An meaning of "Kama" (pronounced as kaamaa) is "sensual love", or the emotional feeling of the attachment. In the ancient Indian literature, Kama is recognized as the stimulus of action and is personified as the love making god, called Kamadev in Sanskrit). In Geeta (Bhagwat Geeta) it is the source of attachment to the world and the great impediment to spiritual freedom. Sutra (soo-tra, from Sanskrit) stands for 'formula'. So Kama Sutra is actully lessions or formulas of better love making.
Two thousand years ago, sage Vatsayana wrote his landmark manuscript, the Kama Sutra (formulas for love making). One thousand years later, the Chandella kings (950-1050 A.D.) built one of the finest groups of temples in India, depicting Kama Sutra's love positions, at their capital Khajuraho. About five centuries later, king Kallarasa of Karnataka wrote an important treatise on the subject, "Janavashya" (1450 A.D.) in Kannada language. In today's fast changing world, the values and sanctity attached to love have also changed. Therefore, it has become necessary to re-evaluate the Love Arts of India in their true perspective.
Numerous writers, both Indian and foreign, have published their works on love making, mostly to feed the curiosity of westerners.
To appreciate the Love Making arts of India, one must understand the role of making love in the scheme of things according to Hinduism. Hinduism is a way of life according to prescribed codes. Every Hindu has to undergo sixteen dignitary rituals (samskara) and four stages of life (ashramas). The final aim of life is salvation, which is the merging of the individual soul (atma) with the supreme soul (param-atma). One can attain salvation (Moksha) through Dharma, Artha and Kama (Religion, wealth and love making). The ancient Indians took a healthy, integrated view of all aspects of life and gave intercourse its due importance in the overall picture. The pursuit of pleasure (kama) is one of the important aims of life, on the path to deliverance.
Figures of loving couples (mithuna) in various art forms ( Kama Sutra Positions ) can be found in the very early periods of Indian civilization. This Kama Sutra theme has been depicted consistently for thousands of years throughout India. Such sculpture can be found on the shrines of Buddhist, Jain, Vaishnava, Shaiva, Shakti, and also other cults, which proves its trans-religious nature. Mithuna (intercourse process) is like any other life process and hence no taboo or inhibitions are attached to it. The worship of genitalia has been prevalent for centuries and it is considered a part and parcel of Hindu worship
Due to their delicate nature of Kama Sutra, only a few paintings survived the onslaught of time and climatic hazards. The Narasimha Swamy temple of Sibi has such rare wall paintings of Kama Sutra. In the last century, the kings of Mysore brought out some books of great importance, which are profusely illustrated with love making art of Kama Sutra. Ancient books such as "Sougandhikaparinaya" and "Shritatwanidhi" contain illustrations, which are indirect and suggestive, and yet very modest. Indian miniatures such as Basholi, Kangra and Rajasthani styles have produced innumerable love making paintings to cater to their rich clientele.
The sculptural wealth has remained intact for centuries in spite of vandalism and mutilation by religious fanatics. The love making sculptures of Kahjuraho (in Madhya Pradesh) and Bhubaneshwar (Orissa) have been widely publicized, while others are almost unknown. In Karnataka State alone, there are a large number of such temples and sculptures, which will be studied individually for Kama Sutra.