God of Desire: Tales of Kamadeva in Sanskrit Literature

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Presents Kamadeva, the Hindu god of desire, in tales, art, and ritual. Also covers Kamadeva's appearance in Buddhist lore.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791465660
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2006
  • Series: SUNY Series in Hindu Studies
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Catherine Benton is Lecturer in the Religion Department at Lake Forest College.

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Table of Contents


Stories externalize internal complexities
Kamadeva teaches: Sexual desire (kama) as paradigm for generic desire (kama)
Stories mold worldview
Tale of Yayati: Telling stories about desire
A flow of stories with no reliable dates
Visual representations of Kamadeva
Structure of this study of Kama and kama

1. Stories of Beginnings: Kamadeva and his wives
The birth of Kamadeva
Kamadeva’s wife: Rati
Kamadeva’s companions: Vasanta and the Maras
Kamadeva’s other wife: Priti / Karnotpala
Who is Kamadeva?
Translation: The tale of Karnotpala

2. Kamadeva, Skilled Marksman
Siva wins: Kama turned to ash
Kama wins: Kama’s power within Siva
Devi wins: Kama as devotee of the goddess

3. Kamadeva as Pradyumna, son of Krsna
The story of Pradyumna
Variant Pradyumnas and Sambaras
Kama marries Mayavati: Desire embedded in and wedded to Illusion
The story of Pradyumna as allegory

4. Kamadeva and Khandasila: rituals and metaphors
The story of Khandasila
The parallel tale of Indra and Ahalya
Why women become stones
Reflecting on Khandasila: Siva in the Pine Forest
Devotion to Kamadeva
What Kama and Khandasila say about desire
Translation: The tale of Khandasila

5. Worshipping Kamadeva
Kamadeva’s festivals and pujas: The Damanakotsava
Kamadeva as fertility god, and vratas for prostitutes
Rituals for beauty and husbands: Tirthas for couples
Why rituals of Devotion to Kamadeva
Translation: The Damanaka Festival (damanakotsava)

6. Recognizing Kama: Perspectives of early texts—anger, pursartha, invincible power, tentric energy
Kama in the Rg Veda and Atharva Veda
Kama in the Brahmanas
Kama in the Upanisads
Kama as a human goal, a purusartha (Mahabharata)
Kama and Krodha: Desire and anger (Mahabharata)
Kama: Upholder of the earth and cosmic will (Mahabharata)
Song of Kama (Kamagita): The power of desire (Mahabharata)
Kama in service to a Tantric goddess: Chinnamasta
Historical progression of Kama and his Greek cousin, Eros

7. Kamadeva’s assistants: Celestial beings, birds, and crocodiles
Parrot: Kamadeva’s vehicle
Makara: Emblem of the god of desire

8. Kama as the Buddhist Mara and Manjusri
Attitudes toward kama in early Buddhist literature
Kama and Mara: Desire and Death
Upagupta and Mara: Mara as the Buddha
Vimalakirti and Mara: Enlightened Maras
Manjusri and Kamadeva: Desire as a path to wisdom

9. Conclusions: Kamadeva and the Meaning of Desire
What does Kamadeva teach about desire?
Attitudes toward desire in Sanskrit story literature

Bibliographies: Sanskrit Texts

Sanskrit Translations
General Sources

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