Friday, December 16, 2011

Sex Manuals of the Past, Part 3

Here is the final part of my 3 part piece on Sex Manuals of the Past.

At this time, Hindu beliefs on sex had saturated India.  These beliefs were somewhat based on the early European Christianity of the Aryan invaders during what we now call the Crusades.  The Hindu belief was based on the Vedas, or the Bible of Light, and within those beliefs was a very class conscious society that degraded those native to the lands they invaded down to meaningless slaves.  This was reinforced by the Hindu belief in Karma, which stated that if one lived “correctly” that they when they died they would be reincarnated in a position higher then they were in. However if they behaved “incorrectly” that they would be reincarnated in a lower position.  Through this system of Karma, the Hindu belief controlled the population.

This Karmic and class system belief was the basis of the Hindu sex manuals, like the Ananga Ranga.  Within this they divide women into 4 classes within Hindu, and then all other women into a fifth subclass.  They also use the Karmic belief of doing things “correctly” to bring about a monogamous society, with infidelity being one of the gravest sins.  However, the writers of the Ananga Ranga know that we as humans are sexual beings, so they offered many ideas as to how a married couple could keep things interesting in the bedchamber.  The thought was that the main reason for infidelity was the desire for varied pleasures.  By offering those varied pleasures withing the couple through the teachings of the Ananga Ranga.

The Ananga Ranga discusses mostly the differences between men and women, how those difference make us strong or weak, as well as how they are supposed to behave.  Most of this is due to the influence of the Karmic beliefs, but it does show that a lot of emphasis was placed on the body before sex, in cleanliness, preparing for sex, and setting the body for sex.  However it also spends a good amount of space on how to choose a good wife, and what to look for in a wife, as well as why to take a wife of your same caste.  It spends, as a whole, very little on the actual sex itself, but I find that they would place so much emphasis on the body and on the relationship before sex.  You can see how these beliefs of monogamy influenced later thoughts about sex.  It is truly intriguing how they took the ideas of monogamy from the early Bible, and added the Arabic ideas of cleanliness and relationships.

All of these ancient texts sex manuals have had an influence in today's sexual practices, ideals, and thoughts.  With the knowledge of these old texts, we can better understand how and why some of our present beliefs have come to be.  You can see that these ancient teachings have been passed from person to person, through a new form of oral tradition in some cases before the texts became popular again in the mid 19th century.  Now to look back we can also now see how even some of those ancient beliefs have managed to shape our feelings about sex today, even in the 20th century.  While some of the practices mentioned in these texts are now know to be extremely painful and medically dangerous, there is still a lot about relationships and how to share the most intimate of acts with another within these old sexual manuals.

References:

Sex in History By Reay Tannahill

Ananga Ranga Stage of the bodiless one, Hindu art of love by Kalayana Malla. Translated by F. F. Arbuthnot and Richard F. Burton and Pharmacopeia “Ars Amoris indca” by H. S. Gabers and S. Rama. Medical Press of New York 1964


The cComplete KamaSutra

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Keep it kinky!

-Haven

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