Punishment 13. Laws 14. Freedom 15. Reason and Passion 16. Pain 17. Self-Knowledge 18. Teaching 19. Friendship 20. Talking 21. Time and Space 22. Good and Evil 23. Prayer 24. Pleasure 25. Beauty 26. Religion 27. Death 28. Forms Of Existence 29. Real vs Virtual 30. The Farewell