Definition - What does Kama mean?

In Indian literature and philosophy, kama denotes longing and desire, often with a sexual connotation. But the broader concept refers to any wish, passion, pleasure of the senses, affection, love or enjoyment of life. In the Upanishads (ancient Hindu texts), the term is used in the broader sense of any type of desire.

Kama is personified as the deity Kama-deva, the god of erotic love and pleasure, who is comparable to the Greek deity, Eros.

Yoga philosophy does not directly address kama, but it is accepted and understood as being part of a balanced life, so long as it doesn't become the individual's focus.

Yogapedia explains Kama

In Hindu traditions, kama is one of life's four aims (purusharthas), and is considered essential and healthy if pursued with the other three aims: dharma (righteousness), artha (prosperity) and moksha (spiritual liberation).

Vatsyayana, the author of the "Kama Sutra," describes kama as happiness that is a phenomenon of the mind, or manasa vyapara. The "Kama Sutra" defines kama as pleasure experienced by the senses while in harmony with the mind and soul.

In a yogic path, kama should be acknowledged and fulfilled in a balanced way so that the practitioner can move toward freedom from desire, rather than getting caught up in the cycle of increasing desire, overindulgence and greed. When kama supports dharma, this is healthy.

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