Madana, Kadarpa,Kama-deva, Manmatha are all names for the Lord of love who is the son of Lakshmi and Vishnu. He is lord of delight.
Symbols: sugar cane, parrot, mango leaves, marigold flowers, honey, butterflies.
• Rides a parrot
• Has a bow made of sugarcane, and the string is a string of bees.
• Shoots five varieties of arrows to rouse the 5 senses.
• He is a makara dwaja. Makara is a mythical animal that is part fish, part goat, and part elephant.
• His spouses are Rati and Priti that is erotic love and romantic love.
Mudra :
Left hand shikara and right hand Katakamukha.
Om kamadevaya vidmahe, pushpabaanaya dimahi,tanno ananga prachodayat
Is the gayathri dedicated to Kamadev. This is to be recited at twilight from Vasanta Panchami to Holi.
When the demon Tarakasura got all power and conquered the Sathyaloka the abode of Lord Indra, he coveted Sachi the wife of Indra. The gods were told the son of Shiva and Parwati called Kartikeya would redeem them. But Shiva was so engrossed his meditation that it did not seem possible. So Kamadev was deputed to awaken desire in him. Kamadev with his spouse Rati went on the mission. Shiva was disturbed by this erotic awakening by the untimely spring created by Kamadev burns him down.
Kamadev unable to bear the heat tries to douse it in the river Kalindi which dries and turns black.
Rati the spouse of Kamadev is devastated. She is reassured that her husband would regain his body when Krishna weds Rukmini.
When the natyashatra explains Hasya rasa, this is one episode that is quoted. That is Shiva laughs when Kamadev burns. When heard it sounds cruel, but when analysed, Kamadev shoots his arrow at both Shiva and Parwati, resulting in Parwati’s emotions being stirred almost immediately, but despite Shiva burning Kamadev, he is a victim of the arrow and he is disturbed by Parwati, so though Kama is physically he wins in essence. It is not hasya or amusement here the hasya here is the paradox.
In the story of chitrangadha. We have Chitra the princess of Manipur who asks the help of Madana. Interestingly Madana tells her that his duty is to make men and women aware of their emotions at the right time. He gives Chitra the boon of femininity for a year.
Kamadev is essential to keep the circle of life going. But Kama does not mean only erotic or romantic love. Kama is also desire. Desire for all things. Which means even a sanyasin is a karmarthi for he desires moksha.
When we talk of the purusharthas we say dharma-artha-kama-moksha.