Indra summoned Kama (Cupid), the God of Amour, and gave him a rousing hospitality. Hugging him and offering him half the royal throne of the king of gods, Indra praised his abilities and laudable services rendered by him so far. He said to Kama:“You are very professional and there is none in the universe to compete with you in the remarkable services you render. Friend, as you know, we gods are in danger of threat from the demon Tharaka. If the present situation is allowed to continue for long, our entire race will become extinct.”
Indra then looked curiously on the face of Kama so as to note any visible change there. “The total solution can be only at your dexterous hands. In fact, the existence of the entire devas, gandharvas, saints and priests depend upon you. Are you not prepared to save them from danger?”
“O, yes, sure.” Readily came the answer from Kama as he was flattered by Indra’s praise. “But, Sir, tell me my errand please…”
“As you know,” continued Indra: “Lord Shiva is meditating in Kailasa and Parvati, his former wife is nursing him. Use your expertise in rousing infatuation between them which will eventually lead to their wedding. This is a noble task which you alone can accomplish. Take the whole credit for saving the Deva race by you.”
Thus persuading and blessing, Indra sent Kama on the new mission.
Kama, God of Amour and his friend Vasanta (spring) set out to Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva with great enthusiasm. With the arrival of Vasanta, the whole surroundings underwent a welcome change. Flowers of all seasons bloomed together and the air became aromatic. The snowy mountain ranges converted from chilling cold to tenderly warmth. Birds started singing sweetly and mellifluously. A new life throbbed everywhere and in every living character.
Kama had never known defeat. Whosoever he targeted, he or she easily became the victim. His weapons were a bow made of sugarcane and arrows of five flowers – Lotus, Asoka, Choota (the mango flower), Mallika (the jasmine) and Neelotpala (Crataeva Religiosa). When he chose any of these arrows of deadly potency of love, the object immediately became the prey.
Kama and Vasanta without the notice of Shiva’s Bhutagana (lieutenants) hid near by the hermitage of Lord Shiva waiting for an opportune moment. Parvati, the matchless beauty queen (in Kama’s appraisal), came forward with graceful steps carrying Puja ingredients meant for Shiva. Looking at the meditating Lord; Kama, who never knew fear or anxiety hitherto, began to shiver with fear and awe. He somehow managed to control his flagging attention.
As Parvati, the matchless among the super-human personality of womanhood reached in front of Lord Shiva, Kama selected one of his arrows and fixed it and shot it towards the Lord.
Lord Shiva immediately opened his eyes and seeing the object reaching him, sent forth a roaring breath by the spell of which the floral arrow turned back and struck at Parvati. Shiva then opened his third eye from which the deadly flame came out that incinerated Kama. Ash spread on the earth in the shape of Kama’s body. Lord Shiva in fury got up and left the place. He settled down in another part of the mountain peak and continued his meditation.
Rati, Kama’s consort, wailed vehemently beating her chest. She prayed to Indra recounting all the noble services that Kama did. And the last service he did to the Deva community was at the behest of Indra himself.She said: “Oh Indra, king of Gods, without Kama, my husband, I don’t want to carry on my life. I have decided to put an end to my own life also.”All the gods, hearing her oath were in anguish. Kama has already been put to death. Now, if Rati also becomes extinct what would be the world order?
All the Devas along with Rati went to Indra and apprised him of the situation. Indra said: “Kama will come back to life, the moment Lord Shiva weds Parvati.” Thus saying, Indra disappeared. Rati, in sorrow, waited for the resurrection of Kama.
KK Shanmukhan ( To be concluded )
(The writer can be contacted at [email protected])