Lord Skanda-Murugan

Synopsis: "Does Nakkirar belong to the Sangam Age? "

Dr. M. Sadasivam

It is generally believed that the poet Nakkirar, the author of the most famous and ancient classical work on Lord Muruka viz, Tirumurugarruppadai belongs to the Sangam Age (500 BC to 100 AD) But on close analysis and comparison of the words, phrases, imageries and grammatical forms used in Tirumurugarruppadai with those of other Sangam works of Pattuppattu and Ettuttokai (except Paripatal) reveal the fact that Nakkirar does not belong to the Sangam Age but he belongs to a later age when Brahminism and Sanskrit puranas reigned supreme in Tamilnadu.

In other Sangam works Muruga is depicted as the Lord of the mountainous Regions with a human form. But Tirumurugarruppadai describes Lord Muruga as an extraordinary Divine being who is endowed with six heads and twelve hands (but only two feet). This description is in consonance with the Sanskrit puranas like Skandapurana.

Tirumurugarruppadai represents a period when the Tamil culture and Aryan culture were mingling together at least so far as the concepts of Lord Muruga are concerned. In Tirumurukarruppatai the Tamil God Murukan is merged with the Aryan god Karttikeya or Subrahmanya who is endowed with multiple heads and hands. In other Tamil classics Murukan was a lover of Valli alone. In Tirumurukarruppatai, Murukan is depicted as the husband of two wives. Teyvayanai, the foster-daughter of Indra became another in accordance with the Vedic rituals. Though the concept of two wives for one man was foreign to Tamil culture, the Tamils were slowly introduced to the concept of bigamy of the gods. Lord Ganesha and Lord Vishnu are also the husbands of two wives as Lord Murukan. Later the dual wifehood of the gods was given a philosophical interpretation of double shaktis of the above gods.

Dominance of brahminism

The domination of Sanskrit culture goes with the domination of Brahminism. Lord Murukan as a god is supposed to bestow His Grace on all people irrespective of their castes and clans. But Nakkirar of Tirumurukarruppatai says that one of the six faces of Lord Murukan is exclusively devoted to the protection of the sacrifices performed by the Brahmins (lines 95-96).

(Dr. M. Sadasivam, Professor of Tamil (Retd.) Śrī Vasavi College, Erode.)