Kāma (Manmatha) firing Kāmabānas at Shiva
This painting is part of the 500+ year old mural adorning the ceiling of the Ranga Mantapa, a covered hall belonging to the Virupaksha Temple located at Hampi in Karnataka, India. This painting is at the center of the ceiling and next to the lotus flower medallion. Check the Hampi Virupaksha Temple Murals for the other images and a detailed explanations of the murals.
Based on a story narrated in the Shiva Purana, Kāma (also known as Kāmadeva, Manmatha), the god of love and carnal desire, strikes Shiva with Kāmabānas (Kāma’s arrows) to arouse passion and desire in meditating Shiva.
Here is the story from the Shiva Purana in brief:
After the death of his wife Sati, a grief-stricken Shiva started meditating, resulting in a great imbalance in the world. Meanwhile, Sati was reborn as Pārvati, and the gods wanted Shiva to marry Pārvati. To accomplish this goal, Indra, the king of heaven and the devas (demigods), sends Kāma to break Shiva’s meditation and arouse passion and desire in him to make him love Pārvati.
As you can see from the image, Kāma is standing with an elegant pose inside a chariot driven by his vāhana (vehicle), a parrot. Standing behind him is his consort Rathi. Seated on a majestic throne with a meditation pose is Shiva. Below him are Agni riding a ram and Pārvati waiting for Shiva to open his eyes. As Kāma is shooting arrows made of flowers from a sugarcane bow, Shiva is opening his eyes with rage for waking him up from his meditation.
Other Virupaksha Temple Paintings
– Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma
– Girija Kalyāna, Sita Swayamvara, Draupadi Swayamvara
– Dashāvatāra, Ashta Dikpālas
– Kāma shooting arrows at Shiva – A bas-relief on the Banteay Srei Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia
– Manmatha and Rathi – Carvings on the left and right door jambs of the main entrance door at the Belur Chennakeshava Temple
– Manmatha, the god of love and desire – A sculpture on the outer wall of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple
– Hampi Virupaksha Temple Murals
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