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Son of Vishnu

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 3:15 AM
Madana, lord of pleasure, shooting his love-darts while riding his parrot, a collage of damsels; Tanjore painting

Birth of Pleasure

Vishnu stands serenely detached from the material world, standing up for moral good and cosmic order. His consort, Lakshmi, on the other hand, provides the good things of the material life.

When they became one, they created Madana, the lord of pleasure, to show man and woman the wonders of life.

Madana's birth filled with world with joy. Nature came alive flowers bloomed, birds sang. 
His consorts, Priti and Rati, goddesses of love and longing, held aloft his banner and let the world see his insignia the makara symbol of growth and enrichment. 
"I will make all creatures aware of rasa, the vitality of creation its beauty, mystery and wisdom," said Madana.

Yearning for Life

Madam raised his sugarcane bow and shot flowery darts into the heart of every man and every woman, rousing their five senses, making them touch, taste, hear, smell and see the delights of the material world.

Suddenly samsara with its endless births and rebirths did not seem meaningless anymore; it was exciting, inspiring, intriguing. Man and woman learnt to enjoy life.

Intoxicated by Madana's arrows, the cosmos became a realm of pleasurable possibilities; in its vibrations, man and woman sensed the pulse of the divine.

Fear of Death

Auspicious maithuna images of man and woman on the walls of a temple

With the yearning for life, came the fear of death.

Tormented men and women asked Vishnu, "How do we live forever?"

The lord replied, "Nothing is eternal in this world. But all those who die will be reborn."

Vishnu revealed the procreative power of pleasure and became the guardian of embryos, to be invoked during the rites of conception, garbhadhana-samskara.

Divine Couple Roused by Madana, man and woman experienced the fullness of life: its sublime and sensual nature.

Together they became dampati, keepers of homes. And every home, filled with their love, became a Vaikuntha, a safe haven where life is nurtured.

Maithuna images of man and woman in embrace, symbolizing love, interdependence and completeness are therefore considered auspicious and placed on temple walls.

Andhaka's Lust

When the demon Andhaka cast his lecherous eyes upon the women of the world, the lord said, "Pleasure can delight the wise and lead him to divine ecstasy; it can also delude the fool and take him to his doom."

Taking the form of Mohini, the celestial enchantress, Vishnu multiplied himself a hundred thousand times until Andhaka could see ravishing nymphs wherever he looked.

Surrounded by so much temptation, Andhaka was driven to madness.

Virochana Cuts his Head

Shiva, the cosmic ascetic; Modern sculpture Virochana, king of the demons, considered himself to be the most powerful being in the three worlds.

On his way to conquer the heavens, he saw Mohini.

Overwhelmed by desire, he abandoned his plan to fight the gods. Instead he began chasing the enchantress, begging her to be his wife.

"What will you give me if I agree?" she asked.

"Anything you want." promised Virochana.

"Give me your head," said Mohini. The demon immediately took his sword and beheaded himself.

Holding aloft the head of Virochana, Vishnu said, "Behold the fall of this mighty man he sought to be master of the three worlds but failed to conquer his own desires."

Shiva Rejects the Material World

To transcend the wiles of samsara, Shiva, the celestial ascetic, shut his eyes, opening them only to destroy the world when it disturbed his meditation.

"Unless Shiva takes a wife, he will constantly be a threat to worldly existence," said Brahma.

Vishnu waited for a suitable opportunity to make Shiva participate in samsara without incurring his terrible wrath.

Mohini Saves Shiva

Shiva once unthinkingly gave the demon Vrika the power to burn anyone to death by the touch of his hand.

When the demon stretched out his hand to test his power on Shiva himself, Shiva realized his mistake and ran for his life. Vrika pursued him across the three worlds.

To rescue Shiva, Vishnu appeared as Mohini and distracted Vrika. Her inviting eyes made the demon forget all about the chase. "May I embrace you?" Vrika begged.

"You may, but only if you dance as I do," so saying Mohini began dancing. Vrika followed her every move, moving hand and limb as she did.

At one point, Mohini touched her head; Vrika, bewitched by the enchantress, did the same and burst into flames.

Mohini Charms Shiva

Mohini: Vishnu as the celestial enchantress; Hoyasala stone carving from Karnataka Shiva, the divine ascetic, became enchanted by Mohini's beauty. From their union came a vira, a brave knight, galloping on a white horse, waving a lance.

It was Hari-Hara-suta, the son of Shiva and Vishnu-Mohini. Known variously as Aiyanar, Velan, Ayyappa, Sastha, he helped gods fight demons and became guardian of human settlements.

Sati and Shiva

Drawn back into samsara by Vishnu, Shiva agreed to take a wife. He married Sati, daughter of Daksha, the great priest-king, and immersed himself so completely in conjugal life that he ignored the world around, even disregarding his father-in-law.

In retaliation, the proud Daksha organised a grand yagna inviting every creature in the cosmos except Shiva.

Enraged by her father's pettiness, Sati decided to disrupt the sacrifice. She rushed into Daksha's palace and leapt to her death in the sacred fire-altar so that the ritual, contaminated by her blood, ground to a halt.

Vishnu Destroys Sati's Corpse

Hari-Hara-suta, the divine warlord, son of Shiva and Mohini; Modern calendar print Sati's death broke Shiva's heart. In fury, he raised his trident and beheaded Daksha. He then wandered across the galaxies carrying Sati's charred remains in his arms, unable to bear the agony of separation.

Watching Shiva weep, the denizens of the three worlds realized the terrible price of pleasure pain. Shiva's sorrow disrupted the workings of the cosmos. To save the world, Vishnu let loose his Sudarshan-chakra and cut Sati's corpse into a thousand pieces.

"You have destroyed my Sati," cried Shiva.

"No," said Vishnu, "All I have destroyed is the body that had once ensheathed her soul. She will be reborn, for nothing in the material world is permanent, neither death nor sorrow."

Death of Madana

With Sati's corpse gone, Shiva became a hermit isolating himself in a dark cave. Sati, reborn as Parvati, princess of the mountains, tried in vain to draw him out. Finally, to rouse love in Shiva's heart she summoned Madana.

Madana's presence in Shiva's cave transformed the cold desolate abode of the hermit into a paradise for lovers, filled with the heady scent of spring flowers.

Madana shot a love-arrow at Shiva. But the ascetic was not amused. He opened his third eye and released flames of fury that reduced Madana to ashes.

A World Without Madana

Shiva killing Madam with the fire of his third eye; Kalighat painting Disturbed by the death of Madana, Vishnu said, "Behold the universe without the lord of pleasure: there is no rasa, no love, no joy, no beauty ... samsara has become a wasteland."

"Madam deserved to die," argued Shiva. "He brought pleasure and pain to the world, binding all creatures to the flesh, distracting them from the divine."

"Madana simply revealed the possibilities of life its beauty and bliss. Pain and disappointment stem not from his arrows but from the ego's refusal to accept the cosmic truth all that comes must go."

Madana Resurrected

Shiva saw the wisdom of Vishnu's words. Accepting the transitory nature of all things, he agreed to be part of worldly life.

Parvati, the princess of the mountains, was the chosen bride, Brahma the officiating priest. Vishnu, acting as the brother of the bride, gave her away.

The cosmos rejoiced.

On the icy peaks of Kailasa, as Shiva rediscovered love, Madana was reborn. The twang of his bow was heard across the cosmos once more.

Madana to Mohana

Krishna, the new love-god known as Madanamohana, he-who-can-charm-Cupid; Miniature painting
Though resurrected after his tryst with Shiva, Madana remained invisible. He existed in spirit as Ananga, the bodiless one.

Rati and Priti, the consorts of Madana, could not bear the thought of never gazing upon their lord's handsome face.

Moved by their lamentations, Vishnu said, "The world will rediscover the delight of Madana in its purest form in Krishna. Go-loka in Vaikuntha will be the new pleasure-garden where Krishna as the cosmic beloved, Mohana, will enchant all with the music of love. The fun, the frolic, the joy of rain-drenched days and moonlit nights will all be there. Only rati-krida, the dance of amorous embrace will be elevated to rasa-leela, the dance of divine union, while bhukti, the unrestrained pleasures of Madana will transcend into bhakti, the ecstatic devotion for Krishna."

Writer Name: Devdutt Pattanaik

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