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Posts Tagged ‘love’


Today we are going to see another interesting panel from the Tanjore temple ( thanks again to Satheesh). The burning of the Lord of Love - Kama by Siva.

To the uninitiated a short brief on Kamadeva - the god of love - fair complexioned, handsome and the best looking among the gods. He carries a bow made of sugarcane and strung with a line of humming bees. He shoots with his bow the five flower-tipped shafts of desire * . RATI (passion) his wife and his friend VASANTA (spring), who selects for him the shaft to be used on the current victim accompanies him. Kamadeva’s vehicle is the parrot.

{ *couple of months ago in agathiar forum Mr. K. Srikanth posted an interesting article on the flowers that make up Kama’s arrow and his targets / effects. am giving that below - His arrows are of five varieties of flowers. Aravindam which is Lotus, Asokam - Hellebore, Chootham - Mango flower, Navamallika - new Jasmine, and Nilotpala - blue lotus are the five arrows of manmadha. With these arrows he hits five places in the body and creates five different effects.
Unmaadana - ‘unmattam’ or craziness/sillyness happens when manmatha hits with Lotus flower on the chest, rodana - the asoka flower hits the lips makes the person lament/cry with excitement, sosna - the jasmine flower hits the eyes and reddens it (loss of sleep), sammohana - the tender mango flower when hit at the head; makes the person loose their mind and finally the deadly Nilotapal flower stupifies the person to standstillness (Stambhanam).
http://manoranjitam.wordpress.com/2008/01/21/legend-of-kaama/ }

Ok, enough of introductions, we plunge into the story / legend.

The story immediately follows our earlier panel - that of Dhaksha’s beheading. Not able to put up with the insults heaped on her husband by her father, Dhakshayini has immolated herself in the sacrificial fire of Dhaksha. Heartbroken at this, Shiva is deeply immersed in penance. He is hardly aware of what is happening around and in deep meditation.

So when the destroyer is in such state, the forces of evil raise their heads. A demon named Taraka performs a great number of austerities for a great number of years, as usual Brahma is forced to grant an audition - usual dialogue - demon seeks boon of immortality - Brahma refuses - offers something short - This time the demon is wise ( or so he thinks), he knows that Shiva is in deep trance and there is no sign of his consort - he is leading a life of absolute austerity. So he seeks absolute invulnerability from every creation in the universe except a son of Shiva.

Ok, back to familiar script - armed with the boon, Taraka has none to stop him from conquering the worlds and inflicting tremendous hardships on humans and the gods. He defeated the gods one by one and forced them to pay him tribute. Indra was forced to part with his wonderful white horse, Uchchaisravas, which was one of the fourteen precious things that had turned up at the Churning of the Ocean at the beginning of creation. Jamadagni, the great sage, had to give up his celestial cow Kamdhenu, a creature which could fulfill all desires. Kubera, the god of wealth, had to pay tribute to Taraka in the form of a thousand precious sea-horses and Vayu had to obey all of the wicked asura’s commands. Even the sun and the moon were in terror of Taraka and while the sun could not give out any heat the moon was forced to shine all the time. The gods were forced out of their respective heavens and wander about in forests.

The disposed gods regrouped in the forest and tried to come up with the way to vanquish the demon - they blamed Brhama squarely for their debacle and at that point Brahma reminded them of the loophole in the boon. Immediately the Gods set about working on the acilles heel of Tarakasura. But the problem was that Shiva was still mourning Dhakshayini and was living a life of complete celibacy.

Fortunately the divine mother was already reborn as Parvathi ( parvatham - mountain - daugter off) daughter of the Himavan ( Himaalaya mountain) and his wife Manorama.
Parvati was born, exceedingly beautiful and worthy of a potent god like Shiva. When she came of age she realised her mission in life and she herself began to perform many austerities in the hope of attracting Shiva’s attention but that god was still in grief and impervious to all her best efforts.

Indra then turns to Kama, the god of love and desire, to go to Mount Kailash and somehow make Shiva break his self-imposed celibacy. That flighty god fearfully went to Kailash and found Shiva deep in meditation, impervious to all around him. Even the birds and animals in that holy place made no noise. Even the leaves on the trees stayed still and made no sound. Kama dared not proceed with what he had been sent to do and hung about the place wondering what he could do.

So Kama dithered about the place quite uncertain as to how to rouse Shiva’s desire to wed with Parvati. This uncertain situation went on for many days till, one day, suddenly, Kama saw Parvati approach gently and quietly and start picking flowers to offer to her desired lord, Shiva. Kama immediately saw his opportunity and, setting aside his fear of the hot-tempered god, fitted an arrow to his famed bow and aimed at Shiva and let fly. The arrow flew true to its mark, Shiva’s breast. Shiva was rudely shaken out of his meditative trance and his eyes flew open. The first person he saw was the lovely Parvati charmingly picking the colorful flowers. He immediately felt a warm surge of love for her course through his body. Then he saw Kama and he instantly understood the reason for his unforeseen desire. He flew into a rage at what he thought of as Kama’s imprudence and, turning his terrible third eye on that hapless god, reduced him to ashes.

Taking pity at the woes and responding to the pleas of his widow, Rati, Lord Shiva restored her husband but only as a mental image, representing true love and affection and not just physical lust. Hence the other name of Kama Deva is ANANGA (the bodiless).

The rest - is the birth of skanda/muruga and how he becomes the warrior chieftain of the Gods and leads them to a successful campaign to destroy Tarakasura. ( the entire legend is beautifully described in kalidaasa’s immortal work - Kumarasambhava )

A long post but an interesting legend. Lets look at the sculpture now.

The entire panel coming up first for you. The top most row is a groups of ascetics and the bottom most row -Shiva’s faithful assistants. The main story described in three scenes in between.

kamathahana panel.jpg

The first scene - shiva is in deep meditation - watch the beauty of the sculpture, even in this miniature scale the sculptor has managed to sculpt shiva’s closed - meditating eyes ! The handsome Kama ofcourse is aiming his arrow on shiva. (you can vaguely see the smile on his lips)

kama aiming at shiva.JPG

The second scene, immdly below - we see a falling Kama and a wailing Rathi. Again a slightly damaged sculpture, but the falling kama is shown beautifully. You can also see Rathi wailing beating her hands on her heads ( a very south Indian emotional act)

kama struck down with rati.JPG

The last one, to the right of the second scene - we see a resurrected Kama in all devotion and a visibly happy Rathi - taking the blessings of shiva ( who has a large assitant - bootha gana beside him)

kama resurrected.JPG

This reminds me of a similar scene in cambodia - Banteay Srei complex, which we will see in the next post.

There are many references in Thevaram on this episode, ( thanks to Mr.V. Subramaniam ) quoting a couple below;

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=4&Song_idField=41030&padhi=103&startLimit=3&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC


fixing the pure and soft flowers as arrows in the bow of the sugar-cane.
putting into use the fire the Lord in nākaikkārōṇam who destroyed with the frontal eye kāmaṉ to become ash!
praising your names.
grant your grace to utter the five letters of namaccivāya on the day when I die.
our Lord who does good to devotees!
Translation: V.M.Subramanya Aiyar–Courtesy: French Institute of Pondichery / EFEO (2006)

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=1228&padhi=72&startLimit=476&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC


“O Nectar that devoured the venom of the ocean
To save the Deva-throng of devotees,
O pure and purifying Lord unknowable
To the tall Vishnu and the Four-faced Brahma,
O One whose jewel is the snake of blue-hued poison!
O Holy Lord who, when Rati prayed to You,
Resurrected Kaaman who was reduced to cinders!
O beauteous Lord of Marukal girt with fragrant
And flowery gardens! Pray, save me!
Translation: T.N. Ramachandran


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