Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Kama is Burned by Shiva

Tales of Shiva

This story is from Ms.P..

Shiva was married to Sati, the daughter of Daksha. When Daksha felt that he had not been offered proper worship by his son-in-law, he decided to insult him by conducting a great Yagna (sacrifice), to which all but Shiva would be invited. When Sati came to know of it, she went to the sacrifice, undeterred by her husband's words of caution. There, she argued with her father regarding the omission of her husband from the list of invitees. Blinded by his arrogance, Daksha spoke harsh words to his daughter and insulted Shiva also. Unable to bear the humiliation, Sati committed suicide by throwing herself into the sacrificial fire. When the news reached Shiva, he attacked the sacrificial hall with his followers, the Ganas. In the ensuing battle, the hall was wrecked, and Daksha himself was slain. A full account of these events can be found here.

Once the anger of Shiva subsided, it was replaced by inconsolable sorrow. He withdrew himself from the world and spent all his days in meditation. The Lord of the universe no longer took any interest in either worldly or heavenly affairs. He took up his abode in a desolate forest, close to a cremation ground and abandoned the Gods.

Of course, this apathy could not be allowed to continue for long. For, without his guiding hand, the world was in danger of unraveling. Indra and the Devas were very worried. They went to Brahma and said, "Sir, Our foes, the Asuras have once again become powerful. It has been foretold that only the son of Shiva can lead us to victory over them this time. The Lord has lost his wife and has become a hermit, forsaking us all. We dare not approach him, but it is absolutely essential that he wed again, and beget a son who will be our savior. What should we do?"

Lord Brahma thought for a while and said, "I understand your predicament. It was my fondest wish to see the child of Rudra and Sati. Thanks to the foolish actions of Daksha, Sati is no more. However, all is not lost. Know that she has been re-incarnated as Uma, the daughter of Himavan, the king of the mountains. Becoming aware of her destiny from a tender age, she has resolved to obtain Shiva for a husband and has been performing a penance for that purpose. The child of Uma and Shiva shall be your savior."

Indra said, "This is the best news I have heard in quite some time! However, Shiva is not noticing anything now a days. He is deep in his meditations. I doubt if he is even aware that this girl exists. How can this marriage take place?"

Brahma said, "We must arrange for Uma to wait on Shiva. She will be very glad to perform this service for her husband-to-be. Once she is in the presence of Rudra, Kama can do the rest."

The plan was put into action. Uma (she was also called Parvati), was informed by the Gods that she was to look after Shiva's needs while he performed his penance. Naturally, she was very glad to do so. Days passed, Parvati performed her duties diligently. However, Shiva did not even open his eyes.

Meanwhile, Indra was growing impatient. His spies had already brought him news that the Asura army was gathering strength, and that an attack was imminent. He sent for Kama, the God of love and said, "O Kama, only you can save the Devas. For our welfare, it is required that Shiva marry Parvati. She is at present waiting on Shiva, but the Lord has not even noticed her presence. Go immediately and make him fall in love with her."

Of course, Manmatha was flattered that the well-being of the Gods rested on his shoulders, but he was somewhat afraid also. He had previously left Shiva alone, in deference to the Lord's strength. His arrows of love had hitherto been directed at lesser beings only. In the end, pride won the day. He called forth his attendants, including Vasant (spring), and the Apsaras. This seductive army then marched to the place where Shiva was performing his penance.

With the arrival of Vasant, the desolate forest was transformed into a beautiful garden, with flowers in full bloom. The songs of the birds filled the air, and a atmosphere was redolent with a divine fragrance. Parvati looked at this miracle in awe. Shiva however, continued his meditation without being perturbed.

Kama judged that it was time. He strung his bow made of sugarcane and affixed a flower tipped arrow to it. Impelled by his incantations, the arrow flew from the bow and struck Shiva squarely on his chest.

The Lord felt the arrow, and simultaneously felt desire rise deep inside him. However, in a moment, he had regained control over his mind, and the desire was supplanted by anger. Omniscient, he immediately knew that this was the work of Kama. He opened his third eye (situated in the middle of his forehead), and glanced at the god of Love. Such was the potency of his gaze that Kama was instantly reduced to ashes.

The Apsaras who were singing and dancing, were stunned. They fled the forest in terror. Only Parvati held her ground. Shiva looked at her, and saw the image of Sati. He realized that this was his wife reborn. It was love at first sight. Indra's plight had succeeded.

Meanwhile, the Apsaras carried the news of Kama's death to his wife Rati. She rushed to the Shivas presence and fell at his feet. With tears in her eyes, she said, "Lord, is it fair that my husband should be dead? He was merely doing the bidding of Indra and the other Devas. His sin was nothing more than pride. You have found yourself a wife, and will be very happy. What will become of me? I have lost my husband, dearer to me than life itself. Kill me also, so that I may join him in death!"

By now, Shiva's anger had subsided. He lifted up Sati and said, "Do not be afraid, Your husband is not really dead. I have merely burnt his corporeal body, of which he was inordinately proud. From this day on, he shall live only as a disembodied spirit. Only you shall be able to perceive his physical form. To everyone else, he shall be invisible."

From that day on, Manmatha does not have a physical form. Gods as well as mortals can never perceive him. He does his work unobserved, aided by his unerring, flower tipped arrows of love.

Last Modified At: Sat Oct 23 22:57:59 2004