Lord Skanda-Murugan

Synopses of papers presented at the First International Conference Seminar on Skanda-Murukan

Part I: Synopses 1 to 18 (in alphabetical order by authors)

  1. Skanda as seen by Kalidasa

    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 puranas and itihasas. Skanda Purana is exclusively devoted to Skanda worship. Other puranas also throw considerable light on Skanda worship in ancient India.

    The excavations of cock symbol, fragments of kavati and vel near Adichanallur and Tirunelveli clearly indicate that Tamils worshipped Skanda as early as 2000 B.C. References in Cankam literature in Tamil such as Purananuru, Akananuru, Porunararruppatai, Paripatal, Ainkurunuru, Tirumurukarruppatai 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 Tamil katavul.

  2. Skanda's sister Jyoti

    by Alagappar Alagappan

    In this paper, the author reveals the findings of Kaumara devotees in India and abroad who report that the personification of Murukan's vel, 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 rupa 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 colai which corresponds to the ajña cakra in kundalini yoga. She is closely associated with her mother Śakti, from whose third eye she was born. This paper details Jyoti's relationship with all the members of the family of Śiva and Śakti and the underlying associations with spiritual principles and sadhana 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 Ārupataivītu 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.

  3. 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 valipatu from South India encountered also the myth of Murukan and Valli, common to the peoples of Sri 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 Katirkamam, 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 aniconic as well as the agamic and iconic forms of worship. Thus the Vel 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 Tiruvila, 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 Saiva Hinduism.

  4. 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 Rama, the immortal beauty (aliya alaku) in the words of Kampan can savoured.

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

  5. Tiruppukal as a form of Classical Music

    by Jeyaalaki 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 Arunakirinatar. 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 kīrtana. 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.

  6. Wealth in Arunakirinatar's View

    by S.R.S. Ayyar

    The four purusarthas or objects of life, viz. acquisition of weath (artha), fulfilment of desires (kama), 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 Arunakirinatar treats the subject in his works.

    Arunakirinatar 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.

    Arunakirinatar 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, Arunakirinatar 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.

  7. Skanda-Murukan shrines in Citamparam temple

    by K. Balachandran

    Citamparam has long been eulogised in Tamil poetry and religious literature for its Nataraja temple. Every Śiva temple in addition to Lord Śiva and Goddess Parvati (in Citamparam Lord Nataraja and Śivakama Sundari) has place for their sons Ganesa (Vinayaka, Ganapati) and Murukan. Though Murukan is the youngest of the Śiva-Parvati 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, Tantayutapani, 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 dīksitars will also be undertaken.

  8. Vel in Kantaranupūti

    by M.R. Bala Ganapathi

    Devotees of Murukan know that Vel is Murukan, and Murukan is Vel. He is Velan. He not only holds the Vel, He is in the Vel, He is the Vel itself. Hence He is Velan; Velavan. Vel is a symbol of jñanam or jñana s'akti. He is Jñanakara, i.e. His form is jñanam (verse 28, Kantaranuputi).

    Arunakirinatar in his Kantaranuputi refers to Vel in many places. He uses the word with or without varied adjectives-- all with the single purpose of emphasising the vital function of the Vel, the grace (arul) of Velan through His Vel.

    The Vel without any adjective comes in the very first hymn, and as Velavan in verses 11, 17 and 48. The words ayil ('the sharp one') and ayil Vel occur in hymns 25, 19 and 28. The expression katir Vel (='the shining/effulgent Vel) is used in hymns: 14, 40 and 46. Another expression with the same meaning is cutar Vel in hymn 29. In hymns 13, 42 and 44 we find tani vel or 'Vel absolute'. In the seventh hymn, we find vati vel ('the beautiful and sharp Vel, the Vel that is full of beauty. We note por Vel, the 'Vel that fights' and vikrama Vel ('powerful Vel') in hymns 24, and 23, 37. In all, Vel 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 Vel without or with suitable adjectives. Contemplation reveals the purposefulness of the use of the term Vel alone or with fitting adjectives. The Vel or jñanam should be sharp, powerful and its brightness should drive off the darkness of ignorance, ego, evil forces and suffering.

  9. Āru Patai Vītu:

    Socio-Religious Implications

    by V. Balambal

    Scope: The research deals with the six abodes of Murukan mentioned in Tirumurukarruppatai, 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 Vītu;
    2. The heroic deeds attached to each abode;
    3. The importance given to kunrutoratal;
    4. Does the Āru Patai Vītu satisfy the chronology of events associated with places?
    5. When Nakkīrar 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-Devasena concept;
    9. Why no Navagraha in Patai Vītu?
    10. Naga element in Murukan temples; and
    11. Festivals and rituals and their implications.

    Sources: Āticcanallur excavations imply early Murukan worship. There are references to Murukan in Tolkappiyam, Akananuru, Kuruntokai, Kalittokai, Paripatal, Tirumurukarruppatai, Cilappatikaram, Kallatam, various puranas, Tiruppukal, Sankara'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 pataivītu. Why are Murukan's abodes on hills?

  10. Murukan as Cevvel, bearer of the Red Spear

    by M. Bala Murugan

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

    Scope: The worship of Lord Murukan is quite ancient; worshipping of Vel dates from even earlier. Later worship of Murukan and worship of Vel 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 Velan Veriyatal of Cankam Age, this research assumes a social and historical approach.

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

  11. 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 Vetar 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 pakti.

    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 Ponki Amma have naturally deepened the researcher's experience and appreciation of Vallimalai as a punita pumi 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 puranam and Arunakirinatar's Tiruppukal among other sources.

  12. 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 puranas 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 Teyvanai 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.

  13. Murukan Worship in Tiruccentur Inscription

    by Dr. A Baskara Paul Pandian

    Scope: The second Varakuna Pandya's inscription which is found in the Tiruccentur 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, puranas about Tiruccentur, Tiruccentur temple publications, Tamil literature about Tiruccentur, and data collected from the priests are the secondary sources.

  14. Taippucam celebration in Malaysia

    by Carl Vadivella Belle

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

    Since World War II, Taippucam 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 Taippucam 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.

    Taippucam'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. Taippucam 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 Taippucam 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.

  15. 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, Tolkappiyam, Ceyon, 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 yagñas and less to real devotion to God. The Saiva Nayanmars and Vaisnava Ālvars attempted to repulse Buddhism and Jainism and thereby to win Tamil people over to Saivism and Vaisnavism through their songs.

    With the result of the growth of bhakti propagated by the four Saiva 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.

  16. 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-Karttikeya 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, BrahmĀnical 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 Arupataivītu or the six main centres in which Murukan (Subrahmanya) has been worshipped from the time of the post Cankam text i.e., the Tirumurukarruppatai 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-Karttikeya cult and as one of the most significant aspects of the Tamil Saiva tradition took place. Iconographic development of the deity and epigraphic records from the six pataivītus and the later sthalapuranas provide important insights into this evolution.

  17. Rare images of Elephant as vehicle of Subrahmanya

    by A. Chandra Bose

    Murukan, a traditional god of Tamil society, is also known as Karttikeya, 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 naga 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 Kannanur in Putukkottai district and Cuvamimalai in Tañcavur 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.

  18. 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-Velan is the son of Civan. The goddess Vana 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.

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