Today is Kamada Ekadasi. I warn everyone: the glories of this day are not well-liked by those who are unqualified. All Ekadasis are special, but this one is especially important.
After Sati incinerated herself in the assembly of Daksha, Siva Thakura retired from all external activity and did intense bhajana. He wanted to forget all but Bhagavan and to be with Him eternally. In His absence, the cosmic balance and the principles he governed came completely under the sway of tama–guna. Darkness and ignorance were uncontrollably advancing in all directions. No one wanted to follow bhakti and people had no respect for anyone or anything. People ceased all sacrifice, charity, and austerity. There was no auspiciousness without Siva.
The demigods were distressed. They concluded that if Siva remained in samadhi, aloof from everything, the cosmic creation would fall to ruin. They began to think of ways they could bring him back to external consciousness. After careful consideration, they requested Kamadeva to break Siva Thakura’s meditative trance.
Kamadeva, or lust personified, is the perpetuating force in the universe. Living beings act only due to desire. No living entity would do anything without Kamadeva. He keeps the jivas restless, anxious, and unsatisfied. The lust in the heart of a person will never be satiated. Due to the forces of lust, no matter how many objects of enjoyment one collects, satisfaction is never attained.
The demigods told Kamadeva, “Go and break Siva’s equilibrium. Shoot your five arrows into his body. We have faith that you can bring him back to his cosmic duties, for you are the reason living beings stir themselves into action.”
Kamadeva was hesitant, but he relented upon hearing the repeated requests of the demigods. He went to where Siva was sitting in meditation and deployed his five arrows. Each of Kamadeva’s arrows corresponds with the five elements of this world. When the arrow in connection with the air element hits someone, lustful thoughts enter that person’s mind. This, however, is not so difficult to control. The difficulty progresses with each arrow. The arrow that is in connection with fire causes a lustful burning in the mind. The arrow pertaining to water, or rasa, fuels the anticipation of imagined feelings and experiences. The arrow that is involved with the element of sky causes a person to become lost in dreams of lust’s fulfillment. But the victims of the arrow that is in connection to the earth element are rendered helpless. Ridding oneself of the effects of this arrow—which affects the physical body—is impossible without higher help. Siva Thakura tolerated the first four arrows, but when this fifth arrow struck him, it was as if an electric current jolted through his body. The effects of this arrow cause the lusty desires of 99.99% of everyone on the planet to become irrepressible.
His trance broken, Siva became restless. He rebuked Kamadeva, “Rascal! I am trying to do bhajana and you disturb me like this?” He immediately opened his third eye and burnt Kamadeva to ashes. Rati, the wife of Kamadeva, wept in grief for her lost husband. After consoling her, the demigods informed her that only she could bring Kamadeva back. They urged her, “If you fail to act quickly, he will be gone forever.” After all, what was rati (attachment) without kama (desire)?
Rati came before Siva Thakura and propitiated him for mercy. In the meantime, a demon named Sambarasura also felt great unrest in Kamadeva’s absence. “I have collected so much wealth and have so many varieties of enjoyment ready for me,” he thought, “but for some reason, I now do not see any pleasure in all of this.”
Kamadeva’s business had stopped. There was no longer any lust in the world, therefore Sambarasura was unable to feel pleasure in all that he had collected. Demonic persons lament when their strength to enjoy diminishes. In old age, they give themselves injections and take the medication in order to maintain or increase their level of enjoyment. Presenting himself before Siva Thakura, he recited the Rudrashtakam in an attempt to please Siva and prayed, “O Prabhu I am yours! I have money, women, and property, but now I can’t enjoy them. Please help me.”
Siva heard the prayers of Rati and Sambarasura. He instructed Rati, “You must live as the maidservant of Sambarasura.” Rati was shocked. Siva Thakura continued, “If you do this, Kamadeva will be reborn. He will kill Sambarasura and you will be reunited to him.”
Siva Thakura separately told Sambarasura, “You want Kamadeva to return. This desire of yours will be fulfilled in the future when Rukmini’s son is born in Dvaraka. That son of the Supreme Lord Krishna will be Kamadeva himself. He will come to you and kill you.”
Sambarasura did not like the words he heard from Siva Thakura. From that time, he waited, and as soon as a son was born to Krishna and Rukmini, He went to Dvaraka and kidnapped him. He planned to kill the baby boy, but as he was bringing him a safe distance from Dvaraka, he was met by Narada Rishi.
“Sambarasura,” Narada Rishi asked, “what are you doing?”
“I am going to kill this baby. He is destined to be my end.”
“Now, hear me out respected sir, you know as well as I that it is wrong and most inauspicious to kill a baby. If you must, just throw him in the ocean. Don’t kill him directly.”
“Good idea,” Sambarasura said and cast the boy into the ocean. But Kamadeva is not so easy to defeat. A large, hungry fish swallowed the baby. “Vah!” thought the fish. “Such a big meal for me today.” But the fish soon regretted swallowing the baby. Who can tolerate Kamadeva’s presence in their body?
The fish became thoroughly agitated. He swam from side to side and up and down without control and went completely mad. A fisherman caught what he noticed to be a particularly restless fish. Such is the influence of Kamadeva. The sons of Kuvera also experienced this. Intoxicated by lust they lost all sense. The prey of kama cannot rest or find peace anywhere.
The fisherman presented the fish to Sambarasura. The demon was delighted to see such a fat and colorful fish, and he licked his lips in anticipation of its taste. The fish not only looked delicious but to his amazement, he felt the presence of kama once more when he touched it. He had longed for this energy to return to him. People are happy when they can gratify their lust. They become proud of their ability to enjoy.
“Rati,” Sambarasura said, “take this fish and cook it. I am very happy today. Today I will have a feast.”
Rati did as she was told. She brought the fish to the demon’s kitchen, but to her surprise, when she cut it open, she found a baby inside. As she picked up the child, Siva Thakura sent her the inspiration, “This is your husband. Take care of him in secret until he is matured.”
Rati cared for the boy and fed him milk and honey, unbeknownst to anyone. Meanwhile, Sambarasura was elated. Kamadeva had returned and he again had the strength to enjoy what he had collected with great endeavor.
This is a long story. In short, Kamadeva grew into a young man, at which time Rati informed him that he was her husband.
“What?” Kamadeva said. “But you are like my mother! You have cared for me as if I was your son.”
Rati told him the whole story and how he now had to kill Sambarasura. There was a fight between Sambarasura and Kamadeva, but it is well known that Kamadeva is not easy to defeat. This is the business of the god of lusty desires. He comes to a person, destroys him, and then leaves. Any man overcome by kama and unrestrained will enjoy by any means until he withers and becomes like a dry straw. This has been the case of numerous kings, including Santanu.
As mentioned before, Siva Thakura wanted to forget everything. He wanted to fix his mind exclusively on Bhagavan; Kamadeva, however, hampered his attempt.
Quite sometime later, Siva Thakura was thwarted by lust once more. Desiring to see the form in which the Supreme Lord tricked the demons and gave the nectar called soma to the demigods, Siva Thakura went to meet with Lord Hari. At the request of Siva Thakura, Bhagavan showed him His enticing Mohini svarupa. Siva Thakura could not maintain his composure at the sight of the irresistible woman. He lustfully ran after Mohini to embrace her but she kept one step ahead of him as he chased her throughout the universe. Showing a lesson for all of the dangers of unfettered lust, Siva Thakura ejaculated in abundance as he pursued Mohini. Attenuated, Siva Thakura then prayed to the Lord for relief from the sway of His personified illusory energy.
In the Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 22.16, we find the prayer:
kamadinam kati na katidha palita durnidesas
tesham jata mayi na karuna na trapa nopasantih
utsrijyaitan atha yadu-pate sampratam labdha-buddhis
tvam ayatah saranam abhayam mam niyunkshvatma-dasye
[O my Lord, there is no limit to the unwanted dictates of my lusty desires. Although I have rendered these desires so much service, they have not shown any mercy to me. I have not been ashamed to serve them, nor have they brought me satisfaction. O my Lord, O head of the Yadu dynasty, now, however, my transcendental intelligence has been awakened. I have now come to you for shelter. I fall at Your lotus feet which grant fearlessness. Kindly engage me in Your personal service.]
Siva Thakura said, “O Lord, now I understand that kama renders all beings mad. Day and night men and beasts follow the dictates of lust, yet they are never satisfied. The inhabitants of this world move about for no other reason than to realize their lusty desires. Even when exhausted by such endeavors, they still cannot control their lust. To gratify their desires, people are always ready to destroy not only themselves but whoever they contact. Kama is the reason behind a man’s cruelty. Kama resides in the peoples’ sight, hearing, thinking, and entire body. Kama allows no peace in a person’s life. I have surrendered unto You, dear Lord. Please save me from kama!”
The compassionate Lord replied, “If you want to be freed from lust, then seek the help of Kamada Ekadasi. Observe Ekadasi vrata on the eleventh rise of the waxing moon in the month known as Caitra. Kamada Ekadasi-devi will help you.”
Siva Thakura faithfully did as advised. After strictly following this vrata, he received darsana of Ekadasi-devi. Understanding the heart of Siva Thakura, Ekadasi-devi instructed him, “Go to Vraja-mandala and bathe in the pond known as Bimala Kunda in Kamyavana. Pray for the mercy of Vrinda-devi—the presiding deity of that holy place—and become a follower of the Vraja-devis. When you are in such shelter, Kamadeva will never even look at you, what to speak of touching you.”
At the time of rasa-lila, Kamadewa tried to bewilder Krishna and the gopis. He was, however, powerless at the hands of Madana-mohan (Krishna, the attractor of cupid) and the Vraja-devis. His intention was conquest yet he was conquered himself.
Siva Thakura went to Vraja-mandala and fervently prayed to Vrinda-devi and the gopis. There, in the forest of Kamyavana, Devadi-deva Siva Thakura attained the goal of his austerity and received the kama–gayatri-mantra.
Srila Gurudeva has said many times that one must seriously do purascarana of this kama gayatri-mantra. Our past acaryas have done purascarana in their lives, revealing its power and importance. Siva Thakura did purascarana and received the mercy of the Vraja-devis. Purascarana is a vow pertaining to a fixed time period in which to chant the mantra a predetermined number of times while strictly observing penance.
Siva Thakura now forgot about chanting the names of Vishnu and instead chanted the kama-gayatri day and night. He said, “Now I know the real Kamadeva—kamadevaya vidmahe. I have also realized who His flowers are. Pushpa–banaya dhimahi—they are the Vraja-devis, the manjaris.”
If you are in the shelter of the Vraja-devis then there is no need to fear Kamadeva. When you are part of that family, there is no one that can harm you.
Today is Kamada Ekadasi. Few understand the full glory of this day. We must be serious in our practice of bhajana. We have passed countless lives absorbed in bhojan (eating) and raman (recreation). How can we put an end to this miserable existence?
Bhaktivinoda Thakura exemplifies how we must pray:
gopinatha, mama nivedana suno, vishayi durjana,
sada kama-rata, kichu nahi mora guna
[Gopinatha, please hear my prayer. I am a wicked materialist, always addicted to worldly desires. I do not possess any good qualities.]
Ekadasi-devi says, “I will save those who follow me and offer them to the true Kamadeva—Gopinatha.”
Today we should all pray to Ekadasi-devi. She is the mother of bhakti. She comes twice a month to help us. On this day, if we earnestly pray for her mercy, she will help us develop spiritual energy and taste, which eradicates mundane lust—the root cause of our suffering.
The maha-bhagavata devotees can save us from kama. But how often do we remember them and pray to them? How often do we go to them in our meditation? We cannot remember Sri Guru when our consciousness is contaminated by lust. Therefore, be serious in your sadhana and in following the instructions of guru.
Do not be complacent and think that you can defeat Kamadeva by your own strength. Raghunatha dasa Gosvami condemns such a disposition:
are cetah prodyat-kapata-kutinati-bhara-khara
ksharan-mutre snatva dahasi katham atmanam api mam
sada tvam gandharva-giridhara-pada-prema-vilasat
sudhambhodhau snatva svam api nitaram mam ca sukhaya
[O wicked mind, although you adopt the path of sadhana, you imagine yourself purified by bathing in the trickling urine of the great donkey of full-blown deceit and hypocrisy. By doing so, you are simultaneously burning yourself and scorching me, a tiny jiva. Stop this! Delight yourself and me by eternally bathing in the nectarean ocean of pure love for the lotus feet of Sri Radha-Krishna yugala.]
Don’t be careless. Don’t bathe in donkey urine! If you are not serious, then lust will claim you and your nature will degenerate to the level of animals. Carefully consider this.
Siva received the name Kamesvara. When Srila Gurudeva would bring the devotees to Kamyavana, he would have them offer pranama to Kamesvara Mahadeva and pray to him for the removal of their anarthas. Kamesvara Mahadeva can save us from becoming beasts in our next life.
People that do not know the meaning or strength of the kama–gayatri-mantra complain that, even though they have been practicing for so long, they are still bothered by lusty desires. Some say, “This must mean my guru is not bona fide.” If you are not serious this person will be you. This state of mind comes to a person who does not serve sincerely and who does not pray day and night. Such people do not seriously chant the mantra given by Sri Guru and they do not beg for Ekadasi-devi’s mercy. If you are serious, and you have the mercy of Ekadasi-devi, you will meet no problems in your life.
I was thinking I should not say these bitter things. People do not like to hear this. They would gladly listen to the advice of cheaters, while they see the speakers of uncompromising truth as their enemies. People in Mathura used to call me ‘the hunter’. They wondered when I would leave them in peace. Now that I am here, I will not stop my business. They can say what they like and I will say what I like. It does not bother me whether people like or dislike what I say. I am fearless. I am the property of my Guru-varga and the voice of their implacable philosophy.
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]