Lord Skanda-Murugan

Synopsis: "Hail to the Heroic Lance: Murukan in Cilappatikaram"

Dr. P. Marudanayagam

Murukan, one of the most widely celebrated deities of the Hindu pantheon, has enjoyed the love, admiration and patronage of the Tamils since the Sangam era. Tolkāppiyam mentions him as Cēyōn (the Red One), as the god of the Kurinci or hillside landscape and we hear his praise not only in the poems exclusively devoted to him like Tirumurukārruppatai and some of the hymns of Paripātal but in many more immortal classics including Kuruntokai, Akanānūru, Puranānūru, Perumpānārruppatai and Kalittokai.

As time passed, Murukan overshadowed other gods and the Murukan cult got itself entrenched in the Tamil soil to such an extent that it could not be ignored even by Buddhist and Jain poets. He makes his presence felt as a god of love, war, fertility and youth in the imcomparable Cilappatikāram, whose author, Ilango Atikal, though reported to be a Jain monk, uses Hindu mythology in a unique manner witnessing to his magnanimity, imaginative power and arthitectonic skill. One cannot resist the temptation of feeling that Milton, who has been eulogised for his exemplary treatment of Greco-Roman mythology in a Christian epic, would have certainly learnt a valuable lesson or two if he had an occasion to know about the Tamil epic.