About Subrahmanya Swami
Lord Subrahmanya swami is a Hindu god, and is a much revered deity in South India. He is the one among the three sons of Shiva and Parvati. He is known by various names like Murugan, Shanmukha (Shanmuga), Subhramanian, Shadanana, Guha, Senthil, Saravana, Kumaraswamy and Skanda.
Kartikeya is quintessentially brave, intelligent, and perfection personified because of which he is worshipped as the god of war and victory.
He is also the brave leader of god’s forces and was created to destroy demons, symbolising negative tendencies of human beings. In North of India Kartikeya, also called Kartik, is believed to be the elder son of Shiva and Parvati but his devotees in South believe him to be the younger son with Ganesha being the elder offspring of Shiva and Parvati.
Legend says that because Shiva and Parvati would shower Ganesha with more love, Kartikeya decided to leave Kailasa and move to the mountains in South and did not change his mind in spite of being urged by Shiva himself. And this is how he began to be worshipped in South India more than in North.
Birth of Lord Muruga
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.
However after much ado, Lord Shiva finally married Goddess Parvati. Since Parvati couldn’t conceive due to the curse, Lord Shiva took her to a cave and asked Her to meditate. As they both meditated, a ball of fire emerged out of their cosmic energies. In the mean time, the other Gods being insecure from Tarakasura, sent Agni or the God of fire to get hold of the ball of fire. But even Agni couldn’t bear the heat of the energy of Shiva and Parvati. So, He handed over the ball to Goddess Ganga. When even Ganga couldn’t bear the heat, She deposited the fire ball into a lake in a forest of reeds. Then Goddess Parvati took the form of this water body as She alone could bear the energy of Shiva and Shakti.
The six fire sparks became six beautiful babies on six red lotus flowers. When Goddess Parvati hugged them together, they joined to become one form with six faces, twelve hands and was named Skandan (another name for Lord Muruga).
Hence, Kartikeya is also known as Sanmukha or the God with six faces. He was first spotted and taken care of by six women who represented the Pleiades or the Kritikas. So, the divine child was known as Kartikeya or the son of the Kritikas. Later Kartikeya kills Tarakasura and becomes the commander-in-chief of the Gods.
Appearance of Lord Muruga
‘Murugu’ means beauty hence ‘Murugan’ means ‘Beautiful one’.Kartikeya is always seen with his Vel, the divine spear or Lance that he carries and His mount on the peacock. He is also depicted with weapons including sword, javelin, mace, discus and a bow although more usually he is depicted wielding a sakti or spear.
The javelin Lord Muruga holds is used to symbolize His far reaching protection, His bow shows His ability to defeat all ills, His mace represents His strength, and His discus symbolizes His knowledge of truth. The vahana of Lord Murugan is Peacock, which represents the destruction of ego. Murugan is represented as Shanmukha with Six Heads, which signifies the Six Siddhis corresponding to the role of the bestower of siddhis over the course of their spiritual development. Valli and Deivayanai are the consorts of Murugan.
The boy’s lilas displayed his enormous power and valour. Once he even killed all devas including Indra in jest. At the intervention of Brihaspati they were brought back to life. Skanda graced the Devas by showing his stunning Viswarupa.
Indra then explained the torture the Devas were experiencing at the hands of Surapadma and the other daityas. The demon once cut the hands and feet of devas, but found to his utter dismay that they grew again because of the Amruta they had imbibed. He even defeated Vishnu in a battle. Indra prayed to Skanda to take over the leadership of devas and guide them as Indra.
Skanda asked Indra to continue in his position and offered to lead the devas’ army to victory as their general. He was anointed as Devasenapati. He subdued a goat that emerged during a yagna from out of the sacrificial animal and terrified the whole world by its growing size and strength. The goat became his first vehicle, vahana.
Kartikeya as the supremely intelligent god
Lord Brahma described it on twelve thousand verses but Kartikeya was unsatisfied. When his father Lord Shiva explained the significance of Omkara in twelve lakh verses, he found that insufficient as well and said that Omkara can be explained in twelve crore verses, making Shiva proud of his son’s intelligence and knowledge. Shiva then sent Kartikeya to live on earth for the welfare of mankind.
Battles with Asuras
Siva acceded to the repeated prayers of the devas and asked Skanda to proceed for war with the daityas. He blessed him and handed him Ekadasa Rudras as eleven weapons in his eleven hands. Parvati gave in his twelfth hand the powerful ‘Shakti’ weapon (known as ‘Vel’ in Tamil). The first battle Skanda waged was in the north of the country with Tarakasura. His ‘Shakti’ weapon finally destroyed Tarakasura along with his lieutenant Krauncha, who had taken the form of a mountain and their large army.
Offering worship at various Siva temples en route, Skanda marched southwards and reached Tiruchendur on the sea-shore near Rameswaram. He sent his brother Virabahu to Viramahendrapuram, the capital of the demon Surapadma, an island to the south of Lanka. Virabahu, the messenger of peace, who was not offered a seat in the royal court, saw a throne materialise in front of Surapadma by the grace of Skanda.
On peace overtures not yielding positive results, Skanda started on the great battle. Surapadma rejected the advice of his brother Simhamukha to accept peace with Skanda, release the incarcerated Devas and return the kingdom of Swarga to them. He was sure that as he had vanquished even Vishnu in battle, the small boy was no match in valour and power to him. This is similar to Ravana not listening to his powerful brother Kumbhakarna.
On the sixth day, a great army of asuras from all Brahmandas descended on the battlefield. The devas became very insecure. Vishnu repeatedly assured them, “This six-faced Skanda is none other than Siva, who carries out the five great tasks of creation, protection, annihilation, concealment and grace. Where is the difficulty for him in killing these ordinary Asuras?”
The fierce battle was fought in various Brahmandas. Skanda destroyed all of Surapadma’s army and brought his own entire army back to life. The lonely Surapadma was advised by his mother Maya to get the Sudhamandara hill from across the ocean. Once the hill was brought, by the very contact of its breeze, all the dead warriors including Simhamukha, Agnimukha and Bhanukopa came back to life as if from sleep. The battle fought fiercely for five days came to nought. The devas were nonplussed. Skanda then used Pasupatastra and destroyed all the warriors in one stroke. Surapadma adopted different forms through his great powers of maya – forms of Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Asura, terrible animals like bull and lion, birds like chakravaka, wind, fire, darkness, ocean. Skanda extinguished all those forms. He then graced devas by showing his own Viswarupa, which included devas, Vedas, asuras, humans etc. Brahmandas were seen hanging at the ends of hairs on his body. Surapadma, who also had this unique darshan, temporarily developed intense devotion towards Skanda, the son of Siva at that time.
Amritavalli and Saundaravalli were two daughters of Vishnu born from his eyes. They developed undying love for Skanda and performed severe austerities to obtain him as husband. At Skanda’s instructions, Amritavalli incarnated as Devasena, a young girl under the guardianship of Indra in Swarga.
Skanda’s marriage with Valli
Saundaravalli took the form of Valli, a lass under the protection of Nambiraja, a hunter near Kanchipuram. ‘Valli’ is a Tamil term for the Sanskrit ‘Lavali’, a kind of creeper. As she was found among the creepers as a baby, the hunter called her ‘Valli’.
Skanda’s marriage with Devasena
After the war with Surapadma was over, the devas were overjoyed. Skanda acceded to Indra’s prayer to accept Devasena as his consort.
The divine wedding was celebrated with great enthusiasm at Tirupparankundram near Madurai in the presence of Parvati and Siva. Indra’s recoronation in Amaravati in Swarga followed. Devas regained their power and positions. Skanda took his home in Skandagiri. He then proceeded to Tiruttani near Chennai, where Valli was looking after barley fields. After a series of sportive love-pranks, in which his brother Vighneswara also lent a helping hand, he married her.
Famous Temples of Lord Murugan
There are numerous temples dedicated to Lord Murugan in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Canada. The most famous among them are the
1) Arupadaiveedu Temples in Tamilnadu – This include six Murugan Temples are Palani Murugan Temple, Swamimalai Murugan Temple, Tiruchendur Subrahmanya Swami Temple, Thiruthani Subramanya Swamy Temple, Pazhamudircholai Murugan Temple, and Tirupparamkunram Murugan Temple
2) Kukke Subramanya Temple in Karnataka
3) Nallur Kandaswamy temple in Srilanka
4) Batu Caves Temple in Malaysia
5) Sri Thandayuthapani Temple in Singapore
6) Highgate Hill Murugan temple in United Kingdom
7) Sydney Murugan Temple in Australia
8) Shiva Murugan Temple in Northern California, United States
9) Sri Sivasubramaniar Temple in Switzerland
10) Canada Kandasamy Temple in Ontario
Popular Mantras of Lord Murugan
Skanda Sashti Kavacham Lyrics and Video Song
Murugan Gayatri Mantra Lyrics and Video Song
Thiruppugazh Murugan Devotional Song
Subramanya Ashtattaram Lyrics in Malayalam