The Mallanaga Vatsyayana's Kama Sutra has 1250 verses, distributed in 36 chapters, which are further organized into 7 parts. According to both the Burton and Doniger translations, the contents of the book are structured into 7 parts like the following:

1. Introductory
Chapters on contents of the book, three aims and priorities of life, the acquisition of knowledge, conduct of the well-bred townsman, reflections on intermediaries who assist the lover in his enterprises (5 chapters).

2. On sexual union
Chapters on stimulation of desire, types of embraces, caressing and kisses, marking with nails, biting and marking with teeth, on copulation (positions), slapping by hand and corresponding moaning, virile behavior in women, superior coition and oral sex, preludes and conclusions to the game of love. It describes 64 types of sexual acts (10 chapters).

Artistic depiction of a sex position. Although Kama Sutra did not originally have illustrative images, part 2 of the work describes different sex positions.

3. About the acquisition of a wife Chapters on forms of marriage, relaxing the girl, obtaining the girl, managing alone, union by marriage (5 chapters).

4. About a wife
Chapters on conduct of the only wife and conduct of the chief wife and other wives (2 chapters).

5. About others' wives
Chapters on behavior of woman and man, how to get acquainted, examination of sentiments, the task of go-between, the king's pleasures, behavior in the women's quarters (6 chapters).

6. About courtesans
Chapters on advice of the assistants on the choice of lovers, looking for a steady lover, ways of making money, renewing friendship with a former lover, occasional profits, profits and losses (6 chapters).

7. On the means of attracting others to one's self
Chapters on improving physical attractions, arousing a weakened sexual power (2 chapters)

Pleasure and spirituality

A Sexual Pose from Mukteswar Temple in Bhubaneswar, OrissaSome Indian philosophies follow the "four main goals of life",known as the purusharthas:

1.Dharma: Virtuous living.
2.Artha: Material prosperity.
3.Kama: Aesthetic and erotic pleasure.
4.Moksha: Liberation.


Dharma, Artha and Kama are aims of everyday life, while Moksha is release from the cycle of death and rebirth. The Kama Sutra (Burton translation) says:

"Dharma is better than Artha, and Artha is better than Kama. But Artha should always be first practised by the king for the livelihood of men is to be obtained from it only. Again, Kama being the occupation of public women, they should prefer it to the other two, and these are exceptions to the general rule." (Kama Sutra 1.2.14)

Of the first three, virtue is the highest goal, a secure life the second and pleasure the least important. When motives conflict, the higher ideal is to be followed. Thus, in making money virtue must not be compromised, but earning a living should take precedence over pleasure, but there are exceptions.

In childhood, Vātsyāyana says, a person should learn how to make a living; youth is the time for pleasure, and as years pass one should concentrate on living virtuously and hope to escape the cycle of rebirth.

Also the Buddha preached a Kama Sutra, which is located in the Atthakavagga (sutra number 1). This Kama Sutra, however, is of a very different nature as it warns against the dangers that come with the search for pleasures of the senses.

Many in the Western world wrongly consider the Kama Sutra to be a manual for tantric sex. While sexual practices do exist within the very wide tradition of Hindu Tantra, the Kama Sutra is not a Tantric text, and does not touch upon any of the sexual rites associated with some forms of Tantric practice.