God of Love, Lust and Desire
|Weapon||Sugarcane bow and floral arrow (pushpa dhanu and pushpa shar)|
|Parents||Brahma and Saraswati|
Vishnu and Lakshmi
Kamadeva (Sanskrit: कामदेव, IAST: Kāmadeva), Kāma or Manmatha is the Hindu god of human love or desire, often portrayed along with his female counterpart Rati. Kamadeva was son of Lord Vishnu and in some versions he is the son of Lord Brahma. Some narratives also reference Pradyumna, Krishna's son, as a reincarnation of Kamadeva.
Etymology and other names
The name Kama-deva (IAST: kāma-deva) can be translated as 'god of love'. Deva means heavenly or divine, and refers to a deity in Hinduism. Kama (IAST: kāma) means "desire" or "longing", especially as in sensual or sexual love. The name is used in Rig Veda (RV 9, 113. 11). Kamadeva is a name of Vishnu in Vishnu Purana and Bhagavata Purana (SB 5.18.15), and also Krishna as well as Shiva. Kama is also a name used for Agni (Atharva Veda 6.36.3).
Other names used in reference to Kamadeva are Manmatha/Manmathudu (one who agitates), Atanu (one without a body), Ragavrinta (stalk of passion), Ananga (incorporeal), Kandarpa (inflamer even of a god), Madana (intoxicating), Manmatha मन्मथ (churner of hearts), Manasija (he who is born of mind, a contraction of the Sanskrit phrase Sah Manasah jāta), Ratikānta (lord of Rati), Pushpavān, Pushpadhanva, Kusumashara कुसुमशर (one with arrow of flowers), Abhipura (also a name for both Brahma and Vishnu), and simply Kāma (desire; longing).
Kāmadeva is represented as a young, handsome man who wields a bow and arrows. His bow is made of sugarcane, and his arrows are decorated with five kinds of fragrant flowers. The five flowers are white lotus, Ashoka tree flowers, Mango tree flowers, Jasmine flowers and blue lotus flowers. The names of these flowers in Sanskrit in order are Aravinda, Ashoka, Choota, Navamallika, and Neelotpala. A terracotta murti of Kamadeva of great antiquity is housed in the Mathura Museum, UP, India.
Some of the attributes of Kamadeva are: his companions are a cuckoo, a parrot, humming bees, the season of spring, and the gentle breeze. All these are symbols of spring season, when his festival is celebrated as Holi, Holika or Vasanta.
According to Shiva Purana, Kamadeva is a son or a creation of Brahma. In other sources such as the Skanda Purana, Kamadeva is a brother of Prasuti; they are both the children of Shatarupa created by Brahma. Later interpretations also consider him the son of Vishnu. According to Matsya Purana, Visnu-Krishna and Kamadeva have a historical relationship. In the Harivamsa, his mother is the goddess Lakshmi.
Kamadeva is also mentioned in the 12th-century Javanese poem Smaradahana, a rendering of the myth of Kamadeva's burning by Shiva and fall from heaven to earth. Kama and his consort Rati are referenced as Kamajaya and Kamarati in Kakawin poetry and later Wayang narratives.
Kamadeva was married to Ratī, the daughter of Daksha, created from his sweat. Rati is a minor character in many traditional dramas involving Kamadeva, and in some ways represents an attribute. The goddess Vasanta (spring), who also accompanies Kamadeva, emerges from a sigh of frustration. Kama often takes part in Puranic battles with his troops of soldiers.
The story of the birth of Kamadeva has several variants in different Puranas. In the version of Mahabharata, a Prajapati named Dharma is born from the right breast of Brahma and begets three sons, Sama, Kama and Harsa. In some versions Kamadeva arises from the mind of the creator god, Brahma, yet in others he is the son of Vishnu. Kamadeva is sometimes portrayed as being at the service of Indra: one of his names is "obedient to Indra". Kamadeva's consort Rati, whose very essence is desire, carries a discus and a lotus, and her arms are compared with lotus-stalks.
Incineration by Shiva
One of the principal myths regarding Kama is that of his incineration by Shiva, the Madana-bhasma (Kama Dahana). It occurs in its most developed form in the Matsya Purana (verses 227-255) but is also repeated with variants in the Shaiva Purana and other Puranas.
In the narrative, Indra and the gods are suffering at the hands of the demon Tarakasura who cannot be defeated except by Shiva's son. Brahma advises that Parvati should do sacred pooja with lord Shiva, since their offspring would be able to defeat Taraka. Indra assigns Kamadeva to break Shiva's meditation. To create a congenial atmosphere, Kamadeva (Madana) creates an untimely spring (akāla-vasanta). He evades Shiva's guard, Nandin, by taking the form of the fragrant southern breeze, and enters Shiva's abode.
After he awakens Shiva with a flower arrow, Shiva, furious, opens his third eye, which incinerates Madana instantaneously and he is turned into ash. However, Shiva observes Parvati and asks her how he can help her. She enjoins him to resuscitate Madana, and Shiva agrees to let Madana live but in a disembodied form; hence Kamadeva is also called Ananga (an- = without; anga = body, "bodiless"), or Atanu (a- = without; tanu = body). The spirit of love embodied by Kama is now disseminated across the cosmos: afflicting humanity with the creation of a different atmosphere. Lord Shiva agrees with Mother Parvati's proposal and their pooja results the birth of lord karthikeya. Their son Kartikeya goes on to defeat Taraka.
Reincarnation as Krishna's son
The myth of Kamadeva's incineration is referenced in the Matsya Purana to reveal a relationship between Krishna and Kamadeva. In the narrative, Kama is reincarnated in the womb of Krishna's wife Rukmini as Pradyumna, after being burned to ashes by Shiva's anger.
Beliefs and worship
The deity of Kamadeva along with his consort Rati is included in the pantheon of Vedic-Brahmanical deities such as Shiva and Parvati. In Hindu traditions for the marriage ceremony itself, the bride's feet are often painted with pictures of Suka, the parrot vahana of Kamadeva.
The religious rituals addressed to him offer a means of purification and re-entry into the community. Devotion to Kamadeva keeps desire within the framework of the religious tradition. Kamadeva appears in many stories and becomes the object of devotional rituals for those seeking health, physical beauty, husbands, wives, and sons. In one story[where?] Kamadeva himself succumbs to desire, and must then worship his lover in order to be released from this passion and its curse.
Rituals and festivals
Holi; is a Hindu festival, celebrated in the Indian subcontinent. It is sometimes called Madana-Mahotsava or Kama-Mahotsava. This festival is mentioned by Jaimini, in his early writings such as Purvamimamsa-sutra, dated c.400 BC.
In the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, Krishna is identified as the original Kamadeva in Vrindavana. Kamadeva also incarnates as Krishna's son Shamba after being burned down by Shiva. Since he was begotten by Krishna himself, his qualities were similar to those of Krishna, such as his colour, appearance, and attributes. This Shamba is not considered identical with Vishnu's vyuha-manifestation called Shamba, but is an individual soul (jiva-tattva) who, owing to his celestial powers, becomes an emanation of Vishnu's prowess.
The Kamadeva that was incinerated is believed to be a celestial demigod capable of inducing love and lusty desires. He is distinguished from the spiritual Kamadeva. Here Krishna is the source of Kamadeva's inciting power, the ever-fresh transcendental god of love of Vrindavana, the origin of all forms of Kamadeva, yet above mundane love, who is worshiped with the Kama-Gayatri and Kama-Bija mantras.
When Kamadeva is referenced as smara in Bhāgavata Purāṇa (book 10) in the context of the supramundane love between Krishna and the gopis (cowherd maidens), he is not the Deva who incites lusty feelings. The word smara rather refers to Krishna himself, who through the medium of his flute increases his influence on the devoted gopis. The symptoms of this smarodayam (lit. "arousal of desire") experienced by the gopis have been described in a commentary (by Vishvanatha Cakravarti) as follows: "First comes attraction expressed through the eyes, then intense attachment in the mind, then determination, loss of sleep, becoming emaciated, uninterested in external things, shamelessness, madness, becoming stunned, and death. These are the ten stages of Cupid’s effects." The beauty of Krishna's consort, Radha, is without equal in the universe, and her power constantly defeats the god of love, Kamadeva.
While it is believed that there are no temples to Kamadeva, and no murtis (statues) of Kamadeva are sold for worship on the market, yet there is an ancient temple of Madan Kamdev in Baihata Chariali, Kamrup district in Assam. Madan is the brother of Kamadeva. The ruins of Madan Kamdev are scattered widely in a secluded place, covering 500 meters.
Some other temples dedicated or related to this deva:
- Kameshwara Temple, in Aragalur. The Sthala purana indicates that Kamadeva woke up Shiva at this place.
- Kameshvara Temple, in Kamyavan, one of the twelve forests of Vrindavana.
- Soundaraja Perumal Temple at Thadikombu, near Dindigul, Tamil Nadu
- Harsat-Mata Temple at Abhaneri has representation of Kamadeva.
In English Literature
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K. Deva suggests it is Kamadeva in the EITACS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
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