‘With a woman by your side, you are like the three-eyed Shiva. Without her, you are the one-eye Shukra, though you may look like the two-eyed Kama.’ Tenali Raman, the famous court jester is supposed to have composed these lines. Are these words of praise or an insult to a one-eyed warrior or courtier? We can never be sure.
In the Puranas, Shiva, the destroyer, is known to have three eyes while Shukra, the guru of the asuras, had only one eye. In the world of mythology, the one-eyed one is known to be creative and intuitive, but lacking the balance of rationality. The two-eyed one is balanced, while the three-eyed one has insight, able to see more than others, into the hearts and minds of other beings. How many eyes do we have: one, two or three?
Shukra lost his eye when he tried to stop Bali, an asura, from giving the land to the dwarf Vaman. To give the land, Bali had to pour water from a pot on to Vaman’s palm. Shukra reduced himself in size, entered the pot and tried to block the water from flowing out of the spout. Vaman, an avatar of Vishnu, divined this and inserted a blade of grass into the spout that pierced Shukra’s eye, leaving him blind in one eye.