Lord Skanda-Murugan

The Hexagram, Symbol of God Murukan

Its Tantric, Mantric, Astronomical and Religious potent in Art, Myth, Ritual and Architecture, and its parallel in the Indus Sign denoting Space and Time

hexagram, symbol of Skanda-Murukan
Genesis of the hexagram, symbol of Skanda-Murukan

The six pointed hexagram stands for the six faced God Murukan and it expresses the structure of the ritual space in geometrical terms and regulates the yearly chronometry inherent in temple festivals.

The hexagram with the mantram "om saravanabava" inscribed in it serves as a yantram of the deity Murukan and when the mantram is recited, the yantram as a finite hologram of the infinite embodies the primordial sacrifice of prajapati who re-enacts the cosmic order to bring harmony into the world.

The God Murukan of six faces with twelve eyes, twelve arms regulates the sacred architecture with spiritual art and mythic imagery.  The cock, which decorates the ceremonial flag of the deity Murukan also refers to the sun. The cock signals the sunrise with its "Kozhi Koovuthal" which refers to an auspicious beginning in the daily religious life of the Tamils of southern India.


Indus Sign No: 373                       Indus Sign No: 391                 Indus Sign No: 286


Indus Sign No: 403                       Indus Sign No: 30               Symbol of God Murukan

The Elliptical Time Cycle


                                                       Indus Sign No: 373


Time is cyclical, circular for Indians and Chinese and it is repetitive and measures      days, months, seasons and years. The circular movement of time guarantees perpetual return and time as a fixed measure is derived from the rotations of the sky above and the motions of the heavenly bodies are linked to the symbolism of the circle around the world below. As per the Greeks, time moves in a circle and expresses the cosmic order and imitates the activities of heavenly bodies that measure it. (ADRIAN SNODGRASS, 1994) 1.1      

The Indus valley deities are shown wearing bangles often and Ahmuvan (N.S. Valluvan, 2004), the Indus valley prototype of Murukan, wears several bangles in his arms perhaps denoting the time cycles. Murukan who is born of fire and sacrifice has solar features and as a microcosm of the universe, presides over the stars and the ordering of time of the rythymical cosmos in elliptical circles. 1.2

Murukan is the beginning, essence and meaning of creation and inherits the characteristics of the supreme God Siva and becomes a supreme God himself. Murukan can be identified with the proto-siva of the Indus valley and can be proto-brahma too and is the creator of the Hindu Trimurti (Brahma-Vishnu-Siva) or the Prajapati of Brahmanism. The Indus valley people worshiped siva in his aniconic form, the linga which has four visible faces oriented in four directions to the movement of the sun, which is time itself. And the three eyes of siva represent the present, past and the future and their identification with sun, moon and fire refers to time. 1.3

Murukan who emerges as a Lord of space and time is the kalapurusha, vastupurusha and hiranayagarbha, the microcosm of the universe and thus God Murukan is cosmologically the stars, sun, moon, planets, space and time. The linga also represents the four yugas (The World Ages); the Kreta, Treta, Duapara, and Kali yugas. These yugas go after one upon the other in every "Kalpa" (The Aeon). 1.4

Murukan as prajapati is both space and time in their fullness comprising the spatial     directions and the year, which is time itself. Or prajapati may be equated with the sum of the parts of the year: the six seasons, the twelve months, the three hundred and sixty days and nights of the ritual calendar as Murukan's six faces represent the six seasons, the twelve arms representing the twelve months, the cock being the harbinger of the rising sun and the peacock whose feathers exhibit the fantastic mixture of all colours that represent the beautiful glory of the eternal sun. The gate keeper deities of the God Murukan in his shrine are AGNI (sun) and RUDRA (siva), so Murukan as an embodiment of the sun and time is glorified as an all powerful God of all times from Ahmuvan of the Indus valley to Skanda Murukan of India. 1.5

Murukan is the possessor of " VEL" (The spear of Valour, Victory and Wisdom) and rides around the world in the peacock with a snake entwined in its claws symbolizing kundalini energy who liberates all the faithful from worldly bondages and grants several boons to his worshippers. He is addressed fondly as "PALANIANDAVAR" (The God of Palani Hill), the sacred hill shrine of Murukan in Tamilnadu of southern India. The adept who follow him obtain "MUKTHI" (The enlightenment) and merge into "VETAVEZHI" (The eternity). He is worshiped as a "SIDDHAR" (The enlightened one) and people who believe in them may achieve various mystical powers. The devotee who chants "om saravanabava" receives the protection of God Murukan. The devotional path of Murukan worship is termed as "KAUMARAM" in Hinduism and he is the source of eternal truth, eternal knowledge and eternal bliss. 1.6

                                    The Spear of Valour, Victory and Wisdom

The Elliptical Time Cycle Divided Into Six Units

Indus Sign No: 391

The elliptical time cycle divided into six units, parallels the six armed cosmic cross of      the ancients that decide the four cardinal directions and the four directions of the       solstices. The northeast represents the summer solstice sunrise and the northwest       refers to the summer solstice sunset. The southeast represents winter solstice sunrise       and southwest refers to the winter solstice sunset. 2.1

This can be compared with the six-spoked wheel of the Indian art symbolism which is the Kala Chakram (Time Wheel) and the six divisions represent the six principle seasons. The wheel is the wheel of the sun for the Brahmins of India. The wheel of twelve spokes represent the months and the zodiac; the wheel of thirty spokes stand for the lunar mansions; the wheel of 360 spokes are the days of the solar year and the wheel is the everlasting sequence of the year in its temporal meaning. Its endless rotation of cycles involves an infinite motion of renewal. 2.2

he wheel spokes denote the directions of space and the divisions of the time cycle. Both have an origin from a point without any dimension and the eastern and western axes represent the horizon sunrise, nadir sunset respectively. The east-west course defines the axis on which sun completes the annual cycle. 2.3

The amalaka, the coping-stone that crowns the temples of Nagara (The Northern type) is in a wheel shape, pierced at the center and has a series of rib like spokes. The circular amalaka represents the celestial realm and the sacred amalaka tree is compared to the cosmic tree which represents the world axis in Hindu myths. 2.4

he six armed cosmic cross has been expressed as the pilgrimage centers of God Murukan in Tamilnadu of southern India. These six centers are, Palani; Thiruccentur; Thiruttani; Thirupparankuntram; Swamimalai; Palamuturcholai and they share in common the heritage of Murukan worship as per the ritual calendar in relation to Tamil Saivism. 2.5   

The Elliptical Time Cycle Divided Into Six Units Inscribed Within a Lozsenge Shape Symbolizes The Space and Time


Indus Sign No: 286

This Indus sign exhibits a perfect correlation between the terrestrial square of the        earth in a lozsenge shape and the celestial circle of the heaven in an elliptical shape         symbolizing space and time. The square is marked with the four directions; North, South, East, West at the corners.  And for the ancients, the roads that connect the east, west and north, south have ceremonial connotations. The priest faces the east and reads the oracles. 3.1

The crossing of the six arms in the circle, decide the epicenter of space and time. The circle also marks the annual round of ritual dances that reflect the cycle of seasons and the movement of the stars. The Milky Way oscillates between the SW-NE and SE-NW axes at twelve-hour intervals and the cross of this oscillation decides the zenith at the center. This point should have been crucial for the ancient astronomers to study the movement of the constellations in ancient times. 3.2

The Six Pointed Hexagram: The Symbol of God Murukan

The symbolization of the six-pointed hexagram is a zodiacal representation with the astronomical intent (K.V.Ramakrishna Rao, 2002). The concept of the hexagon is linked to a circle and the circle is a polygon with infinite sides. Geometrically the six faces of Murukan parallels the hexagon and the geometry is related to arithmetic and numbers. All these concepts are related to the theory of squaring a circle and circling the square and may compose many mathematical functions and operations. The number six expresses the fullness of the cosmos. The six directions; North, South, East, West, up, and down are considered to be surrounded by the God's six faces. 4.1

All the festivals that are celebrated for the God Murukan fall on full moon or new moon coinciding with the respective stars. This way the common people are made aware to keep in mind the importance of nakshatras, weekdays, fortnight, month, six months, year etc. in a systematic way by observing the festivities for Murukan from ancient times. The astronomical interpretation of this deity has a powerful association with Indian Tantras, Yantras, Mantras and the five elements (Ether, Wind, Fire, Water, Earth) and God Murukan permeates the sixth, the whole thus the six faces of the deity are represented. 4.2

The mantram "om saravanabava" is geometrically expressed in the hexagonal structure and is very important in the sacred temple rituals prepared for Murukan. The hexagram symbolizes the six pilgrimage centers of Murukan and the purpose of the pilgrimages to these temples work at several levels (Fred W. Clothey, 1983). 4.3

  1. The Egoscape (The inward pilgrimage of an individual)
  2. The Socioscape (The communal association & transformation of an individual)
  3. The Ecoscape (The hills, the terrains, the rivers, the routes and the geographical association of the pilgrimage)
  4. The Metascape (The metaphysical realization of an individual)

These constituents are very important factors involving an individual's transformation to realize his or her identity with the all powerful deity during or after the pilgrimages that he or she undertakes to Murukan's six principal centers of worship that is symbolized by the six pointed hexagram and finds it's parallel with the Indus sign denoting space and time. 4.4

The Decipherment of Indus Signs

1. Sign No: 342, The Sky, read as 'VAN'.

2. Sign No: 8, The Lord of space and time, read as "MU".

3. Sign No: 48, The Draco constellation, read as "AH".

4. Sign No: 127, The Ursa Major constellation.

(Refer for 1-4: http://murugan.org/research/valluvan.htm)

5. Sign No: 373, The elliptical time cycle.

6. Sign No: 391, The elliptical time cycle divided into six units.

7. Sign No: 286, The elliptical time cycle divided into six units inscribed within a    Lozsenge shape that symbolizes the earth. This arrangement denotes the space and

time symbolism.

8. Sign No: 30, The deity holding a lozsenge shape representing the earth.

9. Sign No: 42, The deity with the elliptical time cycle divided into six units attached to his leg.

10. Sign No: 403, The two intersecting elliptical time cycles.

The Decipherment of Indus Sign Sequences

1. Sign Sequence No: 4632 00, The lord of space and time of the sky, read as "MUVAN"

2. Sign Sequence No: 1487 00, The Draco constellation of the sky, read as "AHVAN"

3. Sign Sequence No: 5266 00, The elliptical time cycle of the sky.

4. Sign Sequence No: 7075 00, Two parallel elliptical time cycles.

5. Sign Sequence No: 1490 00, Two parallel elliptical time cycles each divided into six units of the sky.

6. Sign Sequence No: 5265 00, The Draco constellation with two elliptical time cycles.

7. Sign Sequence No: 4905 00, The lord of space and time with two elliptical time cycles.

8. Sign Sequence No: 3223 00, The lord of space and time with one elliptical time cycle of the sky.

9. Sign Sequence No: 4655 00, The Constellation Ursa Major that is established by the lord of space and time of the sky.

10. Sign Sequence No: 4307 00, The  Constellation Draco that is established by the lord of space and time of the sky, read as "AHMUVAN".


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  5. Clothey, Fred W., 1983. Rhythm and Intent- Ritual studies from South India. (Blacki & Son Publishers Pvt. Ltd.) Bombay. p. 85
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  7. Knight, Christopher & Lomas, Robert, 2000. Uriel's Machine- The Ancient Origins of Science (Arrow Books) London.
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  10. Lawlor, Robert, 1990. Sacred Geometry – Philosophy and Practice. (Thames and Hudson)
  11. Mahadevan, Iravatham, 1977. Indus Script- Text, Concordance and Tables (ASI, No: 77)   New Delhi.
  12. Mahadevan, Iravatham, 1998. Murukan in the Indus Script,     http://murugan.org/research/mahadevan.htm
  13. Mookerjee, Ajit & Khanna, Madhu, 1993. The Tantric Way- Art Science Ritual  (Thames and  Hudson) London.
  14. Parpola, Asko, 1994. Deciphering the Indus Script (Cambridge University Press) Cambridge.
  15. Ramakrishna Rao, K. A., 2003. The Worship of Murukan and the Zodiac, http://murugan.org/research/rao-zodiac.htm p. 1.
  16. Snodgrass, Adrian, 1994. Architecture, Time and Eternity: Volume 1,2 (Aditya Prakashan), Delhi. PP.87, 88 [Vol. 1]
  17. Valluvan, N. S., 2004. Indus Graffiti as Rock Art and their Astronomical Implications, http://murugan.org/research/valluvan.htm p. 2

The author N.S. Valluvan of Chennai, India, may be contacted by e-mail at: nsvalluvanart@yahoo.co.in

"'Murukan' in the Indus Script" by Iravatham Mahadevan
"Deciphering the Indus Script" (book review) by Richard Solomon
"Indus Graffiti as Rock Art and their Astronomical Implications" by N.S. Valluvan

Index of research articles on Skanda-Murukan