How religious Valentine’s Day can be adapted to Hindu Mode of worship?
(Modified discourse by N. R. Srinivasan, Nashville TN, February 2015)
Valentine’s Day observed as a festival to honor St. Valantine could be traced back to a Roman holiday to honor Goddess Juno (Mahishee). Juno was the queen of Roman gods and goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the Goddess of Women and Marriage. February 15th was celebrated in those days as Feast of Lupercalia, perhaps even earlier predating the above honoring Juno. In those days, the lives of young boys and girls were strictly separate as in Hindu culture. However, on the eve of the festival of Lupercalia, the names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed in jars. Each young man would draw a girl’s name from the jar and would then be partner for the duration of the festival with the girl whom he picked. Sometimes the pairing of the youngsters lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry. I have described below the story behind this mysterious saint who is celebrated on this day. In 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius set aside February 14th to honor St. Valentine. In USA Miss Esther Howland is given credit for sending first Valentine’s cards. Commercial Valentine Cards were introduced in the year 1800. Western World has not only highly commercialized it but also convincingly converted it to a Religious Day of worship in churches praying for the better-halves and for the harmony of married life of their dear ones directed to fair sex with special prayers and Masses based on a single story of life of St valentine.
In comparison Hinduism has several such stories of Gods packed in Puranas dealing with the theme of human instinct of love turned into divine love and eagerness of Jeevaatman to merge with Paramaatman. Also Puranas describe several divine weddings being influenced by Kamadeva, the God of Love who is responsible in bringing together the concerned partners as well as reuniting separated divine sweethearts as well as influencing love stories of even sages. Many of these stories are believed to have happened during Vasanta Ritu or Mating season or soon after Vasanta Ritu. Besides Kamadeva and Rati who are not generally worshiped in temple practices Hindus have identified Kubera Lord of Wealth as Kamesvara, Lord of Love who rules over all kinds of wealth, Kaamavaseeyatva (Attractive power of Love) being included as one among the eight kinds of wealth (Ashtaisvarya). Kubera one of the Dikpalaks is propitiated in all Hindu worships directed to any deity. These Divine weddings after long persuasion and seeking elaborated in Puranas are celebrated by re-enacting in Hindu Temples recalling the puranic stories which is presumed to be bring happiness to married life or help parents to find a suitable partner for their daughters by the blessings of the Lord. Tamils eagerly look forward for the month of Thai to celebrate the Divine Weddings to receive the blessings of the Divine pairs in their frustration and endeavor.
Valentine’s Day is the most commercialized socio-religious festival, next only to Christmas Season, 150 million greeting cards being exchanged, with the blessings of more than one Valentine raised to martyrdom, round the globe. Casanova and Kamadeva missed the chance. Valentine’s Day is all about love which many Christians and non–Christians celebrate by special festivals and worships, love being a universal emotional feeling which has no boundaries. There are more reasons for Hindus to make February 14th a Special Event Worshipful Day than Christians to justify it as St. Valentine’s worshipful Day! Kama occupies the third position in human philosophic goals (Purusharthas) in Hinduism—Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha, a stage behind Moksha (reaching heaven). Driven by their culture Hindus always combine Bhakti (devotion) with Love (satya-prema) which Christians have learnt later. In Social view it is all about love notes which even school children exchange, heart, candy and even red roses. Originally it was about celebrating bird’s mating season. Mid February is the time when the bird mating season happens in European countries. This romantic season captivated human minds and so they decided lovers should celebrate love along with birds. If you go through the Holy Bible You can find very many great quotes on love that one can meditate upon. God’s love is steadfast, unselfish and enduring. You come across several stories of characters who loved in the Bible.
Here are few quotes from the Bible: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, think no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things—1 Corinthians 13:4—7”; “A friend loves at all times, and brother is born for adversity”; “So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest is love”; “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in Love”. This has inspired the Churches to make this social day a religious day dedicated to St. Valentine which do not fail to focus their sermon on the great quotes from the Holy Bible and also meditate on them.
Saint Valentine’s Day
Saint Valentine's Day is also known as Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine. Though it remains a working day in most of the countries, this day is celebrated in many countries around the world as Valentine’s Day on February 14th each year with enthusiasm and exchange of greetings. Valentine's Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus, Several martyrdom stories were created for the various Valentines that belonged to February 14, and added to later martyrdom. One popular story says that Saint Valentine was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted by the Roman Empire.. According to legend during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell.
Today, Saint Valentine's Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion as well as in the Lutheran Church. The Eastern orthodox Church also celebrates Saint Valentine's Day on July 6th in honor of Roman Presbyterian Saint Valentine and July 30th in honor of Idolatry Valentine, the Bishop of Inter-Regina (modern Terni). In Brazil, the Diaz San Valentin is recognized on June 12. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery and sending greeting cards. Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.
I would not like to speculate on the stories of different Saints known as Valentines about which mystery surrounds on which Christians do. To me its origin from the mating season and the Valentin’s story of the Romans appeals, as presently there is enthusiasm among Public as to the day being significant for love and among church followers a day to meditate upon love of God picking up so many quotes from the Holy Bible. It fits into the philosophy of Hindu Americans that Love and devotion go together in this Eon called Kaliyuga.
Hindu Love Theme Festivals during Mating Season
Love Theme Festivals of Hinduism
We have many festivals in Hinduism and also many scriptures where love and devotion are brought together. Towards this concept great contributions are made by saints like Aandal, Meera Bai and Jayadeva in their devotional compositions of Tiruppavai, Mira Bhajans and Geeta Govinda which often appear to be esoteric compositions but powerfully employed in today’s Hindu worship and festivities. Valentine’s Day is celebrated at different times in different cultures as social cum religious festival. Hinduism has several such festivals motivated by love and devotion. To mention a few are: Karwa Chauth, Teej festival, Vata Savitri Vrat, Gowri Habba, Varalakshmi Vratam, Karadiyan Nonbu, and Koodaari Vellum of Aandal.
Two Hindu Events of Mating Season
To me two stories come uppermost in my mind when I see the enthusiasm of Hindu Americans going round greeting each other on Valentine’s Day even in Hindu temples, leave alone in their social life and exchange of greeting cards, and their eagerness to honor women by serving them lunch and offering even red roses if they happen to come to temple on that day and if it happens to be week end. You all know Holi festival comes soon after the Valentine’s Day in March which is associated with Kama Dahana which brings our thoughts as to how the wild mendicant Rudra was turned into auspicious and pleasant domesticated Siva to bless us coming out of his seclusion. Their happy union was for world peace and happiness. It also reminds of the Ramayana that got restored in the human computer mind of Valmiki during the mating season long before Rama was born, only to be verified later when Lava Kusa sang the whole episode revealing to the world, the Adi Kavya in sloka meter—first literary composition of the world long before the Iliad’s and others. This is the most sacred text read by vast majority of people in the world.
In India until around middle-ages there was a tradition of adoring Kamadeva (cupid of Hindus), the lord of love. Even now it is done in the derogatory sense to kill passion as Kamadahana. This veneration of Kamadeva is glorified in Kamasastra and in the sexual exhibits on the walls of Khajuraho Temple in Madhya Pradesh which stands as proof reminding the past history. This tradition of worship was lost around the Middle Ages, when Kamadeva was no longer celebrated, and public displays of sexual affection became a thing to be frowned upon by the orthodoxy. In modern times, Hindu and Islamic traditionalists have considered this holiday to be cultural contamination from the West, as a result of the globalization in India. Despite these obstacles, Valentine's Day is becoming increasingly popular in India. They often exclaim: "We are not against love, but we criticize vulgar exhibition of love at public places” and exchange greetings.
References to Hindu god Kamadeva can be traced in the verses of Rig Veda and Atharva Veda although he is better known through major Puranas. The story of the birth of Kamadeva has several variants in different Puranas. In some Kamadeva arises from the mind of the creator god, Brahma; sometimes he is portrayed as being at the attendant of Indra. Kamadeva's consort Rati, whose very essence is desire, carries a discus and a lotus; her arms are compared with lotus-stalks. Rati is a character in many traditional dramas involving Kamadeva and in some ways represents an attribute. The goddess Vasanta (spring), who also accompanies Kamadeva, emerges from a sigh of frustration. Kama often takes part in Puranic battles with his troops of soldiers.
The incineration of Kama, Kama Dahana in the Mating Season
One of the popular myths of Kama is that of his incineration by Siva told in several Puranas. Indra and the gods suffering at the hands of the demon Tarakasura feel he could not be defeated except by a son of Siva. Brahma then advised Parvati to woo Shiva so that their offspring would be able to kill Taraka. Indra assigned his attendant Kamadeva to break Siva's meditation. To create a congenial atmosphere, Kamadeva (Madana) creates an untimely spring (akaala vasanta). He evades Siva's guard, Nandi, by taking the form of the fragrant southern breeze, and enters Siva's abode. After he awakens Siva with a flower arrow, Siva got furious, opened his third eye, which incinerates Madana instantaneously and he is turned into ash. However Siva later pleases Parvati, resuscitates Kamadeva also called Madana and Siva agrees to let Madana live but in a disembodied form without gross body to the vision of the world. But to Rati he was the usual Madana. Hence Kamadeva is also called 'Ananga', the bodiless. That was the birth of Kama turned into Ananga. Spirit of love embodied by Kama is now disseminated across the cosmos and influences lover’s life and he often comes to their rescue when prayed upon. Kama was effective on mendicant Siva whose union with Parvati consummated. Their son Kartikeya subdued Taraka. Kamadeva is always ready to induce love in the minds of otherwise barren minded people by shooting with arrow of flowers. He is known as Pushpa-bana-pani Like Rama who is Kodandapani ever vigilant to terminate the evil minded.
As you all know Krishna had 16008 Valentine’s to deal with besides being sold to Radha all the time whom she never married. It is said that later Kama is reincarnated in the womb of Krishna's wife Rukmini as Pradyumna. There is a belief that Kamadeva was burnt to ashes by the anger of Siva later merged into the body of Vasudeva. And it is explained that in order to get his body again he was placed in the womb of Rukmini. Particularly in the Gaudiya tradition, Krishna is identified as Kamadeva, and in Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Kamadeva is directly a part of Vasudeva. But the love of Mira and Radha is always viewed by orthodoxy as Bhakti turning to extreme love with the sole desire of merging with the Supreme like that of Aandal to Krishna. Once Narada was curious to know how Krishna managed with so many wives and equally disposed towards them in family life. He was surprised to find Krishna was well settled with his equal partners and led a normal life of a dutiful husband at the same time. But Krishna’s love episode is not attached to any particular season and so do not have any significance to the mating season we are talking about.
The attributes of demigod Kamadeva are as such: his companions are a cuckoo, a parrot, humming bees, the season of spring, and the gentle breeze. All of these are symbols of spring season, when his festival is celebrated as Holi, Holika or Vasanta.
The deity of Kamadeva along with his consort Rati is included in the pantheon of Hindu deities such as Siva and Parvati. In Hindu traditions for the marriage ceremony itself, the bride's feet are often painted with pictures of Suka the parrot, mount of Kamadeva. The religious rituals addressed to him offer a means of purification and reentry into the community. Devotion to Kamadeva keeps desire within the framework of the religious tradition. Kamadeva also appears in other stories and becomes the object of certain devotional rituals for those seeking health, physical beauty, husbands, wives, and sons. Kama with Rati can be seen in the famous temple walls of Chennkesava (Krishna) Temple in Belur Karnataka.
Mating Season Festivals and Rituals of Madana or Kama
Kama Dhahan is a Spring New Year Festival in Southern India and many parts of Western regions while in the North it is attributed to Narasimha avatar. It is sometimes called Madana-Mahotsava in Sanskrit, or Kama-Mahotsava. Initially this spring festival was held in reverence to celestial Vedic figure of Kamadeva. Kamadeva is believed to be a demigod of the heavenly planets especially capable of inducing lusty desires. The Ashoka tree is often planted near temples. The tree is said to be a symbol of love and is dedicated to Kamadeva.
Kama Gayatri Mantra || Om kaama devaaya vidmahe pushpabaanaaya dheemahi tanno anangah prachodayat || It is customary to chant this 108 Times in Pradosha Kaala (Evening Time twilight zone), preferably from Vasanta Panchami to Holi in March.
Upanishads and our sastras are not against Kama or Love. This is clear from the vow the bride makes during Marriage ceremony “Kamena nati charitavya” not to exceed in passion of one’s life partner, as wife is considered to be Sahadharmini or equal partner. Only it means use constraint. Upanishads discuss at length on the role and importance of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Brihadarnyaka Upanishad in its 6th Anuvaka is not shy to discuss about our ideal sex-life and the constraints needed. It discusses about ideal marital relationship, ritualistic copulation, how to beget healthy children meditating on Supreme and how to bring them up as intelligent and healthy children useful to the society. Kamokarsheet mantra prescribed in Maha Naarayana Upanishad is for paying obeisance to Deity of Desire (Kamadevata) (kamokarsheet namo namah). Namo namah in this mantra clearly indicates how it treats the subject of Kama with reverence. In Taitareeya Braahmana it is stated that Kaama (God’s prompting) is the base of all economic activities. It is responsible for the giving and acceptance of gifts. The Pure self is not affected by that. God is that gives and God it is who receives. Therefore Dakshina is given and taken with sacred intentions and not lust. It should not be considered as the under the table money or serve charge.
It is unfortunate Kaamadahana ritual is misinterpreted today and joked in an ugly fashion. People in Karnataka use abusive language while making the bonfire on Kamadahana festival. Their focus is on lust and not on sacred love for which Kamadeva had to lose his physical body forever. But for his intervention lord Siva would have never come together with Parvati changing wild ascetic Rudra to a domesticated husband of auspiciousness for the welfare of the world to become “Jagatah pitarah” or Universal parents. Kamadevata was the initiator for the Kumarasambhava which Kalidasa has beautifully described in his master peace. We should all be grateful to Rati and Kamadeva and pay our obeisance. What better time it could be to celebrate Ananga (the Spirit of Love) other than the mating season when Vasantarutu is just about to turn around to bring us happiness bringing comfort to us from the severe winter. Bonfire is a way of worship in Hindu way of life as witnessed in many festivals during spring season coming out of severe winter like Bhogi, Holi etc. Even angered Siva later realized the noble mission of Kamadeva. That is why Kama was restored to life so that love could pervade the cosmos forever in his reincarnation as Ananga.
Ramayana comes out of Valmiki’s emotion during the Mating Season
Perhaps you are aware the circumstances under which Ramayana got restored in the mind of Valmiki by divine telepathy and got released to the world by the singing of the 24000 slokas in the court of Rama by Lava and Kusa. It is said that Ramayana got recorded in the minds of Valmiki even before the dissension of Rama on earth and it remained only to be verified later as to its accuracy! I would like to bring following slokas from Ramayana for your kind attention:
Tasmaat tu mithunaadekam pumaasam paapanischayah | dadarsa bhagavanstatra kraunchayos-chaarunisvanam || [A hunter of sinful resolve and full of animosity stuck with an arrow one of said pair, the male bird even while the sage looked on]
Ma nishaad pratishthaam tam agamah saaswateeh samaah | yat krauncha-mithunaadekam avdheeh kaamamohitah || [Oh fowler! May you not have peace of mind for endless years, since you have killed one of the pair of cranes, infatuated with love.]
It was the mating season. The greedy hunter having no consideration to these love birds killed the male companion. The female crane burst into cry in the wilderness mourning the death of her companion. Overcome by grief from this separation and wailing female companion Valmiki started composing the Ramayana in his mind all at once by divine inspiration, the story of Rama who had to endure pangs of separation from his beloved for long years due to abduction of his beloved Sita cunningly by Ravana and after having rejoined with her for a short time was separated from her for ever leaving her twin sons orphaned. The whole Ramayana is in sloka meter (poetic composition of grief) which was the result of his deep grief —Shokah slokatvamaagatah --his grief converted into sloka].
An undercurrent of many love stories runs through whole Ramayana. First it was the love of Dasaratha to his youngest wife Kaikeyi in leaving a blank check which she cashed later to her advantage. It was the love for her son Bharata that brought the whole misery on the love life of Sri Rama. Rama’s misery after a short wedded life, separation from Sita, long suffering and pangs of love which brought the end of Ravana is again a long story of love struggle narrated through and through in Ramayana. It is due to the grief of Sugriva for the abduction of his wife Ruma by his own brother Vali that he bought the friendship of Rama. Sugreeva not only got his love back but also bought the love of Tara his brother’s wife after Vali’s death mutually attracted. It was the duty of brother-in-law to take care of the widowed sister-in-law in those days. Rama continued to suffer and led a loveless life after a short reunion due to his caring too much for the heresy of a washer-woman for the rest of his life. It was the dangerous attraction to Rama that brought misery to Soorpanaka that caused her body mutilation and death to her brother by the events that followed. It is the fatal attraction of of Ravana to Sita’s beauty which he could not physically enforce due to the curse that at last brought his own destruction. It is the sexual misbehavior infatuated with love towards Vedavati that brought this curse on Ravana. Thus Ramayana sounds like Kamayana “The Song of Love” which is reflected through the entire life of Lord Rama which is revealed in Ramayana, the story of Rama. Kamadeva is seen quite active all through Ramayana. Rama was ever vigilant with his bows and arrows as Kodanda-pani and Kama as Pushpa-bana-pani to help the lovers. Valmiki is a Pauranik, religious story teller. He narrates human love stories and through them leads us to divine love which is called Bhaktimarga. If you read Ramayana Valmiki has spent one full chapter on the full episode on Siva-Parvati union brought about through the good offices of Kama who got incinerated in the process and thus Kama was responsible for the arrival of Kumara, Lord Subhramanya. Is it strange that not a single mention of Ganesha is made in Ramayana though he is elder to Kumara as Puranas say later. Ramayana is all on love stories, pangs of love and sufferings of love Valmiki concentrated upon to forcibly bring the theme of divine love for salvation. That is why Ramayan Path Pooja, Holy reading of Ramayana for salvation is so much glorified in Ramayana! Is it not worth dedicating this day to Ramayana Jayanti?
Birth of Kumara (arising from Siva Parvati union), celebrated in Kumarasambhava of Kalidasa as well as birth of Ramayana arising out of tragic separation of love birds are events fitting and proper to be celebrated dedicating February 14th to Lord Siva and Ramayana Jayanti. This will be both pleasing to Siva and Rama. You all know Rama was a devotee of Siva and the Linga he consecrated is called Rameswara Linga which has now turned into a holy pilgrimage place Rameswara. Teertha yatras start with the worship of Viswanatha in Varanasi and end in the culmination of Linga worship with Rudram in Rameswaram to derive the full benefits of the pilgrimage. Rama missed Ganesha somehow. May be he did not exist then and was elevated to the position of a senior to please Parvati!
Hindus do celebrate Geetaa Jayanti or Birthday of Gita but not Ramayana Jayanti. It is clear from the above that Ramayana was a composition of the mating season, same as that of Valentine’s Day which owes its origin to the mating season, a festival later turned religious. As we all know Ramayana is the most read holy scripture with reverence (Ramayan Parth), generally during Rama Navami and Navaratri festivals. This act of sacred reading is said to get rid of all sins. So also Bhagavadgeeta reading during Krishna Janmashtami, but its birthday is separately celebrated. What other day will be better for celebrating birthday of Ramayana than February 14 which is the Valentine’s Day?
You all know Vasanta Panchami comes in February also just before the mating season. There is one whole chapter in Ramayana describing the grief of Rama afflicted with the pangs of love. He was impatient to wait for the coming of spring though not far off and wanted to start the war on Ravana immediately with the blessings of Goddess Durga on Vasanta Panchami Day. That was again the time just few days before the start of mating season. I often think the idea of celebrating Valentine’s Day dedicated to love should have come from ancient Hindu traditions.
Where West and East share the same cultural thinking on St Valentine’s Day
It is customary for Hindu Temples to keep open temples for long hours during the long holiday weekends of American Holidays like Independence, Thanksgiving, Labor Day and Christmas, marking them as special Religious Events in their Temple calendar. Somehow they feel shy to club Valentine’s Day with other American Holidays. There is every justification to dedicate this day in the mating season to Ramayana as well as Ratidevi and Kamadeva seeing the brisk activity and exchange of greetings that goes on in the temple premises on that day to which authorities have not found any objection unlike the orthodoxy in India which frowns on Kamadeva as sex symbol. If Kamdeva is not acceptable at least Ramayana Jayanti deserves a day of recognition like Geeta Jayanti. I consider sacrifice of Kamadeva is as important as the sacrifice of Purusha in Purushasookta because of the fact he gave us the benefit of the Siva the auspicious who is responsible for all goodness in life and liberation to enjoy eternal bliss.
While Western culture celebrate Valentine’s day and invoke the blessings of the Lord for their valentines meditating on Biblical quotes and exchange greetings, Hindu Americans can celebrate Siva-Parvati Union on the same day to invoke the blessings of Ratidevi and Kamadeva, Siva and Parvati. It could also be directed to the most celebrated Radha who is celebrated in Geet Govind whose Valentine was Lord Krishna.
Hindu Americans make most of the American Holidays their Special Religious Events Day most popular one being New Year’s day celebrated with Shiva Abhishekam etc. and rush to temples to make New Year Resolutions. How are they justified? If we refer to Vedas we can find more than necessary justification. Samavtsara is glorified as Brahman in Vedas. We have umpteen numbers of Samvatsaras in India. Even Vedas describe five kinds of Samvatsaras of which I talked about. Hence there is all justification to make January 1 a worshipful Day in American Hindu way of thinking. Vedas preach universal Oneness and so all Samvatsaras could be Vyahritis of Brahman.
Hindu Temples celebrate many divine weddings arising out of love affairs like that of Siva Parvati, Radha and Krishna, Venkatesa and Padmavati, Andal and Ranganatha (Panguni Uttiram) etc., and also of Rama and Sita, who were long separated and united, and also of couples Savitri and Satyavan (Karadiyan Nonbu); such celebrations are done with religious devotion seeking divine intervention and blessing for choosing an ideal boy for the girl as well as long happy married life or longevity of husbands.
When I came to USA I had a cultural shock when I saw males walking with roses in their hands offering to ladies and greeting them with Happy Valentine's Day and arranging festival lunch tables and serving them food in temples after worship. Hindu Temple in Albany also conducted special Puja to Lakshmi on that day. Things were not much different when I came to Nashville. I slowly realized how Hindu Americans were also struggling hard to keep their married life happy and so needed divine help. I got used to the changing pattern of Hindu culture and even started feeling there is nothing wrong in celebrating Valentine’s day in Hindu temples and only it needed change of name and proper way of worship to suit our culture looking at the practice of church worship on Valentine’s Day.
Are we violating Hindu religious codes by our worship to a deity on Valentine’s Day? Looking at our Vedic ritual of Kamokarsheet Homa and celebration of Karadiyan Nombu and Vata Savitri Vrat in temples I felt the need for celebrating Valentine’s Day is more than not, and felt it is not against our culture. Vedas have deified Kaama (infatuation) and make fire offerings (Homa) to avoid evil influence of Kaama. Puranas have deified Obstacle and call the deity as Vighnaraja, the Lord of Obstacles. Here the focus is on fear of negative influence of these characteristics but our focus could well be diverted to positive thinking in promoting peace and harmony in that process of deifying and worshiping. Lord Kubera is worshiped as Kamesvara in Hindu daily worship. Tamils have long tradition of celebrating Karadiyan Nombu in Temples as Special Religious Day, while in the North same is celebrated as Vata Savitri Vrat to commemorate the dedication and love of Savitri to her husband Satyavan pleading to Yama for long life and seeking divine intervention to fulfill her Pativrata Dharma. Here Satyavan and Savitri are not any deities of worship. If Hindu ladies are thus celebrating love, Hindu males also need to fulfill their obligation as she is Sahadharmini. It looks strange to others that Tamils name some of their festivals after food! What better day is well suited to American Hindus to celebrate a special day like this with Radha Kalyanam? You are also aware how Geet Govind and Tiruppavai the two love theme based esoteric compositions are almost equated with holy scriptures and popularly employed in our daily worship. My discourse Hindu Reflections on Mating Season Festival that inspired St. Valentines Religious Festival delivered sometime back would make lot of sense in the above context. Of late Valentine’s Day is observed with great enthusiasm in India though it has not reached Hindu Temples as in America.
If we want to go the traditional way with our culture of daily worship this day could well be directed to Lord Kubera to preside with special emphasis who is always invoked in all our “Shodasopachara Puja” and also worshiped as one of the Dikpalakas who takes care of our North quarter. You may kindly recall the concluding prayer in our daily worship “Rajaadhirajaya…… Kaamesvaro vaisravano dadhatu | Kuberaaya Vaishrvanaaya namah || Also in Lakshmi Ashtottara Kubera is praised as the Lord of Ashtaisvarya of which love is one (Ashtaivaryamavapnoti Kubera iva bhootale). We will then only a bit extending our daily worship for which there should be no hesitation or reservation. Some of you should be aware how Kubera is propitiated in Badrinath along with Nara and Narayana for grant of not only physical wealth but also ashtaisvarya (eight kinds of riches) that leads to a well-balanced happy and prosperous material as well as spiritual life. Simply going around in a worshipful place greeting everyone Happy Valentine’s Day makes no sense and simply enjoying a ceremonial lunch in a worship place without the proper blessing of the food by the Lord for the occasion makes no sense.
Ashtaisvaryas are defined as follows:
ASHTAISVARYAS/ASHTHASIDDHIS: Anima ( reducing the body to the size of atom); Mahima (Magnifying the body to gigantic size); Laghima ( extreme lightness of the body; Praapti (establishing contact with the senses of the entire creation in the form of deities presiding over the senses); Praakamya (the capacity to enjoy pleasures heard of and enjoyable only in heaven and the subterranean world); Eeasitva( the capacity to arrest Maaya and the potencies from functioning); Vasitva (absence of attachment to pleasures of the senses); Kaamyaavasayitaa (by which one is able to enjoy whatever pleasure he desires in the highest measure). These are also known as 8 kinds wealth or Siddhis represented by eight spokes of Brahmachakra in Svetasvatara Upanishad.
Raajadhi raajaaya prasasya saahine | nmoe vayam vaisravanaaya kurmahe | sah may kaamaan kaamaaya mahyam | kaamesvaroe vaisravanoe dadaatu || Kuberaayaa vaisravanaaya mahaaraajaaya namaha ||
We offer obeisance to Kubera, who is the King of kings, who commands one’s possessions by his power. May that Kubera, the Lord of Desires (Kaama) fulfill my desires! I offer my obeisance to Kubera, the son of Vaisravas and King of Kings. [This prayer is offered in all daily worships in homes and Temples]
1. Pamela Rose Williams, Valentine’s Day, Health and Wellness, Middle Tennessee, February 2014.
2. Ananta Rangacharya N.S., Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Bangalore.
3. Gita Press, Srimad Valmiki Ramayana, Gorakhpur, India.
4. Wikepedia and other Internet Sources.
5. Swami Sivananda, Festivals and Rituals, Sivanand Ashram, Hrishikesh, India.
6. Swami Vimalananda, Mahanarayana Upanishad, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.
7. Devdutt Pattanaik, Devi, Vakils, Feffer and Simons Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi, India
8. Anthony Tony Boquert, Valentine’s Day. Nashville Christian Family, 2015.
9. Swami Bhaskarananda, Hindu Gods and Goddesses, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.
[This discourse material is a compilation from the reference above as well as other sources for a prepared lecture for delivering at Vedanta Class of Sri Ganesha Temple which is gratefully acknowledged. I do not claim anything as original though I have included my explanations and comments elaborately suitably editing. Anybody is free to download partly or fully this discourse, modify and redistribute this as well as other discourses from the blog Hindu Reflections <nrsrini.blogspot.com> for spreading the wisdom of Vedas and scriptures further. These lectures are posted on the blog for the benefit of those who are not able to attend my lectures personally due to personal reasons or due to not living in Nashville or able to go through the various sources as I have done.]
Message sent by Hindu Reflections on Valentine's Day on Sunday 14, 2016.
Hindu Americans joined the majority in celebrating Valentine's Day on Sunday 14, 2016. Enthusiastic Hindu devotees visiting Ganesha Temple in Nashville went round greeting all ladies and also served them food to them in the Prasadam Hall leading them to dining tables. With all this enthusiasm and exchange of greetings in sacred temple grounds, I wonder why this day is not declared as Special Religious Events day like Christmas, Thanksgiving etc. in Hindu American Temple? My detailed discourse on Valentine's Day gives ample justification to make this day a special events day in Hindu American temples. Generally Hindus feel shameful to speak on sex and for describing the love of Krishna towards Gopis (milkmaids) in general and Radha in particular, they use the word Rasakreeda. This shameful attitude to sex topics is probably the inheritance from the Western culture where sex is associated with immoral act onlyor a private affair. Rasa is their alternate word for Kama. Upanishads and Puranas are open-minded on the subject.
What do Kamadeva and Cupid have in common? Kamadeva is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection in Hindu mythology and Cupid is Kamadeva in Western mythology. Hinduism being the oldest, Hindu God of love should have inspired Romans and Greeks to worship Cupid as God of Love and Romance. Both Kamadeva and Cupid are associated with arrows. Cupid is often portrayed as the son of the love goddess Venus and the war god Mars. Cupid is also known in Latin also as Amor ("Love"). His Greek counterpart is Eros and he is just one of the ancient symbols associated with St. Valentine’s Day, along with the shape of a heart, doves, and the colors red and pink. He is usually portrayed as a small winged figure with a bow and arrow which he uses to strike the hearts of people. People who fall in love are said to be ‘struck by Cupid’s arrow’.
Kama in Sanskrit means love and Moha means desire. Valmiki mentions the phrase “avadeeh kaama mohitam” referring to the pair of love birds in his opening chapter. Brihadarnyaka Upanishad deals at length with incantation and ceremonies for procreation in Chapter six with several Mantras. Garbhadaana is a Vedic ceremony and an important sacred Hindu sacrament for the first sex initiation for a child birth after Brahma marriage by wedded couple about which I have talked in detail. Kaama is personified as a deity in the Vedas. The Naasadeeya sukta announces that Kaama or God’s will in the form of desire to create the world when this universe did not come into being. Puranas mention of Brahma and Satarupa as the first divine pair who started creation. Upanishads are not shy to talk at length on sex but say that any act of sex should be based on Dharma. We have later entire treatise Kaama Sutra (aphorisms) by Vatsyaayana and an ancient Temple in Uttar Pradesh Khaju Raho wholly dedicated to Kameswara with many erotic scenes displayed on walls architecture. Please refer to the Mantras directed to the deity of Kaama prescribed for Upaakarma ceremony in my detailed discourse.
According to the Matsya Purana, Visnhu-Krishna and Kamadeva have a historical relationship. Krishna is sometimes worshiped as Kamadeva in Gaudiya traditions, and according to the Krishna-centric Gaudiya Vaishnavas, Kamadeva was directly a form of Vasudeva Krishna after this Deva was burned down by Siva. In this particular form Kamadeva is believed to be a demi-god of the heavenly planets especially capable of inducing lusty desires. Some followers of Vishnu distinguish a form of Kamadeva who is a deva, demigod in charge of inciting lusty desires, the cause of generation and referred to in Gita with the words “prajanas chasmi kandarpa.”
Krishna, Valentine of Radha is invariably worshiped in all Hindu temples. On the other hand Rukmini is seen with Krishna only in a rare temple in Chennai. In spite of painful separation Lord Srinivasa does not fail to join with Padmavati every year and spend his best time of the year which is glorified in Temple worship annually. Saivites often resort to the worship of Ardhanariswara which is Siva’s most auspicious spiritual form. Parvati-Parmaeswara is the most celebrated pair honored as world parents (Jagatah pitarah) whose love affair and the great sacrifice of Kamadeva are well known to you all. But for Kamadeva, world would not have had Ganesha and Subrahmanya who are the most popular deities of Hindu worship. Siva did not fail to please Rati and restore a worshipful place to Kamadeva. In Hinduism Religion and Spirituality do conflate and do not conflict. You will soon hear a talk on it by Swami Chidananda. Kamadeva is a Vedic deity and you can find Kamokarsheet Mantras used in fire Sacrifices and prayers. Upanishads deal at length the yearning for love of Jeevatma to embrace Paramaatma and ultimately join with it as symbolized in Ardhanariswara.
Christianity has made Valentine’s Day a religious Day for Mass worship and America has successfully commercialized it like Christmas. Realizing the enthusiasm and festive mood that prevails in Hindu Temples on Valentin’s Day it will be fitting and proper for American Hindus to add Valentine’s Day to other Special Religious Events Days like—Christmas, Thanksgiving, Labor and Memorial Day. This day has more justification than others to celebrate the divine weddings of Siva and Parvati, Srinivasa and Padmavati, and, Radha and Krishna. Spiritual seekers will be pleased to add Ardhanariswara to the list symbolizing the Union of Jeevaatman with Paramaatman. I believe this union is the reason why Polygamy is religiously accepted and not Polyandry but for the rare example of Pancha Pandavas. You know too well Lord Krishna and his Harem which he treated equally well! Hinduism guides World Religions. It does not throw the baby with bathwater! It is worthwhile to read about the important role of Kamadeva at the request of Devas from Mahasiva Puraana.