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Sri Subrahmanya- the ever merciful God

God, who does not have a beginning or an end, takes incarnations (avatar) to destroy the evildoers and to save his devotees. The following is the story about the avatar of Lord Subrahmanya.

Sati was reborn as Parvati, the daughter of Himavaan after her immolation at the venue of Daksha’s yagna. At this time, Shiva withdrew himself from the universe and engaged himself in yogic meditation in the Himalayas. In the meanwhile, Surapadman (an asura) 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 companions. They plotted with Kamadeva, to shoot a arrow of lust 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 Kamadeva into 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.

The children were nursed by the six Krittikas or Kartikas - the star maids, this earned Subhrahmanya the name Karthikeya. To witness this Avatara of the saviour, all the Devas hastened to the tank along with Lord Siva and Parvati. Parvati, out of the extreme fondness of a mother, took up the babies together and called them Skanda. At this time, instead of them remaining as six separate individual babies, there arose the form of one deity with six faces and twelve hands. Devas called the boy Shanmukha or Arumuga. Since he was born in the Saravana he was also called 'Saravanabhava'.

Murugan became the supreme general of the gods then escorted the devas and led the army of the devas to victory against the asuras. The six heads represent six attributes, viz., Wisdom, Dispassion, Strength, Fame, Wealth and Divine Power. Subrahmanya has two spouses, Valli and Deivanai. They represent will (Valli) and action (Deivanai). He also holds a spear given by his mother for removing the evil force of Taraka. This spear (Vel) represents (Gnana) knowledge. These three together denote the three cosmic energies of governing will, action and knowledge.

Lord Subrahmanya rides on a peacock, indicative of conquering pride egoism and vanity. His other names are: Kumaresan, Kandhaswami, Dandapani, Dandayuthapani, Guhan and Velayudhan.

Lord Subrahmanya in Scriptures
  • 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 SkandaPurana is devoted to the narrative of Kartikeya.
  • In the Bhagavad Gita (Ch.10, Verse 24), Krishna, while explaining his omnipresence, names the most perfect being, mortal or divine, in each of several categories. While doing so, he says: "Among generals, I am Skanda, the lord of war."
  Meaning and Significance  

The word ‘Murugu’ means ‘beauty’; hence ‘Murugan’ means ‘Beautiful one’. Where there is beauty, love shines; where there is love, truth sparkles. When one seeks the Truth, he gets liberated.

It is said that Lord Murugan taught the Indian language Tamil to Agasthiar. Lord Murugan himself sat as the leader for the academy of poets (Tamil Sangam) in Madurai (Tamil Nadu) and the language flourished as a result. Accordingly, He is called the God of Tamil.

It is written in Skanda Purana that Saint Vasistha has said that if one worships Lord Muruga on Friday and fasts on that day, all his wishes will be gratified. Lord Muruga was brought up by Karthigai maids. By worshipping Him on the Karthigai star day and observing a fast, one’s problems will be removed and one will be liberated. This was a wish granted by Lord Shiva himself to the Karthigai maids.


Lord Shiva once gave two hills called Sivagiri and Saktigiri, which were active with His energy, to rishi Agasthia. His disciple Idumbasuran carried the hills tied on either side of a big shoulder pole towards the south. When he came to Thiruaavinankudi, he placed the hills down and took rest. Lord Muruga wanted the hills to be there permanently so he performed the following divine act. When Idumbasuran wanted to lift the hills again, he was unable to even move them. He was shocked to see a small boy shining like a thousand suns standing on the top of the hill. The boy claimed the hill as his own. Idumbasuran fought a war with the boy, but at last lost the battle. Then he realized it was Lord Muruga. As his ego was destroyed, he fell at the feet of Lord Muruga and requested that when devotees carry ‘Kavadi’, they should be blessed with Food, Health, Wealth, Progeny, Devotion and Liberation.

'Kavadi' appears to be a word of Tamil origin - a combination of the words 'kavi' and 'adi'. 'Kavi' means 'saffron' implying asceticism and 'adi' means 'foot' signifying pilgrimage. The hill on which Lord Muruga stood was Palani.

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