The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, tr. by Richard Burton, [1883]




THE wives of other people may be resorted to on the occasions already described in Part I, Chapter V, of this work, but the possibility of their acquisition, their fitness for cohabitation, the danger to oneself in uniting with them, and the future effect of these unions, should first of all be examined. A man may resort to the wife of another, for the purpose of saving his own life, when he perceives that his love for her proceeds from one degree of intensity to another. These degrees are ten in number, and are distinguished by the following marks:

  • Love of the eye
  • Attachment of the mind
  • Constant reflection
  • Destruction of sleep
  • Emaciation of the body
  • Turning away from objects of enjoyment
  • Removal of shame
  • Madness
  • Fainting
  • Death

Ancient authors say that a man should know the disposition, truthfulness, purity, and will of a young woman, as also the intensity, or weakness of her passions, from the form of her body, and from her characteristic marks and signs. But Vatsyayana is of opinion that the forms of bodies, and the characteristic marks or signs are but erring tests of character, and that women should be judged by their conduct, by the outward expression of their thoughts, and by the movements of their bodies.

Now as a general rule Gonikaputra says that a woman falls in love with every handsome man she sees, and so does every man at the sight of a beautiful woman, but frequently they do not take any further steps, owing to various considerations. In love the following circumstances are peculiar to the woman. She loves without regard to right or wrong, 1 and does not try to gain over a man simply for the attainment of some particular purpose. Moreover, when a man first makes up to her she naturally shrinks from him, even though she may be willing to unite herself with him. But when the attempts to gain her are repeated and renewed, she at last consents. But with a man, even though he may have begun to love, he conquers his feelings from a regard for morality and wisdom, and although his thoughts are often on the woman, he does not yield, even though an attempt be made to gain him over. He sometimes makes an attempt or effort to win the object of his affections, and having failed, he leaves her alone for the future. In the same way, when a woman is once gained, he often becomes indifferent about her. As for the saying that a man does not care for what is easily gained, and only desires a thing which cannot be obtained without difficulty, it is only a matter of talk.

The causes of a woman rejecting the addresses of a man are as follows:

  • Affection for her husband
  • Desire of lawful progeny
  • Want of opportunity
  • Anger at being addressed by the man too familiarly
  • Difference in rank of life
  • Want of certainty on account of the man being devoted travelling
  • Thinking that the man may be attached to some other person
  • Fear of the man’s not keeping his intentions secret
  • Thinking that the man is too devoted to his friends, and has too great a regard for them
  • The apprehension that he is not in earnest
  • Bashfulness on account of his being an illustrious man
  • Fear on account of his being powerful, or possessed of too impetuous passion, in the case of the deer woman
  • Bashfulness on account of his being too clever
  • The thought of having once lived with him on friendly terms only
  • Contempt of his want of knowledge of the world
  • Distrust of his low character
  • Disgust at his want of perception of her love for him
  • In the case of an elephant woman, the thought that he is a hare man, or a man of weak passion
  • Compassion lest anything should befall him on account of his passion
  • Despair at her own imperfections
  • Fear of discovery
  • Disillusion at seeing his grey hair or shabby appearance
  • Fear that he may be employed by her husband to test her chastity
  • The thought that he has too much regard for morality

Whichever of the above causes a man may detect, he should endeavour to remove it from the very beginning. Thus, the bashfulness that may arise from his greatness or his ability, he should remove by showing his great love and affection for her. The difficulty of the want of opportunity, or of his inaccessibility, he should remove by showing her some easy way of access. The excessive respect entertained by the woman for him should be removed by making himself very familiar. The difficulties that arise from his being thought a low character he should remove by showing his valour and his wisdom; those that come from neglect by extra attention; and those that arise from fear by giving her proper encouragement.

The following are the men who generally obtain success with women:

  • Men well versed in the science of love
  • Men skilled in telling stories
  • Men acquainted with women from their childhood Men
  • who have secured their confidence
  • Men who send presents to them
  • Men who talk well
  • Men who do things that they like
  • Men who have not loved other women previously
  • Men who act as messengers
  • Men who know their weak points
  • Men who are desired by good women
  • Men who are united with their female friends
  • Men who are good looking
  • Men who have been brought up with them
  • Men who are their neighbours
  • Men who are devoted to sexual pleasures, even though these be with their own servants
  • The lovers of the daughters of their nurse
  • Men who have been lately married
  • Men who like picnics and pleasure parties
  • Men who are liberal
  • Men who are celebrated for being very strong (Bull men)
  • Enterprising and brave men
  • Men who surpass their husbands in learning and good looks, in good qualities, and in liberality
  • Men whose dress and manner of living are magnificent

The following are the women who are easily gained over:

  • Women who stand at the doors of their houses
  • Women who are always looking out on the street
  • Women who sit conversing in their neighbour’s house
  • A woman who is always staring at you
  • A female messenger
  • A woman who looks sideways at you
  • A woman whose husband has taken another wife without any just cause
  • A woman who hates her husband, or who is hated by him
  • A woman who has nobody to look after her, or keep her in check
  • A woman who has not had any children
  • A woman whose family or caste is not well known
  • A woman whose children are dead
  • A woman who is very fond of society
  • A woman who is apparently very affectionate with her husband
  • The wife of an actor
  • A widow
  • A poor woman
  • A woman fond of enjoyments
  • The wife of a man with many younger brothers
  • A vain woman
  • A woman whose husband is inferior to her in rank or abilities
  • A woman who is proud of her skill in the arts
  • A woman disturbed in mind by the folly of her husband
  • A woman who has been married in her infancy to a rich man, and not liking him when she grows up, desires a man possessing a disposition, talents, and wisdom suitable to her own tastes.
  • A woman who is slighted by her husband without any cause
  • A woman who is not respected by other women of the same rank or beauty as herself
  • A woman whose husband is devoted to travelling
  • The wife of a jeweller
  • A jealous woman
  • A covetous woman
  • An immoral woman
  • A barren woman
  • A lazy woman
  • A cowardly woman
  • A humpbacked woman
  • A dwarfish woman
  • A deformed woman
  • A vulgar woman
  • An ill-smelling woman
  • A sick woman
  • An old woman

There are also two verses on the subject as follows:

‘Desire, which springs from nature, and which is increased by art, and from which all danger is taken away by wisdom, becomes firm and secure. A clever man, depending on his own ability, and observing carefully the ideas and thoughts of women, and removing the causes of their turning away from men, is generally successful with them.’


1 On peut tout attendre et tout supposer d’une femme amoureuse.–Balzac.