We all know about the beautiful Goddess Parvati, the Goddess of love. Did you know Hinduism has it’s very own Indian cupid… A God of Love?... I never knew of “Kamadeva”, the Hindu god of love. Growing up he was never a god that we spoke about or prayed too. So how did I come across him? Well I was researching content for our fifth birthday launch and found a god that had five arrows, so I was intrigued to find out more about the parrot riding, greenish god Kamadeva. He is often shown with his female counterpart Rati.
Kamadeva is the god of love, passion or desire. In Sanskrit ‘Kama’ means ‘Sensual Desire’, and Deva means a divine being. He is regarded as the heavenly god of love who arouses passion by those struck by his arrows. He is present in the Hindu scriptures the Puranas, but is also mentioned in the Reg Veda and Atharva Veda. The earliest mention of ‘Kama’, or desire, is in the sacred Rig Veda as the very first wave of creation:
"In the beginning, darkness was hidden by darkness with no distinguishing sign; all of this was water. The life force that was covered with emptiness arose through the power of heat. Desire (kama) arose in It in the beginning; that was the first seed of the mind. Wise Sages seeking in their hearts, with wisdom, found it to be the bond that connects existence with non-existence." (Rig Veda 10. 129).
He is the most handsome among both men and Gods. Kamadeva is a young man with golden wings. He has a greenish complexion. He carries a special bow made of sugar cane, and the string is soaked in honey, with a line of honey bees. He has five arrows. His arrows are decorated with five kinds of fragrant flowers. The five flowers are Ashoka tree flowers, white and blue lotus flowers, Jasmine Mallika tree and Mango tree flowers. The five arrows correspond to the five senses, with which he pierces the hearts of lovers. He rides a parrot.
There is some confusion as to his origin. Legends have it that Kamadeva was son of Vishnu and Laxmi. He married Rati, the goddess of lust and infatuation. Some other stories state that Kamadeva was son of Brahma, the creator of the universe, and he also had some relation with Lord Shiva, see the story below.
There are many stories on Kamadeva, here is one I thought I would share from the Matsya Puranas (verses 227-255). Shiva was devastated by the death of his wife Sati and decided to relinquish the world, the gods were afraid for the fate of the universe. They knew that unless Shiva become happy again, the world was doomed. They wanted him to fall in love again and have children. They asked Kamadeva to help for the greater good.
Kamadeva went to a remote forest where Shiva was deep in meditation. He was accompanied by spring, and in an instant the entire forest was transformed into a beautiful garden. For Shiva to fall in love, a suitable woman was needed. Luckily Uma, the daughter of Himavan, the king of mountains had vowed to marry Shiva. She was an incarnation of Parvati and was therefore a suitable wife for Shiva. Shiva was not aware of her presence. He was still mourning Sati’s death.
Kamadeva fitted one of his best flower-arrows in his bow of sugarcane and let the arrow fly, aimed at the heart of Lord Shiva. The arrow struck its target and Shiva opened his eyes. He instantly fell in love with Uma. However, his anger rose immediately, when he realized that Kama had intervened with his affairs. He opened his third-eye, the seed of destruction and gazed with raging anger at Kamadeva.
Such was the power of Shiva's gaze that Kamadeva was instantly reduced to ashes. Seeing her husband's death, Rati fell at the feet of the Lord and beseeched him to spare her husband. Touched by her desperate pleas, Shiva revoked his actions and brought Kamadeva back to life. However, there was a conditions. Kamadeva would be formless from this day onwards. Only Rati, his wife could see his handsome form, he would now be invisible to all others. (Reference Deity of the week)
Kamadeva traditionally being worshipped on Vasant Panchami. Springtime is his favourite hence the arrow full of blooming flowers. Spring is when his festival is celebrated as Holi. Beware of Kamadeva’s arrows they might just make you fall in love….
If his arrow is aimed at the hear it can cause excitement and youthful cheerfulness.
If his arrow is aimed at the head it may cause you to cry out with excitement!
If his arrow is aimed at your eyes you could go crazy with love.
If his last arrow is made to hit you anywhere!, and just simply engulf you in love.
(Ref: Expressed Digitally Raj and Hindu Scriptures Site)
Spread arrows of love this festive season.