Details of Kartikeya, Murugan, Skanda- Son of Lord Shiva

Posted: April 8, 2009 in Aware

Sanskrit literature

The references to Murugan in Sanskrit literature can be traced back to the first millennium BCE. There are references to Subrahmanya in Kautilya’s Arthashastra, in the works of Patanjali, in Kalidasa’s epic poem the Kumarasambhavam and in the Sanskrit drama Mricchakatika. The Kushanas, who governed from what is today Peshawar, and the Yaudheyas, a republican clan in the Punjab, struck coins bearing the image of Skanda. The deity was venerated also by the Ikshvakus, an Andhra dynasty, and the Guptas.The worship of Kumāra was one of the six principal sects of Hinduism at the time of Adi Shankara. The Shanmata system propagated by him included this sect. In many Shiva and Devi temples of Tamil Nadu, Subrahmaṇya is installed on the left of the main deity.

Sati, the consort of Shiva immolated herself at the Daksha Yagna, which was later destroyed by Shiva. Sati was reborn as Uma, or Parvati the daughter of the mountain king Himavaan (the Himalayas). Shiva withdrew himself from the universe and engaged himself in yogic meditation in the Himalayas.

In the meanwhile, the demon Surapadman ravaged the earth and tormented its beings. It was realized by the gods that only the son born of Shiva could lead the gods to victory over Tarakasuran, Surapadman and their demon companions. They plotted with Kamadeva, to shoot a flower arrow at Shiva, as he sat in meditation, so as to make him fall in love with Parvati. When Kama aimed his arrow, Shiva opened his third eye and burned Kama to ashes instantly.

The sparks of the fiery seed of Shiva were unbearable; even the fire God Agni could not bear them; this fire was then transported by the river Ganga into the Saravana forest into a pond called the Saravana Poigai(located at mouths of river Ganga), where the sparks became six children. They were raised by the six Krittika or Kartika – the stars that make up the Pleiades, earning the name Karthikeya. Parvati combined these six babies into one with six faces, i.e. Shanmukha or Arumugan. Since he was born in the Saravana he was also called ‘Saravanabhava.’

Murugan became the supreme general of the demi-gods then escorted the devas and led the army of the devas to victory against the demons. The six sites at which Karthikeya sojourned while leading his armies against Surapadman are Tiruttanikai, Swamimalai, Tiruvavinankudi (Palani), Pazhamudirsolai, Tirupparamkunram and Tiruchendur. All these sites have ancient temples glorified by the Tamil poems of Tirumurugaatruppadai of the Sangam period (circa the 3rd century CE).And these six sites collectively came to be known as “Arupadai Veedu” (Lang:Tamil), it means the six battle camps of the Lord.

Hindu epics

The first elaborate account of Karthikeya’s origin occurs in the Mahabharata. In a complicated story, he is said to have been born from Agni and Svaha, after the latter impersonated the six of the seven wives of the Saptarishi (Seven Sages). The actual wives then become the Pleiades. Karthikeya is said to have been born to destroy the Asura Mahisha.(In later mythology, Mahisha became the adversary of Durga.) Indra attacks Karthikeya as he sees the latter as a threat, until Shiva intervenes and makes Karthikeya the commander-in-chief of the army of the Devas. He is also married to Devasena, Indra’s daughter. The origin of this marriage lies probably in the punning of ‘Deva-sena-pati’.It can mean either lord of Devasena or Lord of the army(sena) of Devas.

The Ramayana version is closer to the stories told in the Puranas discussed below.

Vedas

The Atharva Veda describes Kumaran as ‘Agnibhuh’ or son of Agni, the fire god. The Satapatha Brahmana refers to him as the son of Rudra and the ninth form of Agni. The Taittiriya Aranyaka contains the Gayatri mantra for Shanmukha. The Chandogya Upanishad refers to Skanda as the “way that leads to wisdom”. The Baudhayana Dharmasutra mentions Skanda as ‘Mahasena’ and ‘Subrahmanya.’ The Aranya Parva canto of the Mahabharata relates the legend of Kartikeya Skanda in considerable detail. The Skanda Purana is devoted to the narrative of Kartikeya.

Puranas

Though slightly varying versions occur in the Puranas, they broadly follow the same pattern. By this period, the identification of Shiva/Rudra with Agni, that can be traced back to the Vedas and Brahmanas, had clearly made Karthikeya the son of Shiva.

The Skanda Purana narrates that Shiva first wed Dakshayani (also named Sati), the granddaughter of Brahma, and the daughter of Daksha. Daksha never liked Shiva, who, symbolizing destruction and detachment, begs for food, dances in a graveyard smeared with ashes, and has no possessions, not even good clothes for himself. Daksha publicly insults Shiva in a Yagna ceremony, and Dakshayani immolates herself. The Yagna is destroyed although protected by all the other Gods and the rishis. Taraka believed that, because Shiva is an ascetic and his earlier marriage was conducted with great difficulty, his remarriage was out of the question, hence his boon of being killed by Shiva’s son alone would give him invincibility.

The Devas manage to get Shiva married to Parvati (who was Dakshayani, reborn), by making Manmatha (also known as Kama), the God of love awaken him from his penance, but Manmatha incurred the Lord’s wrath indicated by the opening his third eye – “Netri Kann” , and being destroyed and resurrected. Shiva hands over his effulgence of the third eye used to destroy Manmatha to Agni, as he alone is capable of handling it until it becomes the desired offspring. But even Agni, tortured by its heat, hands it over to Ganga who in turn deposits it in a lake in a forest of reeds (shara). The child is finally born in this forest (vana) with six faces-eesanam, sathpurusham, vamadevam, agoram, sathyojatham and adhomugam. He is first spotted and cared for by six women representing the Pleiades – Kritika in Sanskrit. He thus gets named Karthikeya. As a young lad, he destroys Taraka. He is also called Kumara (Sanskrit for “youth”).

Divine legends

Given that legends related to Murugan are recounted separately in several Hindu epics, some differences between the various versions are observed. Some Sanskrit epics and puranas indicate that he was the elder son of Shiva. This is suggested by the legend connected to his birth; the wedding of Shiva and Parvati being necessary for the birth of a child who would vanquish the demon Taraka. Also, Kartikeya is seen helping Shiva fight the newborn Ganesha, Shiva’s other son, in the Shiva Purana. In the Ganapati Khandam of the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, he is seen as the elder son of Shiva and Ganesha as the younger. In South India, it is believed that he is the younger of the two. A Puranic story has Ganesha obtain a divine mango of knowledge from Narada winning a contest with Murugan. While Murugan speeds around the world thrice to win the contest for the mango, Ganesha circumambulates Shiva and Parvati thrice as an equivalent and is given the mango. After winning it, he offers to give the mango to his upset brother. After this event, Ganesha was considered the elder brother owing as a tribute to his wisdom.

In many traditions, Murugan is seen as a bachelor. Many of the major events in Murugan’s life take place during his youth, and legends surrounding his birth are popular. This has encouraged the worship of Murugan as a child-God, very similar to the worship of the child Krishna in north India. Other traditions have him married to two wives, Valli and Devayani.

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Comments
  1. Nicely elaborated the facts relating to the birth of Kartikeya.
    If it is dealt with in indepth will help more for studies.
    Your information is quite better than others. Thank you

  2. gloria liu says:

    I like the knowledge u provide about mythology

  3. Prashant Kulkarni says:

    Very good website about true indian mythology. I realy appreciate your knowladge !

  4. Kanu Sharma says:

    Pls. Don’t call our scriptures mythology, as this term was given by Britishers when they ruled us to make us feel inferior.

  5. amrit says:

    So in effect kartikeyan is not the son of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati

  6. prabhapati das says:

    As all gods are stated to be planets – and all swords and arrows are lightning – I am impressed most often that the story of the ancient planets and their cometary offspring are consistently related in all Indian epics – from Jain, Buddhism and Hinduism – they all confirm along with all world records that the skies and planetary relationships of today are not the same skies or planetary relationships recorded even before or after 1500BCE.

    I have come to believe that the culture of Sanskrit grammarians have over time given etymological significance to astrological data. When looking at this image the central cometary body is defined in Lord Murugans’ belt to which he is the posture of presenting – none can escape the massive plasma ejections seen in all aspects of the ‘art’

    - http://vietnamsoul.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/lord-of-murugan-malaysia.jpg

  7. RAM BHARDWAJ says:

    about lord “Kartikeya”
    Unique Attributes : Lord of War, wisdom
    Other Names : Murugan, Muruganswami, Skanda, Mayilvahanan, Subramaniam, Guha, Sanmukha, Shadanana, Kumara
    Primary Scriptures : Skanda Purana, Satapatha Brahmana, Chandogya Upanishad, Baudhayana Dharmasutra, Mahabharata,
    Consort : Valli and Devayani
    Vahan (Vehicle) : Peacock

    Known as Lord Murugan in South India and Kartikeya in the northern part of the country, the lord of war is the son of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati. The text Skanda Purana is entirely dedicated to the narrative of Lord Kartikeya. As Muruganswami he is principally prayed to in the Tamil land. He is known to be the head figure of the Sangam Tamil Literature and poetry and hence the one who promoted the language. Lord Murugan or Skanda is deeply revered in South India and has several grandiose temples dedicated to the lord in contrast to the lesser number of shrines in northern India.

    The worship of Lord Murugan is not just confined to India. He is deeply revered in the island country of Sri Lanka. Lord Kartikeya is also referred to as Shadanana for bearing six heads on his shoulders. Kartikeya has held immense reverence amongst the warrior clans for being the lord of war and has been invoked by them when going on a war. Lord Sri Krishna in the Bhagwat Gita told Arjun that as a warrior he takes the form of ‘Skanda’ – the lord of wars. Muruga in Tamil means beauty and hence Murugan is known as the beautiful one. As Kumara he is the youthful one.

    Murugan in the religious scriptures is shown as riding his vahan peacock and holding a spear in his hands. The lord is painted as a young beautiful boy who is often in the middle of his two consorts Valli and Devayani. The six heads of the lord and his mount peacock stamping a snake underneath his foot is a reflection of overcoming one’s desires and ego. The vices which principally ought to be overcome are kaama (sex), lobha (greed) and krodha (rage). It is a Hindu belief that once Lord Ganesh the ‘Vighnaharta’ removes all impediments from a believers life then his brother Lord Kartikeya bestows him with spiritual solace and knowledge. The festival dedicated to the lord is Thaipusam specially celebrated by the Tamils. The festival is celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Murugan. It is celebrated not just in India but in Singapore, Malaysia and Mauritius with equal fervor and spirit.

  8. anil says:

    thanks for knowledge which cleared our doubts .

  9. Prabhapati das says:

    It appears world wide where original astrometric data has been given ontological significance by varying degrees of scholars. Taking that aside, original documents and even rock carvings gathered from around the world describe a sky radically different than what we observe today. This singular issue is the ultimate limiting factor in defining a holistic, non-contradictory view of reference to a world cataclysm circa 1500 BC. Hare/golden Rama/lightning

    Lord of War is a combination of words clearly defines planetary aspects, having made the connection that all ‘gods’ are originally planetary bodies. Whereas GOD is another being altogether and cannot be defined by mind as the Veda states.

    Lord=Law

    but Law of War? makes no sense what so ever but astrologers observed the planets as defined by LAWS. Therefore Lord=Planet. The crystal at the heart: Observers witnessed massive plasma displays between Mars, Venus, Jupiter the moon and earth for many generations.

    Mankind had witnessed the birth of the planet Mars concurrently with the birth of Venus from the planet Jupiter. They were maintained in a polar balance and this intimate relationship was observed directly in the sky. Then a sudden movement occurred and we witnessed a violent disturbance in the harmony between the spheres – a contradiction to the benign plasma radiance observed for so long and written into the fabric of every story on the planet. In the period of this ‘disappearance of the gods’ the earth, all animals and humans endured catastrophic conditions such as darkness for a generation of mankind. After it cleared and the sun returned the confusion of what the words to the stories before the darkness were changed because the actors were no longer on the stage. The sky had changed and the words sounded like mythos.

    The period of disturbance can be clearly seen in the image of the ruddy Mars pierced by a plasma arc from Venus when they approached each other. Even in Homer’s Troy, the image of men fighting on the earth are directly tied to the war between the planets. Under catastrophic conditions the gods taught man to war by sending waves of human migration across populated areas. Mars was so close to earth that it was described as the shatterer of cities and the stormer of walls as are the violent Maruts but the rain of flaming naphtha, ball bearings and stone debris from the plasma excavation of the northern surface of Mars by a kill stroke of Venus.

    All animals such as peacocks and multi-headed snakes are also plasma radiance from these planetary bodies.

    Consider the same information, the same story written and re-written into every play and story now interpreted in Christianity. Mary/Venus stands on a planetary body with (plasma) snakes while holding a crossed sphere (planet Mars) with a cross on top.

    Peace to all

  10. SWAMI AKSHARBRHMDATTANAND SARASWATI .SABDAS. (PURVASHRAM NAME ARVIND J BHATT) says:

    SKAND PURAN REF> SKAND-KUMAR KARTIKEY ON HIS SIXTH DAY OF BIRTH KILLED TARKASUR OF TARAPUR GUJARAT PRADESH WHICH IS OPP: TO SEASHORE AT SAPTESHWAR TIRTH KNOWN AS KAVI-KAMBOI ON RIVER BANK MAHI , WHERE RIVER MEETS SEA WITH OTHER SIX RIVER VATRAK,KHARI,CHANDRBHAGA.SABARMATI.HATHMATI AND MESHWO MEET THE SEA.
    SINCE TARKASUR WAS WORSHIPER OF SHIVJI, SKAND HAS DONE THE SHIVLINGA PUJA KARM AT KAMBO-KAVI FOR HIS DEED. THIS IS FAMOOUS TIRTH ALSO KNOWN AS STAMBHESHWAR TTIRTH A ANOTHER TIRTH STORY ALSO DESCRIBED IN SKAND PURAN. THIS PLACE IS 26KM FROM JAMBUSAR TALUKA OF BHARUCH DISTRICT. FROM BARODA THIS TIRTH IS 75KM AWAY .A SHIVLINGA DARSHAN IS POSSIBLE FOR TICE IN 24 HRS. ON THE BASIS OF HIGH AND LOW TIDE. AS THIS IS IN SEA. THIS IS JUST FOR KNOWLEDGE.
    THE WRITER HAS DONE VARIOUS WORK OVER THERE.ALL AMAVASYA PUJA AND SHRADH KARM DONE BY PEOPLE. ONE TIME YATRA GIVE AMPLE OF PUNYA-FAL.

  11. Dr.Venkataraja Mohan says:

    This is highly informative and useful.
    Thank u for giving the knowledge
    lookiing for more information on Lord Sri Subramhanya

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