How Shiva overcame Kama

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Shiva The Adiyogi / Storytelling


Sadhguru tells us about the God of kama, or the God of lust. He narrates the story of how shiva overcame lust. He tells two versions of the story, one general, told to people, and the other version, as told in the yogic culture. He tells us the basis of lust within us.


Duration: 6 min


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4 min read

How Shiva overcame Kama

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

When we say Shiva, the word ‘Shiva’ has become synonymous with the third eye. The third eye, what it means is, these two eyes are to look outside. These two eyes are capable of showing you the physicality of the existence. These two eyes can only perceive that which is physical.

The third eye is an inward focused eye, it’s not going to open up upon your forehead. The third eye is an inward looking eye. But you have heard stories, Shiva opened his eyes and he burnt Kama.

In India, there is a God of love and lust, called Kama. Kama means lust, which you don’t like to face it head on, so you make it love, because you need some aesthetic to it. So he hides behind a tree and shoots an arrow at Shiva’s heart. It hits him and Shiva gets a little disturbed. Then he sees it’s Kama, that is it’s his own lust coming up. Then he opened up his third eye, a fiery eye and burnt kama. He was hiding behind the tree, but he was burned into ashes. Then Shiva took the ashes of this burned kama and smeared himself, that “I’ve put this things to rest for good”. That is the general story told to the people.

But you tell me, your lust arises within you or behind the tree? No, you may go behind the tree – that’s another matter. But where does it arise, within you? Desire is not hanging outside. It is not because a beautiful woman or a beautiful man is sitting there your desire comes. Because the desire, the Kama is within you. So he opened his third eye and burnt the Kama within himself, not the one who is standing outside. Because he never, ever, stood outside. Please look at this and see, your lustfulness, your desiring nature, never ever stood outside. It only stood inside.

So he opened his third eye, not this way, inward. Then he saw this lustfulness, which essentially means that some aspects are built into you, which makes you feel incomplete. So you think you will find completion, only by going towards something or somebody. Lust is not just about opposite sex, shopping is lust, because you have to go towards something, only then life will be complete. Every desire is lust, because without that I cannot exist. I want that, because only when I have that, this [self] will be complete. It may be a thing, it may be a position, it may be power, it may be sexuality, it doesn’t matter what it is – essentially, lust means it creates a sense of incompleteness within you, and a longing for something that it makes you feel, “If you don’t have that you are not complete.”

So he decides to burn the Kama within himself. He burned the Kama, and then instead of sweat, ash oozed of the pores of his body – this is the yogic story. The common story told to the public is, he was hiding behind the tree, and he burnt him, opened his eyes and burnt him, and then he took that ash and smeared himself. The yogic dimension of the story is, Kama arose within him, he opened his third eye, burnt him and then ash slowly oozed out of his body, clearly showing him everything is laid to rest.

Everything that you know as yourself should die. When I say death, it’s not the physical death which is a problem. The question is losing everything that you know as myself right now – your personality, your identity. Once you learn to be an individual beyond physiological and psychological formats, that means you are for good. This is what living death means. So if you know how to be an individual still, without physiological and psychological format, you are a living death. If you are living death, you are eternal in your existence. It is time that you become living death, so that you live eternally.

Shiva The Adiyogi

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