tooviran Kama showers his floral arrows, sings the maiden in
love. Here he come all set to steal your heart, Kama, the god of
Oh! To be in love. The
slings and arrows of outrageous fortune when short by Kama, the God
of Love, are most welcome. Indeed, whether mere desire on montage or
cerebral surrender, the concept is just as pleasing. Love! Add to it
a precocious God with the charm and appearance of the perfect and the
idea grows even more alluring.
The Eros of the Greek,
the Cupid of the Latins is Kama in Hindu mythology. He churns the
mind as he enters it and so, as the one who distracts, he is also
known as Manmatha. Catching you unawares unseen, he is the same one
who showers floral arrows and so is called Kushumesu. For the pain
he causes he is reffered to as Mara or the one who wounds. But there
is sweetness in that pain. No wonder then that Mara is also called
Madana or the one who intoxicates.
One of the most beautiful
descriptions of this God of love is of him being the first movement
that arose in the one after it had come into life through the power
of fervour or abstraction. In the older texts like the Atharva
Veda Kamadeva is revered as the most superior of Gods
representing not only amorous desire but all that is good.
Kama is worshipped for
victory over ones enemies. In later texts like the Puranas he
appears in the form of the God of love like Eros and Cupid.
As is true for most
deities of the Hindu pantheon, there are many stories of his birth.
He is generally regarded as the son of Vishnu and Lakshmi in the
incarnations of Krishna and Rukmini but in some places he is also
described as the son of Brahma. Whichever way the story is told,
there is no doubt that Kama was born very early in the story of
If in the above version
Kama was the cause for all creation as he stirred the primeval
movement in nothingness, there is another version which believes that
Brahma in the process of creation gave form to ten lesser deities
desired her. The attention of all the lesser gods were transfixed on
Sandhya. As personification of such desire, a handsome youth emerged
from Brahmas mind. He carried with him a floral bow.
He was desire. He was
Kama. He shot five arrows: one that gladdened the heart, one that
caused attraction, one that led to infatuation, one that weakened and
one that was killing but in that pleasant kind of way.
Kama has been portrayed
as a charmer. Not only was he physically handsome, he was also
always ready to spread the message of love and joy. Story goes that
soon after Kama came into being he went to Brahma and asked, Kam
darpayani? (who should I please?). Then he acquired the name of
Kandarpan. What answer did Kandarpan get? Brahma told him, You
move about everywhere in this world engaged in the eternal work of
creation with the five arrows of flowers in your hands and thus
multiply the population. Not even the gods will be able to obstruct
That Kama has been more
than doing his job is evident in Indias burgeoning population!
Not always do people
appreciate Kamas handiwork. Here is a story that is
particularly evocative of the feeling. Brahma was meditating upon
creation when a wispy feeling arose in him and a young girl emerged
from his mind. This girl was Saraswati. Brahma married Saraswati
and she is revered even today as the Goddess of Learning. When all
this was over and Brahma was ready to meditate all over again, he
realized that it was because of Kama that he had felt the surge of
Instead of feeling
responsible for his actions, he blamed it all on Kama. He cursed
Kama, you will be burnt to ashes by Shiva, he declared
So Kama became victim of
Shivas anger. What Cupid has to go through all for the sake of
love! When Shiva was grieving over the death of his wife Sati, the
Gods persuaded Kama to try and work his magic on this fiery God.
They wanted him to put an end to Shivas grieving and make him
come alive to the realization that Sati had been born again in the
form of Parvati who was waiting for him.
The devotees and other
gods also said that the world had to be saved form a demon named
Taraka, a task only Shivas son would be able to accomplish.
So Kama set to work.
When his arrows pierced Shiva, he cast a loving glance at Parvati.
But within a second realized this was somebodys mischief.
Shiva was enraged. How dare anyone have the presumption to disturb
his meditation! He opened his third eye and the flame that shot out
reduced Kama to ashes. He did try to put out the fire. But when he
jumped into a river, the river bed dried up!
Rati, Kamas wife,
was having a hard time throughtout all this. Her grief led her to
Parvati. Parvati was by now basking in Shivas attention. She
too felt bad for the handsome lord but for whom she would not have
been able to realize her love.
She assured Rati that her
husband would be reborn and told her to wait for him at the house of
the demon who he was destined to destroy in this new birth.
Time came for Kama to be
reborn and this time he was born as Pradyumana. Rati found him
Kamas craft became
documented as an art in the treatise on love and love-making, the
Kamasutra. In Hindu marriage rituals a part of the hymns refer to
him. The hymn is taken from the Atharva veda.
Kama is usually
represented as a beautiful youth holding in his hand a bow and arrow
of flowers. Five kinds of flowers are strung together in his bow.
He is believed to be forever travelling the three worlds accompanied
by his wife Rati. Rati is the perfect match for Kama. In beauty she
is unparalleled. Kama and Rati bring with them the cuckoo, the
humming bee, spring and a gentle breeze. So when you go out into the
garden and heart the cuckoo calling out to you, you know it is Kama