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Kamadev - The Indian Cupid

We all have heard about the famous Cupid and how he makes two people fall in love with each other with his love-struck arrows. The Universe for the propagation of future generations has its way of bringing people from the opposite gender close to each other. Their love and attraction for each other results in the birth of their offsprings which in turn keeps different species of Earth alive. Hence this is one of the most important activities prevailing on Earth which keeps the world going forward without being extinct. In India, we have Gods assigned for every aspect of life. Kamadev is one such god who plays the role of Indian Cupid. He is the god of love and infatuation with a primary responsibility of making couples fall in love with each other. Kamadev has been depicted as a very handsome god with a sugarcane bow and arrows made of flowers. He is accompanied by his wife Rati who is the goddess of love and infatuation and shown riding on a parrot which is his mount. The season of spring is also associated with Kamadev and Rati.

Now there are different stories concerning his birth. Some scriptures suggest that he was born from Brahma's mind while some suggest that he was the son of Manu and Shatrupa. Few other texts mention him as the son of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. Pradyuman who was the son of Lord Krishna is also known to be Kamadev's reincarnation. Rati who is Prajapati Daksha's daughter was married to Kamadev. Together they invoke feelings of sensuality, love , attraction, and pleasure inside us. Now there is a very famous story of Shiva's encounter with Kamadev. Let us hear about it.

There was a period in the Universe when the whole world was being controlled by demon Tarkasur. Tarkasur had a boon that only Shiva's son could kill him. However, Shiva was a hermit with no lady in his life. The Gods were tensed as their position had been diluted and Tarkasur had become immensely powerful. This is when Brahma suggested Goddess Parvati to meditate upon Shiva so that he could marry her. The Gods became impatient and wanted to rush this whole event. Indra the king of heaven was most insecure and decided to seek help from Kamadev. Upon Indra's instruction Kamadev along with Rati reached mount Kailasa. Their entry to Kailasa also brought the season of spring and Kailasa started blooming with flowers. They saw Shiva with his eyes closed and in a deep state of trance. Kamadev shot his arrow of flowers on Shiva. Shiva's meditation was broken due to this and he opened his third eye in a state of immense fury and wrath. His anger was so intense that fire started oozing out of his third eye. This fire burnt Kamadev completely into ashes. Kamadev's wife Rati was also there witnessing the entire episode. In a moment she lost her husband and was inconsolable. The gods realised their mistake and now begged for forgiveness for showing such impatience. They requested Shiva to revive Kamadev as without him the whole process of creation shall suffer and come to an end.

Shiva accepted their apology and agreed to revive Kamadev. However, Shiva mentioned that Kamadev shall remain without a body in a disembodied state for now. He shall again get his body back when he is born to Krishna as his son Pradyuman. Kamadev is also known by many other names like Manmath,Kandarp,Mansija,Pushpavan,Gandharv etc.The book of Kamasutra and Kamashastra have a detailed description of Kamadev. Mandana Kamadev also known as Khajurao of Assam is one of the most famous temples dedicated to him.

Art Credit: Unknown

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