Lord Skanda-Murugan

Abstracts of 139 research papers

from the First International Conference Seminar on Skanda-Murukan, December 28-30, 1998

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Skanda as seen by Kālidāsa

by Dr V. Abhiramasundaram

The Vedas, the first Sanskrit literary document available to us, contain only a few scattered references to Skanda. Skanda worship was popular during the period of purānas and itihāsas. Skanda Purāna is exclusively devoted to Skanda worship. Other purānas also throw considerable light on Skanda worship in ancient India.

The excavations of cock symbol, fragments of kāvati and vēl near Adichanallur and Tirunelveli clearly indicate that Tamils worshipped Skanda as early as 2000 B.C. References in Cankam literature in Tamil such as Puranānūru, Akanānūru, Porunarārruppatai, Paripātal, Ainkurunūru, Tirumurukārruppatai etc., substantiate this view. Murukan was considered as the Lord of Kuriñci. He was known for his valour, knowledge and beauty. He was popularly known as Tamilkatavul.

Skanda's sister Jyoti

by Alagappar Alagappan

In this paper, the author reveals the findings of Kaumāra devotees in India and abroad who report that the personification of Murukan's vēl, known as to devotees as Jyoti (Skt: 'light') who is the feminine principle of light while Skanda represents the masculine principle of light. Like Skanda, Jyoti also wishes to be worshipped in rūpa form. She is manifesting at this time in Kali Yuga to overcome and control evil, the author reports.

Jyoti presides over one of the six houses of Lord Skanda, namely Palamutirc cōlai which corresponds to the ajña cakra in kundalini yoga. She is closely associated with her mother Shakti, from whose third eye she was born. This paper details Jyoti's relationship with all the members of the family of Shiva and Shakti and the underlying associations with spiritual principles and sādhanā or practice. It details the circumstances under which revelations concerning Jyoti have come to the notice of her devotees in recent years.

The second half of the paper is a detailed account of the work devotees in India and America have done to promote the worship of Jyoti, particularly through the Hindu Temple Society of North America and the Aru Padai Veedu Trust Foundation. It discusses efforts to raise an ĀrupataiviĎtu temple complex in Chennai's Besant Nagar as well as plans to create a major Jyoti temple to be built at Pondicherry. Lastly, the paper surveys prescribed rituals in the worhip of Jyoti.

Murukan worship in the hill country of Sri Lanka

by Selliah Amirthalingam

Murukan worship is historically one of the most significant characteristics among the various communities of Sri Lanka in general. In particular, the worship of Murukan is crucial to historical understanding of the problems of Tamils in the hill country, where they live in accordance with the colonial economic plantation system. The arrival and survival of Tamils in the hill country, the heart of the island, has had a major impact upon the religious, social, political and economic affairs of Sri Lanka.

This study, from the historical and comparative perspective of the study of religions, articulates four ways in which the worship of Murukan is conducted in the hill country. Firstly, Murukan worship persists among Tamils in the midst of diverse crises in the new social, cultural and political conditions in the colonial plantation settings of the hill country. Secondly, the hill country Tamils, with their heritage of Murukan valipātu from South India encountered also the myth of Murukan and Valli, common to the peoples of Śrī Lanka and Tamilakam in India. The prevailing mythic theme of reciprocity in the love relationship (between Murukan and Valli) reflects a situation anteceding colonialism, probably even Buddhism. Already at this distant period, constituted at Katirkāmam, Murukan's sacred place, where almost all the communities of Sri Lanka, and even from India, met. Thus the participating groups were, and still are today, made up of Hindu Tamils, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, and Veddas -- all taking part in the festivity of Murukan.

Thirdly, the hill country represents the festivity in Murukan worship as the combination of non-agamic and an-iconic as well as the agamic and iconic forms of worship. Thus the Vēl icon, being the major common symbol Murukan worship in the hill country, leads to transcend the barriers and to build bridges among people towards the creation of a harmonious peaceful atmosphere of festival or Tiruvilā, even during periods of conflict and war.

Finally, in accordance with established evidence, Murukan worship is referred to as one of the major factors in the ongoing transformation of Buddhism and Shhaiva Hinduism.

Muruga Bhakti: The Cult of Love

by P. Ananthraman

In these days of agnosticism rarely people think of righteousness and divine dispensation. Man has come down from the dizzy height of spiritual superiority to moral degradation because of growing materialism. To live in peace with men and beasts, love is a potent factor that governs all living beings. The solution is Muruka bhakti, the cult of love, for this mode of worship is the noblest, easiest and best of the paths that leads to God realization.

The purpose of this study is to examine this special feature of Tamil civilization and culture. In fact the cult of love is the cult of beauty. The natural tendency of people is to love and admire beauty. The term muruku with its several connotations throws special light on beauty.

Psychological and scholastic approaches are adopted to trace Muruga bhakti as the cult of love. Through a deep and broad study of Lord Murukan in comparison with other immortal figures like Rāma, the immortal beauty (aliyā alaku) in the words of Kampan can savoured.

This study draws upon Tamil and Sanskrit texts by distinguished authors as its sources of information.

Tiruppukal as a form of Classical Music

by Jeyālaki Arunagirinathan

This paper is an analysis of the devotional and classical music approaches in Tiruppukal. The first part covers the origin of Skanda worship, its development in the Cankam Age and its culmination in the Tiruppukal songs of Arunakirinātar. It also discusses the musical forms of Tiruppukal and how they achieved wide popularity in Skanda worship.

In the second part of the paper concerns the approach of classical music including the structure of Tiruppukal songs, how they became a constituent of Karnatic music concerts, and Tiruppukal's impact upon other musical forms such as krti and kiĎrtanā. In the concluding part of the study the question ofhow these songs undergo changes when sung in different places by different singers will be analysed.

Wealth in Arunakirinātar's View

by S.R.S. Ayyar

The four purusārthas or objects of life, viz. acquisition of weath (artha), fulfilment of desires (kāma), righteous living (dharma) and salvation (moksa) are closely intertwined. The theme of this paper relates to the first object of life, i.e. the acquisition of wealth as Arunakirinātar treats the subject in his works.

Arunakirinātar did not take a fatalistic view of life. He objectively outlines the needs of the average householder although he himself is recognised as a saint. He knows full well the miseries stemming from all-destroying poverty.

The saint seeks various favours of the god including freedom form even the minutest penury, if at all he is destined to take rebirth in this world. And yet, he concedes the futility of moving heaven and earth in the quest to amass wealth.

Arunakirinātar digs at men who indulge in flattery of unfit people merely to obtain their selfish ends. Likewise he derides hypocritical sermonisers. He predicts what is in store for those who possess wealth but do not help others.

In sum, Arunakirinātar and his works serve as a beacon to the run-of-the-mill earthly beings, helping them to derive the infinite grace of Lord Murukan.

Skanda-Murukan shrines in Citamparam temple

by K. Balachandran

Citamparam has long been eulogised in Tamil poetry and religious literature for its Natarāja temple. Every Shiva temple in addition to Lord Shiva and Goddess Pārvati (in Citamparam Lord Natarāja and Shivakāma Sundari) has place for their sons Ganesa (Vināyaka, Ganapati) and Murukan. Though Murukan is the youngest of the Shiva-Pārvati family, He occupies a prominent place in Hindu worship.

Scope: In Citamparam temple Lord Murukan is in seven places which is a rare feature-in six sannidhis and in a separate shrine. During the Pandian regime, Murukan was the presiding deity for kings. He was called by various names: Subrahmanya, Sanmukha, Tantāyutapāni, etc. The research is restricted to Citamparam Civan temple only.

Problem: This study has not been attempted so far. It also utilises sources which have so far not been tapped before.

Methodology: The approach is a uniquely close and critical observation of the Murukan shrines and sannidhis using first hand information collected and analysed as research data.

Sources: Though a few books about Citamparam temple are available, little is available about these shrines. Hence interviews with the diĎksitars will also be undertaken.

Vēl in Kantaranupūti

by M.R. Bala Ganapathi

Devotees of Murukan know that Vēl is Murukan, and Murukan is Vēl. He is Vēlan. He not only holds the Vēl, He is in the Vēl, He is the Vēl itself. Hence He is Vēlan; Vēlavan. Vēl is a symbol of jñānam or jñāna s×akti. He is Jñānakāra, i.e.. His form is jñānam (verse 28, Kantaranupūti).

Arunakirinātar in his Kantaranupūti refers to Vēl in many places. He uses the word with or without varied adjectives -- all with the single purpose of emphasising the vital function of the Vēl, the grace (arul) of Vēlan through His Vēl.

The Vēl without any adjective comes in the very first hymn, and as Vēlavan in verses 11, 17 and 48. The words ayil ('the sharp one') and ayil Vēl occur in hymns 25, 19 and 28. The expression katir Vēl (='the shining/effulgent Vēl) is used in hymns: 14, 40 and 46. Another expression with the same meaning is cutar Vēl in hymn 29. In hymns 13, 42 and 44 we find tani vel or 'Vēl absolute'. In the seventh hymn, we find vati vēl ('the beautiful and sharp Vēl, the Vēl that is full of beauty. We note pōr Vēl, the 'Vēl that fights' and vikrama Vēl ('powerful Vēl') in hymns 24, and 23, 37. In all, Vēl in some form appears 23 times in 51 hymns; no other word is repeated so many times.

Different adjectives have been used purposefully for conveying the special meanings to fit the context referred to in the particular hymns. Some questions, doubts or problems raised or suggested in the hymns are suggestively answered by the use of the Vēl without or with suitable adjectives. Contemplation reveals the purposefulness of the use of the term Vēl alone or with fitting adjectives. The Vēl or jñānam should be sharp, powerful and its brightness should drive off the darkness of ignorance, ego, evil forces and suffering.

Āru Patai Vitu: Socio-Religious Implications

by V. Balambal

Scope: The research deals with the six abodes of Murukan mentioned in Tirumurukārruppatai, Tiruppukal and other literary sources and brings out their social and religious implications. Murukan, the god of the kuriñci (hilly) region, has his abodes on hills. This paper covers the following aspects:

  1. The definition of Patai Vitu;
  2. The heroic deeds attached to each abode;
  3. The importance given to kunrutōrātal;
  4. Does the Āru Patai Vitu satisfy the chronology of events associated with places?
  5. When Nakkirar directs other poet to Murukan, does he follow actual topography?
  6. Co-existence of tribal and brahminical forms of worship;
  7. Relationship among the gods and goddesses.
  8. Valli-Devasenā concept;
  9. Why no Navagraha in Patai Vitu?
  10. Nāga element in Murukan temples; and
  11. Festivals and rituals and their implications.

Sources: Āticcanallūr excavations imply early Murukan worship. There are references to Murukan in Tolkāppiyam, Akanānūru, Kuruntokai, Kalittokai, Paripātal, Tirumurukārruppatai, Cilappatikāram, Kallātam, various purānas, Tiruppukal, Shankara's Subrahmanya bhujangam and other works.

Methodology: Historical method is followed in general scientific approach. Critical analysis is made wherever possible.

Problems: The chronological numbering of pataivitu. Why are Murukan's abodes on hills?

Murukan as Cevvēl, bearer of the Red Spear

by M. Bala Murugan

Ancient Tamil people used spear for hunting their food. The shape of Vēl in the hands of Murukan and the spear are similar in shape and name. To prosper with hunting weapons ancient Tamils worshipped Lord Murukan. Vēlan is similar to occupational terms like pānan or tutiyan which are derived from the names of occupational implements. Lord Murukan is known as Cevvēl from the worshipping of the red spear.

Scope: The worship of Lord Murukan is quite ancient; worshipping of Vēl dates from even earlier. Later worship of Murukan and worship of Vēl were combined and performed together. The aim of this research paper is to find out how this occurred. Till now no research has been made on this and hence this attempt.

Purpose: The relationship between the name of Lord Murukan and the spear in his hand is addressed in this research.

Methodology: Taking into account the earlier researches on Vēlan Veriyātal of Cankam Age, this research assumes a social and historical approach.

Sources of information regarding Vēlan Veriyātal have been taken from Cankam literature, while the relationship between colour red and Murukan have been taken from later commentaries and modern studies.

Valli and Murukan: The Continuing Love Story

by Vallimalai Balananda Sadhu

Scope: Among Tamil people, the most endearing facet of Lord Murukan's career is His relationship to Valli, the adopted daughter of a Vētar chieftain of ancient times who, in the eyes of many devotees, lives to this day as Lord Murukan's ideal devotee. Tradition tells us that Valli was born and grew up at Vallimalai in the Parvata Rajan hills not far from Tiruttani.

This paper examines Vallimalai and its traditions as seen and preserved by devotees of Valli or Ponki Amma as the goddess is known to her devotees today. It recounts the legend of Valli Amma as remembered at Vallimalai and examines the role Vallimalai Śrī Satchidananda Swamigal played in popularising Muruka bhakti.

Methodology: The researcher has long been associated with Vallimalai and knew Vallimalai Śrī Satchidananda Swamigal personally. He has learned, therefore, that only traditional Indian methodologies of bhakti yoga produce genuine results.

Sources of information: The researcher knew Vallimalai Śrī Satchidananda Swamigal from early childhood. Today he is resident custodian of Vallimalai Śrī Satchidananda Swamigal Tiruppukal Asramam. Years of residence in service to Pongi Amma have naturally deepened the researcher's experience and appreciation of Vallimalai as a punita pūmi and home to this day of Valli Amma. Hence, the researcher can speak as an authority on the subject of Valli and Vallimalai. In his research, however, other sources of information will also be cited, including Kacciappar's Kanta purānam and Arunakirinātar's Tiruppukal among other sources.

Murukan: Husband of Two Wives

by Rajes Balasubramaniam

Scope: As a medical anthropologist, the author is interested in people's beliefs and practices in terms of their religion and tradition. Tamils in South India have much in common with gods and goddesses of the ancient Greek world. In particular he intends to investigate the realism and the fantasy of the image of Valli in the story of Murukan. He questions the way purānas and epics portray non-Aryans. With this research the author hopes to find the reason for the image of Valli and the philosophy behind it.

He has chosen this subject since the anthropological research done on the theme of Murukan and his two consorts is inadequate, particularly about Valli. By writing this article he hopes to encourage other people in India as well as other part of the world to do more research as Murukan worship and the rituals are interlinked with Dravidians' history and cultural heritage.

Sources of information: The author only uses various books by different authors from the West and East. He would have liked to visit those Murukan temples and meet religious experts to find about the myth of Murukan and his wives, as every temple and region has its own myth. Therefore, He employs literary research method to write his article, using the extensive collection of Indian books at the London School of Oriental and African Studies. His literary research is based on these sources and some Tamil books from India.

Purpose or problems addressed by the research: Most Tamil books about Murukan primarily speak about the religious aspects of Murukan. Evidence of any development of this myth, especially about Valli, has not been dealt with properly. He analyses this myth within the social context of Dravidian social life. This article focuses on Valli more than Teyvānai as Valli symbolises the ideology of love in Tamil context. He regards his article as a survey for more work on Murukan and his two wives.

Murukan Worship in Tiruccentūr Inscription

by Dr. A Baskara Paul Pandian

Scope: The second Varakuna Pandya's inscription which is found in the Tiruccentūr Murukan temple deals with the daily worship of Lord Murukan. The aim of this paper is to study the forms of worship described in this inscription.

Problem addressed: This paper compares present forms of worship with ancient forms of worship described in the inscription. By the inscription we come to know about ancient barter-trade. Among the fourteen villages mentioned in the inscription, some villages still exist. The topic is examined from a historical perspective.

Methodology: A comparative study of the worship at present and in ancient times as mentioned in the inscription is done. This research is also a historical study. Field work is also done to gather data from the temple priests.

Sources: The primary source for this paper is the Varakuna Pandya's inscription. Other inscriptions, purānas about Tiruccentūr, Tiruccentūr temple publications, Tamil literature about Tiruccentūr, and data collected from the priests are the secondary sources.

Taippūcam celebration in Malaysia

by Carl Vadivella Belle

Scope: This paper explores the festival of Taippūcam as practiced in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, Malaysia, and outlines the unificatory themes of Murukan worship and kāvati rituals in Malaysian Hinduism.

Since World War II, Taippūcam has emerged as the most visible and powerful assertation of Hindu identity in Malaysia. The negotiation of Hindu identity has been conducted against a backdrop of ethnic/communsal pressure which permeates and politicizes all aspects of Malaysian life.

While Taippūcam in Malaysia is consciously formulated upon the mythology, traditions and modes of worship celebrated at Palani, Tamil Nadu, the processes of relocation and adaptation have endowed the festival with a significance and centrality which it lacks in India.

Taippūcam's accommodation of a range of beliefs and practices inspires barely controlled tensions as well as a tenuous concept of Hindu solidarity. This paper will argue that despite these unresolved contradictions, the festival has become the major - perhaps the sole - forum for the articulation and continued negotiation of broader Malaysian Hindu identity. Taippūcam both cncapsulates and gives expression to deeper unificatory tendencies as well as creating impulses and a momentum of its own.

This paper will argue that the centrality of Taippūcam to Malaysian Hinduism has been underscored and propelled by the increasing popularity of Murukan worship. In a nation dominated by ethnicity, Murukan has become a potent and catalytic symbol of Tamil/Dravidian identity. His wide and evolving appeal will continue to play an integral role in the formulation of a broad and distinctive Malaysian Hindu tradition.

The Revival of the Murukan cult in the post-Bhakti period

by G. Bhaskaran

Murukan cult has been undoubtedly the pre-eminent god of Tamils all through the ages. According to the earliest Tamil grammar text, Tolkāppiyam, Cēyōn, that is Murukan was the god of kuriñcit tinai or the hilly region.

The aim of this paper is to study the revival of the ancient Murukan cult after the bhakti period. Buddhism and Jainism, the immediate rival faiths of Hinduism, began to have appeal to Tamils as orthodox Hinduism paid more attention to the practice of Vedic rituals and yajñas and less to real devotion to God. The Shaiva Nāyanmārs and Vaisnava Ālvārs attempted to repulse Buddhism and Jainism and thereby to win Tamil people over to Shaivism and Vaisnavism through their songs.

With the result of the growth of bhakti propagated by the four Shaiva camayakuravars, the Murukan cult lost its charm and relevence. Thus during the Middle Ages, that is, from 7th to 13th century A.D. there was a lull in the worship of Murukan and hence there arose a need for the revival of the ancient Murukan cult.

This paper traces the origin, development and evolution of the ancient Murukan cult and also the revival of the cult after the bhakti period.

From Kuriñci to Tamilakam: The Universalisation and Emergence of Sacred Geography in the cult of Murukan

by R. Champalakshmi

Research on the history of the cult of Skanda-Murukan has tended to seek the Dravidian or more specifically the Tamil roots of the cult or to look for the Sanskritic and Tamil traits of the god. Murukan as the warrior god and the child god goes back to the early strata of Cankam texts. The Kuriñcit tinai has been the main context in which he has been placed and discussion has centered around this eco-zonal and tribal background of the deity. Although Murukan has been given pride of place as the Tamil deity par excellence, his identity with the Sanskritic Skanda-Kārttikeya is often assumed to be a simultaneous phenomenon, without going into the changing contexts of his worship and the socio-economic background in the whole of Tamilakam.

The evolution of the complex mythology around the cult of Murukan from the Cankam to the period of the sthalapuranas (15th to 18th centuries AD) contains layers of myths which need to be looked at afresh, for myths do not necessarily belong to a single period or a single specific context. In the case of Murukan, they have emerged out of local traditions, localised puranic myths and folk beliefs in circulation for a long period of time and myths which got codified and elaborated upon at various points of time.

An attempt is made in this paper to discuss the universalisation of the Murukan cult and the emergence of its sacred geography, which made a tribal deity of the Cankam classics into a transcendental god as a result of the synthesis between what was essentially a local, folk or popular cult diety and the Sanskritic, Brahmanical tradition and forms of worship. The transformation of the nature landscape of the Cankam poetry to the temple landscape of the bhakti poetry was a major part of this process of synthesis.

The focus will be on the Arupataivitu or the six main centres in which Murukan (Subrahmanya) has been worshipped from the time of the post Cankam text i.e., the Tirumurukārruppatai and the expansion of agricultural activities and the emergence of a systemic agrarian order in the early medieval period (6th to 13th centuries AD), when the crystallisation of the Murukan cult as a Skanda-Kārttikeya cult and as one of the most significant aspects of the Tamil Shaiva tradition took place. Iconographic development of the deity and epigraphic records from the six pataivitus and the later sthalapurānas provide important insights into this evolution.

Rare images of Elephant as vehicle of Subrahmanya

by A. Chandra Bose

Murukan, a traditional god of Tamil society, is also known as Kārttikēya, Subrahmanya or Skanda in North India. Generally the image of Subrahmanya, the seated figure, is either in padmāsana or on a peacock and standing in some other places of South India, especially in Tamil Nadu. Usually the cock, peacock and nāga are represented in sculpture as the vehicles of Lord Subrahmanya.

A few representations, however, depict an elephant as the vehicle of Subrahmanya in the temples of Kannanūr in Putukkōttai district and Cuvāmimalai in Tañcāvūr district, etc. In this paper an attempt is made to trace out why the sculptural images of elephant came to Subrahmanya as his vehicle and why the elephant vehicle is absent in temples after 10th-12th century A.D. in Tamil Nadu.

Kanta-Murukan worship in the Indus script

by Poorna Chandra Jeeva

Scope: The worship of Kanta-Murukan predates the Cankam age. It is even more primitive than the Indus Valley civilization. The Indus script shows evidence of this worship. The Indus script is Dravidian. The Tamil-Brahmi or Tamili helps to decipher the Indus script.

Problem: Tamili is an alphabetic writing system developed from the Phoenician script. The Indus script was a logosyllabic and the gap period was 1500 years between these two systems without connection between them. The Indus script continued as a writing system even after the period of the Indus civilization. The changing of the Indus script into Tamili was superficial; the basic signs were unchanged.

Son god of the Indus civilisation: He is a young male - child (4088, 4664, 2022), the lord of the star pleiades (1103, 2143) belonging to the day of that star (2143). He is the holder of the ayil, the spear (2365, 2417) and the young lord of learning (1158), young valiant (4773). He is the god of the temple mountain (2290), the divine owner of the peacock and wild cock (2365, 2517).

Ayilan - Vēlan is the son of Civan. The goddess Vanā Illi is the divine wife of the god (2205, 4270). The goddess is the mother of Kantan (1410) and the mother of the god of the star pleiades (2599) Kantani (1410). She belongs to Kantan. Kal-kan-kan+tu = kantu = stone or wooden pillar representing a deity worshipped. Kantan = the lord who lives in the kantu.

These similarities suggest that the compound nature of the integrite existed among the contemporary civilizations in the ancient world. And the Murukan cult was a common religious system of primitive civilizations of that age. The Indus writing system was a well developed writing system of that era. The Indus Script indicates there was the worship of Kanta-Murukan. It is the direct proof of the written document of the people of the Indus Valley.

Virālimalai Murukan

by D. Chandrasekaran

Abodes of Lord Murukan in Tamil Nadu are so many, each excelling in its own way. Of those, Virālimalai has the pride of its own which no other abode of Lord Murukan can claim, the pride of having been promulgated by Lord Murukan Himself to His unremitting servitor Saint Arunakirinātar in a dream that Virālimalai is the place where He abides! Thus informed, Saint Arunakirinātar was summoned to Virālimalai by Lord Murukan.

Wonderous is this that the Almighty chose to promulgate that His living place was a hill called Virālimalai! The mountain is therefore known to be the beloved of Lord Murukan which makes Virālimalai special to all Murukan Atiyārs.

While for the first time St. Arunakirinātar visited the place he was in his youth as can be inferred from the Virālimalai Tiruppukal songs sung by him. He sang 16 Tiruppukal songs at Virālimalai connoting that he sang them as if he was offering sixteen upāsara to Lord Murukan in commoration of the inward Light illumined by Lord Murukan on his advent at Virālimalai.

In one of the Tiruppukal songs, he mentions that the boulders on the hill are the forms of yogis of unfathomable age strewn about in penance and the peacocks strolling around the hill select those boulders to dance upon in praise of the Lord Murukan. There are many minute details strewn in the sixteen Virālimalai Tiruppukal songs which loom large as great metaphysical truths for anyone desiring to relish them.

The Evolution of Murukan as a Religio-Cultural Archetype and Aesthetic Symbol

by Dr K. Chellappan

In Murukan, a religio-cultural archetype and aesthetic symbol of Tamils, there is a reconciliation of opposites such as heaven and earth, love human and divine (Valli and Tēyvānai) supernatural and natural, religion and art. The worship of Murukan can be traced back to the matriarchal period of Dravidian civilisation when it had links with Sumeria and Greece. Right from the beginning his worship has been linked with dance and song. The purpose of this paper is to trace the evolution of Murukan as a symbol of Tamil culture and aesthetic symbol.

Even though Tolkāppiyam describes him as the god of kuriñci, he evolves into a symbol of the entire Tamil ethos signified by akam and puram as a warrior god of love. From the days of Tirumurukārruppatai we find an interplay between the religio-cultural and aesthetic symbolism. The very form of Tirumurukārruppatai shows an interpenetration of the bardic and devotional styles and the use of secular form for a religious purpose. In Paripātal the Murukan cult is linked with akam theme unique to Tamil culture.

In Cilappatikāram this anthropomorphic god is linked not only with love (akam) and war (puram), but with fertility and creativity. The whole epic is an extension of the dance of the hillsmen who identify Kannaki and Valli. This dance shows an affinity with Dionysus who is also the god of drama and emotional release. The link between Vēlan Veriyātal in Kunrakkuravai and the Greek dance of Kouras in which the god leaps to perform the ritual for the fertility of the land is significant.

In the mediaeval period, metaphysical symbolism was given more importance in Purānas. In the modern period Murukan has been rediscovered as a symbol of Tamil cultural identity. He is associated with humanism as well as Muttamil. Subramaniya Bharati relates Vēlan to Agni, the heroic form of Atman, and says that in the Vedas, Agni takes two forms: one being Kumāra Devasenāpati and the other Devaguru. Likewise, he relates the same to the creative fire in the cave of the soul (Akkini Kuñcu) as well as imagination and Tamil ('Kuyil Song'). One can see a link between the Tamil Renaissance celebrating naturalism, humanism and Tamil self-identity with the revival of Murukan cult.

A socio-cultural study of kāvati festivals in Mauritius

by J. Chemen

Scope: Indian immigrants who migrated to Mauritius, mostly as indentured labourers, during the period of European colonisation belonged to different linguistic (Bhojpuri, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi) and ethnic groups. But today, although a gradual shift or loss is noted in the language among the present generation of the Indian immigrants, yet they maintain their ethno-cultural identity through day-to-day lifestyle and various religious and cultural activities.

Objective: The main objective of this paper is to study the various socio-cultural aspects of kāvati festivals in Mauritius. In the process of above analysis attempts are made to show how kāvati continues to be a strong ethnic parameter for Tamil ethnic identity in Mauritius although the festivals allow free inter-group mingling.

Methodology: The researcher is an active member of the ethnic group taken for study and this facilitates participant observation study. The researcher participates actively in the kāvati festivals of Mauritius since a number of years. But this study was mainly based upon kāvati celebrations of 1997 and 1998. In addition to interviews, tape recordings, and transcripts of conversations, songs and prayers, a formal questionnaire was administered to determine attitudes and opinions.

The existing architectural structure of Tamil temples in Mauritius is, no doubt, the evolution of the thatched tent forms of kōvils erected by the early Tamil immigrants. Most of these kovils originally accomodated only goddess Amman; Very few temples were Murukan based. But today Lord Murukan is present in almost all the kōvils of Mauritius. Out of the 125 kōvils in Mauritius, a hundred celebrate taippūcam kāvati in the Tamil month of Tai. There is practically no difference in the way kāvati festivals are celebrated in Mauritius.

A strong ethnic parameter Kāvati facilitates intra-group mingling among the Tamil community. The use Tamil language in prayers, songs and speeches suggests that kāvati is a factor that contributes to the survival of Tamil language in Mauritius.

A cross cultural festival Kāvati in Mauritius has become a national cross cultural festival. Devotees of different ethnic groups participate in the festival side by side with Tamils. Association with Hindi speakers is observed and no one can deny the participation of Christians of black origin in the festival. One Christian respondent taking kāvati said: "In our religion, we don't have all this. I find it a pleasure. Although I am a Christian, yet my heart is Tamil."

Skanda-Murukan: Time and Nature associations

by Alexander Dubianski

It has been acknowledged by many scholars that at least some roots of Skanda lie in the mythology of proto-Indian civilization. The image of a young warrior for instance is clearly seen on several seals. Besides there is evidence that the number six which is characteristic of Skanda played a significant role in astronomical notions of proto-Indians. A six-rayed figure on two seals is supposed to be a symbolical representation of a year, consisting of six reasons. Later materials, especially epic, confirm the connection of Skanda with the beginning of a year, thus making him a protector-deity of a year. Widely known solar associations of Skanda and his red and golden symbolical colours are also worth noting.

Tamil Murukan is also clearly a solar deity. In calendar terms he may represent the bright half of the year. But if we interpret the myth of his war with the demon as a calendar myth (Murukan and Cūr representing accordingly bright and dark parts of a year, otherwise hot and rainy seasons). We see that Murukan, having overcome Cūr, becomes the sole protector of the year. This is in accordance with the fact that Murukan is seen as commanding the central position, which is symbolically represented by his act of cleaving his enemy in two (Cūr and the Kirauñca-mountain). An interesting parallel to this tendency to occupy central position is found in a akam poetry (kuriñcit-tinai): the hero, who represents Murukan on his level, comes to tryst at midnight (natunāl) -- a detail which is considered by Tolkāppiyam as characterstic of kuruñci poetry.

The Marriage of Murukan to Valli is a myth symbolising the union of male and female principles. The idea is also expressed by way of vegetative (the marriage of vēnkai and mango trees) and astronomical (the union of sun and moon) symbolism. The latter has a striking parallel in the Mahābhārata: it is said that before Skanda was born the sun and moon united.

Skanda-Murukan in the Musical Forms of South Indian Music

S.A.K. Durga

Scope of the research: This study concerns the forms of South Indian music in which Murukan is conceptualised in the texts of the songs and also His abstract form as Nādamaya Rūpa -- the Rāga Sanmukhapriya.

Source of information: These include texts of the musical forms, Tamil and Sanskrit literary works on Lord Skanda and the music compositions themselves. Being a musician herself, she will demonstrate in a live presentation.

In the classical music of South India, the text of the musical forms are religious in praise of various gods and goddesses. There are marvelous songs in praise of Skanda-Murukan in Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu. It can be said that among the sanmatha concepts established by Adi Sankara, Kaumāram is most popular in Tamil Nadu. South Indian classical music portrays Skanda in various aspects such as bāla or child, guru or teacher, nāyaka or hero or lover and above all as the embodiment of nāda or musical sound since He is the source of music being Himself in Pranava Rūpa.

Many of the composers of Carnatic music have been blessed by Lord Murukan to compose their music. Amongst those composers, Muthuswami Dikshitar is one of the greatest. Arunakirinātar exclusively composed songs on Murukan as Tiruppukal. Annāmalai Rettiyār composed the kāvati cintu form of music exclusively on Lord Murukan. This paper will present a critical study on the Sanskrit compositions which include different musical forms sung in Carnatic music such as varnam, kirttanai, patam, kriti, etc.

Islamic Traditions of Kataragama

by M.H.A. Gaffar and Patrick Harrigan

Scope: For centuries, pious Muslim saints and pilgrims as well as learned scholars have regarded the sylvan shrine of Kataragama as Khadir-gama, i.e. 'the home of al-Khadir', 'the Green Man' of Islamic and pre-Islamic lore whom commentators identify with the mysterious teacher of Moses described as 'one of Our servants' in Sura Khalf, v. 58 of the Holy Qur'ān. Said in Persian tradition to have also been a close associate of Iskandar or Alexander the Great, al-Khadir is believed to have discovered the Ma'ul Hayat or Water of Life. He wanders the earth even today and often intervenes in the lives of Muslims and non-Muslims alike as a mysterious agent of divine justice and mercy.

This research examines the Islamic tradition of al-Khadir against the background of Sri Lanka's other religious communities about Kataragama as a place of exceptional sanctity. It is significant that Sri Lankan Sūfis or mystically-inclined Muslims generally consider the spirit of Kataragama (Skanda-Murukan) to be identical with al-Khadir, the mysterious servant of Allah.

Purpose: Kataragama has been studied by scholars of religion as well as sociologists and anthropologists. Yet to date of this attention has focused upon Hindu traditions and, to a lesser extent, Sinhala Buddhist traditions. Perhaps due to pervasive prejudice slanted against Islam, no study has ever devoted more than passing mention to Islamic traditions of Kataragama. The present work, therefore, breaks fresh ground in the sense of bringing to light Islamic traditions of Kataragama.

Methodology: This study assumes that religious beliefs and practices are best appreciated in terms of the religious traditions in question. Christian or Hindu or Buddhist religious issues are best resolved by Christians, Hindus and Buddhists respectively. And yet, appreciation of the traditions of one religion may shed light upon the mysteries of other religions. Kataragama is a place of mystery and sanctity for peoples of three major world religions. As such, its Islamic traditions deserve to be studied and understood on their own terms.

Sources of information: The principal researcher, al-Haj M.H.A. Gaffar, as well as being a prominent businessman and leader of the Muslim community of Galle, is the sole trustee and custodian of the Kataragama Mosque and Shrine and its traditions. He hails from a family of maulavis with a heritage of respect for learned Islamic traditions including that of al-Khadir.

Besides drawing upon the living traditions of Kataragama as articulated by al-Haj Gaffar and others, this study draws from the Holy Qur'ān as well as the writings of learned Islamic commentators in Arabic and epic poems like Iskandar Nāma and Shāh Nāma in Persian. The sole booklet published about the shrine, Kataragama Mosque and Shrine, is cited as well as Dutch and British colonial records and the writings of art historian Ananda K. Coomaraswamy.

Skanda Legends in the Purānas

by N. Gangadharan

The purānas in Sanskrit are the source for understanding Indian culture, since they have assimilated in the course of many centuries so much material relating to Indian culture. The innumerable legends in the purānas have influenced poets for drawing materials for their compositions. For example, the great poet Kālidāsa named one of his poetic composition as Kumārasambhavam which deals with the events prior to the birth of Kumāra.

The legends in the Purānas describe the birth of Kumāra (referred to also as Kārttikeya, Devasenāpati, Guha and Sanmukha), his leadership of the celestials against Tāraka, his significant role in the combat against the three demons of Tripura and some minor episodes. The reference to him as the consort of Valli seems to be absent in the early Sanskrit Purānic tradition. It is intended to examine these legends in their historic development.

Murukan and the Saiva Siddhānta Philosophy: An analytical study based on Kanta Purānam

by N. Gnanakumaran

This paper analyses the concept of Murukan in view of the Tamil tradition, especially the Kanta Purānam and Saiva Siddhānta philosophy. The Saiva Siddhānta philosophy gets prominent place in Hinduism, particularly in South India and Sri Lanka. The fourteen texts of Meykanta Sāstras are the basic literature of Shaiva Siddhānta. Among these Meykanta Tēvar's Sivajñāna Pōtam stands out and its philosophy is considered as the most closely reasoned religious philosophy in India.

We shall discuss similarities between the theme of Kanta Purānam and the Shaiva Siddhānta philosophy with regard to a number of concepts, namely God, grace, creation and destruction, the nature of souls, the consequence of bad deeds, the final goal, etc. The epic Kanta Purānam of Kacciyappa Civācāriyar is said to be based upon the first six kandas of the Sivarahasya Kanda, the first of twelve sections of the Sankara Mahātmya.

Kanta Purānam narrates the story of Lord Murukan who broke the power of the asuric forces under Cūr and liberated the devas. Saiva Siddhānta ideas are subtly embedded throughout the story of Kanta Purānam. This paper brings out this aspect in detail. It is notable that the followers of Saiva Siddhānta in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka are mainly the devotees of Lord Murukan. The traditional Jaffna scholar the late Kanapatip Pillai rightly pronounced that Jaffna Tamils follow the Kanta Purāna Kalācāram tradition.

Worship of Murukan in Fiji

R. Ponnu S Goundar, MD

During Taippūcam and Pankuni Uttirātam festivals, Murukan devotees in large number all over Fiji gather to offer kāvati. Now especially after the military coup, Indians living in USA, Canada, England, Australia and New Zealand come to Fiji to Nadi temple to fulfil vows on grand annual festival occasions.

Besides the large Nandi Murukan temple there are smaller temples dedicated to Murukan at Tagi, Koronubu, and Navua. There are also a number of small privately owned firms over Fiji in the name of Murukan.

While devotion to Murukan is deep and evergreen, the intellectual understanding about Murukan is lacking because Tamil is a dying language in Fiji. However Fijian devotees do publish small booklets in English for the benefit of the younger generation.

Skanda-Iskandar and the Alexander Romance: History and the Diffusion of Mythic Archetypes

by Patrick Harrigan

Scope: Sixty years ago, the All-India Oriental Conference published in its proceedings an article by N. Gopala Pillai entitled Skanda: The Alexander Romance in India. In it Gopala Pillai argued that the Indian wargod Skanda is none other than the historical Alexander the Great (4th century BC) deified. His loosely-reasoned hypothesis, based upon circumstantial evidence and broad linguistic and mythological similarities, cast the entire issue into disrepute. He argues, for instance, that the Greek name Alexander entered West Asian languages as al-Sikandar or Iskandar, which in turn was rendered into Indian languages as Skanda the wargod. His hypothesis has met with scholarly rebuke ever since.

This study surveys historical evidence from the career of Alexander the Great and then discusses how the historical Alexander of Macedonia evolved over the centuries into the al-Sikandar or Iskandar of pan-Asian legend and mythology, including scripture like the Holy Qur'ān. An entire genre of epic literature arose known as the Alexander Romance which was immensely popular across much of Asia and which in turn had an impact upon geographically-distant oral and literary traditions such as that of the Quest for the Holy Grail of Western tradition.

Problems addressed: The Alexander Romance is a classic instance of the diffusion of mythic motifs and archetypes across great spans of time and space. Considered in this light, history is not mythology but it is a form of literature that gives rise to other works of oral and written literature. Alexander, Iskandar and Skanda survive in human memory as literary traditions which may be profitably analysed and understood as parallel or intertwining streams of literature.

Methodology: Gopala Pillai's early attempt to understand Skanda and the Alexander Romance raised a fascinating and long-ignored subject, namely: How do myths and legends arise and what happens when they cross geographical, linguistic and cultural boundaries? By examining Skanda, Iskandar and the Alexander Romance not as history per se but as a living stream of evolving legend and literature, this study restricts itself to issues and methods amendable to literary criticism.

Sources of information: Beginning with Gopala Pillai's 1937 article, this study re-examines the historical, linguistic, mythological and literary evidence. Some fresh insights emerge from the writings of scholars of religion and art history. Scriptures including the Holy Qur'an, the Persian epic Iskandar Nāma, and Indian epics and purānas are also cited, along with the writings of modern scholars of religion and art history.

Mayilam: Its traditions and its iconography

by Francoise L'Hernault

Murukan is a subsidiary deity and also a god elevated to the status of a supreme deity. The assumption of this paper is that beyond these two positions, it appears through the representations, the temple lay-outs and the cultic plane that the god has to be considered mainly as a kind of avatāra.

This interpretation is based on extensive field-work not only in Murukan temples but also in other Saivite temples. The paper will be illustrated by some twenty slides.

Son of the Father: Skanda and Christ Discussed Comparatively

by D. Dennis Hudson

Since both Skanda and Christ are divine and heroic figures worshipped by many as a father's son, this paper begins an exploration of what that means for their respective worshipers. Guiding the exploration will be the ancient Indian idea that the man is reborn through the woman as son, and when he looks at his son, he sees himself as in a mirror; those who see and venerate the son thereby see and venerate the father.

What emerges when we apply that idea to Skanda, the son of Rudra-Shiva, and to Christ, the son of Y-H-W-H ('Lord of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob')? How are they born? How do they mature? What are their heroic deeds? If, to paraphrase Vyāsa, the glory of Skanda and of Christ is to 'remove the defilement of the Kali Yuga,' then how are they believed to do it and with what results?

Since it is only a beginning study, this paper will focus on early textual sources, e.g. the Brāhmanas, the Mahābhārata, early Tamil poetry, the Christian Bible, apocryphal writings, and the early Church Fathers.

Intended by the topic is a study of the story and thought about each figure as presented in each religion, which will be an exercise in thinking across religions and cultures. In this approach, the researcher distinguishes between Christ and Jesus: the former is the statement of faith about who the man Jesus was, while the latter gives his name and dates him (i.e. died ca. 29 CE). "Christ" as part of cosmic myth (even as 'warrior') more nearly parallels 'Murukan' than does 'Jesus' as part of history.

The story of Christ has received developments in Christianity outside of the Bible in an amount of detail and variation that parallels the stories about Murukan. The question of ritual observances also emerges, but there may not be enough time to plunge into those fascinating matters. The scholar interested in sketching out how those traditions of story, thought, and ritual parallel each other and how in those parallels can be seen both similarities and differences.

Skanda-Subrahmanya in ancient Sanskrit tradition

by S.S. Janaki

Skanda-Kumāra is generally considered as the son of the divine parents Shiva and Pārvati. He is known from varied Sanskrit texts from the ancient to the present times under varied names including Kārttikeya, Vishacirc;kha, Guha, Senāpati, Sanmukha and Saravanabhava. Some of the terms like Kārttikeya (son of Krttikā (goddesses) and Saravanabhava (born in a thicket of reeds) clearly describe the god through their own etymology and simple legends.

Amongst the god's names, 'Skanda' and 'Subrahmanya' are crucial to understand the symbolism and evolution of the deity's concept and its worship (upāsana) in diverse ways as suited to the mental attitude (ruci) and qualification (adhikāra) of the devotees. In the present paper the references to Skanda and Subrahmanya as occurring in ancient Sanskrit literature including Yajur, Sāma and Atharva Vedas, Chāndogya Upanisad, Rāmāyana, Mahābhārata, and Skanda Purāna, are collected and critically studied.

In the final analysis it is shown that the concept and worship of Subrahmanya is distinct from that of his elder brother Ganesha or Vighneshvara. For Subrahmanya is conceived at both the levels, namely, in his iconographical mūrti-form (sakala) and in the pure absolute state (niskala). In the niskala symbolism, he is said to be on par with or sometimes, even higher than Siva.

Kunrutōrātal of Lord Murukan: A Cognitive Anthropological Study

by Saba Jayarajah

The concept of kunrutōrātal is a synthesis of Tamilian devotion, social dynamics and dance matured in the minds of Tamil mystic poets. Murukan thus conceived as the dancer integrates the various social dimensions of the Tamils and promotes devotional involvement.

Like Lord Siva, Lord Murukan is also considered as a cosmic dancer who performs the five eternal activities, viz. production (pataittal), maintenance (kāttal), destruction (alittal), embodiment (arulal) and concealment (maraittal). Kunrutōrātal is a unique symbol uniting the different strata of the Tamil population and their devotional thoughts. Social and geographical integration is considered to be the core of the concept of kunrutōrātal.

Murukan Worship through Music

by N. Jayavidhya

In Kaumāra or Murukan cult, music has been recognised as one of the forms of worship. It has been said that Murukan worship has begun in the Cankam Age. For this we have the reference of Vēlan Veriyātal. That ancient veriyātal evolved into Murukan worship and then it was converted into agamic worship.

There are many paths to worship God. But music is the easiest and the most pleasant path to reach Him. Music was an important medium of propagation of bhakti schools. There are two margas in music to attain God. They are jñāna mārga and kirtana mārga. Kirtana mārga is easier within the reach of the common man.

There are many literary works which concern Murukan worship, as for example inTolkāppiyam, Tirumurukārruppatai, Kuruntokai, Paripātal, Kalittokai and Cilappatikāram. There are many verses in praise of Lord Murukan. Besides these works, Arunakiri's Tiruppukal, Vallalār's Teyvamanimālai and Kavi Kuñcara Bharath's Skanda Purāna Kirtanas are also sung in praise of Lord Murukan. Also there is folk literature which defines Murukan worship in their own style. Not only in literature but also in folk musical forms like cintu, kummi, etc., we find forms of Murukan worship.

Since the 19th century there have been many saint-composers and musicians who have developed Murukan worship through music. Some notable examples are Annamalai Reddiar, Papanasam Sivam, Kotiswara Iyer, Bharathiar, Periyasami Tooran and so on. This article explains and expresses how patavarnam, kirtana, tillāna and kāvati cintu illustrate Murukan worship and its development.

Iconography of Skanda-Murukan

by Raju Kalidos

The epithet Skanda-Murukan is self-evident of the two streams of iconographical data, available in Sanskrit and Tamil.

A number of scholars (V.S. Agrawala, T.A. Gopinatha Rao, H. Krishnasastri, J.N. Banerjea, K.K. Kurukar, B.N. Sharma, Upendra Thakur et al.) have summarised the Sanskritic sources from a study of the following works: Kumārasambhava, Raghuvamsha, the epics (Mahābhārata and Rāmāyana), Brhatsamhita, Visnudharmottara Purāna, Rūpamandana, Matsya Purāna, Mahābhāsya, Amarakosa, Mrcchakatika, Kāshyapiya, Shilapasamgraha, Supra bhedāgama, and the āgamas (e.g. Amshumadbhedāgama, Uttara-Kāmikāgama, Suprabhedāgama, Pūrva-Kāranāgama) and the Kumāratantra. The classical Tamil sources and folk motifs have been examined by Kamil Veith Zvelebil, David Dean Shulman and the present author. Flashes of insight appear through a thorough study of the following Tamil works: Tolkāppiyam, Narrinai, Kuruntokai, Akanānūru, Puranānūru, Maturaikkāñci, Pattinappālai, Kuriñcippāttu, Tirumurukārruppatai, Porunarārruppatai, Paripātal, the twin epics (Cilappatikāram and Manimēkalai) and the Tamil bhakti examination of the monuments and folk thoughts. To unravel the mysteries behind the regional ideas and their transformation in art a systematic attempt has to be undertaken. The temple cars of Tamil Nadu and temples of the Nāyaka period constitute a class of their own in this respect. The canon and corpus, besides popular literature and folk data serve to solve the artistic riddles.

The present study deals with the rare motifs in the iconography of Skanda-Murukan and tries to evaluate them within the context of Indian art history.

Examination of the iconographic pieces with reference to popular and folk sources add a new dimension to the iconography of Skanda-Murukan.

Skanda: God of Kali Yuga

by Thilagawathi Kanagaretnam

Murukan is often called Kaliyuga Varada (Bestower of boons in Kali Yuga) or Kali Yugak Katavul (God of Kali Yuga). This paper underscores the justifications for calling Murukan the God of this Kali Yuga.

Points for the justification will be drawn from the implied meaning of the usual form of Lord Murukan and related puranic episodes about Him. His special attributes and episodes will be analysed to see how Lord Murukan is associated with attributes and characteristics which are specifically required to fulfill the requirements of modern people.

Peoples' attitudes, aspirations, tastes and expectations change with the times; this is because people tend to become more advanced in all fields in materialistic society, thus becoming more sophisticated in their needs, tastes and standard of living. Nevertheless at a certain stage of their life, they start searching for spiritual component.

This paper makes an attempt to show how Murukan is specifically associated with those attributes and qualities to suit the attitudes and fulfill the aspirations of the people of Kali Yuga. Existing literature such as Kanta Purānam, Tirumurukārruppatai and others will be cited.

The cult of Murukan in the Paripātal

by S.N. Kandaswamy

The Paripātal is one of the super anthologies of Cankam period. In its present form it consists of 22 poems of different dimensions in the metrical form known as Paripātal. However, the learned editor Dr. U.V.S. exhumed from the commentaries of Tamil classics more poems and fragmentary pieces which, in his opinion, belonged to the original text, and published them separately as an annexure. Most of the poems are ancient specimens of devotional lyrics addressed to Tirumāl and Cevvēl, an epithet of Murukan, while others express love themes against the backdrop of the beautiful surroundings of Vaiyai and Maturai. Thus, it is the earliest available Tamil classic, wherein spiritualism and sensuality are coupled with each other.

The present study on the cult of Murukan is essentially based on the rich materials, enshrined in the eight poems (5, 8, 9, 14, 17, 18, 19, 21) on Cevvēl. The indigenous and foreign origin of the myths and legends associated with Murukan, the concept of the incarnation of Sivakumāra, His benign and heroic deeds and His spiritual supremacy form the central theme of discussion in this paper.

The glorification of Tirupparankunram, the hill abode of Murukan, modes of worship, the expression of devotion of different stratas of His devotees and similar theological aspects are also studied. Though Tamils, in general, prayed to the Lord for material benefits, the most evolved souls aspired for a supreme life devoid of hedonistic pleasure. Some of the basic principles of metaphysics such as the concept of God and soul, doctrine of karma, means of liberation and eternal bliss as indicated in the poems are explored. It is heartening to note that the poet who extolled Tirumāl in poems 3 and 4 of the Paripātal has also glorified Cevvēl in poem 5 of the same text. Similarly, some of the poets with deep knowledge of Tamil musical tradition have set tune to poems on both the gods under reference, thus revealing the absence of religious animosity and the presence of toleration and harmonious understanding, a special hallmark of the Paripātal.

Some poems on Cevvēl have exciting and interesting love themes to exemplify the Tamil concept of kalavu (pre-marital love) and karpu (marital love) associated with Murukan and His consorts Valli and Teyvānai. The poets followed closely the Tolkāppiyam tradition in depicting such love themes, though they exhibited their talent in introducing some innovative feature, which are significant, providing aesthetic joy.

Paripātalil Cevvēlaip pātip paravum mutanmutalil pātappatta paktip pātalkal - Oru Curukkamāna matippitu

by A. Kandiah

A descriptive account of Paripātal is given at the outset. It is pointed out that a number of poems in Paripātal though categorized as invocatory are different from the usual invocatory addressees.

The presence of several poems in praise of both Tirumāl and Murukan shows that the authors of these were free from sectarian feelings.

The poet Nallantuvanār is revealed in Paripātal as a poet of Nature and of the theme of love.

The fifth poem of the collection by Katuvan Ilaveyinanār gives a lengthy account of the birth of Murukan which is not to be found in any other poem in such detail.

Some of the poets deal with the themes of love and married life in relation with Murukan, Valli and Teyvānai. Kunrampūtanār speaks of the great sorrow felt by Teyvānai at the time of the marriage of Murukan with Valli. The poet then goes on to depict the fight that ensued between the companion of Valli and the attendant of Teyvānai.

The poet Nappannanār presents the two, Teyvānai and Valli as representing the heaven and the earth. Murukan loves both the realms and this is the meaning of his having two wives.

The treatment of the love theme in devotional poems is not the same in Paripātal as in Tēvāram. Love situations as found in Akam poetry have been introduced into the body of Paripātal poems while addressing god.

In Paripātal emphasis is laid on God's grace, love and righteousness (Aram). This is evident from poem no.5 which praises these three in the place of wealth, gold and enjoyment.

The introduction of love theme in the context of devotional writing occurs for the first time in Paripātal. Saiva and Vaishnava saints of later times developed this into a form in which God is addressed as the great lover by the devotee who regards himself as a woman yearning for Him.

Murukan cult in the Cilappatikāram

by S. Kanmani

Scope: This research paper deals with the Murukan cult present in the epic Cilappatikāram. The author Ilankōvatikal, who is identified as a Jain, provides much information about the temples of various gods not only in the major cities of the kingdom but also in the other significant temple towns.

Problem the research addresses: Though there has been research done on the story, subject matter, historical details and the artistic supremacy of the author and his presentation; no research was done about the Murukan cult in the Cilappatikāram to date. Information about the Murukan cult in Cilappatikāram has not been studied before. Kunrak kuravai, a folk song and dance dealing with Murukan cult, has not been analysed. So the purpose of this research paper is to analyse the details about the Murukan cult prevailing in the Tamil kingdom during the days of Ilankōvatikal's writing of Cilappatikāram .

Methodology: The traditional descriptive approach is followed. The major components are:

  1. Significance of the names and epithets of Murukan and Murukan temples;
  2. Temple towns of Lord Murukan;
  3. Icons enshrined;
  4. Importance given to Vēl;
  5. Mythical elements found;
  6. Music related with Murukan cult;
  7. Dance related with Murukan cult; and
  8. Folk songs about Lord Murukan.

Sources of information: The Cilappatikāram serves as the primary source. Secondary sources are the literature of the Cankam period and the epic Manimēkalai, the counterpart of Cilappatikāram.

Tamils who traditionally show no respect towards Murukan

by M. Kannan

Scope: This paper focuses on the strong conviction of those who have taken a vow neither to worship Lord Murukan, nor to be called themselves by any name of Murukan nor to name their children after him. The paper focuses on the custom and traditions of rural people who have kept such practices for a very long time.

Problem the research addresses: The people belonging to Kallar community living in Ucilampatti in Madurai district are strong in their conviction and follow certain long-practised customs of neither worshipping Murukan nor naming themselves as Murukan, nor naming their children after him because they think that the god has not done any good to their community; instead they believe the god has betrayed the community and done harm to the community's people. They take it as the long-practised custom of their locality.

Methodology: This research paper includes explanatory points, evaluation and comparative analysis pertaining to the research problem.

Source of Information: The primary sources of this research problems are extracted from direct discussion with people and from news reports. The secondary sources are published books, articles, newspaper reports and other related sources.

The Folk Tradition of Pādayātrā to Palani

by R. Kannan

Palani is a sacred site whose icon of Swāmi Tandāyudhapāni was installed by Siddhar Bhogar. Every year during Taippūcam and Pankuni Uttiram devotees come to Palani by foot on pādayātra$. The devotees face many problems and demands in daily life. Seeking relief, they make offerings to Lord Murukan. Pādayātra$ serves to promote and maintain unity among rural peoples. It also has social and religious significance.

The researcher has undertaken a survey of one hundred pādayātra$ pilgrims to Palani during Taippūcam and Pankuni Uttiram to ascertain details such as their reasons for undertaking the pilgrimage by foot, the kinds of offerings they offer and the kinds of boons they ask from Palani Āntavar.

Murukan in the Light of Modern Medicine

by J.G. Kannappan

Shaiva Siddhānta is as ancient as the origin of humanity. Siddhānta emanated from the Dravidian population and especially from the Tamil-speaking population. Shaiva Siddhanta is totally social-oriented for the welfare of humanity. Vallalār, N®ānacampantar, Tirumūlar, Tāyumānavar, Tirunāvukkaracar and others spoke of love as the incarnation of Almighty and declared that this might bring peace and prosperity to humanity.

This cult is depicted in the form of Lord Shiva and His son Skanda. In reading the scriptures pertaining to Lord Murukan as narrated by the lady poet Avvaiyār, it is said that His knowledge and wisdom are associated with total health. It is the way towards the eternal bliss of divinity and serenity. The World Health Organisation (WHO) protrayal of a philosophy of 'total health by 2000 AD' is the forecast made by Shaiva philosophers through Lord Murukan's personification and declaration.

Complete health is of paramant importance for peace and prosperity of society, so that people can devote their full mind for devotion and salvation of the soul. Hence, the healing art of Lord Vaittisvaran is also respected in Shaiva Siddhānta. Lord Murukan in His iconography, prayers and His own command aims for the perfect body and pure soul of human beings.

Civappirakācar Kanta Murukan

by Vel Karttikeyan

The aim of the paper is to depict Murukan as viewed by Civappirakācar. The appearance of Murukan, his teaching of pranava, his embodying of Civākama and his bestowing of Mukti are studied in this paper. Further there is a comparative study of Civappirakācar and Kumarakuruparar in their approach to Murukan.

Worship of Lord Murukan: A Reconstructional Approach

by K. Kathiresan

Scope of the Research: This paper attempts to reconstruct the worship of Lord Murukan and the features of the proto stage.

It also aims to bring out the socio-economic backgrounds which are responsible for the change in the folk pattern of the worship to the institutionalised form of worship.

Problem of the research addresses: The worship of Lord Murukan by the Tamils today is deeply influenced by the Aryan tradition which has changed the native style of worship into a highly artificial and institutionalized mode. This change has come about because of the impact of Sanskritization and the socio-economic changes. In spite of this deculturisation which has taken place, still some elements of the native Tamil worship could be found sporadically in South India.

If those elements are gathered together and reconstructed as per the principles of reconstruction, this could lead to the original native unadulterated form of worship of Lord Murukan.

Research Methodology: Methodology of this research is based on the principles of reconstruction, the historical factors that led to the deculturisation of the native worship. A comparative study of two different cultures will also be attempted to bring out the transformations that have taken place over a period of time.

Source of information: Field work study, interviews with eminent Progithas and data collected from the devotees will form the primary sources for this paper. Books, articles and theses on Lord Murukan will form the secondary sources for the research paper.

Pakai Mārravanta Paraman

P.S.S. Krishnamurthi

God's descent to the earth is known as avatāram. An avatāram may embody the entire essence of God or it may be a partial manifestation of it. Murukan who took birth expresses the whole of the divine nature.

The Tamil people have always worshipped Murukan as the God of Beauty, wisdom and protective power.

Murukan's spear is a symbol of spiritual knowledge. He wields it to destroy the evils of hatred and hostility. Cūran who opposed him is the principle of Ego. In his ignorance of truth he sought power over the entire universe. He treated Murukan as a mere kid. After the battle between them was over and Cūran had been defeated, Murukan did not destroy him. He blessed him with enlightenment and took him under his own divine protection.

In this age of bitter enmities and conflicts of all kinds, this teaching of the principle of forgiving even the worst of enemies is of greatest importance.

Following Murukan: Taippūcam celebration in Singapore

by Gauri Parimoo Krishnan

Murukan worship in Singapore can be traced back to the mid-19th century soon after the first Cettiyārs landed in Singapore with a Vēl from their home in Tamil Nadu. Used as a protective charm during the sea voyage this Vēl was soon erected under a tree and begun to be worshipped. Soon a temple was built as early as 1859 on the original site where it stands even today with slight modifications, at the Tank Road. Popularly known as the Cettiyār's temple it is officially named Tantāyutapāni temple.

The practice of celebrating Taippūcam is unique to Singapore and Malaysia where Cettyiārs and non-Cettyiārs celebrate different rituals. In recent years North Indian and Chinese devotees have also joined in. The cult of Murukan and the vow to follow the asceticism involved in bearing the most complex kāvatis are the two main foci which will be discussed in this paper. The showmanship and personal courage to bear pain in display of one's dedication to Murukan are also discussed. An exploration of the forces driving the Cettyiārs and the non-Cettyiārs in the celebration of this festival is also be highlighted.

'Following Murukan' is the practice of following the utsavaratha or century-old chariot through the financial district of Singapore prior to the day of lifting the kāvatis. The route is meaningful in its own right and has gone through different stages of alteration. The range of sacred and profane elements that sustain the dedication among the Singaporean devotees is also explored. A slide presentation of the three day ceremony is also included.

My Experience with Vallimalai Satchidānanda Swami

by P.S. Krishnan Iyer

The author first met Vallimalai Satchidananda Swamigal at Tiruttani, which for him represented the union of soul and body. Until his departure from earth on 22 November 1950, the author lived closely with him rendering him service and performing his errands.

In his article, he recalls interesting discussions with the Swami, giving insight into his philosophy, the mission of his life and also how he received such rare insights. His selection of songs for daily prayers, starting for each day of the week in a particular order from Sunday to Saturday is not only esoteric but based on principles of Yogasāstra - each day signifies a particular cakra in the body and on Saturday envelope all the six leading to sahasrara cakra.

Likewise he had formulated from the same source of Tiruppukal the Parāyana Kuntu form. He himself introduced a model of rendering the songs by ending with the line of appeal repeated with a prayer to Lord as a form of surrender seeking spiritual solace. He inducted farmers, uneducated village boys and girls, great scholars, and well-known musicians all into his fold.

The author's article covers Swami's personal discussions on these aspects with the present researcher during 1949-1950 and also his last twelve days in preparation for departure up to 22 November 1950 as well. The scholar also discusses the induction of Swami's powers finally in Shri Vaisnavi Devi on 13 January 1950 as his ista dēvatai Valli with the help of Swami Anvananda S. Parthasarathy (Swami Anvananda).

In the Footsteps of Arunakirinātar: A Pilgrim's Progress

by Valayapettai Ra. Krishnan

Among Tamils, Murukan worship finds place of pride ever since the Cankam age. Tolkāppiyam, the ancient Tamil grammar, speaks elaborately about Murukan and His worship. Tirumurukārruppatai (c. 150 AD), a treatise exclusively on Murukan by the great Cankam poet Nakkirar, deals with six sacred abodes of Murukan in Tamil Nadu.

After Nakkirar, the Murukan cult did not receive much importance until the great saint Arunakirinātar, a contemporary of Bukka I (1335-1376 AD) of the Vijayanagar empire, gave fresh impetus. Arunakirinātar did not sing the glory of Murukan from an ivory tower. Even remote villages received the impact of his visit. His works are of an encyclopaedic nature dealing with all that is found in Murukan worship.

His Tiruppukal hymns inspired subsequent generations to worship Murukan and he was largely responsible for the proliferation of Murukan temples throughout Tamil Nadu. His songs are a source of inspiration for devotees of Murukan even today.

Arunakirinātar travelled extensively from the extreme south of this country to Kāshi. It is not possible to say in which order he visited the many places mentioned in his songs. From the available 1,330 Tiruppukal songs, he has worshipped and sung at 216 shrines. Out of 196 main Tiruppukal sthalas, 182 are in Tamil Nadu, 11 in other states and three places are in Sri Lanka.

This research focuses attention on the important shrines in which Arunakirinātar was blessed by Lord Murukan, for which internal evidence is available in Tiruppukal songs. Certain beautiful icons, rare forms of Subrahmanya and some interesting sociological trends seen in some shrines are described. Some of the names of places referred by him in Tiruppukal were changed now and in some places no temples exist due to natural calamities etc.

The sources of information for the above are drawn from personal visits to the respective temples and interviews with temple authorities, priests and elders.

Vēl Worship in Sri Lanka

by Vimala Krishnapillai

Skanda-Murukan is no exception to the Hindu ideal that the divine is immanent in all things. From prehistoric times the Vēl has received the adoration and worship of the Tamils as a sacred object. In the ancient Tamil Cankam period, we find reference to 'the powerful god dwelling in the Vēl'. Cilappatikāram speaks of Vellakottam, implying that Vēl was singled out and installed for worship and shrines were built around it.

Sri Lanka is an ideal source for the study of the indigenous Tamil traditions because of its geological and historical position. Infiltration of Aryan traditions was very slow and weak until Buddhism became the established religion of the country.

Old symbols never die. They persist in the ancestral memory and take on new meanings. The archetype of the Vēl symbol took on different meanings with time. To the hunting tribes the Vēl embodied the power that could pierce the quarry to provide sustenance. To the warring chieftains and kings the Vēl piercing the enemy represented valour and victory connoted by the names of TīraVēl and VerriVēl. Presently Vēl symbolizes jñānasakti (power of knowledge). Jñāna Vēl pierces ignorance (avidyā) and redeems man from delusion or māya$.

An attempt is made here is to understand the worship of the Vēl in the spiritual, sociocultural, psychological and anthropological aspects. The locus, origin, histories both mythical and documentary of the shrines, the indigenous forms of worship and local motifs associated with the shrines, the folk life and social setting in the areas surrounding the selected areas are examined.

The Myth of Skanda: A re-reading

by S. Krishnarajah

The Skanda myth as depicted in the various purānas and epics yields different readings in different contexts and its interpretation can be a rewarding experience. Myth, says Barthes, is a type of speech chosen by history that has to be defined by its intention which is more than its literal sense. The proposed study is an attempt to analyse the Skanda myth on the basis of a societal paradigm which is more or less satisfactory from the socio-philosophical point of view. In this paper are presented three different interpretations, namely: N®ānap Pirakācar, Capārattina Mutaliyār and Kamil Zvelebil along with the researcher's reading of the myth.

N®ānap Pirakācar interpreted the Skanda myth by the object of its message. Hence he considered it as a historical event and the hero of this myth as a historical personality. Capārattina Mutaliyār viewed it on a religious basis and argued for a metaphysical interpretation. On the other hand, Kamil Zvelebil seeks a permanent structure of the human mind in the Skanda myth and concludes that the purpose of this myth is to provide a logical model capable of overcoming a real human contradiction.

The Skanda myth per-se expresses the concurrence of god Skanda over his adversaries. Cūrapatuman and his asura brothers. The description of asuras and devas in the various literature emphasises the fact that they belong to different social groups with different cultic system with enmity toward each other. Matriarchal social patterns are observed chiefly among the asura culture, upon which patriarchal forms of devas set their imprint. Hence the meaning of the Skanda myth seems to be a mythological description of the victory of patriarchal authority of the devas over matriarchal system of asuras.

The thesis of this paper is centered on the above argument and the theoretical basis of this paper is provided by J.J. Bachofen (Myth, Religion and Mother Right) and Erich Fromm (The Forgotten Language).

Murukan in Cankam literature

by M. Kuruvammal

Murukan is a god of kuriñci land in Cankam literature. Tolkāppiyam says Cēyōn mēya myvari ulakam ('Murukan is the god of the hill-land'). Perumpānārruppatai describes Murukan as Vellum pōrai valla Murukan (Murukan who wins the great war). Akam literature attests to the practice of adorning weapons of war and memorial stones with peacock feathers, which are symbols of Murukan.

Patirruppattu mentions the practice of offering sacrifice to ananku in case of failing to hit the prey while hunting. Ananku refers to anankutai Murukan kōttam. Narrinai explains the practice of sacrificing to an ananku named Murukan. Vēlan Veriyāttu explains how the natural force called Murukan becomes human temporarily. Vēlan Veriyāttu is an important part of the ritual to appease and exorcise spirits. Cankam literature thus shows that belief in ananku was predominant in Murukan worship. Kuruntokai, Puranānūru, Tolkāppiyam, Paripātal and Narrinai all testify to the existence of the concept of the spirit world and the impersonal concept of constructing an altar for the Veriyāttu.

Murukan worship in Cankam literature encompasses nature worship, spirit worship, totemic worship and ancestor worship. It should be noted that Vēlan figures in Cankam literature alongside Akavan Makal and Kattuvicci who participated as shamans in the worship of the Mother-deity. It is the hypothesis of this paper that later day participation of Vēlan as shaman is an indication of a shift from matrilineal social order to patrilineal social order.

Publication of Tiruppukal a hundred years ago

by Gnanapurani Madhvanath

After Agastya Rishi who is said to have initiated the worship of Lord Murukan, Nakkirar of the second century A.D. is considered a great devotee as shown by his celebrated work Tirumurukārruppatai. After Nakkirar, it was Saint Arunakirinātar who was responsible for the resurrection of the Murukan cult in the Tamil country by means of his Tiruppukal and other compositions of devotion of Lord Murukan.

Tiruppukal as the name implies sings the glory of Lord Murukan. Composed six hundred years ago, it went into oblivion because of references to the lure of lust and vivid descriptions of lecherous women contained in it. However, the unique sweetness of the hymns, the variegated rhythmic patterns in their structure, the devotional aspects and the messages conveyed by them, brought them back to light. Since then, several scholars have researched Tiruppukal from various angles.

This article attempts to throw light on the circumstances which led to the rediscovery and publication of Tiruppukal by V.T. Subramania Pillai over a hundred years ago and the accelerated propagation of these songs by Vallimalai Śrī Satchidananda Swamigal.

Subsequent to the publications by V.T. Subramania Pillai in 1895, research work was carried out by his son who also brought out commentaries on all the available compositions of Arunakirinātar under the title Muruka Vēl Panniru Tirumurai. This article also includes some details of the circumstances which led to the popularisation of Tiruppukal songs by Śrī Vallimalai Sacchidananda Swamigal.

Murukan in the Indus Script

by Iravatham Mahadevan

There is clear pictorial evidence from seals and sealings for the practice of religion by the Harappans. The question whether any deity is prominently mentioned in their writing is explored in this paper.

The search for the possible occurrence of the name of a deity in the Indus script has to be based on the following criteria:

(a) A deity conceived to be human in form is more likely to be represented by an anthropomorphic ideogram than by syllabic writing;

(b) The ideogram will occur with high frequency, and with especially higher relative frequency in votive or dedicatory inscriptions in obvious religious contexts;

(c) The ideogram is likely to occur repetitively as part of fixed formulas possibly representing religious incantations.

It can be shown by frequency-distribution analysis that the only sign in the Indus script which satisfies all the criteria is No. 48 in the sign-list (The Indus Script, 1977). This sign depicts an anthropomorphic deity in the seated posture reminiscent of similar representations of anthropomorphic deities in the Egyptian hieroglyphic script. The two defining characteristics of the Harappan deity are:

(a) skeletal form with a prominent ribcage (denoting the spirit of the dead);

(b) folded lower limbs (denoting divinity).

The proposed identification is corroborated by a seal found at Kalibangan with a realistic depiction of the seated deity with a prominent rib cage.

The ideogram may be interpreted in Dravidian using the rebus method as *muruku. The proposed rebus is based on Dravidian homonyms with meanings corresponding to the two defining characteristics of the ideogram:

(a) to shrink, shrivel, wither, decay; to be old, ancient; and

(b) bending, contracting, folding (as limbs).

The skeletal deity seems pictorially to symbolise the manes (cf. Ta, pēy; Pkt. peya; Skt. preta) and probably originated from ancestor-worship. Traces of the demonic character of the deity survived in the conception of Muruku in the earliest Tamil literature. The deity's name may also be interpreted phonetically through rebus as 'destroyer, killer' who later evolved into a warrior-god.

The paper marshals pictorial and literary evidence from both Dravidian and Indo-Aryan sources for the survival and evolution of the symbolism associated with the Harappan deity in later art traditions and mythology.

The Common Aspects of Murukan Cult in Tirumurukārruppatai and Kantapurānam: A Comparative Study

by Marimuthu Vetanathan

Worship of Lord Murukan dates back to very early times, particularly in South India. The devotees of Lord Murukan have to their credit several poetic compositions on the Lord. All the compositions praise Him by various names and epithets. Among them the most notable are Tirumurukārruppatai composed by Nakkirar and Kantapurānam authored by Kacciyappacivācāriyar. Those two important Saiva works describe the origin of Murukan or Kantan and extrol his divine powers.

Tirumurukārruppatai ranks as the most popular poetic composition of the Cankam period. This work consists of 317 lines. It is also included in the 11th Tirumurai. Thus, it gets the literary as well as religious significance. According to A.L. Basham, it is the first Indian devotional literature. The devotees of Murukan are accustomed to recite this devotional lyric in their daily worship.

Kantapurānam occupies place of emienence in Saiva Literature. The work consists of 10345 four-line viruttam stanzas in six Kāntams (Books) in 141 chapters. This work describes the cult of Murukan and remains to be the bridge, that links Murukan and Kantan.

Although these two works belong to different periods there are many common aspects, ideas and myths, deserving an indepth study. It may be noted that Kacciyappacivācāriyar was well acquainted with Tirumurukārruppatai, which exerted a great influence on him.

The two literary religious works delineate the divine powers of Lord Murukan. His personality, and various names besides the methods of offering worship to Him and to His victorious weapon, Vēl i.e. lance.

The sixfold sacred abodes of Lord Murukan, commonly called Ārupataivitu are picturesquely portayed in Tirumurukārruppatai and also in the Kantapurānam. These are considered by some scholars to be war-camps of the Martial God Murukan. It seems that Ārru-p-pataivitu should some became Ārupataivitu. Though traditionally they are reckoned in the order; Parankunram, Ciralaivāy, Āvinankuti, Ērakam, Kunrutōrātal and Palamutircōlai, poets like Arunakirinātar subscribed to the concept of sixfold shrines, as mentioned in the Tirumurukārruppatai.

The attributes and epithets, the modes of worship, the legends associated with Murukan and His consorts, Valli and Teyvānai, His heroic activities, bestowal of grace etc. are to be studied on the common materials, unearthed from the aforesaid two religious works.

The Cult of Murukan and N®ānacampantar

by Dr P. Marudanayagam

Kamil V. Zvelebil's Tamil Traditions on Subrahmanya-Murugan makes a primary mention of the widespread belief among the Saivites of Tamil Nadu that N®ānacampantar was an incarnation of Murukan, which almost exactly parallels the North Indian tradition that confers a similar honour on Kumarila Bhatta by considering him an avatar of Subrahmanya. It is surprising to note that in the Tēvāram there are only forty references to Murukan, most of which praise Shiva as the father of Kumaran or Cēntan or Katampan or Vēl or Kantan. What is more puzzling is that the Tēvāram hymns do not celebrate any of Murukan's temples even though Tirupparankunram and Tiruccentūr had been extolled in the earliest of Cankam texts.

The present paper re-examines the entire Shaiva canon including Tēvāram, Periyapurānam, Ālutaiya Pillaiyār Tiruvantāti, Tiruccanpai Viruttam, Tirumummanikkōvai, Tiruvulāmālai, Tirukkalampakam and Tiruttokai in order to give a cogent critical account of the belief tracing N®ānacampantar's divine descent from Skanda-Murukan.

The Ancient Tamil Conception of Murukan and Justice

R. Marudhamuthu

This research paper attempts to explore the hypothesis that Murukan had a more profound meaning and greater social relevance before the process of Sanskritisation gained in strength in Tamil Nadu and that the concept of justice formed the central aspect of the god as conceived by the ancient Tamils. The paper also aims at studying the impact of Sanskritisation on the god. Finally it will analyse the relevance of Murukan for modern Tamil society.

The period covered by the research corresponds to that in which the poems of Ettuttokai and Pattuppāttu were composed.

The general problem facing researchers in the study of Murukan during this period is that the scattered references in Tamil literature to him and his cult do not add up to a unified whole which will warrant the high place accorded to him throughout Tamil Nadu. The accretion of later, legendary material also tends to colour our perception of the god's original nature.

In an attempt to solve this problem, the researcher proposes to examine the literary evidence of the Cankam period relating to Murukan from the modern sociological and historical perspective.

The original Tamil texts of the Pattuppāttu and the Ettuttokai will be the main sources of the research, along with the Tamil Lexicon, A Word Index of Old Tamil Cankam Literature (Thomas Lehmann and Thomas Malten), and Canka Ilakiya Porutkalañciam (Tamil University, Tanjavur). Other books of reputed modern scholars will also be cited.

Murukan and the Tamil Language

by M.J. Mohan, M.D.

Undoubtedly this topic is not only vast, but also vastly interesting as it is a journey from Kanyā Kumari to the Indus Valley and even beyond. It is exceptional in that it deals with anthropology, literature, history, mythology and sociology.

How and when Cēyōn mentioned in Tolkāppiyam had re-entered as Kantan (Skanda) into Tamil bhakti literature raises many questions. Controversies and contradictions exist as to when and how Murukan the god of Kuriñci penetrated into other areas with other names to be worshipped in different forms in India and abroad. There are devotional songs attributed to peacock, spear and kāvati. It is uncommon to find such similar songs on any other gods even in Sanskrit literature.

According to unbiased researchers, Murukan is the embodiment of beauty, divinity, valour, everlasting youth and fragrance. In other ways, He reflects the beauty of nature and is portrayed as the Lord of Hillocks.

The Tamil language has its origin in Kumari continent, the first place of human habitation which was swallowed by ocean on three occasions, the last one occurring near Tiruccentūr, one of the Āru Patai Vitus. Tamil is the primary classical language which was nurtured and developed by three Cankams, the ancient academies of Tamil scholars.

Tolkāppiyam, the oldest grammar work authored by Tolkāppiyam after a thorough study of other works on Tamil grammar which existed in the previous Cankam age of vanished Kumari continent, mentions Cēyōn, i.e. Murukan as god of Kuriñci. Hence it is clear that the Murukan cult had been practised even before Tolkāppiyar.

The eminent sage Akasthiyar had an opportunity to hear the inner meaning of pranava - Om - from Lord Murukan according to references available about the great Kurumuni.

This paper addresses many genuine doubts as to when pre-Aryan Tamil culture and Aryan culture embraced each other and what is the present result of their intermingling.

The Divine Garland: A Mosaic of Motivation

by N. Murugan (Cheyon)

Teyvamanimālai is one of the best contributions of Vallalār. It consists of 31 devotional poems. Each one may be considered as a diamond jewel adorning the Tamil god Lord Murukan at Kantakōttam in the heart of Chennai.

All the poems envisage the heroic deeds of Lord Murukan, describe the various aspects of Lord Murukan and detail the merits and demerits of good and evil things respectively. They also guide readers to develop their recitation capacity, meditating ability and devotional fervour. They also enlighten readers to promote their character, attitude, aptitude and behaviour.

Teyvamanimālai is really a 'mosaic of motivation'. If one starts reading it one will never leave it without finishing the whole book of 31 devotional poems. Each one conveys a number of ideas, advices, ways and means of achieving goals, etc. This will certainly dispel the darkness of ignorance and kindle the light of knowledge which in turn leads to greater happiness for the heart and soul of every human being.

Every person consciously or unconsciously asks himself, 'What is in it for me?' before engaging in any behaviour. Self-interest is the ultimate motivating force. If one's needs are fulfilled then one will be considered as a fully motivated person to achieve his goals.

The most widely accepted need classification scheme was proposed by Abraham Maslow over a quarter of century ago. His list of needs is convincingly short, yet covers most of the dimension that psychologists have found to be important. Maslow hypothesized that within every human being there exists a hierarchy of five needs. These needs are:

  1. Physiological includes hunger, thirst, shelter, sex and other bodily needs.
  2. Safety includes security and protection from physical and emotional harm.
  3. Love includes affection, belongingness, acceptance, and friendship
  4. Esteem includes Internal esteem factors such as self-respect, autonomy and achievement and External esteem factors such as status, recognition and attention.
  5. Self-Actualization the drive to become what one is capable of becoming includes growth, achieving one's potential and self-fulfilment.

All these motivating aspects are spread over in Teyvamanimālai. All the motivating aspects overtly and covertly present in the devotional songs of Divine Garland. Teyvamanimālai will be brought to light by an analytical approach.

Murukan as Proto-Tamil Cultural Archetype

by V. Murugan

This paper focuses upon Murukan as a polysemantic cultural archetype of the Tamil mind during the pre-Sanskritic epoch in Tamil history.

Problem: The Murukan myth may be traced to the racio-cultural memory of the ancient Tamils and is examined as being informed by the secular socio-cultural milieu of the ancient Tamil country. It is also seen as reflecting the Cankam conception of human life as constituting two basic modes, viz., Akam and Puram, love and power. While Dr. Kamil V. Zvelebil convincingly establishes the indigenous, autochthonous nature of the pre-Aryan Murukan through his well-documented studies Tiru Murugan and Tamil Traditions on Subrahmanya-Murugan, the present study aims to be the first to examine the link between the thematic classification of literature and the structural patterns of the Murukan myth. It is also possibly the first of its kind in seeing the image of Murukan evolving into a polysemantic cultural symbol, attaining ultimately to the status of a cultural archetype.

The creation of Murukan in the image of Tamil life is informed by the ancient Tamil conception of the relationship between man and nature. Theirs is a hylozoistic vision, going far beyond animism and finding an organic connectedness, interaction and intercreativity between man and the circumambient universe. The personification of Murukan in his varied dimensions seems to be the natural offshoot of this vision. As such. Murukan as conceived by the Tamil mind is not a metaphysical, supernatural reality evolving from a religio-cultural ethos representing any transcendental abstract system such as the one of the Vedic Aryan culture, but rather an intuited, culturally ingrained symbol of Tamil culture, both lived and envisioned.

Another concern of this paper, the contemporary relevance and immediacy of which needs no emphasis, is to show Murukan as the native Tamil image and symbol of secular social life of the ancient Tamils. This reality is contrasted with the stratification of Tamil society along lines of religion and caste, and the representation of this social fragmentation in literature and other arts after the sixth century A.D. with the advent of the composite Sanskritic Murukan-Subrahmanya-Kārttikeya tradition.

There is a demonstrable nexus between the love-career of the Akam hero and heroine and the romance of Murukan and Valli in relation to their emotional behaviour and their nature backdrop. Similar is the conceptual correspondence between Murukan's war against Cūr and several of the principal puram thematic situations.

Methodology: The material is subjected to a totemic interpretation that informs thematalogical and culture studies.

Sources: The texts of the Cankam literary corpus including Tolkāppiyam, with references drawn from post-Cankam epics, and the main body of devotional literature form the primary data. Secondary sources include studies by Kamil V. Zvelebil and various literary and social histories of Tamil.

Kandapurānam Murukavēl Katai: Oru Putiyapārvai

by Tiru Valluratimai Muruku

The paper attempts to establish that originally Murukan did not have two wives, Valli and Teyvānai. Instead it was believed then that he was wedded to Valli alone. This hypothesis is sought to be proved by citing from Tolkāppiyam, the Cankam works and the epics like Cilappatikāram and Cintāmani. References are made to Tēvāram also. The archaeological findings of Āriccanallūr and other kinds of archaeological material have also been used as sources for the research.

The paper thus attempts to view the myths of Murukan with regard to his married status from a new angle.

Mythical Cosmology of Murukan

by Nellai S. Muthu

Scope: Astronomy combined with sociology yields mythical cosmology. This research focuses upon the origin and evolution of the cult of Murukan, the son of cosmological Shiva-Shakti. Mythological development of Murukan from Vēlan - Sanmukha - Kārttikeya - Skanda can be ascribed to the Indian conception of the planet Mercury. The planet Mercury has the extreme temperate limits of hot and cold. Moreover the planet appears only at dawn or at dusk. The nature of the planet has introduced later a mythological perception of Murukan as one at the middle of the bright and fair: Teyvānai and the dark hill-girl Valli. The research as such is thus oriented towards the myths that prevailed during the prehistoric era with a special reference to the forgotten, otherwise the untold mysteries of the tribal based Dravidian Indians.

Problems the research addresses: The analysis throws light on the striking similarities between linguistic families. In the Cankam period, Vēlan veriyātturai is a typical rite performed by the ancient Tamils. Cankam literature refers to 'furious Murukan'. Later Vēlan and Murukan merged together.

Methodology: By drawing upon data from independent sources, results are confirmed. The Assyrians assigned the planet Mercury to the god Nabu which means 'herald'. A major turning point occurred during seventh century B.C. when all over the world almost all Indo-Iranian languages were written from left to right. In Greek mythology, Hermes was the son of Zeus (Shiva) and Maia (Uma), the eldest sister in the starry Pleiades (Krttikā). It is again the same reference to Murukan. In the purānas, Murukan sent his military chieftain Virabahu as an ambassador (Skt: dūta) to his enemy Cūra Patuman. In Egyptian mythology the fleet-footed god Mercury is known as Thoth.

Sources of Information: The works of scholars like V.I. Subramaniam, Asko Parpola, Iravatham Mahadevan, Natana Kasinathan, Philip E. Ross, A. Pannekoek, Debiprasad Chattopadyay, E.C. Krupp and Isac Taylor are cited.

Trends in Murukan worship in Twentieth century in Tamil Nadu

S. Muthu Chidambaram

This paper examines trends in Murukan worship during the second half of 20th Century in southern Tamil Nadu.

Scope of the Study: Among the six patai vitu (camps of Murukan) four of them are situated in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu. Moreover, Murukan worship is more common in this area with a large number of temples established with Murukan as the primary deity. As a result, this study is limited to the southern part of Tamil Nadu. India is characterised by rapid changes both in material conditions and value systems especially after independence. Hence the time frame of this study is restricted to the past five decades.

Objectives: This study tries to identify the forces that work behind Murukan worship and also the changes that ere are taking place in it. This study also tries to view if such changes go along with the general trends taking place with regard to the worship of other major deities in Tamil Nadu or if they are unique to Murukan worship.

Research Methodology: This study is made from the perspective of Murukan devotees. It is qualitative in nature. Since religion is primarily based on faith, the author relies more on the materials collected from personal life experiences of Murukan devotees. In order to study the changes over the past fifty years, Murukan devotees who had been participating in various activities of Murukan worship over a period of time form the primary respondents for this study. Case studies are used to trace the changes taking place over a period of time.

Sources of Information: Materials collected from Murukan devotees form the main source of data. Moreover, materials were collected from temple authorities, priests, officials in transport and other departments, shop owners and others who were directly associated with various activities related to Murukan worship. Published materials were used as supplementary data.

Nālam Pukalum Vēlan

by I. Muthuramalingam

Man is in need of the attributes of knowledge, power and loving mercy. Possession of these can raise a man to the status of divinity. Tiruvalluvar has pointed to this possibility of attaining to godliness.

Murukan combines in himself the qualities of a god and those of a human being. He is the great god of the Tamils as well as the true representative of their culture.

With the infusion of Sanskritic culture in Tamil Nadu, several puranic versions of the birth of Murukan as an eternal god who knew no birth came into vogue.

Murukan's stealthy courtship of Valli accords well with the kalavu theme of ancient Tamil Literature. This was misunderstood in the northern tradition and led to the association of Kumāra (Murukan) with the act of stealing as referred to in Mirucca Katikaru.

The spear of Murukan is symbolic of knowledge. Murukan threw this spear at his enemy Cūran and left him into two. Then the two pieces were transformed into a cock and a peacock which Murukan adopted for himself as his banner and vehicle respectively. Thus he showed himself to be both valiant and merciful. His marriage with Valli shows that caste inequalities are of no account. His having two wives shows a cultural synthesis of Aryan and Dravidian elements. In the form of an ascetic at Palani he teaches the need for self-restraint and detachment even for a house-holder's life. Thus Murukan is a great conjoiner of different things and stands for the unity of the Tamil people.

The contribution of Chinnappa Thevar to Murukan worship through his films

by M. Muthuswami

This paper is a study of Chinnappa Thevar's film career including four of his films which deal exclusively with Murukan. Thevar introduced Krupananda Variyar to Tamil film audiences while depicting beautiful films and film songs about Murukan which are cherished even today. Despite his success, Thevar lived a life of simplicity while donating crores of rupees to the development of Murukan temples across Tamil Nadu. His timely contribution helped to counter anti-religious elements which were on the rise at the time of Thevar's film career.

Kārttikeya as Wargod in Kumārasambhavam

by M.S. Nagarajan

As its title indicates, the Kumārasambhavam of Mahākavi Kālidāsa tells the story of the origin of the young god Kārttikeya. The eight cantos narrate the story of the union of Shiva and Pārvati. The epic begins with the king of the Himālayas allowing his daughter to wait upon and worship Shiva and ends with the conjugal love of the divine couple. Pārvati's marriage to Shiva is ordained by the gods, for the warrior-child of the union - Kumāra/Skanda/Kārttikeya - is to destroy the asura Tāraka and liberate gods and humanity from bondage.

Though Skanda is not physically present in the poem - he is not yet born - he is its epicentre. He is the leader who safeguards the armies of the gods, a commander who will dispel the evil forces. Kumārasambhavam is about the emergence of the offspring of the union, the war-god Kārttikeya. The paper presents how the procreation of Kārttikeya occurs.

Source: The Kumārasambhavam eight sargas form the primary source material for this paper. Other sources in Tamil such as the Kanta Purānam and related myths and cultural representations are also utilised as supporting evidence.

Methodology: Primarily the new critical method of textual analysis is resorted to. Close examination and analyses of relevant shlokas are made where they are references to cosmic forces of destruction and war. Interpretation of image clusters and myths are used to strengthen the basic thesis.

A new historicist approach is also employed in one section of the paper. Cultural representations of Kārttikeya in literary and non-literary texts are taken up to illustrate how collective beliefs and experiences get appropriated and shaped into art forms and other contiguous forms of expression.

When The Peacock Dances: Images of Skanda-Murakan in South Africa

by Maheshvari Naidu

Scope: This paper will seek to explore the basis of Murukan worship among the South Indian Hindu community of South Africa. A preliminary literature review reveals that not much research in South Africa has focused on the pervasiveness of the worship to this deity. This paper will attempt to argue that within the context of the south Indian religious community of South Africa, the deity Subrahmanya Swāmi, as the god is popularly referred to by the local devotees, is understood within the context of divine reciprocity.

The research universe is delimited to the notion of this relationship of reciprocity that the devotee shares with her god. Divine reciprocity is itself, within this paper understood in the religious promise to carry the kāvati, a promise that is actualisation of the vow taken by the devotee. The god incarnates the notion of power that is able to transcend the existential difficulties of the devotees. In other words Murukan is seen as the metaphor for overcoming one's problem. The devotee in turn reciprocates by carrying the kāvati.

While being wider than the festival of kāvati, the worship of Murukan in South Africa is mainly articulated within the ritual enactment of kāvati. The paper is written evocatively and attempts to capture the essence of the god's power which is experientially comprehended by the devotees. This evocative narrative will attempt to capture the emic perspective of the insider and her privileged religious understanding of her god. The paper will also attempt to utilise the 'script' of visual texts which are the visually arrested images of the god in his sacred centres of worship, and that of his local devotees.

Sources of information are thus the empirical data collected from fieldwork. Textual references serve as supplementary to the raw 'text' that writes itself in the field. Some of these images will in turn be presented in the form of slides, the use of which will be woven into the fabric of the paper.

Methodology: The study will be located within a phenomenological framework and will use the methods of participation observation. Situating itself within the field of action research as developed by reason et. al., the research also draws from personal experience methods-firmly believing that the ethnograhic observer cannot remain aloof from her research subjects. The paper will ultimately assume the shape of an ethnographic narrative and will attempt to give voice to the stories of the people themselves, and the stories that the people tell about themselves, as the bhaktas of their katavul Murukan.

Civan and Murukan are One and the Same

by Deva. Natarajan

Undoutedly, the ancient god of the Tamils is Murukan. Murukan represents the bliss and beauty of Nature in its most pure and unpolluted form. The one word in Tamil which represents all high attributes and qualities and youthfulness is Muruku. From the stand-point of Shaiva-Siddhānta, Murukan and Civan are one and the same, just as Shakti and Civan, are one and the same and Lord Ganapati and Civan are one and the same.

The objective of this paper is to present evidence to support the aforesaid philosophical position, which is based on the premises of Shaiva-Siddhānta that there is only one Supreme Being "Paracivam" (TWŁYm ) and all other deities are Its manifestations exhibiting different ideologies.

Cannatiyan Celvacannati Murukan

by Kandiah Neelakandan

  1. Historical background
  2. Unique form of worship based on devotion
  3. Basic attributes of the temple: mūrtti, talam and tirttam
  4. Identification with Kataragama
  5. Upholding the highest noble precepts
  6. Popular worship
  7. Divine power reaching every level of human beings
  8. Significance of annacānam and matham
  9. Other social issues affecting this temple
  10. People's experiences
  11. Songs on this temple
  12. Lessons from this temple and Murukan's blessings.

Kāvati in Reunion Island

by S. Nilamegame

In the island of Reunion, the overseas French dependency in the Indian Ocean, 6,00,000 inhabitants live under the protection of the French. It is an island where different races meet together, including Chinese, Africans, Muslims, Europeans and Indians.

Tamils came to Reunion 200 years ago or more. They brought their religious cult of beloved Murukan as well as other cults including a number of godesses like Kāli, Māri and Draupadi. In each town a temple is found in the name of Siva Subrahmanya, such as found in the towns of St. Denis, St. Andre, St.Paul and St. Pierre.

Tamil people here have long been celebrating festivals. For example, Tamil devotees of St. Andri take kāvati during Taippūcam when all the Tamil devotees of Reunion go to St. Andri. Then, if the devotees of St. Paul are organising Vaikāci vicākam kāvati, all the Tamil devotees of Reunion go to St. Paul. Each town takes part in all the festivals so as to strengthen their solidarity and religious love. All the devotees of the island gather together in one place to worship Lord Murukan.

Other festivals of Lord Murukan are also organised, for example Kanta Casti, the marriage of Murukan etc. Devotees continue to take kāvati during the great festivals such as taippūcam, vicākam, āvani mūlam etc. On these days devotees express their love for god and dance in ecstasy.

Renovision in the light of Tirumurukārruppatai

by Pala Palaniappan

Tirumurukārruppatai is a Cankam text sung by Nakkirar, a renowned poet of that era. Tirumurukārruppatai is considered to be a revolutionary addition to the Tamil literary field, since this is the first devotional work on the cult of Murukan worship.

This paper attempts, by adopting the method of renovision, to present Tirumurukārruppatai as revolutionary devotional literature. Renovision is a scientific method denoting the ability to see beyond the obvious.

Arruppatai is a genre of Tamil literature, wherein a poet who received a fortune from the king, guides another towards the king to alleviate his sufferings. Nakkirar uses this genre to guide human beings to Lord Murukan to get what one aspires for. In this process he praises the six abodes of Murukan and narrates the rituals performed by the devotees in those places.

This is what one perceives to be the apparent tenor of the Tirumurukārruppatai. Nakkirar is great scholar and savant who has composed these verses not merely to get him out of the captivity of the demons in Parankunram as the legend goes, but also to guide the world to get what one aspires. He is a seer who has the vision to look into things invisible. He deals with devotees of different kinds and in particular those of high intellectual pursuit and the common man who is at the depths of ignorance. The former is elaborately dealt in Tiruvāvinankuti and Tiruvērakam verses and the second, in Kunrutōrātal and Palamutircōlai verses.

It is normally construed so far in all the commentaries that one who undertakes a pilgrimage, moving physically to these six abodes, will attain salvation. If we see in the real light of Nakkirar's scholarly rendering with a new vision, it is the self which has to, by overcoming the senses, move above the sensually controlled body, through the different areas of the human system viz. from annamaya kōsha to ānandamaya kōsha.

Space Time Continuum in Murukan Worship

by P. Pandian

Scope of the research: The research addresses the method adopted by our seers in the perception of truth. The truth is only one and it is beyond comprehension. How was it possible for cittars to comprehend the incomprehensible? The same perception of differed from that of other seers in other societies. How do visible symbols used by our seers approximate the portrayal of truth? The research seeks to establish that the perception of truth or reality which is Brahman is the fructuscent substance of building block of the universe which runs through and through like warp and roof of a texture with plan, precision, pattern, regularity and grandeur.

Problems the research addresses : The research aims to establish the veracity of the method adopted by sages which is handed down from perceptor to the disciple in successive lineage. Murukan worship appears to be paganistic, with hundred of rituals which confuse the modern mind. This paper seeks to dispel such doubts and establish a clear link from one to the other.

Methodology : While the author is not averse to the modern scholastic approach he follows the traditional method of intuition as taught to him by his perceptor Dr. Jyoti Valayapathi Siddhar Swamigal, M.A., L.R.C.P. (Vienna) who lived upto 118 years. He penance at the foot of Potihai hills.

Sources of Information: Information has been culled from Cankam literature and verses from Tirumūlar and Arunakirinātar. Citations may also be taken from original works.

The Historical Development of Murukan as a Tamil Deity

by A. Pandurangan

Tolkāppiyar declares Cēyōn, the Red one, as the god of Kuriñci, the hill tract; he is Murukan whose colour, dress and favourite flowers are red in colour. In the Cankam anthologies Murukan's priest, the Vēlan, performs ritual dance, veriyātal. Maids also participate in the dance with the Vēlan. Tēvarātti, a priestess also conducts ritual worship to Murukan.

Tirumurukārruppatai, the first poem in the Ten (long) Poems, is entirely devoted to the cult of Murukan. Paripātal narrates the birth of Murukan based on Sanskrit mythologies. He is said to be the commander-in-chief of the forces of devas against asuras. He marries Teyvānai, the daughter of Indra and Valli, the daughter of a chieftain of the hills.

The eighth century commentary of Iraiyanār Akapporul declares that Uruttiracanman is an incarnation of Murukan. The legends of Tamil Cankam describe Murukan as one of its members. Later purānas describe Nakkiran as a staunch devotee of Murukan. His punishment by Shiva for the famous poem konku tēr vālkkai has to be interpreted on this backround.

Saint Tiruñānacampantar is described as an avātar of Murukan. It is to be remembered that this saint conducted a ruthless compaign against the Jains. The conflict between Shiva and Murukan is inferred by the stories of Poyyāmoli and Avvaiyār. It is also said that Murukan taught the meaning of piranava to Shiva. This may point out a dichotomy between Shiva and Murukan because some of the aspects of Shiva can be traced to Vēdic Rudra whereas none such can be found for Murukan in the Vedas.

When the Tamils were under the rule of the Muslims, they yearned for liberation under a powerful leader just like the Jews yearned for their leader to liberate them. The rule of the Kannatikās and the Andhrā ended Muslim supremacy; still the Tamils longed for a powerful leader from their own cultural background. They could choose only Murukan, just as the Telugu people chose Hanumān, the unconquerable warrior for freeing them from Muslims. The songs of Arunakiri and the epic Kanta purānam vividly describe this Tamilian ideology.

Muruku in the Indus script

by Asko Parpola

If the Harappans spoke Dravidian, they probably worshipped Muruku. This deity is prominent in ancient Tamil Nadu and (as Rudra/Skanda) in early North India as well.

Several Indus signs may express different names of Muruku. Thus the 'horned or winged man' (Parpola 1994: p. 70 no. 7) might depict Muruku (in a Vedic hymn, NejameSa = Skanda is asked to fly). But ideographic signs do not allow checking their phonetic value.

How can we identify sign(s) denoting Muruku in the Indus inscriptions? The researcher has started from Skanda's association with the Pleiades, an asterism found in Indus texts (six strokes = 6 + fish = Dravidian mīn = star). Shared rare context of a particular sequence involving the Pleiades suggests that the sequence 'two intersecting circles'+ 'two long vertical strokes' may stand for Muruku.

'Intersecting circles' is identical with the later Lamaist symbol for 'royal earrings'. This sign occurs frequently on 'stoneware bangles', sometimes alone. It may therefore depict 'earring' or 'bangle'= Dravidian muruku. In Atharvaveda 6,81, a bangle (pari-hasta) is asked to bring about the birth of a son. In Indian folk religion bangles are presented to fertility deities by hanging them on tree branches. In Harappan iconography, tree deities wear bangles on their arms.

'Intersecting circles' written on stoneware bangles can refer to Muruku as a child-granting deity and to the son wished for by the donor of the votive bangle.

This hypothesis can be verified in several ways, including interpretation of pictograms compounded with 'intersecting circles' = muruku, like 'two long vertical strokes' = vēl and 'squirrel' = pillay. See in detail Asko Parpola, Deciphering the Indus Script, Cambridge 1994, pp. 225-239.

Iravatham Mahadevan rejects this hypothesis because, he maintains, muruku denotes only earrings and bangles made of twisted metal wires. This specialized meaning seems to have developed later, after metal wire became commonly available. MurV means not only 'to twist' but also 'to bend, curve, turn' (as the course of a river): muruku originally is a 'bending object' (cf. valai 'bangle' = 'an object turning around').

The Hindu-Buddhist Interaction in Sri Lanka: Skanda a Guardian God of Lanka

by S. Pathmanathan

The concept of the Four Guardian Gods is peculiar to Sinhala culture. It would appear that this concept has developed since 13th century and has been fully assimilated into Sinhala Buddhist tradition by the mid-14th century. Among the guardian deities, Pattini and Skanda were the most important deities. Temples dedicated for their worship are found in most parts of Sri Lanka. The cult of Pattini which was very popular until recently is presently fading out.

Skanda, however, is still held in deep veneration and Kataragama, the principal centre of his cult, is now a 'sacred city' visited by streams of pilgrims, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim. It is significant that Kataragama is sacred equally to Hindus and Buddhists. Ever since the 15th century it has been a meeting point of distinct religious and cultural traditions. Yet modern scholarship has focused attention on the importance of the cult and its holiest shrine from an exclusively Hindu or Buddhist perspective.

An attempt is made here to trace the origin and development of the cult of Skanda among Sinhalese Buddhists and to examine their significance in a historical context in the light of interaction among peoples and cultures in South India and Shri Lanka. The study, which is based on a critical examination of literary and epigraphical texts in Tamil and Sinhalese, comparative analysis of relevant myths and conceptions and the findings of modern scholarship, may broaden the knowledge of some important facets of religion and culture in Shri Lanka. It also assumes significance in extending the scope of inquiry to the broader context of inter-religious and inter-cultural communication in a multi-cultural society.

Kārttika in Orissan folk life

by Kailash Pattanaik

Skanda-Murukan is known as Kārttika or Kārttikeya in the cultural life of Orissa. In every culture deities have a direct and strong impact on people. The socio-cultural life pattern of a particular group of people, who are united or identified with a particular religion, language or geographical existence, is usually built up through the philosophy of a particular deity or deities. One can easily establish this fact by analysing that culture.

Orissa, though culturally and geographically close to South India, and has a long historical and cultural relations with neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. The worship of Kārttikeya is not very common in Orissa. This deity has not direct impact on the people of Orissa, like other deities, such as Shiva, Visnu, Dūrgā et al. Though Orissa is called the land of temples, interestingly there is no temple exclusively for Kārttikeya. The idea of the proposed paper has been conceived with this query and forms the scope of the research.

On the surface level of Orissan social-cultural life the importance of Kārttika is difficult to trace, but this does not mean that the deity has no place in the society. In the deep level of folk culture Kārttikeya plays specific but important roles and people of Orissa worship him on certain occasions.

The proposed study discusses some rituals and customs of rural Orissa. As it is a pioneering attempt, it will give some information and examine why though Kārttikeya is not considered as a major god in the cultural life of Orissa, still he has his own importance in folk-life from the birth of a child to the extent of getting mōksa.

The Six War-camps of Murukan

by Rm. Periakaruppan

The author's thesis states that Murukan's myth is based upon real history, i.e. Murukan was one of the forefathers of Tamils in prehistoric times of the lost Lemuria continent which was later submerged. Underlying the myth, the author says, there is much evidence to show that it is based upon real history.

The six temples of Murukan are named as patai vītu, which means 'war-camps' and which are not mentioned in connection with any other god. The six war-camps became the six faces of Murukan because he faced his enemies the pirates through those six strategically-placed positions. The author cites a number of episodes drawn from Cankam and purānic literature in support of his thesis.

Influences of Higher Mythology on the Myth of Valli-Murukan

by A. Pitchai

In this paper an attempt is made to trace the influence of Sanskrit mythology on the Tamil myth of Valli-Murukan. Data was collected from both folkloristic and literary sources.

The author compares folkloristic and literary sources about the Valli-Murukan having common motifs: birth of Valli to a doe; her being brought up by a hill tribe; the coming of Murukan in various guise and Valli being threatened by a tusker elephant are common to both oral and literary traditions. However, some motifs are found only in oral traditions while others are found only in literary sources.

The author concludes that the influence and acculturation of Sanskritic Skanda myth with the Dravidian myth of Valli-Murukan indicates the confluence of two streams of culture. It also shows the supremacy of Indo-Aryan culture over Tamil culture. Tamil folks have accepted the fusion of Teyvānai-Skanda and Valli-Murukan in such a way that they do not make discrimination or differentiation between these two myths any longer.

Management Strategies from the Lifestyle of Lord Murukan: Conversion of threat into opportunity

by D. Ponnusamy

The avatāra of Lord Murukan happened to rescue devas from the clutches of Cūrapatuman. Lord Murukan, utilised the power and capabilities of Cūrapatuman by converting Cūrapatuman as his vāhanam and flag without destroying him. In management, productivity is better achieved by converting a threat into an opportunity which is superior to identifying and utilising an opportunity.

Synergy through cordination: In management one plus one is greater than two and this effect is called as synergy. When six sources of energy in the form of child Murukan got united by Pārvati into one source, it emerged as a super power, Lord Murukan.

Characteristics suggested by Vēlāyutam:

In Kantapurānam whenever Vīrabahu and the Pūtapatai are affected by illusions caused by māyā or mohāstra, Vēlāyutam helps them to come out of their influences by showering Gnanam which means absolute wisdom. The shape of Vēlāyutam indicates depth, sharp and widespread, which are qualities of wisdom.

Management tips emerged from 12 hands

Self actualisation - Personality and image building - Rewarding system - Fight against external threats - Productivity by unity - Probagation of ideas - Maintaining equality.

Murukan in Children's Literature

by Puvannan

Elements of children's literature are found in the period of the Cankam literature itself. There are references in Tolkāppiyam to 'pici', and 'fictitious sayings without literary tradition', which point to features belonging to this category. These two features come under oral literature and this is obvious from what Pērāciriar, a commentator of Tolkāppiyam, says about them.

Children's poetry in modern Tamil contains several references to Lord Murukan. Kavimani Tēcikavināyakam Pillai has written lullabies in which he addresses Murukan as the baby. Valliappā, the famous children's poet has written the poem 'Pālamurukan' describing the nature of the Child God. Another, Tirucci Pāratan, in his poem, 'Lord Murukan', writes of what a child expects from the God, with psychological insight. Another song, "Palanivēla", written by the same poet with children in mind, is sung by adult devotees in their lakhs, every year, while on their way to Palani.

Celvakanapati, Pālanatarājan, Va. Civacankaran and Ra. Ayyācāmi are all poets who have written for children about Murukan. The poet Rukmānkatan has written some riddles on Murukan meant for children. Ala. Valliappā and Kavimani Tēcikavināyakam Pillai have written narrative poems about Murukan.

Murukan cult in Indus Valley: Sign analysis of the Indus scripts

by Raju Poundurai

This paper is a continuation of previous researches on the study of the Indus script. It also deals with the formal analysis of proto-Indian texts. The paper is devoted to sign analysis of the Indus script on seals or the proto-Indian texts with special reference to Murukan cult in the Indus valley.

Early historical references to the young god Muruka and his origin show that various god concepts of an allied character were merged in the composition of Skanda-Kārttikeya from the period of the Indus Valley civilization. The proto-Indian texts are the best example for the study of the origin of Murukan cult in central Asia, indicating the development of this cult and diffusion of art motifs from the Indus valley to South India.

Murukan and Siddha Medicines

by J. Rāmachandran

Scope: Murukan has many fascinating features that no other god possesses. According to Kirupānanta Vāriyār, Murukan alone is God since Pemmān Murukan piravān iravan: Murukan has neither death nor birth. Therefore, it may be instructive and interesting to analyse the concept of Murukan as God.

Problem the research addresses: His form also represents another feature which has not been studied so far. His form represents the concepts of Siddha medicine. The purpose of this research is to bring out this relationship which has never been addressed before.

Having mentioned that there exists a relationship between the form of Murukan and basics of Siddha medicines the present research work tries to explain in detail the existence of such a relationship.

Research methodology and Source of information: This study concerns both the form of Murukan and the basic concepts of Siddha medicine. For this the author makes use of both the literary works and also Siddha medical poems as well as Materia Medica.

The basic aim of Siddha medicine is to conquer death. The kāya-kalpa medicines found by Siddhars are towards this end. Muruku means beautiful and Murukan is considered as god of eternal youth.

Among the various gods, Murukan alone is provided with a flag with a cock inscribed in it. He is known as cēvar kotiyōn. Why this flag? And, why a cock? Flag is a symbol of power and a cock is symbol of sexual power. According to Siddha medicines, a particular herb which when taken regularly increases sexual power equal to that of a cock! Thus praying Murukan will give sexual power to one. All these details are explained in this paper.

Murukan as the essence of Shiva

by M.C. Rajamanickam

It is Shiva, the Supreme God of Eternal Light, who appears in the form of Murukan. This is emphasized by Kacciyappa Civāccāriyar, Arunakirinātar, Kumara Kuruparar, Irāmalinka Atikal and Pāmpan Cuvāmikal. In Kanta purānam, several characters express this idea. Kacciyappar himself states directly that the great eternal light assumed the form of Murukan. He quotes Lord Shiva as telling Uma that there is no difference between himself and Murukan. Viravāku Tēvar and Iraniyan, son of Cūrapatuman and Tirumāl, all speak of Lord Shiva assuming the shape of Murukan. Cūrapatuman also identified the two.

Arunakirinātar addresses Murukan as Lord Shiva on several occasions. He has also said in Tiruppukal the N®āna Vēl which Murukan carries actually represents the five-lettered mantra (namashivāya). He thus does not distinguish between Shiva and Murukan.

Kumarakuruparar in his Kantarkalivenpa clearly equates Murukan with the Supreme Being, Paramacivam. Irāmalinka Vallalār addresses Murukan of Kantakōttam as Civam. Pāmpan Cuvāmikal hails Murukan as Ican in Tirukkantar Pallāntu. Tirumurukārruppatai's inclusion in the Tirumurais of the Saivites also points in this direction. Hence the conclusion that Murukan may be identified with the Supreme Lord Shiva.

The War between Itumpan and Murukan

by D. Rajaram

The Itumpan-Murukan War is in reality a labour revolution. The legend that Itumpan carried Shivagiri and Shaktigiri from Kailāsa is a mythologisation of a great cosmic feat.

This paper will highlight the features that Itumpanmalai was a 'counter-weight' used to elevate Palanimalai from the fathoms of Sharavana poikai. It will discuss the circumstances that lead to dispute and war. The warfields of Palani and various strategies utilised in the war will be discussed with photographs of location with authentic narration of each event. While discussing the warfields, a brief reference to the genesis of the construction of Palanimalai will be incorporated into the text.

As a corollary of the paper, the actual version of kāvati practice will be alluded to. The significance of assigning the name Itumpan to the 'counter-weight' will feature in the conclusion.

Arunakirinātar's Songs of Devotion

by Sadhu Ram Swamigal

Saint Arunakirinātar of the 14-15th century has sung the praises of Murukan in his nine works, namely Tiruppukal, Kantar-alankaram, Kantarantāti, Vēl Viruttam, Mayil Viruttam, Cēval Viruttam, Tiru Elu Kūrrirukkai, Kantaranupūti and Tiruvakuppukal. All are in chaste Tamil; Tiruppukal and Tiruvakuppukal are in cantam (candas) metre and the rest are in other recognized metric forms. This shows that his compositions are grammatically composed. He has composed all of them to be set to music with tāla, rāga and bhāva. His poetry displays no language fanaticism, for he uses Tamil and Sanskrit mixed as well as occasional expressions in Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi and Urdu.

So highly are Arunakirinātar's works esteems by devotees that they are considered to be not Arunakirinātar's own words but rather those of Lord Murukan Himself speaking through His devotee. For instance, the episode of Murukan approaching Valli in the guise of a bangle seller (valayal cetti) is not found in earlier poetry, but it is accepted as an authentic incident revealed to Arunakirinātar by Lord Murukan. This paper cites further examples as well.

In addition to the poetic excellence of Arunakirinātar's works, they provide certain thematic information which is not found anywhere in the poetry of his predecessors but which continued to exert an influence upon Tamil folk and literary works from his time onwards. Hence there is vast scope to conduct sympathetic research on his nine works, which form the principal source of information for this study.

Murukan Worship and Kāvati

by M. Ramachandran

Scope: This research aims at bringing out the history of the ritual, fulfilment of vow, its present status and types of kāvatis. It exposes the impact of the socio-economic influences upon people in the offering of kāvati. The paper explains how the fulfilment of vow through kāvati has influenced the folk arts.

Problem the research addresses: The relationship between kāvati and Muruka valipātu has been analysed earlier. This paper, however, focuses its attention on the impact of the fulfilment of vow (through kāvati) on Tamil culture.

Methodology: Since the research relates to Tamil society and culture, a sociological approach is applied. As it is related to the development of the offering through different periods of time, historical approach is also applied. Descriptive approaches by way of exemplification and analysis are also employed in this study.

Sources of information: Works on Murukan and worship of Murukan, research interviews and fieldwork are used as primary and secondary sources for this study.

Murukan as Metaphor: Theoretical Understanding of the Tamil Ballad


by M. Ramakrishnan and P. Joseph Raj

This paper is an attempt to understand and illustrate the relationship between language and culture through narratives. The researcher find that the way to study language and culture is to concentrate on rules and representations of language which are expressed/manifested in linguistic expressions like ballads.

As folk narratives are constructed and screened through the gamut of the narrator's personal, socio-cultural and cognitive filters, this study explains how people conceptualize their society, especially their cognitive world which includes idiosyncratic knowledge, beliefs and values. The result of their unique experiences may be understood by the study of their narratives.

For this study the scholars have taken Tamil ballad Vallippatam as our primary source. This ballad is collected from Kāttunāyakkar community of Putuppatti village (which comes under Nilakkōttai Taluk of Dindigul district) during 1991-1992 by Joseph D. Raj, one of the authors of this article.

The study of the ballad is focused on the nature of cultural knowledge: the shared presuppositions about the world which play a major role in human understanding, its organization, and its role in other cognitive performance.

Culture is manifested through language and it is helpful to study linguistic discourses or narratives to understand culture or cultural systems. This is an attempt to understand how the cognitive nature of human beings is manifested through their linguistic expressions, especially ballad-like narrative discourses. Studies on narratives will contribute to our understanding of culture and its functioning in human society. This study will help us to understand the role of culturally constructed people in the culturally constituted world through their narratives.

This study will help to reveal the interaction between narrative discourses and culture, and the relationship between culture and cognition through narrative analysis. It is a new attempt to understand the cognitive nature of language and culture through narratives.

The Life and Teachings of Pamban Swami

by B. Raman

This paper is a short account of the life of Pamban Srimat Kumara Gurudasa Swamigal. His life from childhood continues to evoke spiritual interest among masses of Tamil people. He lived for others and at the same time worshipped Lord Murukan not only in temples but also in the depth of his heart and soul.

Pamban Swami's teachings consist of the worship of one god only -- the worship of Lord Murukan alone. He also refutes the philosophical and religious viewpoints of other systems of thought with clinching arguments. He quotes profusely from the Upanisads to illustrate his claims.

Muruka Cult in Kerala

by M.K. Raman

Religious and social changes in the area and Kerala split away from Tamilakam; Nambūdiri domination in the rule; The dawn of Tantric cult, Devi worship and Malayalam language adopting Sanskrit words. All the Murukan temples were destroyed and rebuilt as Bhagavati temples by the rulers through the influence of Nambūdiris. All these things happened in the western slope of Western Ghats. The eastern slope of the Western Ghats were not dominated by Nambūdiris and one can see many ancient Murukan temples in the area such as Palani, Pūmparai, Surili, Ilankai, Tirumalai, Kumārakōil in Nañcil Nātu. Though the Murukan temples were erased by the Nambūdiris, the people of Kerala (except Nambūdiris) have faith in the old traditional Dravidian cult, i.e. Murukan worship and accept Palani as their sacred place and worship Palani Murukan as their deity. They visit Palani during festival days and also perform marriages there. The familiar names of Keralites other than Nambūdiris are Vēlāyutan, Kumaran, Sanmukan, Sanmukhadās, Valli and Teyvānai. Travancore kings often worshipped at Tiruccentūr and established endowments to the temple.

Kumaran Asan in his Subrahmanya Sathakam refers only to Murukan, Ārumukan, Sanmukan, Vēlāyutan and Valli the kuravi maiden as Murukan's consort. He never used the name Subrahmanya. He refers to the peacock and Vēl and Akastiya which concern the Dravidian cult of Murukan.

In recent years during British rule many Tamils migrated to Kerala. They constructed many Subrahmanya temples all over Kerala and still conduct festivals such as Kanta Casti, Taippūcam, and Pankuni Uttiram.


  1. Tolkāppiyam
  2. Cilappatikāram - Vēttuva Vari
  3. Ńāna Ula
  4. Kumaran Ācan Subrahmanya Catakam

Valli-Murukan Love Story as a Living Tradition

by Aru. Ramanathan

Hundreds of folk-ballads are found in Tamil Nadu. They are performed by professional singers in different forms like Villuppāttu, Utukaippāttu, Pampaippāttu etc. Apart from these, amateur folks also perform these ballads in different contexts like kummi, kōlāttam, etc. themes. All these love ballads end in tragedy. The opposition found in society for lovers is revealed in these ballads.

The love story of Valli and Murukan is an exceptional one because their love story always ends in comedy. In the context of tālāttu, kummi, natavu etc., people sing these ballads with great interest. The forms of these ballads are found both as complete and also as fragments all over Tamil Nadu. It shows the popularity of this genre.

The aim of this paper is to describe the different forms of Valli-Murukan love ballads and the reason for the popularity of these ballads in Tamil Nadu.

Kavasam Literature

Dr S.P. Sabharatnam

Scope: The scope of this paper is restricted to kavasams with special reference to Sanmuka Kavacam of Pāmpan Srimath Kumāra Gurudāsa Swamigal. It pertains to Devaraya Swamigal's Kanta Casti Kavasam and Śrī Santānanda Swamigal's Skanda Guru Kavasam. The greatness of Pāmpan Swamigal, his method of worship and the situation of Sanmuka kavasam composition are explored.

Problem the research addresses: The purpose of the research to explore the relationship between Skanda-Murukan and Pāmpan Swamigal and explain the positivity of Sanmuka kavasam. The issue is different in the method of each and every song of Sanmuka kavasam.

Methodology: The methodological approach is traditional in the sense of explaining the composition method i.e., the relationship between the uyireluttu, the meyyeluttu, and a number of songs. It is modern in approach when comparing the positive and negative thoughts of kavasam contributes. We shall compare kavasams with special reference to Sanmuka kavasam of Pāmpan Swamigal. Research also includes the personal experiences of Skanda-Murukan devotees.

Sources of Information

1. Pāmpan Swamigal's writings;

2. Tiruppukal Catusas and St. Ramalingam Pillai's other publications.

3. Amutam monthly of Kaumāra Matālayam, Kōvai;

4. Ranippettai Pulavas and P.M. Soma sundaram's other writings.

5. Palani Sātu Matam by the late Tangavēl Swamigal;

6. Explanations of Dr. P. Raman.

7. Kanta Casti Kavasam

8. Skanda Guru Kavasam

9. Experiences of Swamigal's devotees;

10. Kumārastava vilakkavurai of Dr S.P. Sabharatnam

From Tribalism to Culturalism: The Transformation of Vēlan to Murukan in the Tamil Tradition

by K. Sadasivan

The purpose of this presentation is to study how the malignant tribal character of Vēlan ('spearman') was transformed into the benevolent cultural character of Murukan ('the handsome') in the physiographic milieu of kuriñci (hilly region). In this study the tribal character and attributes of Vēlan and his culturally transformed character and attributes into Murukan are traced. The reasons for such a change in the tribal character and the assimilation of cultural traits are examined. The probable age in which this evolutionary transformation from totemism-animism to tribalism and eventually to culturalism is ascertained.

The sources made use of in this study are the popular heroic poetry and its commentaries, post-heroic poetry and its interpretations, archaeological artefacts and findings, folklore traditions including myths and legends as well as personal observations and interviews. The studies of various indigenous and foreign historians, social and cultural anthropologists, folklorists, savants, mythologists and art historians are cited as needed. Some foreign terms such as murugh and muruk mentioned in Persian Zend and Sumerian sources are examined in relation to the Tamil term Murukan. Since the transformation was evolutionary, the socio-anthropological method is adopted in an analytical and critical way.

Confessional Pluralism and Religious Syncretism in Sri Lanka: The Rise of Kataragama Cult

by Alexandra Safronova

The crucial period in the history of Sri Lanka, marked by the decline of the states of the 'dry zone' of northeast and the shift of political and religious centres within the island to the central areas and to the 'wet zone' of southwest caused structural changes in Sri Lankan society and its socio-economic institutions, which had implications for the religious situation.

It was a period not only of internal migrations, but of external migrations as well, the extreme frequency of which from various parts of the Indian continent obviously had an impact upon Sri Lankan society. Some groups of migrants adopted Buddhism as their religion and Sinhalese as their language. They integrated themselves into the structure of Buddhist society, forming a number of castes and eventually seeking representation within the Sangha and thus increasing its heterogeneity. Elsewhere they enlarged the number of Hindus in the island.

Ethnically plural society developed a syncretic type of self-identification. This in turn led to the incorporation of non-Buddhist deities into the Buddhist pantheon and to the rise of syncretic religious centres. This was a significant development for all principal religious groups inhabiting the island.

Ethnic and religious pluralism of Sri Lankan society was a kind of interdependent, intertwined pluralism in the conditions of the day-to-day intermingling of various confessions. This fostered an inclusive sort of religiousness, a peculiar combination of animism and totemism, demon and astral cults, ideas borrowed from early Brahmanism, Jainism and Ajivikism as well as various trends of the developing Hinayana, Mahayana and Hinduism.

Buddhist ritual incorporated worship of various Hindu gods. Four of them - Upulvan, Saman, Vibhīsana and Skanda in particular - were regarded as guardian deities of the island. The leading centres of Hindu-Buddhist worship were the Upulvan temple in Devinuwara, Saman temple in Srīpāda, Vibhīsana temple in Kelaniya and Skanda temple in Kataragama. The Kataragama cult served as a manifestation of two tolerant tendencies in the interrelations of Buddhism and Hinduism in Sri Lanka: parallel co-existence and growing interaction.

Murukan Arul Pravākam: A Multi-media Pilgrimage to Eighteen Temples of Lord Murukan

by Jayalakshmi Sakthivelan

Murukan Arul Pravākam Vol I is the first of a series of six CD-ROMs. It describes the six temples of Āru Patai Vītu along with Kumārakottam, Tirupōrur Kantakūtam, Vatapalani, Mayilam, Vallakkottai, Marutamalai, Cennimalai, Tirumurukan-pūnti Pañcavēl Murukan Kōvil, Vāyalūr and Virālimalai in detail.

The versatility of the multi-media lies in the integration of video, still photographs, sound, text, graphics and interactivity. The user can browse to the necessary unit of information at his own convenience. CD-ROMs on divine subjects are rare but suited invited for both computer literate and common people.

Murukan Arul Pravākam , the first one from a series of six volumes will cover initially the Āru Patai Vītu and twelve other important temples. Volume II and III cover the other temples of Lord Murukan. Volume IV covers the saints who dedicated their lives to the divine service of Lord Murukan like Arunakirinātar, Avvaiyār et al. Volume V contains the details of Śrī Subrahmanya Yantra and the iconography of Lord Murukan. Volume VI deals with Kaumaram - the worship of Lord Murukan.

Contemporary Kāvati Practice at Palani

by P.V. Sankaranarayan

Palani is one of the celebrated six-shrines of Lord Murukan. The deity atop the Palani hillock is in the form of a very young boy whose head is tonsured and forehead smeared with the holy ash. He wears a garland of rudrāksa beads and holds a staff in His right hand, His left hand resting on His waist. He presents the appearance of a young ascetic who has attained ñāna or supreme knowledge.

Among the several kinds of offerings made to Murukan at Palani, kāvati is the most important and traditional one. The practice of kāvati-offering gives an exhilerating experience and makes not only the offerer but also the spectators go ecstatic. The tradition and the significance of this soul-stirring, ancient practice can best be studied and enjoyed in all its splendour and variety at Palani, where the very story of Murukan himself is closely associated with the experiences of Itumban, the first career of kāvati in mythology.

The devotee, through the kāvati symbolically unloads his base and beastly qualities from his mind and surrenders to Murukan. This signifies the repentance of man and his prayer for redemption in life, apart from an entreaty for a prosperous life. Kāvatis are offered at Palani with various objectives: mark of piety; getting Lord's grace for fulfilment of desire, thanks-giving etc.

This paper provides an overview of the ritual practice of kāvati:, including:

Pūjās: Observances: Tīrthams: Kāvati Attam: Varieties of kāvati: kāvatis with milk, sugar, honey etc., also rare kāvatis with cock, fire etc.,

Group songs including kāvati cintu suitable for kāvati dance, and other songs.

Procession, emotional moments: moving scenes of devotees jumping in ecstacy and soothsaying while in trance.

Some famous kāvati carried to Palani: kāvatis from Kerala, Tamilnadu etc. and from villages around Palani. Traditional and special kāvatis on Taippūcam, Pankuni Uttiram etc.

Structure of the Tanikai Purānam

by V. Hema Santhanaraman

Scope: In Tamil literature there are numerous purānas and talapurānas. The Tanikai purānam and Kanta purānam are two important works focusing on the significance of the innumerable facets of Lord Murukan. Though less well known, Tanikai purānam is unique in terms of its structure and other aspects as well. Hence, this study was chosen to demonstrate how Tanikai purānam is unique among other works on Lord Murukan.

Purpose: The main aim of the study is to identify those features which give Tanikai purānam the uniqueness of containing sthalapurānic elements, purānic elements and also aspects of an epic, thereby qualifying the text to be regarded as constituting a hybrid variety of literature.

Elements of talapurāna include: Lord Murukan as the presiding deity of the sacred place or sthalam and the significance of Tiruttani as tirtham or sacred water in the form of ponds, tanks and rivers are portrayed vividly in Tanikai purānam. Puranic elements, namely, cosmogony, chaos and renovation, sacred tradition and Munivar kulam, Laws of Manu and the solar and lunar dynastic traditions also find a place in Tanikai purānam.

The main aspects of kāviyam - invocation, blessing, subject, matter of the work, unparallel hero, four purusnārthas, and social condition of the land are also present in Tanikai purānam. The establishment of Dharma and elimination of evils vididly depicted in the purānam have been taken for detailed study.

Sources of information: The text of the Tanikai purānam is the primary source. Tamil and Sanskrit texts in particular Kanta purānam, Tantiyalankāram and Abidhāna-cintāmani are cited as well as encyclopaedias and other published works of scholars both in Tamil and English. Fieldwork at Tiruttani and interaction with people associated with Subrahmanya temple supplements information from published texts.

A Commentary on the Cuvāmimalai Navaratinamālai

by K. Santhanaraman

Scope: Some two hundred years ago, a devotee known as Katukan Tyāgarajah Tēcikar composed the Cuvāmimalai Navaratinamālai is an anthology in praise of Lord Swamināthan in nine long verses known as viruttams. Although this is a small text of only nine verses (hence the term navaratinam or 'nine gems'), Cuvāmimalai Navaratinamālai provides a wealth of information about the Skanda-Murukan cult.

Purpose: Despite the importance of this text, no commentary had ever been written. Therefore the author has undertaken to compose this commentary. A second objective is to popularise this text and make it more accessible to scholars.

Methodology: This commentary includes the full text of the Cuvāmimalai Navaratinamālai in Tamil along with Roman transcription. An English translation of each verse is provided followed by the author's commentary on the elements of each verse.

Sources of information: The text of the Cuvāmimalai Navaratinamālai is the primary textual source. Besides Skanda-Murukan literature, various works on Sākta, Saiva and Vaisnava cults are also referred in the commentary.

Murukan, Christ and the Vela Supernova

by Dr. Arysio Nunes dos Santos

This article argues the fundamental identity of Murukan-Kārttikeya with Jesus Christ and other ancient deities associated with shiny stars such as the Christmas star. Moreover, it also argues that this bright star - connected with both the pole star and the Krttikas (or Pleiades) - was the exceedingly bright Vela supernova star.

Scope: Our research centers on the linguistic study of traditional, ill-understood names and terms such as logos ('word'), Vela ('sails'), Krttikā, Skanda, Vena, morning star (Venus), Magian, and others traditionally associated with Jesus Christ, Murukan and other such 'child gods' born of a virgin birth and heralded by auspicious celestial omens like the advent of supernova stars.

We also study the mystic meaning of the symbolic attributes of Murukan-Kārttikeya, particularly his six-pointed star, his holy lance (Vēl), his peacock, his connection with the AUM and the Kr$ttikās, his ritual dance, etc. Moreover, we discuss his war against the celestial hosts of the devils, led by Tāraksha ('eye star'), showing its parallels in Judeo-Christianism and other ancient religions.

Sources of our information are the holy books of India, specially the Skanda Purāna, the Skanda-Upanisad, the Kālika Purāna and many others. We also utilize the holy books of others nations, particularly the Bible and the Christian gospels, both canonic and apocryphal.

The methodology of our research is scientific in its foundation and in its analysis and treatment of the archaeological and astronomical data, though our results often frontally diverge from the usual interpretation given them by Western scholarship. Occidental scholars and theologians tend to interpret Judeo-Christian traditions and doctrines as absolutely novel and strictly historical. This view is, however, myopic, and is ultimately founded on ethnocentric and racial prejudices which maintain that the cradle of civilization undoubtedly lay in the Mediterranean region, and that its advent is to be ascribed to the Aryo-Semitic races.

A scientific analysis of Palani Āntavar idol

by M.S. Saravanan

Scope: Legend has it the the renowned icon of Palani Āntavar atop the hill temple of Palanimalai consists of nine poisonous minerals collected by the cittar -alchemist Bhogar and rendeded into a single composite substance. All sorts of legends abound concerning the famous idol and its marvelous healing powers.

This paper deals with scientific investigation as what the idol of Palani Āntavar consists of. The Government of Tamil Nadu decided some years ago to replace the idol because of its delapitated condition, particularly its slender arms and legs, threatening it with total destruction.

This paper details the findings of the experts' scientific analysis of the Palani Āntavar idol using modern spectrographic instruments.

In brief, a solution was prepared from the sandal paste, smeared on different idols situated in various temploes of Tamil Nadu and left overnight. Later on the solutions were collected and analysed using a Perkin-Elmer spectro-photometer. This procedure excellently revealed the composition of the various idols including all the elements present in them. It is rather a spectacular manifestation of the power of Almighty, however, that this particular process referred above could not give out any elemental or spectral analysis when applied to the sandal paste solution taken from the Palani Āntavar idol, which revealed no data at all when subjected to spectral analysis.

It is therefore concluded that the idol of Palani Āntavar is not a mere rocky or granitic material. The composition of the idol remains a challenge to the scientific world and still challenges scientists to this day. It makes the author recall the saying that vijñānam or scientific knowledge can never excel meyñānam or spiritual knowledge at any time. As Isaac Newton once said, "All I have done for mankind is to make the common man understand His observable laws."

Lord Murukan: An Introspection

by M.P. Sathyavel Murugan

The worship of the Almighty in the form of Lord Murukan takes into its fold all that is epitomised in other forms of worship as Lord Shiva, Goddess Shakthi, Lord Natarāja, Lord Ganapati, Lord Visnu and so on. Although worhsip of Lord Murukan is universal in nature, it is closely associated with Tamil-speaking people as their religious heritage.

Lord Murukan is the personification of six characteristic qualities that the Almighty must possess, lest he may not be called as Al mighty. The six qualities are :

1. Being independent;

2. Being unsulliable;

3. Being omniscient;

4. Being omnipotent;

5. Having infinite benignity; and

6. Possessig infinite bliss.

Similarly, His twelve hands are the epitomisation of twelve major functions of Lord which are well defined in Tirumurukārruppatai. Likewise, His vehicle the peacock and his rooster represent vindu tattva and nāda tattva repsectively, being penultimate and ultimate categories of 35 constituent elements of which the human body is made. His use of peacock as vehicle alludes to driving of souls immanently i.e. from within.

Another metaphoric interpretation is: Teyvānai-Kriya Sakti 'power of duty' Valli-Icchā Sakti 'power of desire' Vēl-Jn«āna Sakti 'power of wisdom'. It may be seen by those who have abilities of insight that each and every episode narrated in Kanta purānam has an inner metaphysical meaning. The conquest of Cūrapatuman, Cinkamukan and Tārakacuran by Lord Murukan represents the conquest of three evil forces called three malams that inhibit the natural effulgence of souls.

Pilgrimage and Mystical Practice

by T. Senthilwerl

Scope: This study concerns pilgrimage and associated ritual practices as practiced and understood by Kaumāra sādhakas of South India and Sri Lanka. It addresses general and specific practices such as:

• Preparations including motivation and reason for undertaking pilgrimage;

• Setting forth from usual daily routine to sacred journey or pilgrimage;

Yātrā or sacred journey as distinguished from mundane travel;

• The role of annadānam or ritual sharing of food during pilgrimage;

• Pilgrimage practices: pilgrimage attire; going barefoot, touching the earth, angapradaksina, etc.;

• Purification prior to entering sacred areas;

• Practices associated with return from pilgrimage to everyday life.

Problem addressed: This study is intended to address widespread misconceptions by articulating the theoretical basis and practical efficacy of traditional pilgrimage.

Methodology: The researcher's approach is one of empirical experimentation based jointly upon scriptural authority and traditional (Skt: pāramparīya) practice. Over the course of decades of practice, one's inner and outer faculties become sensitized to subtle indicators or signs or omens. These are especially common at powerful shrines or punita bhūmis but may appear anywhere and at any time if one has learned to 'read' inner and outer signs. Such ability may also be communicated or taught; indeed, it is an essential aspect of any genuine guru-shisya relationship. The researcher intends to demonstrate that informed participation in pilgrimage helps to foster not only bhakti but also an acquired ability to interpret and understand day-to-day phenomena on the level of mystical practice.

Sources of information: The sources for this study include the poetry of the Nāyanmārs, Tirumūlar and other Cittars, Arunakirinātar, Periyapurānam, Tēvārams and some contemporary authorities including Kirupānanta Vāriyār. The research will also attempt to explain how an inner faculty or learned ability to 'read' signs based upon their inner meaning and mystical context actually serves as an independent source of information and understanding in its own right.

Impact of the Murukan Archetype upon the Visual Media

by N. Seshadri

According to Jungian psychology, Murukan is an archetype symbolising valour, victory and vision. Commercial film producers have long been capitalizing upon Tamil audiences' known sentiments towards certain cultural archetypes including Murukan.

Film producer S.S.Vasan took an episode about Murukan and Avvaiyār which had a remarkable impact upon Tamil people and their devotion towards Murukan, despite film critics' observation to the contrary. Similarly, cinematographer K.S. Gopalakrishnan made an honest attempt to give an intellectual portrayal of the episode of Mother Shakti's presentation of the Vēl to Murukan in his film Cāratā.

In this paper, the author reviews the impact Tamil cinematographers have had upon popular religious conceptions over the past fifty or more years. His paper focuses upon an analysis of the conceptual and perceptual outlook of Tamil people as portrayed and shaped by professional cinematographers.

Skanda in Ancient North India

by R.K. Seth

The development of Skanda Kumāra in ancient North India has been a unique growth process. This paper is an attempt to understand the emergence, growth and eclipse of Skanda Kumāra in ancient North India. Skanda is described in Mahābhārata and other works as the offspring of Agni. Agni plays an important role in battles, as in Atharva Veda where he is associated with war in various places. His connection with learning and wisdom is suggested in Rig Veda. Skanda too is associated with these traits. This provides the initial interest for studying in some depth his development in later period to get a clearer perspective about the growth and evolution of this deity.

This topic has been studied earlier by some research scholars including Asim Kumar Chatterjee in The Cult of Skanda-Kārttikeya and S.S. Rana in A study of Skanda Cult. These learned scholars utilised the then available information in a limited perspective.

New information in the fields of iconography and sculpture have come to light in the last three decades. Fred W. Clothey recently published The Many Faces of Murukan introducing the idea of son-sun-warrior motifs. The author of this paper published a book in Hindi on classical Tamil Literature where a detailed study of Tirumurukārruppatai and other Pattuppāttu works was included (Tamil Ka Prachin Sahitya - 1987). In view of the direct access to Tamil and Sanskrit literary sources and to modern published material, an attempt is being made to trace the development of Skanda-Kumāra in ancient North India.

An effort has been made to examine original literary sources like Vedas, Chandogya Upanisad, Mahābhārata, Vālmiki Rāmāyana and various puranas. Effort has been made to unfold the various changes in the developmental process of Skanda-Kumāra. His association with Agni, Rudra and Krttikās has been traced. Some interpretations based on philosophy or symbolism have also been included.

Greatness of Skanda as revealed in the Skanda Purāna

by V.L. Sethuraman

Sanskrit Skanda Purānam is found in two versions: divided into samhitās and divided into khandas. Both of them are divided into several books with several subdivisions. In the Samhitā version the third book called Shankara-samhitā has its first section called the Sambhavakhanda. Here in chapter 36 the greatness of Skanda is described.

This reminds us of the Vibhūtiyoga chapter of the Bhagavadgīta$ (chapter 10). Similar ideas are found in other purānas also such as the one in the Linga Purāna (I. 58) where Sun, Moon, Varuna, et al. are described as being crowned sovereigns of diverse things. It is proposed to examine the structure of the chapter of the Skanda Purānam in this paper.

Skanda-Murukan: The God of Limitless Compassion

by Shankarananda Swami

Scope: The scope of this paper by definition is beyond measurement or restriction. Yet there is benefit in reminding scholars and public alike of the deep relevance and compelling need to elevate themselves above worldly concerns and seek out the Source and Goal of human existence in Lord Skanda-Murukan.

In this survey of Kaumāra theory and practice, the author touches such issues as:

  1. Vedas and the theory of Parabrahma;
  2. Omkāra and scale of universal creation
  3. Lord Murukan not an avatār;
  4. His names and attribute;
  5. The birth story of Skanda-Murukan;
  6. His six faces and six great qualities;
  7. Meaning of the name Mu-ru-ka;
  8. Why the Lord spared the life of Surapadma;
  9. His vāhana and emblem; and
  10. Lord Murukan's abundance grace: anecdotes.

Purpose: The author frankly advocates the traditional Kaumāra approach consisting of humility, devotion, meditation and public service as the surest way to arrive at genuine mystical understanding (ñāna), devotion (bhakti) and, above all, divine grace (arul). He sets forth his position in this paper as a counterbalance to scholarship that overlooks these practical objectives of Kaumāra mysticism.

Methodology: The author is a confirmed advocate and practitioner of traditional Kaumāra mystical tradition. He is not a formal scholar in the modern sense but a Kaumāra bhaktar whose enthusiasm and dedication has led him to study important texts and learn by listening at the feet of contemporary masters including the late Kri Krupānanda Vāriyār. He argues for the primacy of practice over scholarship and devotion over dry argumentation.

Sources of information: The author draws upon recognized scriptural sources including the Vedas, Upanisads, Purānas and other texts in Sanskrit and Tamil. He also cites incidents in the life of Kaumāra saints such as Arunakirinātar and teachings of the late Kri Krupānanda Vāriyār. Because of the nature of the topic, his own experiences are an imporatnt source of information in support of his thesis.

Skanda-Murukan cult in Batticaloa district, Eastern Sri Lanka

by N. Shanmugalingam

Batticaloa is a region wherein various ethnic groups have been living together for many centuries. This region is popular for mother goddess worship and also for Skanda-Murukan worship. Skanda-Murukan is known as Kantacāmi, Kumārattan, Kumāratampiran and lately Kumārakatavul in this region. The cult practice of this region varies from ancient patterns to modern types. This study analyses Skanda-Murukan traditions from a socio-anthropological perspective.

Data obtained from field work in ancient centres of worship and modern cultic groups are the primary sources of this study. The traditional temples of Mantūr, Tirukkōvil, Ukantai, and Cittānti have been selected together with a few modern temples for in-depth study. Also systematic observations have been made of a newly emerged cultic group of Murukan headed by a new Cittar 'Tīrta Cāmi'.

The modern cultic group of Muruka KantaVēl headed by Tīrta Cāmi exhibits novel practices very much new to traditional Hindu religion. These include congregational prayer, specific times for prayer, prescribed modes of prayer and rejection of idol worship, etc.

An analysis of this new data reiterates the proto-megalithic origin of Skanda-Murukan cult. The importance given to Valli in this region reflects the Dravidian influence in Skanda-Murukan cult too. The influence of Kannaki Amman temple rituals are evident in the new Skanda temples. The novel practices of new cultic groups reflect the Islamic religious patterns.

It is further observed that the urban areas are more accommodating toward innovation. In villages the new cultic group faces stiff opposition. It is interesting to note that the ancient centres like Ukantai Malai are places of juxtaposition of ancient and modern modes of ritual and worship. Here the isolated forest ecology is helpful to this new blend of traditions, thereby making these cultic centres a unique cultural system.

Devotion of non-Hindu Sri Lankans towards Kataragama Deviyo

by S. Shanmugam

Scope: Although Skanda-Murukan is considered to be a Hindu deity, non-Hindus in Sri Lanka especially Sinhala Buddhists too worship Murukan as Kataragama Deviyo. The purpose of this paper is to trace this tradition and devotion.

Problems addressed:

  1. There is historical evidence that the Sinhala kings of ancient times worshipped Murukan and helped Murukan temples. The question as to how this tradition prevailed will be addressed.
  2. The question whether Sinhala Buddhists and Hindus of Sri Lanka share common religious beliefs and attachment to gods irrespective of language differences will be addressed.
  3. There have been a large number of inter-marriages between Hindus and non-Hindus. The question whether these inter-marriages have any influences over non-Hindus to induce devotion towards Kataragama Deviyo will be analysed.
  4. The question whether the geographical factors make non-Hindus to visit and worship these temples regularly will be addressed.

Sources of information:

  1. Archeological and historical evidence of the period of ancient Sinhala kings and South Indian rulers.
  2. Articles and essays published in newspapers, perodicals, and newsletters.
  3. Personal observations in those selected temples during festival time and other days by the writer.
  4. Interviews the writer had with non-Hindus who show devotion and attachment to Kataragama Deviyo.

Methodology: Evaluate, analyse and correlate evidence with information collected by observations and interviews and corroborate them in relation to the problem.

Murukan in Cankam Literature: Veriyāttu Tribal Mode of Worship

by M. Shanmugam Pillai

Murukan worship in Cankam literature seems to have had three stages of development in chronological order, the earliest form being Veriyāttu. Here Murukan is mostly referred to as Vēlan and was a non-vegetarian god. Tinai, mixed with the blood of sacrificed goats, was offered to Him. He had no temple or permanent abode. Veriyāttu was almost a family worship among the Kurava community living in the mountains and their suburbs, (Kunru and Palamutircōlai), to relieve the ananku which possessed virgin Kurava girls.

In the second stage in the evolution of temples, permanent abodes for Murukan called Pataivitus and their co-existence with Veriyāttu are described in Tirumuru kārruppatai. Temple worship introduced Brahmanical influence and threw open the worship of Murukan to all people, local as well as from distant places. The third stage is the Paripātal type where there is no reference to Veriyāttu but is a completely Sanskritized form of worship of a vegetarian Murukan.

The Kurava people of the Cankam Age, living on the mountains, believed that the touch of Murukan on their virgin girls troubles them (Kuriñci: 174-175, Nar 288:10, Aka. 98:9-10) and to get rid of it, they should celebrate Veriyāttu. This is referred to in literature as Anankutai Murukan (Puram: 299:6). Such celebrations to Murukan are referred to as Muruku Ārruppatuttal. References to this and to the Vēlan who celebrates this are found in Narrinai, Kuruntokai, Akanānūru, Murukārruppatai etc.

In Veriyāttu, the pūcāri is called Vēlan, as he carries with him Murukan's Vēl. Wearing a garland of green leaves, narai, forest mallikai and ventalai (white leaves), he dances possessed by Murukan. Vēlan dances also along with the Kuravars and their girls, under the Vēnkai tree, holding their hands together, drinking toddy and praying to Murukan. In this dance men grasp the hands of the girls, giving them first their hands, and dance to the beating the tontaka parai (Muruku. 197). Murukan enjoys dancing with girls on all the boulders (Muruku.190-217).

This study also examines references in Cankam literature to Brahmanical worship, the birth of Murukan, the marriage of Murukan and places where Murukan had temples in ancient Tamilakam.

Murukan Worship in Karnataka

by S. Shanmugasundaram

Murukan is one of the most complicated and baffling deities of South India. By virtue of his complex and composite nature, Murukan is all things to all people: to children he is Bala Subrahmanya, the playful child-god; to young men he is the chaste Kumaran; to scholars he is the wise six-faced Ārumukam; to soldiers he is Senātipati; to devotees who seek knowledge he is Jñānapandita; to householders and wives he is the bridegroom and husband of Valli and Teyvānai; and to ascetics he is the severe Ānti of Palani.

In Karnataka he is best known as Subrahmanya. The relationship between Tamils and Kannadigas in the worship of Murukan is the fascinating topic of this reserach paper.

After introducing the topic, this paper gives an account of fifteen major Subrahmanya temples in Karnataka followed by a section detailing the Nāga cult of Subrahmanya in coastal Karnataka including nine of its temples.

The rest of the article is concerned with regional festivals including Skanda Sasti, Taippūcam, Āti Kārttikai, Vaikāci Vicākam and car festivals. There is a detailed discussion of rituals, particularly kāvati as it is practised in Karnataka. There is also a discussion of kāvati dance and peacock dance as entertainment.

Pāmban Swami's Murukan Bhakti

by G. Shunmugham

Pāmban Srimat Kumāragurudasa Swāmigal, also known as Pāmban Swāmigal, was born in Rameswaram in the year 1848 A.D. He assumed this human form only to sing hyms in praise of Lord Guha in order to preach shuddha advaita. He cultivated the habit of worshipping God in all forms and names but especially as Lord Murukan (Guha) only. He longed to have darshan and upadesham from Lord Murukan.

The experience of penance took the form of a text called Takaralaya Rahasyam which consist of 117 poems sung by Pāmban Swāmigal. Swāmigal had mastered all the 108 upanishads and Tamil grammar in its entirety. He composed thousands of songs besides Tamil prose order. He selected 6,666 songs into six mantalams.

Pāmban Swāmigal pronounced his philosophy as shuddha advaita which is Saiva Siddhānta philosophy of highest order. He emphasised the need of practising rememberance of God not in a mechanical way but by reminding one self of God's presence in one's own heart.

Pāmban Swāmigal founded an association of devotees of Lord Murukan and named it Maha Tejo Mandalam, meaning an assemblage of great luminaries. He maintained that those who worship Lord Guha (Murukan) alone, who is in the form of great effulgence, irrespective of place, caste, religion, etc., belong to Maha Tejo Mandalam. Sages like Akastiyar, Arunakirinātar and Pāmban Swāmigal redefined the world and gave it a status by pointing out the existence of Lord Guha (Murukan) in every one's heart.

Antiquity of Murukan cult in Ancient Sri Lanka: A Historical Perspective

by S.K. Sitrampalam

Although there have been many writings on the cult of Murukan in Sri Lanka, hardly any attempt has been made to trace the antiquity of this cult. The purpose of this study is to trace the origin and development of this cult in Sri Lanka on the basis of literary and archaeological sources during the period preceding to Christian era.

Unlike in the case of Tamilakam there are no Tamil literary sources in Sri Lanka dating back to Cankam Age. However, in view of the geographical proximity and other close ties between Tamilakam and Sri Lanka it becomes necessary to fall back on this literature in elucidating the symbols associated with this cult in Sri Lanka.

Among Buddhist literary sources there are references in the Mahāvamsa to katampu grooves, sacred trees of Murukan. The occurrence of the form vela as a reference to Vēlan priests of the Cankam period in pre-Christian Brahmi inscriptions of Sri Lanka also supports this conclusion. Besides references to katampu tree in Mahāvamsa, Vēlan priests are also referred to in pre-Christian Brahmi inscriptions.

Archaeological research in Tamilakam and Sri Lanka during the last quarter century has given a new perception regarding the dawn of civilization in this region. The neolithic cultural link of the megalithic culture which paved the way for the emergence of the Cankam civilization has been established. The pre-Buddhist culture of Sri Lanka is today regarded as an offshoot of this culture.

Spear or Vēl has been unearthed during the excavations conducted at the proto-historic sites such as

Kantarodai and Pomparippu in Sri Lanka. It has found a place as a graffiti mark in the pottery of another proto-historic site, namely Anuradhapura. It is also represented in pre-Christian coins of Sri Lanka.

While the cult of Murukan has many votaries among the Tamil Hindus of Sri Lanka, it is now a part of the folk religion of Sri Lankan Buddhists.

This confirms the antiquity of the cult of Murukan in Sri Lanka and suggests that Murukan was one of the gods worshipped by the Sinhalese before they embraced Buddhism. This is also corroborated by the religion of the aboriginal Veddas, whose religion even today betrays many features of the cult of Murukan as found in the Cankam literature.

A study of Murukan Paintings

L.K. Sivanesan

The most tangible form of Murukan in sculpture, stucco, icon and even in wood carving are from the model of paintings from portaraits, canvas, frescoes and walls of temples. These visual forms and the literary description of Him, if studied critically in a historical perspective bring to light the variations of his smile, ornaments, garments and other motifs. 

Further study of ancient and medieval paintings in caves, tribal houses and temple walls and in modern age in books, dramas and even in films, reveal that the inspiration of the painter, whether out of deep devotion or style of school, is the predominent feature in Murukan in the context that no one had ever seen His real figure in beautiful form. Here lies the fact that the painting is the transformation of the artist's skill and devoted inspiration. The paintings thus remain as models for sculptures, stuccoes and icons.

The paper is an attempt to examine the derived conclusion by a study of the portaraits painted by known and unknown painters of the past including Raja Ravivarma, V. Ganapathy, C. Ganesan, R. Govindarajan, K. Mathavan, S. Ramalingam, C. Kanthiya, Silpe, Maniyam and other traditional painters of South India. The variations due to devoted inspiration will be examined by a field study of paintings in print form, in canvas, and on walls, using photographs which will be shown when the paper is read in the seminar. The study of Murukan paintings, it is earnestly hoped, will shed more light upon the evolution of Murukan's iconography from ancient times to the present.

Skanda-Murukan: The Jñānaguru in Tamil and Sanskrit Literary Traditions

by V. Sivasamy

In this article the author, a distinguished Sanskritist, explores those facets of the composite god Skanda-Murukan which pertain to his association with the learning and transmission of jñāna or supersensory knowledge in a paramparā or disciplic succession.

Although the Sanskrit god Skanda and the Tamil god Murukan are reckoned by scholars to stem from two distinct sources, i.e. ancient Indo-European mythological traditions as distinct from ancient Dravidian sources, nevertheless from the earliest times both have shared a common set of character traits. Prominent among these is their common association with the acquisition, preservation and transmission of extradinary modes of cognition.

In the Chandogya Upanisad, one of the oldest upanisads almost certainly predating the lifetime of the Buddha, there is a figure called Sanatkumāra whom commentators have consistently identified with Skanda. From the earliest vedic sources until and including the bhakti period, Skanda has been associated not only with jñāna itself but also with the quintessential Indian concept of the guru or spiritual guide.

In the Dravidian tradition, early Murukan is more of an action figure than a teacher; he is a warrior-god and archetypal lover who teaches less through words than by example. Indeed, Murukan the jñānaguru is equivalent to Murukan the maunaguru, the teacher who imparts jñāna without need of discussion. This he achieves by force of cummā iruttal, the supreme unconditional state of simply being without any urge or need to perfect oneself, i.e. the state of the siddha who has accomplished the transcendental goal of simply being.

The author traces these and other instances of the god who is two-yet-one, the deity Skanda-Murukan. He observes that this persistent character of the god is not merely one of his qualities or attributes, but rather could be considered as the essential nature of the ever-youthful deity Skanda-Murukan, just as the vēl, His jñānashakti or power of gnosis, is said to be His very own self.

The cult of Murukan in Mauritius: Genesis, Evolution and Relationship in the Quest for Tamil Identity

by Ramanujan Sooriamoorthy

The cult of Murukan is actually the most lively and dynamic one amidst the Tamils of Mauritius. The cult has even gone further, uniting all Mauritians, Tamils and non-Tamils alike in a spirit of fervour and devotion. And so strong is the faith that one can even say that Mauritian Tamils identify with Lord Murukan.

However, such has not always been the case. Ever since the Tamils came to Mauritius and for a very long time, the most important cult was that of the Divine Mother Goddess. In the last decades of the previous century, with fresh arrivals of immigrants after the abolition of slavery, the Murukan cult gradually assumed more and more importance. Associated with pomp and display and spectacular expressions of faith, the cult quickly ended up being the chief, one might even say, unique cult of Mauritian Tamils.

This is better understood if we bear in mind that Tamils are not the only worshippers of Murukan in this country. The feeling of awe demonstrated by non-Tamils for the Murukan cult as exemplified by the kāvati festival which has further strengthened this identification of Mauritian Tamils with the divinity. Verily, Murukan is the sole god of Tamils in Mauritius. He is the Lord who provides them with and convinces them of their specific identity.

Kataragama in Sinhala Folklore

by Aluthwewa Soratha Thero

Scope: Kataragama, the sylvan shrine in the far southeast of Sri Lanka, has long been renowned in Sinhala folklore as the abode of Skanda-Kumāra (Sinhala: Kanda Kumāraya) or Kataragama Deviyo as the god is best known.

Many names and epithets have been used down the ages to invoke and identify the Kataragama god. His feats are celebrated and remembered in numerous poems and texts preserved in the Sanskrit, Pali, Sinhala and Tamil languages.

Problems addressed: To date research on Kataragama has focused upon spectacular acts of mortification like kāvati and fire-walking. This has tended to obscure the Buddhist character of the god and his shrine as understood by the majority of worshippers and preserved by the shrine's Sinhalese custodians.

Some modern scholars believe that Kataragama Deviyo was a human chieftain who later was elevated to divine status. But local oral tradition insists that good King Mahāsena is yet alive and reigning in Kataragama even today. Most Buddhists believe that the former King Mahāsena of Kataragama was reborn as a god or, rather, as a great bodhisattva or 'awakening being' vested with extraordinary power to assist those who invoke him. Indeed, to this day most of the god's devotees are Buddhists.

Methodology: The researcher is the incumbent abbot of Kataragama Kirivehera Raja Mahā Vihāraya, Kataragama's ancient centre of Sinhala folklore and Buddhist practice. He is a trained specialist in comparative folklore of both Sinhala Buddhist and Tamil Hindu traditions. His familiarity with Sinhala folklore and literature is sharpened by exposure to modern methods of folklore analysis.

Sources of information: The primary source of information is Sinhala folklore, both national and local to Kataragama. The author also cites passages from the Pāli Canon, the epic Mahāvamsa and medieval Sinhala poetry in support of oral traditions still current in Sri Lanka today.

The Murukan cult in Mauritius and Tamil Ethnic Identity

by Khesaven Sornum

Early Tamil immigrants from South India who settled in Mauritius in the 18th century under French rule were the builders of many places of worship. Under British colonisation also, many Tamils came as indentured labourers and settled mostly in rural areas. Since their arrival Tamils have retained their faith, culture and traditions. Religious festivals like Kāvati, Kōvintan, Kañci and Timiti are still celebrated in most localities of Mauritius with much religious fervour.

Murukan cult is closely related to kāvati festivals which are held on quite a few occasions. Taippūcam Kāvati is given national importance and delcared as a public holiday.

In view of the various kāvati festivals such as Taippūcam, Pankuni Uttiram, Cittirai Paurnami, Vaikāci Vicākam, Āti Kārttikai, Āvani Mūlam, Kanta Casti and others, the activities of devotees include fasting, making of the kāvatis, attending daily special prayers in kōvils, performing home pūcai . Wearing traditional dress, vegetarian food, penance, going in religious processions, contributing to charity, etc. constitute other aspects of Murukan cult in Mauritius.

The role of Tamil arccakars, prayer songs, language used for worship, group worship, procession in adoration of Lord Murukan, the contribution of the State for religious activities and other related issues are dealt with in this paper. Interviews with serving arccakars from India, Sri Lanka, Reunion, Muruka bhaktas and kōvil association leaders serve as additional sources.

Perumpeyar Murukan - Oru Kannōttam

by Na. Subbu Reddiar

Murukan represents the ancient twin-themes of Love and War which were regarded as basic to human life by the people of Tamil Nadu. It was he who taught the Tamil language to Akattiyar, the sage. He assumed a human form with the name Uruttiracanman and participated in the learned discussions of Tamil poets and scholars at the Cankam (academy) in Madurai. His love of Tamil is so great that he bestows his grace on even those who abuse him in Tamil, so says Arunakirinātar.

Murukan is the symbol of youth and beauty. He represents nature which constantly renews itself. Whoever worships beauty in nature worships Murukan.

Of the six faces of the God, five represent the five senses of man. The sixth represents the mind. The weapons wielded by him stand for the instruments of production and the weapons of war which mankind has invented and which it continues to improve constantly. The image of the cock on his banner symbolises the divine principle of Sound. The peacock he rides is symbolic of the divine principle of Light. The story of his assuming the role of teacher to his own Father Civan conveys the truth of the potential of anyone to attain absolute divinity.

Skanda-Murukan: An Insider's Perspective

by A. Subramanian

This paper focuses upon Indian concepts of culture and spirituality as depicted in this survey of the birth and career of Skanda-Murukan as told by Kacciyappa Civācāriyar and others. The author reviews the purānic legends and discusses them in terms of their symbolic significance and practical implications for practising Kaumāra aspirants. He also addresses the issue of how relevant these age-old purānic legends and practices are in the modern age.

Murukan or Cēyōn: Totemic Origins

by N. Subrahmanian

Murukan is an important instance of the problem of interpreting an ancient sacred symbol. He is most familiar as a member of the Hindu pantheon, whom the Tamils consider as their special divinity. There are two major problems about primal Murukan:

1. His Aryanisation and equation with Kārttikeya or Kumāra or Subrahmanya.

2. His original homeland. Regarding His homeland it has been assumed that He was born and bred in the Tamil Country and that He is an entirely native deity of the land.

However, there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that Murukan like the Tamils themselves, had His origin in Southwest Asia. In the first place it has been plausibly suggested that Murukan can be derived from muruk in Persian meaning a common fowl, which is found on His banner even now. Secondly His fame as a hilltop dweller could have been derived from the moon god being placed on the ziggurat in Sumeria. The ziggurat is an artifical elevation. In Tamil Nadu too the idea is that Murukan dwells on artificial elevations but never really on hilltops. The kunru in the kunrutōrātal is equivalent to the pyramidal mound which a ziggurat is. Thirdly, He was originally the moon god or his son; and he was wet-nursed by the six stars of the Pleiades or the Krttika$ maidens. He is also associated with the mountain goddess. Fourthly, the number six associated with Him and is very significant. Murukan's sacred name (the number of letters therein), hilly residences, and the number of faces are all six. Fifthly, Moon is Astamis, the goddess of hunting and Murukan is the hunter par excellence. He is the chief of the Kuriñcit tinai.

After His arrival in Tamil Nadu, Murukan became a totemic god. Murukan is connected with two totems: the katampu tree and the peacock. The katampu was worshipped as the totem which protected the tribe that worshipped it. The divine chief of the katampu tribe, i.e. Murukan conquered and destroyed the chief of the mango tribe; ie. Cūr. The latter stood personified as the mango tree and was destroyed by the katampu chief Murukan.

There were three stages in the evolution of Murukan, viz. 1) in Southwest Asia (prehistoric); 2) in Tamil Nadu (historic); and 3) in early historical times. In the first stage He acquired His primary characteristics; in the second He became a totem chief; in the third He got partially Aryanised, for His older characteristics still persisted.

Palani Taippūcam Pilgrimage

by P. Subramanian

Scope: Taippūcam is one of the major festivals of Palani as the pilgrims number in many hundreds of thousands. Many devotees of Palani come on foot in pilgrim groups. The devotees sing devotional songs and kāvatippāttu dedicated to Lord Murukan. As it is an inter-regional festival, the devotees include both elite and folk.

Purpose: The Taippūcam festival has many components. The festival cannot be understood without an understanding of the interrelation of its components. The pilgrimage incorporates of folk songs, dances, and folk music.

The pilgrimage attracts members from various communities and also different states of India, especially Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Such pilgrimages pave the way for regional harmony. Further many misundertakings regarding casteism and communalism are submerged in such pilgrimages. Pilgrimage centres, in fact, generate a field (cf. Victor Turner). The Palani Murukan Taippūcam pilgrimage generates a cultural and economic field. All people become equal in such pilgrimage. This is the main feature of Taippūcam pilgrimage. Additionaly, the folk songs, dances, music, offerings, costumes and other types of festival practices are explored in this study. The research mainly intends to study the devotees' relation to and their piety for the deity Murukan. Localization of religious phenomena is associated with Tamil temple myths (cf. David Shulman). Myths regarding the pilgrimage and the deity are examined in this research.

Methodology: Festivity cannot be defined as a particular kind of behaviour, as can song or storytelling, rather it is a set of traditional behaviours. In this research paper the structural approach has been adopted. Binary opposition as well as structure and anti-structure models are applied here to study the different aspects of the pilgrimage. The spiritual transformation attained either by a devotee or by groups will be evaluated using the concept of liminality of Van Geenep and Victor Turner.

Sources of information: The researcher has been a pilgrim with various groups of devotees walking towards the holy shrine of Palani. First-hand information regarding the pilgrimage has been obtained by field study. Interview, field observation and survey methods are employed. Moreover, the researcher has been a keen observor of pilgrims activities including various kinds of pūjās, preparation of sacred food, spirit possession and interaction among various groups on the way to the pilgrim centre.

Murukan in Tamil Patams

by V. Subramaniam and

Jeya Subramaniam

Murukan recognized as the god of youth and beauty in the Cankam period was sidelined in the Tēvāram corpus and came back as the superhero in Tiruppukal. Ultimately he became the lovable womanizer (vita) in the Tamil patams of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The scope and focus of this paper is to look at the literary and puranic sources to answer the question 'why' by the comparative method.

The Vaishnavite bhakti cult accepted Visnu incarnate as man, e.g. Krishna and composed erotic poetry. Saivism did not acknowledge incarnation for a long till the rise of Skanda Purāna.

By the 19th century Murukan the philanderer became the darling of patam composers in Tamil as Gopala was in Telugu.

Tamil Language and Muruka worship in Natal, South Africa

by S. Subramaniyan

Tamils and Telugus of Tamil Nadu were brought to South Africa to work as indentured labourers in the sugar-cane plantations and factories between 1860 and 1911. Hindus came with their mother tongues and cultures and they took deep interest in retaining them in spite of domination by other languages and cultures.

Among the Hindus, bhakti was the root of their culture and this bhakti has been maintained by all categories of people, especially by South Indians, by worshipping Murukan. Their methods of worship varied but bhakti was the common root. The author analyses the different methods of worshipping Murukan in Natal in this paper. These methods of worship evolved using symbols and other forms of rituals which gave them strength and power. The expression of bhakti has been maintained through their mother tongue by Tamils as well as by Telugus.

Tamil language plays an important part through folk style songs in the form of cintu, kanni and kāvati, based on simple rhythmic beats to quick powerful beats. Indeed, music plays an important part in this worship. This worship of Murukan has witnessed changes by stages from 1860 up to this day depending upon people's attitude towards their language and culture. The author discusses the influences of Western culture in those different periods on the Muruga worship under various factors: 1) attitude and behaviour of the society; 2) one's understanding of bhakti; 3) importance of rituals; 4) trance; and 5) performce of dharma through contributions. Do these factors help to retain the Tamil language through culture? The author discusses in detail with their diverse backgrounds.

This study may provide chances to find ways to retain the Tamil language in foreign countries, bringing out many new ideas and programmes in the midst of Africanisation and domination of English in all fields in Natal.

Kārttikeya in early Indian Coinage

by S. Suresh

Murukan or Kārttikeya features on Indian coins mainly during the early historical and early medieval periods. He appears on the coins of Huvishka of the Kushan ruling family, the city-state of Ujjayini in Central India, the tribal republic of Yaudheya in Punjab, and Kumāra Gupta I of the Gupta dynasty. These coins are in gold or copper.

Coins featuring symbols and attributes associated with Kārttikeya are, however, more numerous and are found in silver also. The most common among such attributes is the peacock. The coins refer to the deity by varied names such are Skandakumāra, Mahāsena and Visākha.

Although the deities on coins have been modelled on the basis of stone sculptures, there are significant iconographic variations between these two classes of figures. In many instances, the figure on the coin is devoid of the three-dimensional effect and appears like a 'thumb-nail' sketch. The extremely small area of the coin-flan poses a great challenge to the artist and/or die-cutter.

A noteworthy observation is that even during those periods of history when Shaivism was a dominant religion, coins bearing the figure of Kārttikeya are extremely rare. This is all the more surprising because other Hindu deities closely related to Kārttikeya such as Umā-Maheshvara and Ganesa frequently occur on coins of almost all periods. Again, the almost total absence of Kārttikeya in South Indian coinage is intriguing because His cult was popular in this part of the country from very early times.

The present paper seeks to trace the history of the delineation of Kārttikeya on Indian coins, with special reference to iconography. An analysis of the historical and socio-cultural significance and chronology of these coins is also attempted. The paper is accompanied by a set of slides of Kārttikeya coins and a map showing the major sites showing where Kārttikeya coins were issued or circulated.

Interpreting Tiruppukal and Tirumurukārruppatai through Bharata Nātyam

by Vidya Bhavani Suresh

Bharata Nātyam, the well-known classical dance form of Tamil Nadu can be defined as the presentation of narratives through the medium of gestures aptly interspersed with crisp footwork patterns in the background of songs set to tune in the South Indian classical style and oral utterances of jatis.

Of the three major categories of narratives, namely, the myth, the legend and the folktale, the most commonly used category in Bharata Nātyam is the myth - to be more specific, myths belonging to the great traditions - the Āruvakai Camayam.

The purpose of this lecture-demonstation is to look into how such excerpts can be presented through Bharata Nātyam with apt musical tuning and dance choreography. For this lecture-demonstration, I choose Tirumurukārruppatai and Tiruppukal, both of which sing the praise of Lord Murukan.

Tirumurukārruppatai: This text composed in chaste Tamil by Nakkīrar dates back to the Cankam age. This text contains elaborate descriptions about the Ārupatai vītu - the six holy places, the greatness of the six faces of the Lord, descriptions of Lord Murukan as the destroyer of evil asuras and so on.

Being replete with narrative elements, this text is extremely suitable for presentation through Bharata Nātyam. Yet, extreme care is required at every stage, while interpreting the words to arrive at their correct meaning while tuning the songs to ensure that words don't get distorted and so on.

Tiruppukal: This text belongs to the 16th century and has been composed by Saint Arunakirinātar. Arunakirinātar is so much associated with the Murukan cult that many temples of Lord Murukan have a sanctum sanctorum only for Arunakirinātar.

Tiruppukal is a unique text, for, apart from its high-flown Tamil and vast content, it has a third element - its cantam, that is, the metre or the rhythmic pattern. Arunakirinātar has handled a large number of criss-cross patterns of rhythmic combinations in his songs.

It is very difficult to translate these complicated rhythmic patterns into jati and svāra sequences. Hence, presenting these through Bharata Nātyam is a very ardous task. Tiruppukal songs, therefore, prove to be a challenge to the performer; in fact, a true test of the capabilities of the entire team - the singer, the nattuvanār, the mridangist and of course, the dancer. Interpreting Tiruppukal through Bharata Nātyam therefore calls for extreme precision, perfect team work and coordination.

Sources: The researcher is indebted to Kilappāvūr Canmukaiyā and Valayapatti Ra. Kirusnan for literary guidance.

Iconographical details of Skanda in the Somāskanda aspect

by A. Velusamy Suthanthiran

Somāskanda mūrti depicts the figures of god Shiva, goddess Pārvati and child-god Skanda. Skanda in this aspect is both in sitting and standing postures. The iconographical details of Skanda in this aspect are clearly described in agamic texts like Shilparatna, Kasyapa shilpa shacirc;stra, etc. In all the representations, he has only two hands and the main objects in possession are flower and book.

Aim: The paper deals with the origin of this cult as so far no attempt has been made on this topic. In Pallava monuments, this representation is visible for the first time in sculptured panel, mainly on the backwall of the sanctum sanctorum. Skanda is either in the lap of goddess Pārvati or between Her and Shiva.

So far no scholarly attempt has been made to uncover the basic reason for such representation. The Chola period witnessed a number of bronze images of Somāskanda mūrti. The bronzes of Vijayanagar and Nayak periods also get description here.

Icons of Skanda in the Somāskanda aspect exhibit iconographical variations from one dynasty to another. Icons of Pallava period display well-refined iconographical details which differ from the icons of other dynasties like the Cholas, Vijayanagar and Nayaks.

Sources: The primary sources for the study are the sculptures in temples of Tamil Nadu and nearby states including sculptured panels as well as stone and bronze icons. Tamil literary works, Agamic texts, and modern works from the secondary source.

Significance of Kaumāra Icons

by P. Suyambu

Kaumāra is a Hindu religious school of thought in which the worship of Dravidian Murukan and Aryan Skanda have been merged. A number of different icons are worshipped that reveal the mixed cults. The main purpose and scope of this research is to identify the iconographical features of the two streams of Kaumāra. It also aims to give philosophical interpretations to the worship of idols.

Some research has already been done on Kaumāra religion and philosophy. But no attempt was made on its iconography with this purpose. This attempt will help to know the historical development of Kaumāra idols and cults.

Shilpa Shāstras in Sanskrit, iconographic books in Tamil and data from fieldwork from the primary sources for this paper. Tamil literature of different periods, articles and research works will be the secondary sources of information. On the base of these sources, the present research paper is undertaken in historical and comparative approaches.

Interesting Details about Skanda-Murukan

by Santhanam Swaminathan and Swaminath Dandapani

In this paper is a survey of details about the cult of Skanda-Murukan. The authors have presented a catalogue of interesting facts arranged by topic from A (for astronomy) to Z (for zoolatry). These include:

Astronomy; Botany; Coinage; Elephant; Flag; Gold; Hill god; Indus Valley; Jaffna; Krauñca Bhedanar; Himālayas; Language; Music; Omkaraswarūpan; Prediction; Question; Red; Six; Theft; Vishakham; Wargod; and Zoolatry.

The collection, while of nominal interest to specialists, may serve to draw the public's attention to some little-known facets of the cult of Skanda-Murukan.


by S. Thalapathy

The people of Tamil Nadu evolved a way of life in harmony with Nature. Their worship of God was also based on Nature and incorporated features of their language, culture and social environment. Their history began with the life in the hilly region and the worship of Murukan occupied the foremost place in their lives.

Murukan was a leader of a great order, equally glorious in akam and puram way of life. He enjoyed the right to leadership (kilavōn). He became a Lord not only of the hilly region but of every region (tract) inhabited by Tamil people. He represents the ideals of life upheld by the Tamil culture and literature.

The original character of Murukan worship was affected by the intrusion of Aryan culture and subsequent attempts to destroy the fabric of Tamil society.

The evolution of Murukan from the position of the Lord of the hill to that of the God of the Tamil land, followed by the later accretions due to the process of assimilation of Aryan culture has an underlying thread, which links with the present day forms of Murukan worship.

This paper aims at showing this connecting thread and this is proposed to be pursued on the basis of rhetorical theme called porul in Tamil and the rituals in vogue.

Ancient Murukan Temples in Batticaloa District

by K. Thangeswari

Scope: This research focuses on Murukan temples in Batticaloa district in Eastern Sri Lanka. There is evidence to show that Murukan worship was common among the Veddas in the region, who are decendants of the Yakkas and Nāgas. These folk are none other than the primitive Dravidian people of Ceylon.Veddas were found in large number in East Ceylon of which Batticaloa district is a central place.

We find ancient Murukan temples in Verukal, Sittandi, Kōvilporatīvu, Mantūr, Ukantai and Tirukkōvil in the eastern district.

These temples have connection with Kataragama, the famous abode of Murukan. This research aims at establishing historical basis relating to the background of Murukan cult in east Ceylon. It also aims at establishing the historicity of the primitive people who were responsible for the Murukan cult in east Ceylon.

The general belief is that the Murukan worship came to Ceylon with the Pandiyan and Chola kings. But Murukan worship was already in Ceylon. This is proved by archaeological evidences.

There was Vēl worship in the East Coast of Ceylon during ancient times. The primitive people of this place, called Veddas, claim kinship with Lord Murukan as he has married a Vedda girl Valli according to Vedda tradition.

Sources of information: Relevant data will be collected from Cankam literature, archaeological reports, Brahmi inscriptions, inscriptions and traditions in Murukan worship. The researcher has also conducted interviews with temple authorities, priests and elders in the district and made personal visits to the temples mentioned.

Skanda-Murukan in Sinhala Tradition: Replica of Murukan in Tamil Tradition?

by A. Theva Rajan

Skanda-Kumara or Kataragama Deviyo is ingrained in the heart of the Sinhala man and woman even deeper than Lord Buddha. There are references to the prevalence of this cult in the Brahmi inscriptions, the earliest lithic records, some of which belong to the pre-Christian era. In much the same way the Tamils look upon Murukan as their guardian deity and the custodian of the Tamil language, the Sinhalese too look upon Skanda-Kuma$ra or Kataragama Deviyo as their guardian deity and custodian of Sinhala language. This paper attempts to focus on the similarities.

The Sinhalese claim to have come from North India. In the North Indian tradition Ganesha or Gana Deviyo (Sinhala) has two consorts Buddhi and Siddhi, whereas Ka$rttikeya or Skanda is a bachelor and looked upon as a deity for evil acts, especially looting and robbery. He is not a sought after or favoured in North Indian society. The fact is that North Indian tradition is not followed by the Sinhalese. Can any explanation be offered?

Some Brahmi inscriptions bearing testimony to this cult will be examined. Some references to the ancient Murukan/Skanda-Kumāra shrines of Anuradhapura and Kotte will be made. A comment on the Murukan/Skanda-Kumāra metal idol saved from the sea in Galle in 1993 will be added. The place of Kataragama Deviyo in history, literature and society will be discussed to show how this cult and tradition is deeply rooted in Sinhala society.

Inscriptions of Ceylon - Volume I edited by S. Paranavitane will be the source for Brahmi inscriptions. There will be citations from Tirumurukārruppatai, Kanta Purānam, Mahāvamsa, Culawamsa, Tiruppukal and also from writings on the North Indian tradition. There will be citings from the writings of Charles Godakumbura, P.B. Sannasgala, M.H. Peter Silva, M.D. Raghavan, Kamil Zvelebil and Patrick Harrigan. The 18th century work Vallimātā Katāva will also be discussed.

Nagarattar and Vēl worship

by N. Valli

In this paper, the author traces the traditions of Vēl worship current among the Nāttu Kōttai Cettiyār community. Starting nearly 300 years ago, Nāttu Kōttai Cettiyārs emigrated to Burma, Malaysia, Vietnam and Ceylon for trading purposes. By the 18th and 19th centuries, they were flourishing wherever they went.

Prominent among them was one Nagarattar who had been an ardent devotee of the god even before moving to Calcutta for trading purposes in 1800. There he established Vēl worship on a firm footing and with the help of Nagarattars published many works in Tamil about the worship of the Vēl. This paper purports to explain the relevance and other details of Nagarattar and worship of the Vēl.

Subrahmanya Worship in Coastal Karnataka: A Historical Investigation

by K.G. Vasantha Madhava

Summary: A historical investigation of the cult of Skanda or Subrahmanya prevalent in coastal Karnataka including the Kasargod region of Kerala, is examined on the basis of inscriptions, folk versions and Kannada literary works. Views of early scholars namely late B.A. Saletore, Govinda Pai and Gururaja Bhatt on Skanda worship are assessed.

A few distinct features of the icons of Skanda found in different parts of the coastal region are taken into consideration. This paper covers centres of the Skanda worship, their antiquities and peculiar forms of worship prevalent in the region.

The antiquity of Skanda cult in the region under study may be traced from the eighth century A.D. His form of worship in the early stages was in the linga form. Kukke Subrahmanya (Sulia, D.K.) and Nagashringa cave (Matha village Kumta, N.K.) are the earliest centres. As years rolled on, different forms of Skanda icons emerged in the region. The most interesting feature of the Skanda image is found at Ballmanja (Puttur Taluka, D.K.) where the image is in the form of nāga, upper half human and lower half serpentine. This temple is known as Anantēshvara.

Both Shaivism and Vaisanavism influenced the Skanda cult. Consequently, the temples of Subrahmanya in different places in the coastal region are known by names Ananta-Padmanābha and Anantēshvara.

The most striking feature of the Skanda cult is that the deity is identified with nāga. This change took a definite shape from the eighteenth century onwards as evidenced by an inscription found at Kukke - Subrahmanya.

A peculiar form of Skanda worship such as Nāgamandala, Made sthāna, Aslesha-bali Champa- Shashthi and colourful car festival gained popularity in some centres of His worship. These forms of worship contributed to the popularity of the Subrahmanya cult in coastal Karnataka.

Tirumurukārruppatai and Kanta Purānam: A Comparative Study

by Marimuthu Vedanathan

Worship of Murukan dates back to very early times in South India. Devotees of Lord Murukan have to their credit several poetic compositions. By far the most notable are Tirumurukārruppatai composed by Nakkirar and Kanta purānam authored by Kacciyappa Civācāriyar. These two important Saiva works describe the origin of Murukan or Kantan and sing praises of his divine powers.

Tirumurukārruppatai ranks as the most popular poetic composition of the Cankam period. This work consists of 317 lines and is considered to be the 11th book of sacred hymns of the Shaivas, and for the devotees of the Murukan it is a part of their daily liturgy.

Kanta purānam occupies place of eminence in Saiva literature. The work consists of 10,345 four-line viruttam stanzas in six kāntams (books) in 141 chapters. This work describes the cult of Murukan and the bridge that links Murukan and Kantan.

Although these two works are of different periods it is illuminating to find their common aspects regarding Lord Murukan. It may be noted that Kacciyappa Civācāriyar was well acquainted with Tirumuru kārruppatai.

The two literary works describe the divine powers of Lord Murukan, His physical features, His various names, methods of offering worship and the worship of Vēl.

Ārumukanum Ariviyalum ('Science and the six-headed God')

by K.M. Veeranan

The opening lines of Tirumurukārruppatai compare the feet of Murukan to the effulgent morning sun. Ancient Tamil poets had a keen awareness of the elements of nature. There were several poets then bearing the name 'Pūtanār' which means 'The Elemental One'. Pūtapurānam was a work which described the qualities of the elements. 

Modern science tells us about ozone which is part of the atmosphere. It protects life on earth by shielding it from the great heat of the sun and its ultra-violet radiation.

Nakkirar's comparison of Murukan to the sun has a scientific basis in connection with the role of ozone. His reference is to the morning sun and it is a well-known fact that ozone is present in the early morning air. Tirumurukārruppatai says that Murukan bestows his grace on sages who travel in the air. By the grace of God they develop the ability to absorb the excessive heat of the sun thereby save life on earth from destruction. This role of the sages has been elucidated by the scholar Ki. Vā Jagannātan. Naccinārkkiniar, the commentator of Pattuppattu has also referred to this.

The Earliest Sculpture of Murukan in Tamil Nadu

by C. Veeraraghavan

Even though worship of Murukan is very ancient as attested by the earliest Cankam literature, no iconographic representation of the god is known in Tamil Nadu before the Pallava period.

This paper describes the author's recent discovery of the earliest known free-standing sculpture (in bas-relief) of Murukan so far found in Tamil Nadu. Apart from the archaic iconographic features which make this sculpture unique, it is also significant that it bears an inscription in early Tamil script of about the 7th Century A.D. confirming the dating of the sculpture.

The paper is illustrated with photographs of the sculpture and an impression of the inscription.

Cult of Skanda-Murukan from ancient time to the 13th Century

by Ambigai Velmurugu

Scope: The main aim of this research paper is to clarify, analyse and interpret the origin, growth and trends in Murukan worship at various stages of its history in Tamilnadu from very early times to the 13th century A.D. The paper has five sections,viz:

The antiquity of Murukan worship in Tamilnadu: through literary and archaeological evidence and forms of worship adopted at different periods, the antiquity of the worship of Murukan is analysed.

The antiquity of Murukan worship in North India: The antiquity, origin and advancement of Murukan worship in North India are briefly discussed.

Murukan worship in ancient Tamil literary works: Through certain practices and conventions that were in existence especially for the Tamils, the worship of the old deity Murukan was fostered. It underwent changes as a results of the impact it had with the reputation and spread of Vedic religion.

Murukan worship during the Pallava period: Though Murukan worship mingled with Shaiva religion, it continued to preserve its individuality and identity.

Murukan worship during the times of the Chola emperors: how beliefs that were accepted during the Pallava period got strengthened and established firmly.

Sources of information: The following sources were utilized as primary sources in this paper:

Tamil Texts: The Ettuttokai, the Pattuppāttu anthologies, the Tolkāppiyam, the Cilappatikāram, the twelve Shaiva Tiru Murais and Kallatam.

Inscriptional Evidences: Twenty two inscriptions belonging to the Pallava and Chola periods are studied. In some evidence, there are references relating to gifts and donations of tax-free lands and idols of gods made to the temples of Murukan. In some inscriptions a fair and just king is compared to Murukan himself. Among these the following are some of the more important edicts:

The inscriptions found at: Kandasamy kovil at Tirupōrūr; theTirucentūr inscription of Varakuna Pantiyan; the Mukkūtukūr inscription of Nantivarman; the copper plate inscription of Kācakkuti; the copper plate inscription of Vellore Pālayam; the inscription in the Kailasanātha kovil; the inscription in the Balasubrahmanya temple at Cannanore; the inscription in the Brhadishvaranar temple at Tanjore; the inscription in the Kesava Perumal kovil at Kurram; and the inscription at the Subrahmanya kovil in Uttaramērur.

Temple evidence: The following are some of the more important evidence found in temples:

The six camp-abodes of Murukan; places of Murukan worship in holy places like Tiruporur, Nallore and Mukkudur; Balasubrahmanya kovil at Cannanore; Subrahmanya temple at Uttaramērur; Subrahmanya temple at Tirupōrūr;.

Images and paintings as evidence: Evidence of sculptures, icons and paintings in the temples, have been included in this study. As secondary sources for this reserch, research papers and books already published are cited.

Kantapurānam in contemporary Sri Lanka: Murukan as Saviour and Redeemer

by A. Veluppillai

Scope: The study of Kantapurānam by Kacciyappar is very popular among Sri Lankan Tamils and particulary among Jaffna (Yālppānam) Tamils. The Kantapurānam is recited not only in Murukan temples but also in temples to Shiva and Pillaiyār. The study of Kantapurānam seems to be continuing with undiminished vigour even in contemporary Sri Lanka.

The mythical story seems to have been given different interpretations at different historical periods by Jaffna Tamils. Ārumuka Nāvalar (1823-1879) has argued that the Kantapurānam has sustained Shaivism in Jaffna for so long under foreign domination, even through periods of religious persecution. Thus for more than a century the Kantapurānam has served as a primer of Saiva Siddhānta philosophy for Sri Lankan Tamils.

There are many contexts in the Kantapurānam which remind contemporary Tamils of the ongoing ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. For example, many speeches of Cūran and his counsellors remind Tamils of the statements of Sinhalese politicians on the ethnic issue.

Problem addressed: The Kantapurānam myth seems to sustain the hope of Tamils everywhere for a satisfactory outcome in Sri Lanka. This relevance of Kantapurānam for contemporary Tamils both in Sri Lanka and abroad may thus be understood to have far-reaching social implications. A study of the Kantapurānam myth in the context of contemporary Sri Lanka therefore can reveal much about Tamil peoples' perceptions of their past glories , present afflictions and hopes of future restoration of Tamil culture and prosperity.

Methodology: Historians of religion have shown that religions have significant social and historical ramifications for society. Particularly in South Asia where religious convictions continue to exert an impact upon society at large, religious 'readings' of current events may be widely understood and accepted by common people and intelligentsia alike. Without taking into consideration a society's own perception of its history and destiny, it is impossible to appreciate the depth of a society's convictions about its own history including current events. The case of contemporary Jaffna Tamils is here taken as example.

Sources of information: The Kantapurānam forms the primary textual source of information. Interviews and discussions with contemporary Jaffna Tamils provide data substantiating the comparisons between ancient text and modern consensus among contemporary Tamils of Sri Lanka including the expatriate community.

Vallakkōttai Murukan

R. Venkatraman

Vallakkōttai in historical setting: Piligrimage to temples is an age-old practice of Hindus. Ālvārs and Nāyanmārs visited temples and composed hymns in praise of gods. These temples are called pātal perra talankal. This paper discusses Vallakkōttai village, the significance of its name, its boundaries, its rulers and the political history of Vallakkōttai.

Vallakkōttai in literature: Tiruppukal verses about Vallakkōttai and talapurānam literature about Vallakkōttai reveal the importance of this temple as mentioned in Tamil literature.

Vallakkōttai temple: Plan of the temple, various developments, the sacred tank, the sanctum sanctorum, significance of the idol, various minor gods and the importance of this temple are all discussed.

Festivals: Adi Krttikā, Vināyakar Cathūrti, Kanta Casti, Navarātri festivals, Tamil New Year, English New year and monthly Barani Abisēkam are conducted attracting thousands of people. Every month on Krttikai day and all other festival days, anna tānam is provided to pilgrims as well as free medical aid to all.

Murukan's love affair with Valli: A striking episode in Tamil lullabies

by Saraswathi Venugopal

The data for this study are the oral lullabies which were collected by the author from women of several castes of Madurai and its suburbs.

Apart from a few descriptions of the sacred sites of Lord Murukan, a remarkable theme that is found in almost all the informants' lullabies related to Murukan is his love affair with Valli ending in wedding. This seems to be the favourite theme of women belonging to various non-Brahman castes.

Hence it may be concluded that this theme is specific only to Tamil Nadu. The fact that not a single Sanskrit or pan-Indian myth on Murukan is found in the lullabies is also very striking. As the two great epics of India have regional recensions, the Murukan-Valli wedding seems to be a purely Tamil episode of the Tamil god's mythology. It is to be explored whether there are other specific regional episodes related to Murukan in other parts of India.

Murukan in the Tēvāram

by R. Vijayalakshmy and S. Geetha

Murukan is a popular god among the Tamils and has been worshipped by the people of Tamil Nadu from very early times. Though according to the literary traditions of Tamils he is associated with the mountainous region and its people, in later days he became one of the most important deities throughout the land. In the literature of later days he became thoroughly identified with deity Skanda of northern origin.

The scope of this paper is to trace the development of the worship of Murukan from the beginning and his place in the pantheon of gods in the days of the Tēvāram. This effort will focus on the following points:

i. Indigeneous elements, such as the marriage of Murukan with Valli, veriyāttu (the ritual performed to cure young girls who are supposed to have been afflicted by the spirit of Murukan), his fight with Cūr and his victory over him, etc.

ii. The various aspects of the cult of Murukan during the Cankam period.

iii. The later North Indian elements which became fused with the already existing elements of the cult of Murukan ie. the fusion of Skanda with Murukan.

iv. The reason why the Skanda concept got merged only with Murukan and not with any other deities of Cankam period.

2. The influence of the North Indian Skanda concept on the social life of the Tamils.

3. The role played by Murukan during the days of the bhakti movement, in particular the importance of Skanda-Murukan in Tēvāram.

These will be analysed using internal evidence found in Cankam poems, Patinenkilkkanakku works, the Cilappatikāram, the Manimēkalai, and the Tēvāram along with the testimony of the relevant Sanskrit texts such as the purānas. The cult of Shiva and its bearing in the cult of Murukan will be examined from the social and religious points of view, particularly with reference to the role of heretical doctrines such as Buddhism, Jainism, Ājivikas etc.

Murukan as perceived by Vallalar

by R. Vijayaraghavan

Vadalur Rāmalinka Cuvāmikal (1823-74), more popularly known as Vallalar, is one among the many saints and mystics of Tamilnadu. His magnus opus Tiru Arutpa ('Sacred Verse') is a household word in Tamil devotional and literary world. It consists of six divisions known as 'Tirumuraikal'.

Etymologically Murukan is a derivative from muruku which means youth, beauty, godliness, fragrance, etc. Murukan initially was one of the folk deities in Tamil Nadu and later became the god of elite. Vedic connection with Murukan seems to have been established by creating mythological legends.

Being the primodial god of Tamils, Murukan was the Almighty to Vallalar too. The relationship that existed between Murukan and Vallalar is similar to that between a guru and his disciple. Vallalar himself declares that his spiritual knowledge anc capacity to compose poems were not acquired by learning but were the boon bestowed upon him by Lord Murukan.

The scope of this article is limited to the impact of Murukan upon Vallalar as seen in the poems composed by him. The source of information is mostly Vallalar's biography and his Arutpa with emphasis on the fifth tirumurai. The methodology followed is both descriptive and analytical.

Kārttikeya Worship in Bengal

by Seethalakshmi Viswanath

In Bengal, Kārttikeya is rarely treated as a major god in the true sense. He is looked upon as son of goddess Durga. The paper proposes to focus on the traditional form of worship of Lord Kārttikeya in the pre-partition days of Bengal and how the post-partition days saw Kārttikeya transformed into more of a personal god, worshipped by couples without a child and adored for his youth and beauty for which he remains a symbol. Kārttikeya the commander-in-chief of the army of devas is often a friend of those who respect and bow down to valour, particularly thieves and dacoits.

A Comparative Study of the Symbolisms of Skanda/Murukan and the Nature Phenomena of the Yijing: A Philosophical Rapprochement of Zhen/Qian and Murukan/Shiva Duopoly

by T. Wignesan

Both Murukan and Zhen, the eldest son of Qian, are primal sons of parent god. Just as Murukan derives his power and attributes from his father Shiva and replaces/substitutes him, so does Zhen, son of the heavenly father and supreme creative force of the Yijing's nature symbolism, inherit and incarnate the overall panoply of natural creative forces.

The sixness of Murukan is fundamentally characteristic of the god: six faces; Skanda's birth (in Skanda Purāna) through six sparks from Shiva's forehead; the six paths of release in Shaiva Siddhanta; Skanda as the son of six parents; the six Murukan centres of pilgrimage in Tamil Nadu. Six is the crucial number/stages of change in the Yijing; the six lines of the hexagram constituting the basic unit of calculation of the Book of Changes; six months of the lunar-year each allotted to the yang (winter solstice to summer) and the yin (summer solstice to winter).

The redness of Murukan characterises the mediaeval Tamil land: The red sun and the red cock recall Cēyōn, the red god. Redness also represents his fearsome and destructive attributes. The colour red was used in Cankam poetry to depict anger. Skanda's fire-birth, incarnating the character of Agni, has come to represent the fire sacrifice: Skanda was believed to be the eternal sacrifice, the creative fire by which the world is eternally re-created. Bright yellow flowers as well as red are associated with Murukan in early Tamil literature. Red symbolizes the light creative principle of Qian; dark yellow the colour of Zhen. The latter with his cleansing thunder (fearsome anger) in spring arouses Nature anew, a re-creation of the yearly cycle of life.

In the teriomorphic images the god's relationship to the animal is a mirror of man's coming to grips with the natural forces of the cosmos. The horse is common to both Murukan and Zhen-Qian, while the dragon Zhen rises out of the depths of the earth into the stormy skies. Murukan brings rain as his vehicle the peacock dances in the rain. So does Zhen with his thunder. The vēl-shakti is the equivalent of the trident or forked lightning piercing the dark, menacing clouds.

The Skanda Sasti festival celebrates on the sixth day the quelling of the asura, the personification of evil. Zhen, incarnating yang, overcomes the evil-yin forces six months after the winter solstice; Qian, the father-creator, stems the yin forces at their height in October-November.

The Qian-Shiva and Zhen-Murukan heritage and their roles over millennia perhaps point to a common source of beliefs, myths and knowledge. Did the ur-Dravidian rishis and the ancient Chinese sages (King Wen of the Zhou and his son, the Duke of Zhou) merely, symbolically differ in their approach to an understanding of Nature?

For more information contact the Conference Secretary: kataragama@gmail.com

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