What is karma sutra?

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Kama Sutra

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The Kama Sutra was written in ancient Sanskrit in India, dated to 400 BCE–200 CE and attributed to an Indian philosopher, Vatsyayana.

In Sanskrit, sutra literally means “thread” but also refers to a “text.” Kama variously means “desire, pleasure, love, or sex” and is the name of the god of erotic love. Together, Kama Sutra translates to “Teachings on Desire.”

The Kama Sutra was first translated into English in 1883, typically credited to the British polymath Richard Burton—an original copy of which fetched over £11,000 at auction in 2012.

While initially somewhat obscure, the Kama Sutra gained attention in the early 20th century in academic disciplines, including psychology, ethnology, and medicine. Later in the 1900s, perhaps as boosted by increasing interest in Indian thought and practice in the 1960s, the Kama Sutra began developing a more popular reputation for the exotic-seeming sexual positions the text describes in one portion. For instance, the 1977 novel The Kama Sutra Tango featured dance routines based on the Kama Sutra‘s positions.

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In 1995, Anglo-Indian author Indra Sinha published a new English translation of the Kama Sutra, the first English translation since Burton’s which further spread awareness and interest of the work in the West—though popular attention continued to remain on its sexual positions as opposed to its discussions of love and relationships.

In her 2016 book on the Kama Sutra, scholar Wendy Doniger attempted to shift the focus of the Kama Sutra back to the historic sophistication of the text and the insights it offers on Indian culture, politics, religion, and romance at the time. It didn’t work ….

The 7 Best Kama Sutra Books

What is the Kama Sutra Anyway?

That’s because sex sells, of course — and sex that could potentially injure you severely sells like hotcakes, apparently.

The Kama Sutra is less a book and more a collection of manuscripts from a variety of authors, all compiled by an Indian monk named Vātsyāyana around the 2nd century C.E. The most famous portion involves advice on having sex, but it also contains philosophical meditations, moral guidance, and discussions on the nature of love — but people are mostly interested in the sex.

It’s not so easy to disentangle the sex and philosophy, though. The text focuses on improving lovemaking by deepening the connection between partners, as well as comporting yourself in a virtuous way in all of your relationships (although the book has some interesting ideas on how to live virtuously).

Besides, some scholars believe that the sexual techniques described inside are merely fantasies. That hasn’t stopped people from trying (and enjoying) them, however.

It’s designed for both sexes as well. There are sections on how to be a proper wife, as well as how to find a proper wife of your own. Even better, there are guides on how to seduce other men’s wives, and how to move on to courtesans once you’re bored with all the ladies in the neighborhood.

While this might not be the most righteous way to live your life, one of the more progressive aspects of the text is how it values the pleasure of men and women equally. Unfortunately, it seems to condone men mistreating women, sexually speaking.

Then there’s the practice of the dark arts.

One of the sections deals with love sorcery, such as recipes for potions and powders that will enable jilted wives to woo their husbands back, or even subdue sexual partners. If that sounds creepy, it’s because it is. There are recipes for aphrodisiacs as well.

While much of the philosophy is outdated, and some of it is downright offensive, the book has remained popular for centuries. That’s because sex sells, of course — and sex that could potentially injure you severely sells like hotcakes, apparently.

Picking the Right Kama Sutra Book

The Kama Sutra is one of those things that everyone has heard of, but relatively few people have studied. As a result, many people have misguided notions about what to expect.

Also, it’s important to know that many of the books and guides you’ll encounter are about the Kama Sutra — they’re not copies of the actual text itself. And that’s good, because the real thing is incredibly dry and boring.

If this is your first time branching out into something like this, skim through it and see if you can actually do any of the positions inside.

Some texts get pretty advanced, so it’s important to find one that matches your comfort level. If this is your first time branching out into something like this, skim through it and see if you can actually do any of the positions inside. After all, nothing cuts a romantic evening short quite like a pulled hamstring.

You’ll see a wide variety of explicitness in the instruction as well. If you don’t want to see actual nude models contorting themselves in incredible ways, you can find books that have tame illustrations, or even just descriptions. Of course, if you want the nude model photos, those are available too (just tell people you’re reading it for the articles).

Speaking of which, take a second to think about what would happen if someone else came across the book. Some have covers that make them look like respectable tomes, while others…well, let’s just say others look a little more exciting than your basic anatomy book. If you don’t want to have to explain to guests (or worse, your kids) what you’re reading, it might be worth it to find one with a demure cover.

Ultimately, finding something you’re comfortable with is all that matters. This is supposed to be fun, after all, so don’t push yourself to do something you don’t enjoy. Just get a book that will allow you and your partner to explore your bodies in a way that’s mutually fulfilling.

Oh, and you need to practice to get good at it. You need to practice a lot.

Does This Stuff Really Work?

The Kama Sutra has been built up in popular culture as this incredibly powerful book, like it’s a sexual sorcerer’s manual or something. But does it really work? Can it really take you and your partner to previously-unimaginable heights of ecstasy?

The answer, as you might have already been expecting, is, “It depends.”

It’s impossible to say how one couple will respond versus another, as well as how much time and effort you’re willing to dedicate to it.

If you’re the adventurous type, you might enjoy constantly pushing the envelope in terms of position and technique.

Also — and this is important to keep in mind — you can never be totally sure whether other people are telling the truth about their lovemaking. So, if you feel like you’re not entering a new plane of existence every time you make love while your friends swear that they’re seeing God, don’t put pressure on yourself. They may not be telling you the truth.

Keep in mind that people have different goals when it comes to having sex. If you’re the adventurous type, you might enjoy constantly pushing the envelope in terms of position and technique. If, however, you mainly make love to feel connection, you may find it difficult to do so while you’re facing in different directions with your legs over your head. You may also resent having to learn yoga just to be able to have sex.

Still, it’s always fun to try new things, so you should at least give it a chance, even if nothing catches your eye. If you find you don’t like it, no harm done. If, however, you love it, then you’ll have opened up a whole new world of intimacy.

Just take some time to figure out how you injured yourself to the nurse at the ER.

The only Kama Sutra positions worth bothering with

Kama Sutra positions all sound a bit gymnastic and exhausting, don’t they? Like Glastonbury, bongs and the captain of the rugby team, they’re the sort of thing you do in your uni days purely to say you have. But there are actually some real gems in there, and they don’t require you to have Olympic flexibility or aligned chakras to enjoy.

Clasping position

© Alamy

If you want to impress your partner with knowledge of the ancient sexual arts but can only muster enthusiasm for the missionary, this one’s for you. More of a lovemaking move than a pie-eyed f*** position, this allows you to have full-body contact, and affords lots of kissing and eye contact. Read more: Sex positions for lazy men (that she’ll actually enjoy)

Lie your partner down, open her legs and simply enter. Apply some gentle rocking movement, and ease her legs slightly wider. It’s a good one for you well-hung chaps; it doesn’t enable you to fully penetrate – which is a good thing if you’re considering having a go more than once a night.

Indrani

© Alamy

OK, so this one’s slightly less traditional. I’d give this a go after a glass of wine, or perhaps if you’re having a weekend away. And don’t even think about it if you’ve got children – they’ll be mentally scarred if they catch you locked together like this. Your partner needs to lie on her back, cradling her knees. You kneel, facing her and enter her. Boys, lube up – things will be tight, which feels great, but this position requires a little assistance. Your partner can pull you into her by grabbing your bum. The pressure from the way her legs bend and press against your chest contract the muscles in her vagina. She’ll love it.

The tigress

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Not to be confused with Tigress from Kung Fu Panda, although the Angelina Jolie connection might be an added turn-on. This is one for the more confident woman to master, so if she’s a little bashful be sure to give her plenty of encouragement. If you’re not a talker, just caress her shape from behind so she knows you are appreciating her. Similar to the reverse cowgirl position, this is quite an easy option for the guys, but very sexual and empowering for her. You simply lie down, and she can climb on, her back to you, sitting comfortably. Then she rocks, arching her back up and down. If you can, enter her before you’re fully erect. Sitting on a throbbing hard-on can be tricky.

Splitting of a bamboo

© Alamy

The instructions seem intimidating, but don’t be put off – it’s easy-peasy. You’ve probably done this before without even realising you were a bonafide sex guru. If you enjoy a bit of cardio, you’ll love this. Great if your lady does some yoga – you can stretch her out while, well, you know… If she’s lying on her back, lift one leg up, rest her leg against your shoulder, hold it there and go for it.

The milk and water embrace

© Alamy

This is the most adventurous one – mainly because it requires a chair with no arms. You need to be sitting dwon, with your partner sat on you facing away. A great moment for some manual clit stimulation while you slide in, moving her back and forth. Sneak into the office if you’re in the mood for a quickie, or perhaps in your living room. Just don’t use the toilet (extenuating circumstances are restricted to a visit to the in-laws or a Michelin-starred restaurant).

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5 Healthy Sexual Positions

If you want to turn up the heat on your sex life, give the missionary position the night off and experiment with new sexual positions from the Kama Sutra, the ageless text considered the bible of better sex for lovers all over the world.

The Kama Sutra, or the “Rules of Love,” is a 2,000-year-old book written by an Indian Hindu scholar. “This ancient Eastern approach to love has proven itself a timeless love manual and a guide to relationships on how to create harmony, pleasuring, and happiness between the sexes,” says Yvonne K. Fulbright, PhD, MSEd, a sexuality educator, author, and professor at American University, Argosy University, and Penn State University.

Although the Kama Sutra is famous for its description of dozens of sexual positions for better sex, Fulbright says the book goes much deeper than that. “Its universal, timeless message is its presentation of sex as sacred, a gift from God (or a higher power), essential to life and worthy of study,” she says.

The Kama Sutra was written in Sanskrit, the ancient literary language of India, and was translated into English in 1883. In the Victorian era, it was seen as erotica and secretly circulated among wealthy Europeans and Americans. One of the latest translations, The Complete Kama Sutra: The First Unabridged Modern Translation of the Classic Indian Text by Alain Danielou was released in the 1990s and is available online or in bookstores.

Kama Sutra Sexual Positions for Better Sex

You may think you need to be double-jointed or a contortionist to attempt any of the sexual positions from the Kama Sutra, but that’s not necessary. Some are more difficult than others and may require some practice. Fulbright describes some popular Kama Sutra positions and why you should give them a try:

Related: Does Penis Size Really Matter?

1. Piditaka (Full-Pressed)

“The woman should get onto her back and pull her knees into her chest, resting her feet on the man’s chest as he kneels in front of her. Putting a cushion under her lower back will elevate her, providing more stimulation,” Fulbright says. “With his knees on either side of her hips, she fits snugly into his lap as he kneels before her and raises her hips onto his thighs. As he enters her, he’ll notice a tighter fit since her vagina is narrowed during this position.”

2. Sthitarata (Suspended Union):

This is a standing sexual position and you will both need some strength. “Supporting himself against a wall, the man lifts his lover onto his penis by locking his hands beneath her buttocks. Once in position, she grips him with her thigh muscles, legs wrapped around his waist and arms around his waist,” Fulbright says. She adds that it can be done more easily with his pelvis pushed out, forming a ledge for her to sit atop. She can rock against him, bracing herself better by putting her feet against a wall. Fulbright adds that this sexual position is great for short lovemaking sessions, but can be difficult to maintain for a long time.

3. Jrimbhitaka (Yawning Posture):

“While on her back, the woman spreads her legs wide into a V-shape. With his knees on either side of her hips, he kneels, grabbing her hands to support some of his weight as he thrusts. She also gets the titillation of being pinned down,” says Fulbright.

4. Dhenuka II (Cow-Like):

This sexual position is most easily attempted from the classic rear position, says Fulbright: “The woman lies on her stomach, legs straight and slightly spread. (Placing a pillow under her pelvis before she moves onto her belly will prevent him from slipping out.) He then stretches himself over her figure, placing his legs outside of hers and pressing his pelvis up against her buttocks. Once he has penetrated her, she can squeeze her legs around his penis, while he angles himself to thrust with an arch in his back. With her position limited, they can rock back and forth.”

Shulachitak (Fixing a Nail):

You may have to work on your flexibility for this sexual position. Fulbright describes it this way: “Once she is lying on her back, her lover takes one leg up and moves her into a split, stretching her leg up vertically. As he kneels around her pelvis, he rests her foot against his forehead and begins to penetrate. She then alternates legs, placing her foot against his forehead and placing the first leg flat, and then repeating. This changes the angle of each thrust, with her lover’s chest against the back of her thigh moving her up and down.”

Related: 7 Healthy Habits to Improve Your Sex Life

5. Other Ways to Spice Up Your Sex Life

Trying new sexual positions is one way of creating better sex for you and your partner. Fulbright also suggests trying new ideas outside of the bedroom as well. Fun activities — such as taking a champagne-tasting class together, making sushi for dinner one night, or giving your partner a nice foot bath — promote bonding and cultivate the feeling of being desired, she says. “It’s ultimately this ego stroke that makes people interested in sex — you think ‘somebody wants me, I’m sexy, and I love this feeling of being desired!’”

Text your group chat about mixing up your sex life and they’ll recommend it. Do a quick online search and you’ll be directed to it. Ask your mom (if that’s the kind of relationship you two have) and she’ll send you a . Yep, I’m talking about the Kama Sutra, an ancient Sanskrit text that, over the years, has become the go-to guide for intricate sex positions.

Because of fetishism and Western exoticism surrounding the manuscript, the Kama Sutra, written by Indian philosopher Vatsyayana, has garnered a lot of attention for its detail of what seems like every sex position ever (some waaaay more adventurous than others). But that’s entirely not the point of it.

“It originally had very little to do with sex,” says Gigi Engle, a certified sex coach. “Sex has become very much equated with the Kama Sutra, but really, it’s a spiritual book.” In fact, the guide is all about sustaining relationships—with only one section dedicated to actual positions.

That said, the section is a hefty one. It’s packed with A TON of sex positions that promote emotional intimacy between partners by way of touch and physical connection. The ancient text even teaches that men should prioritize a woman’s pleasure over their own (hear hear!), by focusing on making sure she climaxes before even thinking about their own orgasm.

And while the next-level positions are intriguing, Engle wouldn’t recommend most of them…unless you are super agile and athletically inclined. The ones that are worth focusing on (if you count yourself among us unflexibles), she says, are the simpler moves that don’t involve crazy backbends or put you at risk of pulling a hammy.

“It’s not so much about going in and being able to do all of these different positions; it’s more about finding ones that you can adapt,” Engle says. It’s more important that you come into the night (or morning, or bathroom quickie) with enthusiasm, as “that’s what sets apart good sex from great sex,” she assures. At the end of the day, experimentation is all about being present with your partner and showing each other that you’re willing to give it your best shot.

Now that you know that…ready to give these 10 Kama Sutra sex positions a whirl?

You’ve probably heard of the Kama Sutra, the ancient Hindu text that’s basically an A to Z of sex positions. But you probably assumed that it’s full of awkward and ridiculously acrobatic positions that only the most limber among us would ever try.

Well, that assumption is incorrect, my friend. There’s a reason why the Kama Sutra has been a go-to sex position guide for thousands of years: it’s full of practical, actionable tips for couples who want to try something beyond missionary. Yes, some of them are a tad tougher than others, but it’s all about the attitude you bring to it.

“If you really want to try a certain position, you’re going to need a positive and excited energy that will make it fun and pleasurable for your partner, no matter what the angle,” says Laura Berman, Ph.D., a sex educator and sex therapist.

We asked experts for their favorite Kama Sutra positions that couples should try at least once — and aren’t impossible for you to master.

Kama Sutra Sex Position #1: Sammukha

Eric Rosati/Men’s Health

The Sammukha position is a relatively easy position to get started with, and one you’ve probably never thought to try. In this position, your partner leans back against a wall while standing and spreads their legs as wide as they can while you enter them. This position does lower them a bit, so if your partner is shorter, they may need to stand on something, like an ottoman.

Although this position might seem a little awkward at first, it’s actually an incredibly passionate and romantic position thanks to all the eye contact, says Eric M. Garrison, a sex expert and author of Mastering Multiple Position Sex. It also offers incredibly deep penetration.

Kama Sutra Sex Position #2: Janukurpara

Eric Rosati/Men’s Health

Sex standing up gets a bad rap, but the Janukurpara position is well worth it. In this position, you lift your partner up, locking your elbows under their knees and gripping their butt with your hands while they place their arms around your neck to hold on. Janukurpara offers extra-deep penetration, lots of eye contact, and it has the added benefit of making you look like a champion.

“A lot of acrobatic positions offer just bragging rights, but some offer bragging rights and pleasure,” says Garrison. “Janukurpara allows for great penetration, and can be the reward for time in the gym.”

Kama Sutra Sex Position #3: Piditaka

Eric Rosati/Men’s Health

As Garrison notes, acrobatic sex doesn’t necessarily equate to pleasurable sex. The Piditaka position is a comfortable, laid-back position that has the benefit of being incredibly pleasurable. In this position, your partner lies on their back and pulls their knees into their chest, resting their feet on your chest as you kneel in front of them. With your knees on either side of their hips, you raise their hips onto your thighs and enter them.

“For those desiring the auspiciousness of the Kama Sutra even more, you can draw your partner’s feet up to touch your mouth and forehead, conveying tenderness, humility, and devotion,” says sexologist Yvonne K. Fulbright.

Kama Sutra Sex Position #4: Virsha

Eric Rosati/Men’s Health

You probably know the Virsha by another name: the Reverse Cowgirl. In this position, you lie flat on your back while your partner sits or kneels on top of you, facing your feet. Your partner then lowers themselves onto you and leans forward, gripping your ankles.

It sounds easy, but Garrison says it’s surprisingly tough. “Virsha is Sanskrit for bull, and as simple as it sounds, it’s no bull when I say that this is very difficult,” says Garrison. “Even the best can’t master it without practice—and what better reason to have lots of sex!”

Kama Sutra Sex Position #5: Tripadam

Eric Rosati/Men’s Health

Tripadam is the perfect position for a quickie: it doesn’t allow for deep penetration, but it does allow for “short and fast” fun, says Garrison.

In this position, you both stand, facing each other. You put your hand under one of your partner’s knees and raise it off the floor, turning the two of you into a “tripadam”(or tripod). Then enter your partner. (One note: this position works best if both of you are around the same height.)

Kama Sutra Sex Position #6: The Milk and Water Embrace

Eric Rosati/Men’s Health

With this position, you sit down in an chair, on a short stool, or on the bed. Then your partner sits down on you with their back to your chest.

“This is perfect for people of all body sizes,” says Garrison. If your partner is female-bodied, “there is the potential benefit of four-hand stimulation for her (clit, breasts, inner thighs), and lots of leg intertwining for you both.”

Kama Sutra Sex Position #7: Indrani

Eric Rosati/Men’s Health

Indrani is named for the beautiful and seductive wife of Indra, the supreme deity in the Hindu faith. With this position, your partner lies on their back and pulls their knees into their chest. Your knees can straddle your partner’s hips so you have your hands free to stimulate their body, or your can be on your forearms.

“One of my caveats for any man-on-top positions is that communication is key,” says Garrison. Because you’ll be able to penetrate quite deeply, it may cause your partner pain. Therefore “the two must communicate openly and honestly, before, during, and after the Indrani.”

“If you really want to try a certain position, you’re going to need a positive and excited energy that will make it fun and pleasurable for her no matter what the angle,” says Dr Laura Berman, Durex’s resident sexpert. So if you’re ready to spice up your sex life, try these five bizarre-but-hot sex positions you’ll both love – or love trying!

Men’s Health

KAMA SUTRA SEX POSITION #1: SAMMUKHA

The Sammukha position is a relatively easy position to get started with, and one you’ve probably never thought to try.

In this position, she leans back against a wall while standing and spreads her legs as wide as she can while you enter her. This position does lower her a bit, so shorter women may need to stand on something – like a long ottoman – and taller men may have to kneel if she’s really flexible.

Although this position might seem a little awkward at first, it’s actually an incredibly passionate and romantic position thanks to all the eye contact, says Eric M. Garrison, a sex expert and author of Mastering Multiple Position Sex. Because she’s supporting herself against a wall, this position also offers some of the deepest penetration possible.

Men’s Health

KAMA SUTRA SEX POSITION #2: JANUKURPARA

The Janukurpara position will probably require some extra gym time, but it’s worth it.

In this position you lift her up, locking your elbows under her knees and gripping her bum with your hands while she places her arms around your neck to hold on. Janukurpara offers extra-deep penetration, lots of eye contact, and it has the added benefit of making you look like a champion.

“A lot of acrobatic positions offer just bragging rights, but some offer bragging rights and pleasure,” says Garrison. “Janukurpara allows for great penetration, and can be the reward for time in the gym.”

Men’s Health

KAMA SUTRA SEX POSITION #3: PIDITAKA

As Garrison notes, acrobatic doesn’t necessarily mean pleasure. The Piditaka position is a comfortable, laid-back position that you can do any time – even on a leg day.

In this position, she lies on her back and pulls her knees into her chest, resting her feet on your chest as you kneel in front of her. With your knees on either side of her hips, you raise her hips onto your thighs and enter her.

She’ll feel tighter in this position because her vagina is narrowed when her legs are up, says Dr Yvonne K. Fulbright, Astroglide’s resident sexpert. She can also press her legs together or cross her ankles, increasing pressure for both of you.

“This position is great for those into positions offering female vulnerability,” says Fulbright. “For those desiring the auspiciousness of the Kama Sutra even more, the guy can draw her feet up to touch his mouth and forehead, conveying tenderness, humility and devotion.”

Men’s Health

KAMA SUTRA SEX POSITION #4: VIRSHA

The Virsha position isn’t actually that bizarre, you just know it by another name: the reverse cowgirl. That said, it’s a position that’s used a lot in porn but not so much in everyday sex – but it should be.

Because Virsha is a “girl on top” position, it makes her feel sexy, strong and in control, while still giving you an awesome view of her ass, Fulbright says.

In this position, you lie flat on your back while she sits or kneels on top of you, facing your feet. She lowers herself onto you and leans forward, gripping your ankles.

“Virsha is Sanskrit for bull, and, as simple as it sounds, it’s no bull when I say that this is very difficult,” says Garrison. “Even the best can’t master it without practice – and what better reason to have lots of sex!”

Men’s Health

KAMA SUTRA SEX POSITION #5: TRIPADAM

Tripadam is the perfect position for a quickie because it doesn’t allow for deep penetration, but it does allow for “short and fast” fun, says Garrison.

In this position, you both stand, facing each other. You put your hand under one of her knees and raise it off the floor, turning the two of you into a “tripadam” – or a tripod – and enter her while standing. (This position works best if both of you are around the same height.)

Another benefit to this move, like all standing positions, is that you both get maximum bloodflow to your erogenous zones for sexual function, says Garrison.

12 best Indian novels that everyone needs to read

From the cultural splendour of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur to the glamour of Bollywood, India is a fascinating place.

It’s the second most populous country in the world and there’s no better way to learn about its diverse culture and complex history than to read about it.

India has a long and distinguished literary record. The country’s first written works date as far back as 1500BC and its oral tradition is even older than that.

Centuries on, India’s literary culture is flourishing – as shown by the impressive number of Indian novelists who have won the Booker Prize over the past 50 years.

These include Arundhati Roy, the author of The God of Small Things, Aravind Adiga, who wrote The White Tiger, and Kiran Desai, the author of The Inheritance of Loss. Salman Rushdie, who was born in India but is a British citizen, won the 1981 Booker Prize for Midnight’s Children.

We’ve chosen a mix of classics from years gone by and contemporary novels that portray modern-day life in India. Our main criteria was that the novels should be original, compelling and superbly written – the kind of books that convey the country’s distinctive culture in literary form.

Some of our choices, such as Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance, shine a light on times of political upheaval, while books like The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota, relay the struggles of migrant workers who leave India and cross the world to look for work. In other words, there’s something to suit all literary tastes.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

‘A Fine Balance’ by Rohinton Mistry, published by Faber & Faber: £8.99, Waterstones

Set in 1975, when prime minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency due to civil unrest, this fine novel is the story of four strangers – a widow, a young student who has been uprooted from his idyllic hill station home and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village. The quartet are thrust together, sharing a cramped apartment and facing an uncertain future in the middle of India’s political turmoil. Shortlisted for the 1996 Booker Prize, Mistry’s beautifully written novel is a literary tour de force.

Buy now

‘A Suitable Boy’ by Vikram Seth, published by Orion: £12.99, Amazon

Published in 1993, this huge tome – one of the longest novels published in a single volume in the English language – is a much-loved classic. Set in newly independent, post-partition India, it follows the stories of four families, focusing on Rupa Mehra’s efforts to arrange the marriage of her spirited student daughter Lata to “a suitable boy”. The first screen version of this epic story is currently being filmed in India and will be shown on BBC1 in late 2020. “It’s a charming, almost Austenesque story, with a delightfully relatable heroine, set against the turbulent background of India in the years following partition,” says TV screenwriter Andrew Davies.

Buy now

‘The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy, published by Harper Perennial: £6.99, Foyles

This ambitious debut novel took the literary world by storm when it was published in 1997. Roy had previously been working as a screenwriter, actor and aerobics instructor but within months her book had sold all round the world and scooped the Booker Prize. Set in the southern state of Kerala, it relates the childhood experiences of twins Estha and Rahel, who see their world shaken irrevocably by the accidental death by drowning of their visiting English cousin. Lyrical, magical and beautifully written, it’s the compelling story of intertwining family lives, birth and death and love and loss.

Buy now

‘Midnight’s Children’ by Salman Rushdie, published by Vintage: £9.99, Waterstones

Salman Rushdie’s classic novel has been feted by Booker judges an astonishing three times. It won the Booker in 1981, was judged to be the Booker of Bookers for the award’s 25th anniversary in 1993 and in 2008 was voted the greatest Booker Prize winner of all time. Born at the stroke of midnight, at the precise moment of India’s independence, Saleem Sinai, the novel’s protagonist, is one of 1,001 “midnight’s children” – all of whom have special gifts and are telepathically linked. Rushdie says in the introduction to the novel that in the west people tend to read the novel “as a fantasy” while in India readers think of it as “pretty realistic, almost a history book”.

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‘The Inheritance of Loss’ by Kiran Desai, published by Penguin: £7.40, Amazon

When Kiran Desai’s second novel won the Booker Prize in 2006 head judge Hermione Lee described it as “a magnificent novel of humane breadth and wisdom, comic tenderness and powerful political acuteness”. Set in 1986, it’s the powerful and very accessible story of a bitter old judge who lives in a dilapidated mansion high in the Himalayas, his orphaned granddaughter Sai, who has fallen in love with her tutor, and his cook, whose son Biju is working in New York and trying to stay one step ahead of the US immigration services.

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‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts, published by Abacus: £10.99, Foyles

Gregory David Roberts’s rollercoaster life reads like a thriller. An ex-armed robber and reformed heroin addict, he escaped from an Australian prison to India, where he lived in a Mumbai slum, launched a free health clinic, joined the mafia and worked in the Bollywood movie industry. This page-turning debut novel is based on his own experiences in the Mumbai underworld and runs to a hefty 900 pages.

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‘The White Tiger’ by Aravind Adiga, published by Atlantic: £8.99, Waterstones

The enthralling story of Balram Halwai’s journey from “sweet, innocent village fool” to ruthless entrepreneur scooped the Booker Prize in 2008. This brilliant debut novel tells the searing tale of two Indias – one of them Balram’s home village, where sewage seeps down the road and children are “too lean and short for their age,” the other the city of Delhi, with its noisy shopping malls, traffic jams and slums. Look out for the film too – a Netflix adaptation is underway, with Rajkummar Rao and Priyanka Chopra in the lead roles.

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‘The Year of the Runaways’ by Sunjeev Sahota, published by Picador: £7.19, Amazon

Sunjeev Sahota’s second novel follows the lives of three migrant workers, Tochi, Avtar and Randeep, who flee India to look for work in England. The first half of the book features sections about their lives in India, relating their disparate reasons for moving to the other side of the world. Randeep marries to secure a visa, Avtar poses as a student and Tochi arrives in the UK on a fake passport in the back of a lorry. The book was shortlisted for the 2015 Booker Prize.

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‘The Lives of Others’ by Neel Mukherjee, published by Vintage: £8.70, Blackwell’s

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Costa Novel Award in 2014, Neel Mukherjee’s second novel is set in 1960s Kolkata and opens with the shocking account of a desperate man, who is unable to feed his starving wife and children and murders them before killing himself. This shocking scene is juxtaposed with the story of the wealthy Ghosh family, one of whom has become involved in extremist political activism. A powerful generational story of the chasm between the haves and have-nots.

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‘The Great Indian Novel’ by Shashi Tharoor, published by Penguin: £10.75, Amazon

First published in 1989, this book has a big title but Shashi Tharoor makes it clear from the start that it’s in deference to “its primary source of inspiration” – The Mahabharata, one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. In Sanskrit Maha means great and Bharata means India. Tharoor uses The Mahabharata as a framework for this satirical novel about the major Indian political events of the 20th century, from British colonial rule through to “the struggle for freedom and the triumphs and disappointments of Independence”.

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‘Witness the Night’ by Kishwar Desai, published by Simon & Schuster: £9.99, Amazon

When a traumatised young girl is found barely alive in a house where 13 people have been murdered, the local police assume she is the killer. But a feisty gin-swilling social worker brought in to review the case is convinced the girl has been framed and sets out to prove her innocence. Kishwar Desai wrote her stunning debut novel in just four weeks, driven by anger at the hidden scandal of killing baby girls that still exists in parts of India. It went on to win the Costa first novel award in 2010.

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‘Polite Society’ by Mahesh Rao, published by Tinder Press: £14.99, Foyles

If you’re looking for a lighter read, try Mahesh Rao’s beautifully observed and witty second novel, a contemporary version of Jane Austen’s Emma. Ania Khurana is a spoilt, rich 25-year-old living in a luxurious Delhi mansion. She knows everyone who is anyone in the city but she’s bored and in need of entertainment. Following in Emma Woodhouse’s matchmaking steps, Ania first finds a husband for her spinster aunt, then sets her sights on doing the same for her friend Dimple, only to find that the path of true love doesn’t always run smooth.

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The verdict: Indian novels

Choosing a favourite out of these 12 extraordinary novels is a tough task but for beautiful writing and characters you really care about Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance is in a league of its own. If books with present-day themes are more to your taste don’t miss Sunjeev Sahota’s The Year of the Runaways. Set in both India and Sheffield, the city where three Indian migrants travel to seek work, it’s an insightful, timely read.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

You’re welcome

Want to mix things up in the bedroom with some Kamasutra sex positions? From the ‘wheelbarrow’ to the ‘curled angel’, here’s your ultimate guide to the best Kamasutra positions for women, with how-to tips from sex blogger Girl On The Net. You’ll definitely thank us later.

What is the Kamasutra?

The world’s oldest and most famous sex manual, the Kamasutra, may have been written in India around 400BC but there’s a reason it literally translates to ‘a treatise on pleasure’.

With over 100 different sexual positions including graphic instructions on how to do them, it’s the most comprehensive sex guide in the history of mankind – and who doesn’t want to have mindblowingly good sex?

But with a central focus on female pleasure, tips for women on maintaining relationships with several lovers, and exhaustive techniques for men on how to keep a woman satisfied in case she runs off with someone else, we reckon it might just be the world’s first Feminist Sex Bible.

We asked sexpert Girl On The Net to talk us through the top 7 Kamasutra sex positions and why they work so well for women. Whether you’re in a committed relationship or looking for the best sex apps for no strings sex, these will bring you to the brink of a truly super orgasm.

7 Kamasutra sex positions to try for ultimate pleasure (with diagrams)

How to do you do the plough position?

Essentially an easier and more enjoyable version of the wheelbarrow, you lie tummy down on the bed with your top half rested on the bed and legs off the bed and straight out behind you. He is between your legs, supporting your lower half by your thighs. It takes practice but is worth every minute.

What’s good about the plough position?

Of all the Kamasutra sex positions, the wheelbarrow is arguably the most exhausting. This alternative is all the fun without the pain. Plus when you’re tensing your leg muscles (which this active position requires) it tightens up your vagina, which gives the sensation of squeezing him tight from within. When you orgasm in this position, your muscles contract even tighter which gives you an even more intense sensation.

The Rider Kamasutra Sex Position

How do you do the rider position?

This is basically the classic woman on top, but the key to its success is its flexibility. You have the option of switching between sitting upright so he gets more of a view or lying down flat chest to chest with him for increased intimacy. Add a vibrating ring for him if you want something different.

What’s good about the rider position?

Because you are ultimately in control so can angle yourself exactly as you want it. Not all of us have our clitoris in the same place but this is one you can angle to where yours is for personal pleasure. It’s great if you’re a performer as you can sit up and indulge your inner sex goddess, while those with very large boobs that hurt when they jiggle up and down in this position can lie flat on their partner’s chest for a bit of relief.

The Amazon Kamasutra Position

How do you do the amazon position?

He lies on his back and pulls his knees up to his chest so he’s curled up in a ball. He then pushes his penis back between his legs so it’s underneath them. You squat over him and rock backwards and forwards.

What’s good about the the amazon position?

This is one that sounds bizarre but has to be tried to be believed. I’d always dismissed it in sex guides till I tried it out myself. Of all the Kamasutra sex positions, this one makes you feel incredibly powerful and is the closest you’ll ever get to feeling like a guy during sex without a strap on.

The Frog Kamasutra Position

How do you do the frog position?

It’s very simple and almost doggy, but instead of being on your hands and knees, you put your arms down flat and rest the whole front part of your body on the bed with bum up in the air.

What’s good about the frog position?

You have your hands free so you can use them to stimulate yourself. His hands are also free for extra stimulation. Because you’re not balancing your weight on your hands, you have more energy to stay in the position for longer and your hands are free to play with him and yourself throughout.

The Hero Kamasutra Position

The Hero Kamasutra Sex Position

How do you do the hero position?

You lie on your back in the backwards roll position, with your ankles by your ears, while he kneels and takes you whilst holding your legs back.

What’s good about the hero position?

In terms of angle this is perfect for G Spot stimulation, as his penis will rub directly against your G spot. This is also ideal for light BDSM fans because your ankles can be tied together or to the bedpost or held in place by him, which avoids you getting cramp.

The Curled Angel Kamasutra Position

How to do you do the curled angel position?

This is one you probably already do, otherwise known as – Spooning or ‘hangover sex’. But done right, can top the lot.

What’s good about the curled angel position?

Having come across a great many Kamasutra sex positions in my time, this is still one of my favourites because quite simply, if done right, it offers total sexual equality. In missionary or doggy a man always tends to assume a bit more control. With this, you work together taking it in turns to lead, plus his hands are free so encourage him to play with you while you’re doing it so your orgasm comes more easily.

The Star Kamasutra Position

How do you do the star position?

You lie on your back, like missionary position, but with one leg bent and the other leg outstretched on the bed. He kneels between your legs, with one leg bent and the other lying flat on the bed. He sits so that his one leg is beneath the bent leg of you and the other leg bending around your flat outstretched leg, making a star shape.

What’s good about the star position?

This is great for deep G Spot penetration. He can also touch your clitoris for extra stimulation. You can even touch your own clitoris while he’s free to play with your breasts. So you have all your erotic zones covered.

So, there you have it. You might want to clear your diary.

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