Lord Skanda-Murugan

The Rise of Mahāsena: The Transformation of Skanda-Kārttikeya in North India

By Richard D. Mann

Published by BRILL, 2011

This book studies the early development of Skanda-Kārttikeya’s Hindu cult from its earliest textual and material sources to the end of the Gupta Empire in the north of India. The text argues that Skanda’s early ‘popular’ cult is found in Graha and Mātṛ traditions oriented towards appeasing potentially dangerous spirits. Once propitiated, however, Skanda and his Grahas/ Mātṛs could become fierce protectors of their followers. During the Kuṣāṇa and Gupta empires, this tradition gains the attention of rulers, who transform the deity’s protective cult into one focused on the ruler’s military prowess and right to rule. Once detached from his former popular traditions the deity’s cult begins to falter in the north as it becomes increasingly focused on elite agendas.

Biographical note

Richard D. Mann, Ph.D. (2003) in Religious Studies, McMaster University, is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Carleton University. He has published on developments in Hinduism during the Kuṣāṇa Empire and on South Asian numismatics.