Literally meaning book, aphorisms, or rules of pleasure (especially sexual pleasure), this book—attributed to the Hindu philospher Vatsyayana and dated between 400 b.c.e. and 200 c.e.—has been considered the ultimate Hindu love manual and an important part of Tantra. In actuality, it has little to do with Tantra and not much to do with sex. It's composted of seven sections:
- General Remarks: Five chapters on the aims of life and personal conduct.
- Sex Techniques: Ten chapters with remarkably formal and structured instructions on sex leaving little lattitude for freedom, originality, or “going with the flow.” It describes sixty-four sexual acts which have been described incorrectly by some Neo-Tantrics as the "64 Tantric Arts."
- Wife Acquisition: Five chapters on how to obtain and keep a wife happy.
- Responsibilities of a Wife: Two chapters on how a wife should conduct herself.
- Other Men's Wives: Six chapters on how to court and have sex with the wives of other men.
- Courtesans: Six chapters on how to find a lover who is a courtesan.
- Magick: Two chapters on topics such as using magical techniques to increase virility and improve your appearance.
During later times, rich young men use the book as a rationalization for taking numerous partners. Some believe that the entire book may have been Vatsyayana's appeal to a rich ruler, much as The Prince was Machiavelli’s attempt to appeal to the Medicis in order to obtain his freedom.