By Swami Harshananda
Rati literally means ‘one who gives enjoyment or pleasure’.
One of the specialties or peculiarities of the religion is that every aspect of life, good or not-so-good, is deified or has a presiding deity or spirit. If kāma or desire in general and sexual love in particular has been deified as Kāmadeva, his feminine counterpart or consort is Rati.
The purāṇas describe her as one of the daughters of Dakṣa-prajāpati and married to Kāma, son of another Prajāpati, called Dharma. Prīti is her co-wife. In sculptures and paintings, she is shown in the company of Kāma or Manmatha. When sculptured independently she is shown as exceedingly beautiful, bedecked with several jewels and ornaments and in a dancing pose. She may also be shown as riding a parrot, holding in her two hands the sugarcane stalk as the bow and five kinds of flower-darts. Other objects shown in her hands are:
- Vīṇā - lute
- Daṇḍa - staff
- Akṣasutra - rosary
According to the Bhāgavata and the Viṣṇupurāṇa, she was reborn as Māyāvatī, a wife of the demon Sambara but was reunited with her husband Manmatha, now reborn as Pradyumna, the son of Kṛṣṇa and Rukmiṇī.
- He is also known as Anaṅga, Madana and Manmatha.
- Bhāgavata 10.55
- Viṣṇupurāṇa 5.27
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore