Kama is a god in Hindu mythology. He is the god of human love and desire. He is a mind-born son of Brahma and is the husband of Rati. His mount is a parrot. Kamadeva’s weapons include a sugarcane bow and floral arrow that spreads love when shot. He was incinerated and later resuscitated by Shiva. Kama has been sent by Indra to disturb the penance of ascetics multiple times.
- Father: Brahma
- Wife: Rati
- Sons: Harsha, Yashas
During the creation of the universe, Brahma created his ten mind-born sons. Their names were Marichi, Atri, Pulaha, Pulastya, Angiras, Kratu, Vashishta, Narada, Daksha, and Bhrigu. After that, a beautiful woman was born from Brahma’s mind. She was so beautiful and perfect that she could captivate the minds of even the sages. On seeing her, Brahma and his ten mind-born sons all got up, various thoughts running through them. Suddenly, a handsome man sprung from Brahma’s mind. He had a golden complexion and carried the sentiment of love with him. He was armed with a bow and five flower arrows. On seeing him, everyone was curious. He bowed down to Brahma and asked, “Oh Brahma, what is the work I am to do in this world? Who will be my wife?”
After a while, Brahma replied, “You will spread love among men and women. You will be so powerful that even the devas won’t be able to compete with you. Even Vishnu, Shiva, and I will be under your control. That is your duty.”
Then, the mind-born sons of Brahma gave names to the being. They said, “Since you have already began to bedevil our minds, you will be known as Manmatha. Since you can take any form you wish, you will also be called Kama. Since you will cause elation in some, you will also be known as Madana. People will also call you Kandarpa and Darpaka. Daksha will give you a suitable wife. And this beautiful lady, born of Brahma, will be known as Sandhya.”
A Curse and a Boon
Kama thought, “I have been assigned the task of spreading love by Brahma. I will start this task right now in the presence of Brahma and these ten rishis. I will show them that I am capable of such a task.”
Thinking this, Kama shot his arrows at Brahma, his ten mind-born sons, and Sandhya. Soon, they started frequently staring at Sandhya. Brahma and his sons were completely overpowered by lust. Sandhya too started indicating her feelings from them with occasional glances. Seeing Brahma and the others engrossed in Sandhya, Kama realized that he could easily perform the work given to him by Brahma.
On seeing his father Brahma and his ten brothers, Dharma (another son of Brahma) prayed to Shiva for help. Shiva arrived there and was surprised at seeing Brahma in a lustful state. He said, “Oh Brahma, how can you be attracted to your own daughter? A daughter, sister, and brother’s wife are like one’s mother. How is it that your mental sons who practice asceticism can be enamored by a women. This Kama is a fool.”
On hearing Shiva, Brahma started sweating. Out of his perspiration, sixty-four thousand Pitrs (manes, the defied souls of dead ancestors) were created. Eighty-four thousand Barhisad Pitrs were also born. From the sweat of Daksha, a beautiful lady was born. More Pitrs were born of the other sons of Brahma. The Somapas were born of Kratu, the Kalins of Vashishta, the Ajyapas of Pulastya, and the Havismantas of Angiras. Sandhya came out of her trance and became devoted to Shiva. Shiva then vanished.
Brahma then turned towards Kama. In rage, Brahma cursed Kama, “After playing this same trick of love on Shiva, you will be burned by the fire of his third eye!”
Frightened, Kama replied, “Oh Brahma, why are you so enraged. I simply carried out my duties. You said that even you could be controlled by me. I just wanted to test this statement. I am innocent”
Brahma said, “I cursed you because you aimed at me and my daughter. But I am not angry anymore. Be happy. I cannot take back this curse now. But I will make it so that after being burnt, you will be resuscitated by Shiva himself.” Brahma then vanished from the spot.
After Brahma had left, Daksha said, “Kama, I have found a perfect wife for you. She is born of my own body.”
Daksha presented the beautiful lady who had been born of his sweat to Kama. He then said, “She will be known as Rati. She will be your constant companion.”
Kama was overtaken by love at seeing Rati. Great festivities took place at their marriage. Both Rati and Kama were overjoyed to marry each other. Everybody at the marriage was happy, especially Daksha.
Attempts to Seduce Shiva
After the marriage, everyone went back to their appropriate abodes. At Satyaloka, Brahma started thinking about what had just happened. He then had an idea. He went to the abode of his ten mind-born sons, Kama, and Rati. Brahma said, “Shiva is a Yogin, so he despised us being attracted to a women. If he doesn’t allow men to be attracted to women, then the creation won’t progress. We must have Shiva take up a wife! Only Kama and Rati are capable of this feat. Kama, you and your wife shall pursue Shiva wherever he travels and seduce him.”
“We will surely do as you say, Brahma. But we need a women for Shiva to be attracted to,” Kama said.
Brahma started thinking about by whom Shiva is to be enamoured. As he was in deep thought, he heaved a sigh from which a being was created. He was covered with flowers and carried the presence of spring with him.
Brahma said, “Kama, I have created a constant companion for you. He will be known as Vasanta, which means Spring. His duty is to follow you and delight all people. Now go, and try to seduce Shiva. I will create a women who will captivate Shiva.”
Kama, Vasanta, and Rati went to the spot where Shiva was staying. Kama went around Shiva and tried to enchant with his arrows, but nothing happened. They followed him when he went to the mountains. Kama made all animals around Shiva show signs of love, but Shiva was not affected. Unsuccessful, they returned to Brahma.
Hearing what had happened, Brahma heaved a deep sigh of frustration. From this sigh, a group of violet beings playing on various loud instruments were created. They were shouting: Kill, Cut.
“Oh Brahma, who are these people that you have produced. What is their job in this universe? Why have they been created?” Kama questioned.
“They are shouting Maraya (which means kill) very often. Hence, they will be known as the Maras. This group will go around violently disrupting the activities of everybody. But they can only be controlled by you. Their sole purpose is to follow you as companions wherever you go,” Brahma answered. “Now go and try to seduce Shiva again.”
Kama, Rati, Vasanta, and the Maras went to Shiva but failed once again. Knowing that nothing could be done to seduce Shiva, Kama and his followers returned to their abode.
Later, after a lot of events, Shiva would finally marry Sati, the daughter of Daksha. But Sati would die in Daksha’s Yagna.
Incineration by Shiva
Once, Indra called Kama, Rati, Vasanta, and all their followers. Indra and Kama lovingly greeted each other.
Indra praised Kama and then said, “The Asura Taraka has become invincible. He has a boon from Brahma that only a son of Shiva can kill him. But as you know, Sati recently died and Shiva doesn’t have a son. We have not been able to do anything against him. Shiva is currently engaged in meditation and Parvati, the daughter of Himavat, is serving him. You must create love between them so that they have a child that can kill Tarakasura.”
Accompanied by Vasanta and Rati, Kama went to the spot where Shiva was meditating. First, Vasanta spread the effects of Spring everywhere. The beautiful environment was perfect for love. Shiva was surprised but stayed in his penance. Kama spread love everywhere. Parvati then came there with two of her maids and brought flowers to offer to Shiva. Kama shot his flowery arrow of love at Shiva. When Shiva saw Parvati, he was enamored by her beauty. He started staring at her and starting undressing her. But, Shiva immediately came out of this lustful state and went back to being detached. Shiva looked around and saw Kama on his left side. He was enraged and opened his third eye. A great fire originated from his third eye and reduced Kama to ashes.
All the gods were shocked when they saw this. Rati became insane by seeing the death of her husband. All the devas approached Shiva and said, “Oh Shiva, Kama did not have bad intentions. He is helping us in ending Taraka. Please revive Kama. We cannot bear to see the distress of Rati anymore.”
“Kama will surely be resuscitated,” Shiva assured. Hearing this, the devas were delighted and went back to their respective abodes.
Finally, the marriage of Shiva and Parvati occured and it was being joyfully celebrated. In the midst of the celebration, Rati approached Lord Shiva with a bag of Kama’s ashes. She begged him to resuscitate her husband. The other ladies, like Saraswati, started piteously crying and also requested Shiva to revive Kama. Shiva agreed and glared at the ashes. Instantly, the ashes were transformed into Kama deva. Kama was alive once again!
Rati’s happiness knew no bounds. Kama and Rati eulogized Shiva and then bowed down to him. They then met Brahma, Vishnu, and the other gods. They participated in the rest of the marriage ceremonies and then went back to Swarga.