Lord Shiva and Kam Dev have an interesting connection with each other. On the face of it, Lord Shiva is a master in the art of love-making and there is no equal in his skills as a passionate lover, yet there is one specific example where Kam Dev has to actively interfere in the life of Lord Shiva.
The Sanskrit word ‘Kaam’ is loosely translated into English as ‘Desire’. So Kam Dev then is the Hindu God of Desire or the equivalent of the Cupid from western mythology. After the tragic demise of his first wife Sati, Lord Shiva had decided to remain an ascetic, swearing off the pleasures and comfort of a householder’s life. This was a fact well-known to every sentient creature in creation. One demon in particular- Tarakasura used this information to his greatest benefit. He performed Tapasya and pleased Lord Brahma enough to earn two boons. The first ensured that nobody created by Brahma can kill him and with the second boon Tarakasura wanted that no one save the son of Lord Shiva would be able to kill him. This boon practically made him immortal, because Shiva till then was without child and his decision to never re-marry and remain forever an ascetic, would ensure there would be no children who could kill Tarakasura.
Based on his virtual immortality, Tarakasura wrested control over all of the demon races. He became their undisputed leader and let loose a reign of terror in heaven, hell and earth. The other Gods found themselves helpless against the might of Tarakasura. Their only hope was to get Lord Shiva to break his vow of celibacy and produce a child.
This task was overwhelmingly difficult to achieve given that there was no greater ascetic in creation who could rival the dedication with which Lord Shiva entered his meditations. Bound on all sides, the Gods turned to Kam Dev. They prayed to him to use his powers on Lord Shiva. A petrified Kam Dev refuse to comply initially, but for the sake of all that was holy and suffering under the tyranny of Tarakasura, he accepted the task.
He found Goddess Parvati and along with her went to Mount Kailash- where Lord Shiva was deep in meditation. Using his art, Kam Dev managed to bring the spring season to Kailash. Replete with flowers, birds and bees, the environment in Kailash was transformed to a romantic paradise. Goddess Parvati began carousing in the bowers and Kam Dev took aim with his arrow of desire and fired it at Lord Shiva’s heart. The arrow hit its target and Lord Shiva’s meditation was broken. He was mesmerized by the beauty all around and that of Parvati, but soon it dawned on him that it was not spring and that he was being tricked.
Angry at the deception he looked around and found Kam Dev lurking behind foliage of the pleasure garden. Kam Dev realised he was caught but was transfixed with fear and could not react or ask for forgiveness. Lord Shiva’s mercurial tempers shot up without control and his ‘third eye‘ of destruction opened up. The energy released from this eye, instantaneously reduced Kam Dev to ashes.
When his anger subsides and Goddess Parvati tells him of all that happened, Shiva requisitions her assistance to revive Kam Dev. With his body destroyed, Kam Dev is revived in a formless manner and is thenceforth known as ‘Ananga Dev’ or the one without a body. In due course of time the passion between Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati evolve and ignite. The duo get married and beget a child named Kartikeya who goes on to destroy Tarakasura, ending his reign of terror and chaos.