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The story available in Puranas about incineration (burning) of Manmatha (God of Kaama) by Lord Siva is as follows:

Indra and the gods are suffering at the hands of the demon Tarakasur, who cannot be defeated except by Shiva's son. Brahma who advises that Parvati woo Shiva; their offspring will be able to defeat Taraka. Indra assigns Kamadeva to break Shiva's meditation. To create a congenial atmosphere, Kamadeva (Manmatha) creates an untimely spring (akAl vasanta).

After he awakens Shiva with a flower arrow, Shiva, furious, opens his third eye, which incinerates Manmatha instantaneously and he is turned into ash.


Compared to Srimad Ramayana, Puranas can be considered as very recent.

The decimation of Manmatha was told differently by Sage Valmiki in his Srimad Ramayana.

Sri Rama and Lakshmana proceeding with Vishvamitra sojourn in a hermitage at a place, where River Ganga and River Sarayu are confluent. There they have seen a hermitage of sages with contemplative souls, and who are practising supreme ascetics for many thousand years.

On seeing that merited hermitage Sri Rama and Lakshmana are highly pleased and enquired as whom hermitage belong to? Sage Viswamitra replied as follows: (Bala Kanda 23 Sarga 11-15 Slokas)

कन्दर्पो मूर्तिमान् आसीत् काम इति उच्यते बुधैः | तपस्यंतम् इह स्थाणुम् नियमेन समाहितम् || कृत उद्वाहम् तु देवेशम् गच्छन्तम् स मरुद् गणम् | धर्षयामास दुर्मेधा हुम् कृतः च महात्मना ||

"Sthanum was practising ascetics at this place. When Love-god was with his body wise men used to call him Kama, the passion, that Love-god with his naughty intent braved god of gods (देवेशम्) at this place. The God of gods (देवेशम्) was returning after his marriage along with his followers, namely the Wind-gods (मरुद् गणम् |) , and that great soul disapprovingly roared at Love-god.

अवध्यतः च रुद्रेण चक्षुषा रघु नन्दन | व्यशीर्यन्त शरीरात् स्वात् सर्व गात्राणि दुर्मतेः

"And Rama, the wrathful eye destroyed the lewd-minded Love-god making all his limbs to fall down from his body."

तत्र गात्रम् हतम् तस्य निर्दग्धस्य महात्मनः | अशरीरः कृतः कामः क्रोधात् देव ईश्वरेण ह ||

"There the body of Love-god is evanescent when that great soul burnt it down, and by the anger of that god of gods, Love-god is rendered as a bodiless entity."

तस्य अयम् आश्रमः पुण्यः तस्य इमे मुनयः पुरा | शिष्या धर्मपरा वीर तेषाम् पापम् न विद्यते ||

"This merited hermitage thus belongs to Sthanum and, oh, brave Rama, these sages abiding in virtue are his disciples at one time, thus sin is unverifiable with them.

While narrating the above story, Sage Valmiki uses the word Devesham (देवेशम्), which were interpreted by many as Lord Shiva.

But according to Valmiki Ramayana, which closely adopted the Vedic Pantheon, Devesham (देवेशम्) refers to Lord Indra. In Aranya Kanda he was praised as vibhuDeswaram (Chief of Gods).

Further, the Devesham in this story decimates the Manmadha with roar - hum kritascha ( हुम् कृतः च) like Sage Kapila decimates 60,000 sons of King Sagara to ashes.

And, the Devesham in this story was returning after his marriage along with his followers, namely the Wind-gods, when he decimated Manmadha to ashes but not before his marriage.

Wind-gods (मरुद् गणम् |), were the sons of Diti, the wife of Sage Kashyapa, and step mother of Lord Indra.

Diti seeks for a son to kill Indra because Indra and other gods have killed her sons in the battle after churning Milk Ocean. But Indra, being her stepson arrives at her place of asceticism, with view to destroy that Indra-killer. On a fateful day when Diti failed to maintain the procedure of vow, Indra enters her womb and dissects the foetus into seven fragments. At the request of Diti, Indra blesses the seven segments of her foetus to become sapta marut gaNa-s, The Seven Wind-gods.

So they started moving with Lord Indra but not with Lord Siva.

Hence, in my view the actual eliminator of Manmadha was Lord Indra but not Lord Shiva as commonly believed.

Is it correct?

  • 1
    Indra routinely sends Apsara's to break the meditation of Rishi's. It's quite ironical to think that he would incinerate Manmadha over the same reason. Also, I cannot imagine Vishwamitra singing praises of Indra. – sv. Oct 13 '15 at 3:02
  • Remember Indra is the Chief of Devatas. Sending Apsaras might be for testing the steadfastness of the Rishies doing penance. Please do not get confused with what the Puranas tell us. The Puranas are written to elevate the status of and eulogise the greateness of respective deities. In order to do so, the scholars, who wrote Puranas, degraded the status /nature of Indra. – srimannarayana k v Oct 13 '15 at 3:18
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    I was not referring to the Purana's. Strictly limiting the discussion to Ramayana, what was Indra trying to test in the case of Ahalya? After the Menaka episode, Viswamitra went on to become the Brahmarishi that he is. Then one has to wonder, what was the purpose of Indra sending Menaka to lure Vishwamitra. – sv. Oct 13 '15 at 3:31
  • The post of Indra is not only carries power, but also some duties. The ultimate boon giver is Lord Brahma only, not Shiva or Vishnu, as commonly believed. Indra has to test the ascetics for their steadfastness, before Lord Brahma can appear. Indra used to test the Rishies. It is his duty. – srimannarayana k v Oct 13 '15 at 3:35
  • Are not we tested in earlier level examinations, before allowing us to enter into Masters course? – srimannarayana k v Oct 13 '15 at 3:36
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No, Lord Rudra is the destroyer of Manmatha.

It is told by Sita herself in the Aranya Kanda:

यदि पश्येत् स रामः त्वाम् रोष दीप्तेन चक्षुषा । रक्षः त्वम् अद्य निर्दग्धो यथा रुद्रेण मन्मधः ॥ ३-५६-१०

If he that Rama glances you with his rancour-torched eyes, you demon, you will be completely burnt down now itself, as with Manmatha burnt down by Rudra.

The above verses of ValmikiRamayana of Balakanda also make it clear:

1) The verse states:

तपस्यंतम् इह स्थाणुम् नियमेन समाहितम् ||

Sthanu was practicing ascesis at this place.

Sthanu is the name of Lord Shiva/Rudra. It clearly proves that other verses are also talking of Lord Rudra. In the Mahabharata in Drona Parva chapter 202 Vyasa also explains why Lord Shiva is called Sthanu.

दहत्यूर्ध्वं स्थितो यच्म प्राणेत्पतिस्थितश्चयत् ।
स्थितलिङ्गस्य पन्नित्यं तस्मात्स्थाणुरिति स्मृतः ।। (Drona Parva chapter 202)

Since he is great and ancient and is the source of the life and it's continuence and since his Linga form is everlasting, he is for that reason called Sthanu.

2) The verse also states:

अवध्यतः च रुद्रेण चक्षुषा रघु नन्दन |

Raghunandana he was destroyed by the eye of Rudra.

This is also a clear reference that Manmatha was destroyed by third eye of Lord Rudra. Lord Rudra having 3 eyes is clearly stated in Vedas like in RigVeda 7.59.12, YajurVeda 3.60 call "Trayambakam Yajãmahe... " / "We worship the three eyed one." Opening of third eye is a common event for Lord Shiva, see answer here. If it was Indra who had destroyed Manmatha he would have used his Vajra, not his eyes.

3) Association of Maruts with Rudra:
Maruts are the son of Rudra. So it is not wondering if they are with their father also:
RigVeda 2.33:

  1. FATHER of Maruts, let thy bliss approach us: exclude us not from looking on the sunlight. Gracious to our fleet courser be the Hero may we transplant us, Rudra, in our children.

RigVeda 1.85:

  1. THEY who are glancing forth, like women, on their way, doers of mighty deeds, swift racers, Rudra's Sons, The Maruts have made heaven and earth increase and grow: in sacrifices they delight, the strong and wild.

RigVeda 1.38:

7 Truly, they the fierce and mighty Sons of Rudra send their windless Rain e'en on the desert places.

And in so many other places. So it is not wondering if Maruts are also present with Rudra. But actually Maruts are present with Indra (Devesha) in that verse. The problem arises because translation of ValmikiRamayan.net isn't so good. I translate those verses as:

कन्दर्पो मूर्तिमान् आसीत् काम इति उच्यते बुधैः | तपस्यंतम् इह स्थाणुम् नियमेन समाहितम् || कृत उद्वाहम् तु देवेशम् गच्छन्तम् स मरुद् गणम् | धर्षयामास दुर्मेधा हुम् कृतः च महात्मना || अवध्यतः च रुद्रेण चक्षुषा रघु नन्दन | व्यशीर्यन्त शरीरात् स्वात् सर्व गात्राणि दुर्मतेः तत्र गात्रम् हतम् तस्य निर्दग्धस्य महात्मनः | अशरीरः कृतः कामः क्रोधात् देव ईश्वरेण ह || तस्य अयम् आश्रमः पुण्यः तस्य इमे मुनयः पुरा | शिष्या धर्मपरा वीर तेषाम् पापम् न विद्यते ||

When Kandarpa (KamaDeva) was in the body he was called Kama. Sthanu (Lord Shiva) was regularly engaged in ascesis there. At that place Devesha (Indra) accompanied by Marut Ganas also reached there after having come from marriage. The high souled one (Lord Shiva) pronounced Hum Kaara seeing the evil intention of Kăma. Oh RaghuNandana then he was destroyed by (third) Eye of Rudra which made all limbs fall down from his body. There the body of Love-god is evanesced when that great soul burnt it down, and by the anger of that Lord of gods (Shiva), Love-god is rendered as a bodiless entity. This merited hermitage thus belongs to him (Shiva) and, oh, brave Rama, these sages abiding in virtue are his (Shiva's) disciples at one time, thus sin is unverifiable with them.

So, these all things clearly prove that Lord Rudra is the destroyer of Manmatha. And Lord Rudra is Lord Shiva as I discuss here and here.

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