6 Introduction: About Courtesans
THIS Part VI, about courtesans, was prepared by Vatsyayana from a treatise on the subject that was written by Dattaka, for the women of Pataliputra (the modern Patna), some two thousand years ago. Dattaka's work does not appear to be extant now, but this abridgement of it is very clever, and quite equal to any of the productions of Emile Zola, and other writers of the realistic school of today.
Although a great deal has been written on the subject of the courtesan, nowhere will be found a better description of her, of her belongings, of her ideas, and of the working of her mind, than is contained in the following pages.
The details of the domestic and social life of the early Hindoos would not be complete without mention of the courtesan, and Part VI is entirely devoted to this subject. The Hindoos have ever had the good sense to recognise courtesans as a part and portion of human society, and so long as they behaved themselves with decency and propriety they were regarded with a certain respect. Anyhow, they have never been treated in the East with that brutality and contempt so common in the West, while their education has always been of a superior kind to that bestowed upon the rest of womankind in Oriental countries.
In the earlier days the well-educated Hindoo dancing girl and courtesan doubtless resembled the Hetera of the Greeks, and, being educated and amusing, were far more acceptable as companions than the generality of the married or unmarried women of that period. At all times and in all countries, there has ever been a little rivalry between the chaste and the unchaste. But while some women are born courtesans, and follow the instincts of their nature in every class of society, it has been truly said by some authors that every woman has got an inkling of the profession in her nature, and does her best, as a general rule, to make herself agreeable to the male sex.
The subtlety of women, their wonderful perceptive powers, their knowledge, and their intuitive appreciation of men and things are all shown in the following pages, which may be looked upon as a concentrated essence that has been since worked up into detail by many writers in every quarter of the globe.