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The Kama Sutra of Vatsayayana
Formatted at sacred-texts.com, July 2003.
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ABOUT THE BUSINESS OF A GO-BETWEEN
IF a woman has manifested her love or desire, either by signs or by motions of the body, and is afterwards rarely or never seen anywhere, or if a woman is met for the first time, the man should get a go-between to approach her.
Now the go-between, having wheedled herself into the confidence of the woman by acting according to her disposition, should try to make her hate or despise her husband by holding artful conversations with her, by telling her about medicines for getting children, by talking to her about other people, by tales of various kinds, by stories about the wives of other men, and by praising her beauty, wisdom, generosity and good nature, and then saying to her: 'It is indeed a pity that you, who are so excellent a woman in every way, should be possessed of a husband of this kind. Beautiful lady, he is not fit even to serve you.' The go-between should further talk to the woman about the weakness of the passion of her husband, his jealousy, his roguery, his ingratitude, his aversion to enjoyments, his dullness, his meanness, and all the other faults that he may have, and with which she may be acquainted. She should particularly harp upon that fault or that failing by which the wife may appear to be the most affected. If the wife be a deer woman, and the husband a hare man, then there would be no fault in that direction, but in the event of his being a hare man, and she a mare woman or elephant woman, then this fault should be pointed out to her.
Gonikaputra is of opinion that when it is the first affair of the woman, or when her love has only been very secretly shown, the man should then secure and send to her a go-between, with whom she may be already acquainted, and in whom she confides.
But to return to our subject. The go-between should tell the woman about the obedience and love of the man, and as her confidence and affection increase, she should then explain to her the thing to be accomplished in the following way. 'Hear this, Oh beautiful lady, that this man, born of a good family, having seen you, has gone mad on your account. The poor young man, who is tender by nature, has never been distressed in such a way before, and it is highly probable that he will succumb under his present affliction, and experience the pains of death.' If the woman listens with a favourable ear, then on the following day the go-between, having observed marks of good spirits in her face, in her eyes, and in her manner of conversation, should again converse with her on the subject of the man, and should tell her the stories of Ahalya 1 and Indra, of Sakoontala 2 and Dushyanti, and such others as may be fitted for the occasion. She should also describe to her the strength of the man, his talents, his skill in the sixty-four sorts of enjoyments mentioned by Babhravya, his good looks, and his liaison with some praiseworthy woman, no matter whether this last ever took place or not.
In addition to this, the go-between should carefully note the behaviour of the woman, which if favourable would be as follows: She would address her with a smiling look, would seat herself close beside her, and ask her, 'Where have you been? What have you been doing? Where did you dine? Where did you sleep? Where have you been sitting?' Moreover, the woman would meet the go-between in lonely places and tell her stories there, would yawn contemplatively, draw long sighs, give her presents, remember her on occasions of festivals, dismiss her with a wish to see her again, and say to her jestingly, 'Oh, well-speaking woman, why do you speak these bad words to me?', would discourse on the sin of her union with the man, would not tell her about any previous visits or conversations that she may have had with him, but wish to be asked about these, and lastly would laugh at the man's desire, but would not reproach him in any way.
Thus ends the behaviour of the woman with the go-between.
When the woman manifests her love in the manner above described, the go-between should increase it by bringing to her love tokens from the man. But if the woman be not acquainted with the man personally, the go-between should win her over by extolling and praising his good qualities, and by telling stories about his love for her. Here Auddalaka says that when a man or woman are not personally acquainted with each other, and have not shown each other any signs of affection, the employment of a go-between is useless.
The followers of Babhravya on the other hand affirm that even though they be personally unacquainted, but have shown each other signs of affection there is an occasion for the employment of a go-between. Gonikaputra asserts that a go-between should be employed, provided they are acquainted with each other, even though no signs of affection may have passed between them. Vatsyayana however lays it down that even though they may not be personally acquainted with each other, and may not have shown each other any signs of affection, still they are both capable of placing confidence in a go-between.
Now the go-between should show the woman the presents, such as the betel nut and betel leaves, the perfumes, the flowers, and the rings which the man may have given to her for the sake of the woman, and on these presents should be impressed the marks of the man's teeth, and nails, and other signs. On the cloth that he may send he should draw with saffron both his hands joined together as if in earnest entreaty.
The go-between should also show to the woman ornamental figures of various kinds cut in leaves, together with ear ornaments, and chaplets made of flowers containing love letters expressive of the desire of the man, 3 and she should cause her to send affectionate presents to the man in return. After they have mutually accepted each other's presents, then a meeting should be arranged between them on the faith of the go-between.
The followers of Babhravya say that this meeting should take place at the time of going to the temple of a Deity, or on occasions of fairs, garden parties, theatrical performances, marriages, sacrifices, festivals and funerals, as also at the time of going to the river to bathe, or at times of natural calamities, 4 fear of robbers or hostile invasions of the country.
Gonikaputra is of opinion however that these meetings had better be brought about in the abodes of female friends, mendicants, astrologers, and ascetics. But Vatsyayana decides that that place is only well suited for the purpose which has proper means of ingress and egress, and where arrangements have been made to prevent any accidental occurrence, and when a man who has once entered the house can also leave it at the proper time without any disagreeable encounter.
Now go-betweens or female messengers are of the following different kinds:
A go-between who takes upon herself the whole burden of the business
A go-between who does only a limited part of the business
A go-between who is the bearer of a letter only
A go-between acting on her own account
The go-between of an innocent young woman
A wife serving as a go-between
A mute go-between
A go-between who acts the part of the wind
A woman who, having observed the mutual passion of a man and woman, brings them together and arranges it by the power of her own intellect, such a one is called a go-between who takes upon herself the whole burden of the business. This kind of go-between is chiefly employed when the man and the woman are already acquainted with each other, and have conversed together, and in such cases she is sent not only by the man (as is always done in all other cases) but by the woman also. The above name is also given to a go-between who, perceiving that the man and the woman are suited to each other, tries to bring about a union between them, even though they be not-acquainted with each other.
A go-between who, perceiving that some part of the affair is already done, or that the advances on the part of the man are already made, completes the rest of the business, is called a go-between who performs only a limited part of the business.
A go-between who simply carries messages between a man and a woman, who love each other, but who cannot frequently meet, is called the bearer of a letter or message.
This name is also given to one who is sent by either of the lovers to acquaint either the one or the other with the time and place of their meeting.
A woman who goes herself to a man, and tells him of her having enjoyed sexual union with him in a dream, and expresses her anger at his wife having rebuked him for calling her by the name of her rival instead of by her own name, and gives him something bearing the marks of her teeth and nails and informs him that she knew she was formerly desired by him, and asks him privately whether she or his wife is the best looking, such a person is called a woman who is a go-between for herself. Now such a woman should be met and interviewed by the man in private and secretly.
The above name is also given to a woman who having made an agreement with some other woman to act as her go-between, gains over the man to herself, by the means of making him personally acquainted with herself, and thus causes the other woman to fail. The same applies to a man who, acting as a go-between for another, and having no previous connection with the woman, gains her over for himself, and thus causes the failure of the other man.
A woman who has gained the confidence of the innocent young wife of any man, and who has learned her secrets without exercising any pressure on her mind, and found out from her how her husband behaves to her, if this woman then teaches her the art of securing his favour, and decorates her so as to show her love, and instructs her how and when to be angry, or to pretend to be so, and then, having herself made marks of the nails and teeth on the body of the wife, gets the latter to send for her husband to show these marks to him, and thus excite him for enjoyment, such is called the go-between of an innocent young woman. In such cases the man should send replies to his wife through the same woman.
When a man gets his wife to gain the confidence of a woman whom he wants to enjoy, and to call on her and talk to her about the wisdom and ability of her husband, that wife is called a wife serving as a go-between. In this case the feelings of the woman with regard to the man should also be made known through the wife.
When any man sends a girl or a female servant to any woman under some pretext or other, and places a letter in her bouquet of flowers, or in her ear ornaments, or marks something about her with his teeth or nails, that girl or female servant is called a mute go-between. In this case the man should expect an answer from the woman through the same person.
A person, who carries a message to a woman, which has a double meaning, or which relates to some past transactions, or which is unintelligible to other people, is called a go-between who acts the part of the wind. In this case the reply should be asked for through the same woman.
Thus end the different kinds of go-betweens.
A female astrologer, a female servant, a female beggar, or a female artist are well acquainted with the business of a go-between, and very soon gain the confidence of other women. Any one of them can raise enmity between any two persons if she wishes to do so, or extol the loveliness of any woman that she wishes to praise, or describe the arts practised by other women in sexual union. They can also speak highly of the love of a man, of his skill in sexual enjoyment, and of the desire of other women, more beautiful even than the woman they are addressing, for him, and explain the restraint under which he may be at home.
Lastly a go-between can, by the artfulness of her conversation, unite a woman with a man even though he may not have been thought of by her, or may have been considered beyond her aspirations. She can also bring back a man to a woman, who, owing to some cause or other, has separated himself from her.
1 The wife of the sage Gautama, she was seduced by Indra the king of the Gods.
2 The heroine of one of the best, if not the best, of Hindoo plays, and the best known in Sanscrit dramatic literature. It was first brought to notice by Sir William Jones, and has been well and poetically translated by Dr Monier Williams under the title of Sakoontala, or the lost ring, an Indian drama, translated into English prose and verse from the Sanscrit of Kalidasa.
3 It is presumed that something like the following French verses are intended:
Quand on a juré le plus profond hommage,
Voulez vous qu'infidèle on change de langage;
Vous seul captivez mon esprit et mon coeur
Que je puisse dans vos bras seuls goûter le bonheur;
Je voudrais, mais en vain, que mon coeur en délire
Couche oû ce papier n'oserait vous dire.
Avec soin, de ces vers lisez leurs premiers mots,
Vous verrez quel remède il faut à tous mes maux
Quand on vous voit, on vous aime;
Quand on vous aime, oû vous voit on?
4 It is supposed that storms, earthquakes, famines and pestilent diseases are here alluded to.