Part IV- The Fury and The Flame
He looked into the quiver which held the five arrows and picked the first one – the Harshana arrow - which was silver in colour and tipped with a bunch of white kumuda flowers. This was the first arrow which Kamadeva always shot. Against lesser beings, this missile would create a feeling of sudden excitement, a rush of joyous emotions, a feeling of heightened expectation. Would it have the same effect on Shiva?
Kamadeva stretched out his bow and placing the arrow, pulled the bow string back upto his ear. He turned his face away and closing his eyes, released the arrow, hoping it would miss its mark.
The arrow landed squarely on Shiva’s chest.
His heart beating violently against his chest, Kamadeva ventured to open his eyes. Was it his imagination that he thought he saw Shiva shudder ever so slightly, when the arrow touched him?
Kamadeva waited for a few moments to pass and composing himself, picked the second arrow- Rochana. Golden hued, the arrow had orange suvarna asoka flowers on its head. Nervously, he shot the second arrow – which- as expected found its mark.
This time, it was no imagination. Shiva’s body shook visibly and along with it his mind. Even without Mahadev’s knowledge, certain new thoughts were forming in his mind. Suddenly he became aware of the cuckoo’ call- which he would dismiss earlier-, but now opened new vistas of thought for him. And was that the clinking of a woman’s anklet? He had forgotten how melodic it could sound. But… a… woman…here? Is it possible……
But before such thoughts could engulf him, he became conscious of his concentration wavering and controlling in mind, absorbed himself in Samadhi.
Behind the bushes, Rati handed the third arrow to Kamadeva – the Mohana astra. He looked at it carefully. The most important arsenal in his armory, this arrow was pale green in colour and had a bunch of sahakaara (mango) flowers at its tip. This was his favourite flower and he fondly called it ‘kama vallabha’- the favourite of Kama. Even as he drew it from the quiver, a bunch of bees swarmed towards it, attracted by the fragrance of the flowers. Breathing deeply, he released it.
The clinking of anklets pierced Mahadeva's concentration once again. It was not just the anklets, but sound of the bangles and a host of ornaments which adorn a woman’s body. Mahadev’s mind began weaving pictures of golden necklaces nestling on a woman’s pale white skin. Lips, hips and other curves began coming in his focus. Feelings of desire and yearning began to pervade through his body. But he was an ascetic. He had renounced all worldly emotions. Such thoughts were wholly inappropriate. With a power of will possible only by the greatest, Shiva repelled all thoughts and went into meditation.
Kamadeva waited with a bated breath. Things were still quiet, except for the pair of swans who were pecking each other noisily. He would have liked it had Shiva ideally opened his eyes now, his glance falling on Parvati who was offering flowers at his feet.
But never mind, he had two more arrows. He picked the fourth one – the Shoshana arrow – decorated with white mallika flowers- and shot it. Shiva’s body visibly trembled. His head shook as his heart began to raise strange questions. Why had he renounced all worldly emotions? There was so much pleasure in a woman’s company. The delights a woman could give with her touch, her embrace… Why had he shunned all that?
Enough. Mahadev’s will power- thundered. His mind lapsed into silence. Mahadev began thinking hard. Something strange was surely happening. Why was his Samadhi being constantly violated and by whom? Eyes still closed, he stayed alert
Buoyed by what he thought was his success, Kamadeva came out of his hiding place and stood directly in front of Mahadev. There was only one arrow left now – the Marana astra.
Kamadeva picked it and observed its deep purple colour and the bunch of neelotpala flowers on it. Without hesitation, he placed it on the bow and confidently released it. Was his mission successful? Had he succeeded in taming the greatest of Gods?
Those were the last thoughts Kamadeva would ever have before being blinded by an intense brilliant light.
Indra and other devas who were expecting something dramatic to happen were not disappointed too. Barely had Kamadeva’s fifth arrow touched Shiva’s body, when there began to blaze forth a stream of white light. Light -which was of blinding intensity and searing heat and was reducing to ashes everything that was in its way. It did not take long for them to understand what was happening.
Mahadev had opened his Third Eye.
Petrified, the Devas scurried for cover and safety. It took a while for the river of fire to subside and when it did, there was no sign of Shiva –or – Kamadeva. A handful of ashes remained where Kamadeva had been standing moments earlier. Absolute silence prevailed- until Rati’s wail of agony rent the air.