Kama is deva, a god, but he hardly gets his due anymore. Agni, Vayu, Indra are all invoked with mantras on some earthly business or the other, but Kama’s name is uttered furtively and then greeted with titters. He is one half of a modern byword for pornography: Kamasutra. It is just as the god, in Anuja Chandramouli’s Kamadeva: The God of Desire, tells his stepmother, the goddess Saraswati: “It is highly unlikely that in future people will build temples in my honour or compose beautiful songs for me. I will be lucky if I am remembered enough to be featured prominently in pornographic material; worse still is the distinct possibility that the god, Kama, will be lampooned as the divine pimp!”
Anuja does not go into the ‘why’ of Kama’s fall. That is known to be an outcome of long colonial rule, for Khajuraho and countless other temples across the country testify that Kama’s business was sacred enough to grace their walls till a few hundred years ago. Victorian prudery knocked this minor god off his pedestal, but ironically, the influence he lost in India is now strongly visible in the West.
What The God of Desire does, without trying too hard, is it strips all the accumulated innuendo and salacity that have wrapped Kama over the past couple of hundred years, and shows him in many shades of grey (no pun intended). He is sensitive, sensuous, beautiful, thoughtful and even righteous.
There’s never a dull page in this history of Kamadeva...You can read the rest here.