Kama Sutra and Tantra
The Kama Sutra is the first written work to focus on the art of lovemaking. To this day, it remains the most well known sex book. Although originally passed down by way of verbal traditions, the book was written by Vatsyayana around A.D. 350. An Englishman named Sir Richard Burton produced the first English language translation in the 1800s. The Kama Sutra was never designed to be a bestseller. It was originally intended just for upper-income men. However, although generally only young men studied it formally with a teacher, young women were taught its lessons as well — they got their instruction from older, married female relatives for instance.
Sir Richard Burton was a famous British scholar, linguist, and explorer. He is not to be confused with the actor of the same name, who lived in the twentieth century and became as famous for his love life (he was married and divorced from Elizabeth Taylor twice) as for his movie credits.
Many people make the mistake of confusing the Kama Sutra with a Tantric how-to sex guide. This would be incorrect. But somewhere along the line, the two did start to become more closely intertwined, perhaps because at quick glance they both fall under the general heading of spiritual approaches to sensual pleasure. However, many of the positions featured in the Kama Sutra have been adapted to fit in with Tantric techniques. “Tantra and the Kama Sutra have a number of things in common,” says Al Link, a longtime teacher of Tantra and author of several books on the subject.
In both of them, sexuality is only a small part of the teaching and practices. For example only approximately 50 out of 1250 verses of the Kama Sutra deal with sexual intercourse positions, and in most Tantric practices, sexuality is only introduced very late in the disciple's learning, if at all. Secondly, both Tantra and the Kama Sutra emphasize certain disciplined sexual practices, for example men delaying ejaculation so the lovemaking can be extended for a much longer period of time, or the importance of making sure the female is fully sexually satisfied. Perhaps the major difference between them, is that Tantra is primarily a spiritual practice with a view to the ultimate liberation in enlightenment, while the Kama Sutra is primarily a secular manual of techniques for enhancing relationship and sexuality.