The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, tr. by Richard Burton, 
ABOUT THE WOMEN OF THE ROYAL HAREM; AND OF THE KEEPING OF ONE’S OWN WIFE
THE women of the royal harem cannot see or meet any men on account of their being strictly guarded, neither do they have their desires satisfied, because their only husband is common to many wives. For this reason among themselves they give pleasure to each other in various ways as now described.
Having dressed the daughters of their nurses, or their female friends, or their female attendants, like men, they accomplish their object by means of bulbs, roots, and fruits having the form of the lingam, or they lie down upon the statue of a male figure, in which the lingam is visible and erect.
Some kings, who are compassionate, take or apply certain medicines to enable them to enjoy many wives in one night, simply for the purpose of satisfying the desire of their women, though they perhaps have no desire of their own. Others enjoy with great affection only those wives that they particularly like, while others only take them, according as the turn of each wife arrives in due course. Such are the ways of enjoyment prevalent in Eastern countries, and what is said about the means of enjoyment of the female is also applicable to the male.
By means of their female attendants the ladies of the royal harem generally get men into their apartments in the disguise or dress of women. Their female attendants, and the daughters of their nurses, who are acquainted with their secrets, should exert themselves to get men to come to the harem in this way by telling them of the good fortune attending it, and by describing the facilities of entering and leaving the palace, the large size of the premises, the carelessness of the sentinels, and the irregularities of the attendants about the persons of the royal wives. But these women should never induce a man to enter the harem by telling him falsehoods, for that would probably lead to his destruction.
As for the man himself he had better not enter a royal harem, even though it may be easily accessible, on account of the numerous disasters to which he may be exposed there. If however he wants to enter it, he should first ascertain whether there is an easy way to get out, whether it is closely surrounded by the pleasure garden, whether it has separate enclosures belonging to it, whether the sentinels are careless, whether the king has gone abroad, and then, when he is called by the women of the harem, he should carefully observe the localities, and enter by the way pointed out by them. If he is able to manage it, he should hang about the harem every day, and under some pretext or other, make friends with the sentinels, and show himself attached to the female attendants of the harem, who may have become acquainted with his design, and to whom he should express his regret at not being able to obtain the object of his desire. Lastly he should cause the whole business of a go-between to be done by the woman who may have access to the harem, and he should be careful to be able to recognize the emissaries of the king.
When a go-between has no access to the harem, then the man should stand in some place where the lady, whom he loves and whom he is anxious to enjoy, can be seen.
If that place is occupied by the king’s sentinels, he should then disguise himself as a female attendant of the lady who comes to the place, or passes by it. When she looks at him he should let her know his feelings by outward signs and gestures, and should show her pictures, things with double meanings, chaplets of flowers, and rings. He should carefully mark the answer she gives, whether by word or by sign, or by gesture, and should then try and get into the harem. If he is certain of her coming to some particular place he should conceal himself there, and at the appointed time should enter along with her as one of the guards. He may also go in and out, concealed in a folded bed, or bed covering, or with his body made invisible, 1 by means of external applications, a receipt for one of which is as follows:
The heart of an ichneumon, the fruit of the long gourd (tumbi), and the eyes of a serpent should all be burnt without letting out the smoke. The ashes should then be ground and mixed in equal quantities with water. By putting this mixture upon the eyes a man can go about unseen.
Other means of invisibility are prescribed by Duyana Brahmans and Jogashiras.
Again the man may enter the harem during the festival of the eighth moon in the month of Nargashirsha, and during the moonlight festivals when the female attendants of the harem are all busily occupied, or in confusion.
The following principles are laid down on this subject.
The entrance of young men into harems, and their exit from them, generally take place when things are being brought into the palace, or when things are being taken out of it, or when drinking festivals are going on, or when the female attendants are in a hurry, or when the residence of some of the royal ladies is being changed, or when the king’s wives go to gardens, or to fairs, or when they enter the palace on their return from them, or lastly, when the king is absent on a long pilgrimage. The women of the royal harem know each other’s secrets, and having but one object to attain, they give assistance to each other. A young man, who enjoys all of them, and who is common to them all, can continue enjoying his union with them so long as it is kept quiet, and is not known abroad.
Now in the country of the Aparatakas the royal ladies are not well protected, and consequently many young men are passed into the harem by the women who have access to the royal palace. The wives of the king of the Ahira country accomplish their objects with those sentinels in the harem who bear the name of Kashtriyas. The royal ladies in the country of the Vatsagulmas cause such men as are suitable to enter into the harem along with their female messengers. In the country of the Vaidarbhas the sons of the royal ladies enter the royal harem when they please and enjoy the women, with the exception of their own mothers. In the Stri-rajya the wives of the king are enjoyed by his caste fellows and relations. In the Ganda country the royal wives are enjoyed by Brahmans, friends, servants and slaves. In the Samdhava country servants, foster children, and other persons like them enjoy the women of the harem. In the country of the Haimavatas adventurous citizens bribe the sentinels and enter the harem. In the country of the Vanyas and the Kalmyas, Brahmans, with the knowledge of the king, enter the harem under the pretence of giving flowers to the ladies, and speak with them from behind a curtain, and from such conversation union afterwards takes place. Lastly the women in the harem of the king of the Prachyas conceal one young man in the harem for every batch of nine or ten of the women.
Thus act the wives of others.
For these reasons a man should guard his own wife. Old authors say that a king should select for sentinels in his harem such men as have their freedom from carnal desires well tested. But such men, though free themselves from carnal desire, by reason of their fear or avarice, may cause other persons to enter the harem, and therefore Gonikaputra says that kings should place such men in the harem as may have had their freedom from carnal desires, their fears, and their avarice well tested. Lastly Vatsyayana says that under the influence of Dharma 2 people might be admitted, and therefore men should be selected who are free from carnal desires, fear, avarice, and Dharma. 3
The followers of Babhravya say that a man should cause his wife to associate with a young woman who would tell him the secrets of other people, and thus find out from her about his wife’s chastity. But Vatsyayana says that, as wicked persons are always successful with women, a man should not cause his innocent wife to be corrupted by bringing her into the company of a deceitful woman.
The following are the causes of the destruction of a woman’s chastity:
- Always going into society, and sitting in company
- Absence of restraint
- The loose habits of her husband
- Want of caution in her relations with other men
- Continued and long absence of her husband
- Living in a foreign country
- Destruction of her love and feelings by her husband
- The company of loose women
- The jealousy of her husband
There are also the following verses on the subject:
‘A clever man, learning from the Shastras the ways of winning over the wives of other people, is never deceived in the case of his own wives. No one, however, should make use of these ways for seducing the wives of others, because they do not always succeed, and, moreover, often cause disasters, and the destruction of Dharma and Artha. This book, which is intended for the good of the people, and to teach them the ways of guarding their own wives, should not be made use of merely for gaining over the wives of others.’
1 The way to make oneself invisible, the knowledge of the art of transmigration, or changing ourselves or others into any shape or form by the use of charms and spells, the power of being in two places at once, and other occult sciences are frequently referred to in all Oriental literature.
2 This may be considered as meaning religious influence, and alludes to persons who may be gained over by that means.
3 It will be noted from the above remarks that eunuchs do nob appear to have been employed in the king’s harem in those days, though they seem to have been employed for other purposes. See Part II, Chapter II.