Valentine’s day on 14th February is celebrated by Indians with lot of fervour, while not many are aware of Lord Kamadeva or Manmatha , the God of Love in Hindu mythology. Indians do not worship Lord Kamadeva or celebrate his birthday since “love” is not expressed openly or is considered taboo among conservative Indians though ironically the younger generation celebrate “love” associating it with Valentine’s Day – a concept borrowed from the western world. “Love” has been expressed in ancient temples built centuries ago, like Khajuraho or Belur-Halebeedu, but are labelled as erotic and not generally discussed in the open.
Kamdeva is portrayed as a young, handsome man with wings carrying a bow and arrows. His bow is made of sugarcane with a cord of honeybees, and arrows of sweet-smelling Ashoka tree flowers, white and blue lotus flowers, Jasmine and Mango tree flowers. The companionship with cuckoo, a parrot, humming bees, the season of spring and the gentle cool breeze are main characteristics of demigod Kamadeva.
Kamadeva is the god of love and passion. Etymologically, Kama means sensual desire and Deva means a divine being. But why Lord Shiva burnt him to ashes?
Lord Shiva’s wife Sati had burnt herself in the pyres of a Yagna after her husband Shiva was being humiliated. After the tragic demise of his wife Sati, Shiva decided to remain an ascetic, swearing off the pleasures and comfort.
He got two boons from Lord Brahma. In the first boon Tarakasura asked him to make him the most powerful and in the second boon he asked that his death should only happen in the hands of a son born to Lord Shiva as he thought the Lord Shiva because of his vow will never marry again.
After that he terrorized all of heaven and earth and the Gods were quite weary of his tremendous strength. He attacked the demi gods, saints, humans and took all the control over earth and heaven.
Lord Indra called upon love-God Kamadeva and asked him to break Shiva’s penance. Kamadeva, along with his wife Rati arrived at the spot where Lord Shiva was meditating.
Using his powers, KamDev brought spring season to Kailash Moountain and transformed the environment into a romantic paradise.
When Parvati was passing by, Kamdev fired an arrow at Lord Shiva’s heart. The arrow hit its target and Shiva’s meditation was broken. He was mesmerized by the beauty of Parvati, but soon he realised that it was not spring and that he was being tricked.
Shiva got enraged and in fury, he opened his third eye. Kam Dev realised he was caught but he was so scared that he could not react or ask for forgiveness.
When Shiva’s ‘third eye‘ of destruction opened up. Flames released from this eye which reduced Kam Dev to ashes.
Rati, the wife of Kamdev cried and begged and asked Lord Shiva to bring her husband back to life. The Gods also informed Shiva about Tarakasura and how he would be killed by only Shiva’s son.
Lord Shiva then said that Kamadeva would be born in the Dwapara Yuga as the son of Lord Krishna and Rukmini. The body of KamDev destroyed, so, he is revived in a formless manner and is called as ‘Ananga Dev’ or the one without a body.
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