The Kama Sutra (Sanskrit: कामसूत्र), (alternative spellings: Kamasutram or simply Kamasutra), is an ancient Indian text widely considered to be the standard work on love in Sanskrit literature written by the Indian intellectual Vatsyayana. A portion of the work deals with human sexual behavior.
The Kama Sutra is mostly notable of a group of texts known generically as Kama Shastra (Sanskrit: Kāma Śhāstra).
Traditionally, the first transmission of Kama Shastra or “Discipline of Kama” is attributed to Nandi the sacred bull, Shiva’s doorkeeper, who was moved to sacred utterance by overhearing the lovemaking of the god and his wife Parvati and later recorded his utterances for the benefit of mankind.
Historian John Keay says that the Kama Sutra is a compendium that was collected into its present form in the second century CE.
Regarding how the composition became known to the Western world, Burton’s translation says the following in its introduction:
It may be interesting to some persons to learn how it came about that Vatsyayana was first brought to light and translated into the English language. It happened thus.
While translating with the pundits the `Anunga Runga, or the stage of love’, reference was frequently found to be made to one Vatsya. The sage Vatsya was of this opinion, or of that opinion. The sage Vatsya said this, and so on. Naturally questions were asked who the sage was, and the pundits replied that Vatsya was the author of the standard work on love in Sanskrit literature, that no Sanscrit library was complete without his work, and that it was most difficult now to obtain in its entire state.
The copy of the manuscript obtained in Bombay was defective, and so the pundits wrote to Benares, Calcutta and Jaipur for copies of the manuscript from Sanskrit libraries in those places. Copies having been obtained, they were then compared with each other, and with the aid of a Commentary called `Jayamangla’ a revised copy of the entire manuscript was prepared, and from this copy the English translation was made.