The God of War: Lord Kartikeya, Elder Son of Lord Shiva.
In Hindu mythology, Lord Kartikeya, also known as Murugan, Skanda, or Subramanya, is revered as the God of War. Born to Lord Shiva, the destroyer, and Devi Ganga, the river goddess, Kartikeya holds a significant place in Hindu pantheon. His tale is one of valour, bravery, and divine prowess, making him an intriguing deity to explore. In this detailed article, we will delve into the origins, mythology, symbolism, and references to Lord Kartikeya found in Hindu texts, uncovering the depths of his divine persona.
Origins and Birth of Lord Kartikeya:
His origin story is a bit confusing and unclear but we will go with one version for now. The story of the birth of Lord Karttikeya or Murugan has different versions. In some texts it is said that He is the son of 'Agni' or the God of Fire. However, according to the Skanda Purana, Karttikeya is said to be the elder son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It is also believed that Karttikeya was not born from the womb of Parvati. The Goddess was cursed by Rati, the consort of Kama (God of Love) that she would never be able to bear children.
According to the legends, there was a demon named Tarakasura who asked for the boon that he should only be killed by Lord Shiva's son. He knew very well that Lord Shiva was an ascetic and He would not marry or have children. Hence, Tarakasura would be invincible.
The gods were worried. Thus the Gods hatched a plan that would bring Shiva to conscience to meet his other half Parvati. Indra assigned Kamadeva to this task. Kamadeva with his wife Rati went to Kailash Mountain. He was confident about his power. The god of love shot an arrow at Shiva, which woke him to the world. Infuriated at the intrusion, Shiva opened his third eye, burning Kamadeva to ashes.
Eventually, Shiva fell in love with Parvati. But after so many years of meditation, his seed had become stronger. Agni (fire god) received the seed from Shiva. Even he couldn’t stand its severe burn and dropped it in the Ganga river. Later, Ganga brought him to a forest when even Ganga couldn't bear the heat; She deposited the fire ball into a lake in a forest of reeds called Sara Vana and finally baby Kartikeya was born with six faces, which later became his name Saravana. He was first spotted and taken care of by six celestial water nymphs who represented the Pleiades or the Krittikas.Kalidasa’s epic poem Kumarasambhava (The Birth Of War God) tells a similar story.
Symbolism of Kartikeya:
Lord Kartikeya's appearance and symbolism hold profound meaning in Hinduism. He is often depicted as a youthful warrior riding a peacock, wielding various weapons, and adorned with divine ornaments. Let's explore the symbolism associated with Lord Kartikeya:
- Six Faces: The six faces of Kartikeya symbolise his ability to see in all directions simultaneously, signifying his supreme knowledge and wisdom.
- Peacock: Kartikeya's mount, the peacock, represents pride, beauty, and immortality. The peacock's ability to devour snakes also symbolises his triumph over evil.
- Spear: Kartikeya carries a spear known as "Vel" that symbolises the destruction of ignorance and ego.
- Divine Ornaments: His adornments, such as the golden waistband and earrings, represent his divine status and royalty.
Legends and Accomplishments:
Lord Kartikeya's story is filled with numerous captivating tales that highlight his valour and heroic feats. Here are some notable accounts:
- Slayer of Tarakasura: As planned, Lord Kartikeya embarked on a mission to defeat the invincible demon Tarakasura. With his celestial weapons and divine army, he engaged in a fierce battle and ultimately vanquished the evil demon, bringing peace and prosperity to the universe.
- Skanda Purana: The Skanda Purana, one of the eighteen major Hindu scriptures, extensively describes Kartikeya's adventures, teachings, and rituals dedicated to him. It elucidates his divine role as a warrior, protector, and bestower of boons.
- Battle with Surapadman: Another popular myth recounts Kartikeya's battle with the demon Surapadman. It is believed that Surapadman had gained immense power through rigorous penance and was causing chaos. Kartikeya valiantly fought against him, eventually splitting the demon into two halves, which transformed into a peacock (his mount) and a rooster.
- Guru Shishya Relationship: Lord Kartikeya is also revered as a teacher who imparts spiritual wisdom. The tale of him enlightening his own father, Lord Shiva, by narrating the essence of Pranava mantra (Om) highlights his supreme knowledge and wisdom.
References in Hindu Texts: References to Lord Kartikeya can be found in various Hindu texts, showcasing his prominence in ancient scriptures. Some of the significant mentions are:
- Skanda Purana: As mentioned earlier, the Skanda Purana is dedicated to Lord Kartikeya, providing an extensive account of his birth, exploits, and teachings. It serves as a primary reference for understanding the divine significance of Kartikeya.
- Mahabharata: In the great Indian epic Mahabharata, Kartikeya is referred to as a powerful deity who assists the Pandavas in their battles against the Kauravas. His blessings and guidance play a crucial role in their victories.
- Tamil Literature: Lord Kartikeya holds a special place in Tamil literature, particularly in the works of the famous Tamil saint-poet Thirumuruga Kripananda Variyar. His compositions, such as "Kanda Sashti Kavasam," beautifully portray the divine attributes and protection offered by Kartikeya.
Conclusion: Lord Kartikeya, the God of War, is a fascinating deity who embodies valour, wisdom, and divine power. His birth, mythology, and symbolism captivate the hearts and minds of millions of devotees around the world. As we explore the references to Kartikeya in Hindu texts, we uncover a rich tapestry of stories that highlight his indomitable spirit and significance in the Hindu pantheon. The tale of this divine warrior continues to inspire and instil a sense of courage and righteousness in those who seek his blessings.
By Manshi Singh
(The images used in this blog post are not owned by Anime Devta, they are just to help the readers)