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Legend of Kaama…!

January 21, 2008

manmadha.jpgThe legendary story of Kama the god of love, is an interesting one. In Greek mythology too, Kama appears in the form of cupid with more or less the same descriptions. According to Hindu Puranas, Shiva was once in deep penance. His penance was so vigorous that celestial gods feared something unusual is going to happen; So they pleaded to Parvati.

With her consent, Kaama deva hit Shiva with flower arrows in order to wake him from penance. Shiva woke up and looked at Manmatha with his third eye which burnt him to ashes. This happend in Kamarup or today’s Assam. Later Rathi wife of Kama came to Shiva in tears and pleaded for her husband. Shiva resurrected him but he was to be visible only to her.

After this, Parvati did severe penance for obtaining Shiva and on the day of new moon day in Panguni month, she changed her form as Kamakshi and took the bows and arrows of Kama; and came before Shiva. Upon seeing her, Shiva felt the love for her. Hence She is called Siva Kama Sundari !. The day Parvati met Shiva was known as Maha Sivaratri (New moon day in feb/march).

The incident of Kama being burnt by Shiva is celebrated in several parts of tamil nadu as Kaman Pandikai (They call it ‘Kamandi’, colloquially), during the night of Maha Shivaratri. In this, people group into two parties ‘Erintha katchi’ – ‘Eriyatha katchi’. One argues that ‘Kama was not burnt’ while another argues ‘Kama was in fact burnt’. They use various native songs (nattupura pattu – theru koothu) and this will go till dawn without any judgement 🙂 .

According to Hindu Puranas (Shiva Purana etc.), Manmadha uses a sugar-cane bow and flower tipped arrows. His favorite time is the spring season (Sharad ruthu – Maasi and Panguni month or in other words, february-march) which indicates fertility. Using the sugar-cane bow and flower arrows Manmatha hits the lovers and there by kindling their desire, thus the life wheel rotates 🙂 .

Pretty long narration, huh? The way Hindu mythologies glorify life, the way our culture binds around from north east Assam to southern most Tamil Nadu is all amazing for me. This is the thing that makes us feel the oneness in bharath!

So I wondered what might be the flowers that Kama uses as arrows 🙂

Here it is:

अरविंदमशोकं च चूतं च नवमल्लिका
नीलोत्पलं च पंचैते पञ्चबाणस्य सयका

His arrows are of five varieties of flowers. Aravindam which is Lotus, Asokam – Hellebore, Chootham – Mango flower, Navamallika – new Jasmine, and Nilotpala – blue costus are the five arrows of manmadha. With these arrows he hits five places in the body and creates five different effects.

उन्मादन रोदनं च शोस्ना स्तम्भन तता |
सम्मोहन च कामस्य पंच भाना प्रकीर्तिता ||

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).


[Samskrut Ref:]

8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2008 11:00 pm

    That was a beautiful narration abt Kama.. The “effects” description is nice . There is also a medieval work “Madana Viththaara (vistaara) maalai” in Tamil that sings Kama in all his glory..

    • Swami permalink
      February 18, 2016 8:01 pm


      How can one have access to the text named
      “Madana Viththaara (vistaara) maalai” ?

      It it available in print in Tamil. Please assist.


  2. January 22, 2008 8:22 am

    >Hence She is called Siva Kama Sundari !.
    I never knew the reason for that name before!
    Good post 🙂

  3. January 22, 2008 7:06 pm

    காளிதாசனின் குமாரசம்பவம் படிப்பது நீங்கள் சொல்லிய காட்சிகளை மனக்கண் முன் கொண்டு வரும்.

  4. January 22, 2008 10:07 pm

    @Jataayu: Madana viththara maalai! good info :)) . BTW, I have a feeling that puraana stories like this one, explicitly suggest that our scriptures does symbolize certain aspects of life isn’t it ?

    @Aparna: You didn’t? OMG! I had something known to myself that you didn’t know before… Is this how you guys feel when you know something while others don’t know it?? :))))

    @kalyanakamala: welcome to my blog madam. Do visit often 🙂

  5. jayan permalink
    December 21, 2009 3:39 pm

    thanks 4 giving details & pics sbt 5 bows of kamadeva

  6. February 26, 2010 12:41 pm


  7. Rama permalink
    February 2, 2012 6:13 pm

    was looking for these names of arrows, here it is..thanks so much for the story as well.

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