The selection of the name Kamala, the female protagonist of the novel, is a personification of Kama (Sanskrit: काम). Kama implies pleasure, sensual gratification and fulfillment, desire, Eros, or the aesthetic enjoyment of life. Kamala is also one of the names of Lakshmi, the goddess of material wealth.
The Rig Veda represents desire as the first movement towards manifestation of the Absolute, while the Atharva Veda states that kama acts as desire through creative energy and is the first to be born. In Hinduism, kama is one of the four purusharthas, or goals of life, along with duty (dharma), material wealth (artha) and salvation (moksha).
In Buddhism, kama is considered one of the primary obstacles in the spiritual path towards enlightenment. In Buddhist Cosmology, kamaloka or the domain of desire, is the lowest of the three domains (triloka). The Five Precepts recited by the lay practitioner comprise a commitment to abstain from "sexual misconduct" (kāmesu micchācāra).
In mythology, Kama deva shot the ascetic god Shiva with a honey-dipped arrow so that he was enamored with the goddess Parvati and had to marry her in a wave of desire. In Roman mythology, Cupid (Latin cupido, meaning "desire") is the god of desire, affection and erotic love, and is the son of goddess Venus and god Mars.