With flowers in his hands, Kama (Cupid representing desire) departed for the abode of Lord Shiva. Firing arrows to every corner of the Earth, he brought the whole world under the sway of lust and desire. All of the Vedic injunctions and teachings were rejected as people everywhere lost their senses.
Viveka and his army (Our ability to discriminate) comprising of self-restraint, modesty, religious vows, personal commitments, spiritual knowledge, yoga, dispassion, all disappeared in an instant as the influence of Kama spread in all directions.
Viveka (discrimination) had gone, the greatest warriors of the Earth no longer cared about defending their nations but instead fled to any place where they could satiate their desires. Viveka had now taken the form of the sacred scriptures, rarely could you see the living embodiements of Viveka, only read about them in words.
The minds of every living being was engulfed by passion. Selfishness took over as nobody could see clearly, the only objective was satisfying the senses. Ravaged by desire, even the trees bent towards one another. The beasts, the birds, the insects, none were spared by Cupids sway. Even renowned sages and yogis of the Himalayas, famed for having achieved self mastery where now slaves to only the senses. Previously their eyes saw nothing but Brahman in everything, now they have become corrupt and perverse, taking advantage of even their students.
In this time of desire, only those who are able to cling to the raft of Rama’s name were able to maintain a peaceful mind.
I have emphasised many times how Hindu scriptures work on many different levels. The narrative includes spiritual philosophy intertwined. In these verses, Viveka represents not a person or an army, but our ability to discriminate. Science today teaches us that when we are angry, or absorbed in sense gratification, we lose our ability to discriminate. The part of our brain which is responsible for moderation, empathy, discrimination, planning, effective decision making loses control to the ancient reptilian part of our brain which cares only for self pleasure, fight or flight.
This description is very similar to descriptions in the sacred texts of our current age, Kali Yuga, where people are much more inclined towards self gratification. Tulasidasji here teaches us to be mindful of the fact that when sense desires are taking over, the crucial qualities of discrimination will lose their hold. The meditation of repeating the holy name of Rama is a saving grace in life, like a raft which allows us to navigate the stormy waters of the world.