The birth (rather, appearance) of Muruga is narrated in the famous Sanskrit classic ‘Kumara Sambhavam’ of poet Kalidasa. The story of Daksha Yagam is very famous. Shiva’s first wife Sati ended her life and was later re-born as Uma (Parvati) as Himavan (King of Himalayas)’s daughter.
Shiva plunges into meditation
Sati’s death proved a trying experience to Shiva and He soon merged in deep meditation, totally oblivious of the external world around Him. Nobody in the three worlds dared to disturb His concentration.
Demons conquer the world
It was a common occurrence those days, as it is today: divine powers represented by gods (Devas) and evil forces represented by demons (Asuras) alternately gained control over the universe. Now it was the turn of the demons. It is a strange fact that even the demons got their powers through meditation. The horrible demons Tarakasura and his brother Surapadman thus wanted to conquer the whole universe. For this, they engaged themselves in intense austerities. Shiva, who was pleased with their devotion, granted their wish. After obtaining powerful boons from Shiva, the asura brothers and their innumerable companions devastated the Earth and tortured gods and good men. They soon imprisoned devas.
Devas strike on a scheme
Devas knew that it was Shiva’s boons that made the demons almost invincible. Hence they deduced that only Shiva could find a way to free the world from their clutches. A heroic son to be born of Shiva alone could do bridle the wicked asuras. But how could that ever happen when Shiva was lost in meditation for ages? How long the devas and other holy beings should suffer? The gods thought hard and found the answer to their question: Shiva’s meditation has to be disturbed, whatever may be its other consequences. Soon they devised a way to achieve this: It was really risky, but was worth a try. After all, anything was better than the destruction of all creation as a consequence of the chaos.
Kama Deva comes to the rescue
They knew Kama Deva could do the trick. His arrow consisting of five flowers would disturb any meditation. It was no ordinary arrow, but an arrow of love that would pierce any hard heart and create a feeling of love. When devas proposed the plan, Kama Deva shuddered at the thought:: what an idea! To distract the Great God’s meditation and be a target of His wrath! He knew he was heading for a great disaster. The devas also knew the seriousness of the matter. Devas persisted upon the Cupid and on second thought, Kamadeva agreed to the proposal.
The critical moment
A drama was carefully enacted in the presence of Shiva. Kama Deva’s wife Rati Devi came to help her husband. The moment was selected when Parvati came to Shiva’s presence. All the god of Love had to do was to shoot his magical arrows: straight into Shiva’s heart. The arrow did its job. But something horrible also happened: Shiva opened His Third eye to see what had disturbed His meditation: Fire itself came from the Third Eye and poor Kamadeva instantly turned into ashes. Rati, Kama Deva’s wife, saw the shocking tragedy. Weeping bitterly, the goddess of love prayed to Shiva and asked His forgiveness for her husband’s outrageous behaviour and begged for his life. Shiva granted her wish. To the great joy of Rati and the devas who were watching the drama with rapturous attention, Kama Deva was brought back to life: There was a slight problem though: He would be invisible to all except to his wife. This is the reason why even today Kama Deva is invisible to us, though anybody would vouch for his unseen presence!
Kama Deva, who risked his own life for others did his job remarkably well. Soon the spring of love came back to Shiva’s heart. Parvati, who was the person whom he chanced to see when he opened his eye, soon became the object of his love.
The six fiery sparks
Meanwhile, Shiva’s Third eye, when it opened from the depths of meditation gave out six fiery sparks. It was too hot for even for Agni, the god of Fire. The sparks, when they reached the Sharavana lake at the Himalayas took the form of six cute babies. The local Kartika maidens were awestruck to see six beautiful baby boys on six huge lotuses in the lake. They lovingly brought up the babies. (Brought up by Kartika maidens, the boy Subrahmanya is also called Kartikeya). When the babies were a little older, the maidens brought them to Parvati. She immediately recognized them to be her own children. By sheer magic of maternal love, Parvati joined together all the babies and the result was: a cute six-faced baby! That was Kartikeya. Being six faced, he was called Shanmukha. Parvati named him Subrahmanya. Shiva and Parvati loved their offspring very much. He played with his elder brother, the elephant-faced Ganesh and grew up in Kailas as a darling of all! Devas silently bowed to him and knew the boy would one day release them from the atrocities of demons. It proved to be true in due course.
God, Who does not have a beginning or an end, takes an incarnation (avatar) to destroy the evildoers and to save His devotees. The following is about the avatar of Lord Muruga.
Goddess Parvati did penance and married Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati’s marriage is said to be knowledge and grace joined together to give Bliss, i.e., Lord Muruga. All the deities went to Lord Shiva and pleaded Him to do something as they could not tolerate the demon Soorapadman’s cruelty. Lord Shiva took a form along with six faces (i.e., Sathyojatham, Vamadevam, Thathpurusham, Eesanam, Aghoram and Atho).
From the third eye of each face, a fire spark came out. Lord Shiva asked Vayudevan (God of wind) and Agnidevan (God of fire) to take the six fire sparks to the Ganges River. Later Ganga (the Name of the Ganges River deity) took them to Sarvana pond. The six fire sparks became six beautiful babies on six red lotus flowers. When Goddess Parvati hugged them together, they joined to become one form with six faces, twelve hands and was named Skandan (another name for Lord Muruga). Six ladies called Karthigai maids took care of Him. Hence, He was also called Karthigeyan. His other names include Kumaran, Mayilvaganan, Kaangeyan, Velayuthan, Gugan, Swaminathan, Subramanian, Saravanabavan, Vishagan, Devasenapathy, Vallimanallan, Soorasankaran, etc.
He performed several divine acts (leelas) when He was young. When Soorapadman’s cruelty went to an extreme, Lord Shiva thought it was time for his destruction. He gave the eleven Rudras eleven weapons, and Parvathi gave the Vel weapon to Lord Muruga for the war. The Vel, or sacred spear, is the most powerful weapon in Lord Muruga's armory.
Lord Muruga stayed in Thiruchendur with His army. He fought for ten days and destroyed Soorapadman and his brothers. Soorapadman had such a big ego that he did not want to surrender to the Lord. He took the form of a big mango tree. Lord Muruga’s spear split the tree and one part became a peacock and the other became a cock. Lord Muruga took the peacock as His vehicle and the cock as His flag. Soorpadman was so cruel and had such a big ego, yet he still reached such a good state -- to always be beside the Lord. Imagine what kind of state Lord Muruga's devotees would get!
Lord Karttikeya, Murugan, first guru and Pleiadean master of kundalini yoga, was born of God Siva's mind. His dynamic power awakens spiritual cognition to propel souls onward in their evolution to Siva's feet. Aum.
Lord Karttikeya flies through the mind's vast substance from planet to planet. He could well be called the Emancipator, ever available to the call of those in distress. Lord Karttikeya, God of will, direct cognition and the purest, child-like divine love, propels us onward on the righteous way through religion, His Father's law. Majestically seated on the manipura chakra, this scarlet-hued God blesses mankind and strengthens our will when we lift to the inner sky through sadhana and yoga. The yoga pada begins with the worship of Him. The yogi, locked in meditation, venerates Karttikeya, Skanda, as his mind becomes as calm as Saravana, the lake of Divine Essence. The kundalini force within everyone is held and controlled by this powerful God, first among renunciates, dear to all sannyasins. Revered as Murugan in the South, He is commander in chief of the great devonic army, a fine, dynamic soldier of the within, a fearless defender of righteousness. He is Divinity emulated in form. The Vedas say, "To such a one who has his stains wiped away, the venerable Sanatkumara shows the further shore of darkness. Him they call Skanda." Aum Namah Sivaya.
Once, when Lord Shiva was in deep meditation, perspiration from his third eye fell on earth. The male child that was born of this sweat drop was Angaragan (Chevvai). Angaragan married Sakthi Devi of Avanti town and had a son called Sumarasan. Problems from wife/children/brothers, enimity with friends, loss of wealth, quarrels, problems with Govt., lasting poverty, anger, bad friendship, Kalathira Dosham are because of Chevvai. By praying to him, a person can offset the problems arising out of his afflictions. Brothers and sisters, physical strength, victory, valour are the beneficial aspects of this planet. The sthalam of Chevvai Bhagavan is Vaideeswaran koil, which is located 6kms from Sirgazhi en route to Mayavaram. His wives are Malini, Susilini. The presiding deity are Vaidyanathan and his consort Thaiyal Nayaki. Chevvai is the Lord of Mesha and Vrichika Rasi and he faces South direction. The Adi Devatha is Boomidevi; Prathyathi Devatha is Kshetra Balagan; his colour is red and his vahana is the ram. The grain associated with him is thuvarai; the flowers - shenbagam and red arali; fabric - red cloth; gem - coral; food- rice mixed with toor dhal powder.
Chevvai Bhagavan is worshipped in the town of Vaideeswaran Koil which is also called Thirupullirukku Velur. Sambathi, Jadayu, Lord Muruga, Suriyan are also reputed to have worshipped in this sthalam. Even diseases that could not get cured by Mani Manthira Aushathangal got cured at this place and the presiding deity came to be called Vaidyanathar. His consort who was the chief of women of both worlds is hailed as Thayal Nayagi. Selva Muthukumarasami of this temple is lovingly called Muthiah. Kumaragurubarasami wrote the book "Muthukumarasami Pillai Thamizh".
The lancelike vel wielded by Lord Karttikeya, or Skanda, embodies discrimination and spiritual insight. Its blade is wide, long and keen, just as our knowledge must be broad, deep and penetrating. Aum Namah Sivaya.
The shakti power of the vel, the eminent, intricate power of righteousness over wrongdoing, conquers confusion within the realms below. The holy vel, that when thrown always hits its mark and of itself returns to Karttikeya's mighty hand, rewards us when righteousness prevails and becomes the kundalini serpent's unleashed power thwarting our every effort with punishing remorse when we transgress dharma's law. Thus, the holy vel is our release from ignorance into knowledge, our release from vanity into modesty, our release from sinfulness into purity through tapas. When we perform penance and beseech His blessing, this merciful God hurls His vel into the astral plane, piercing discordant sounds, colors and shapes, removing the mind's darkness. He is the King of kings, the power in their scepters. Standing behind the temporal majesty, He advises and authorizes. His vel empowering the ruler, justice prevails, wisdom enriches the minds of citizens, rain is abundant, crops flourish and plenty fills the larders. The Tirumurai says, "In the gloom of fear, His six-fold face gleams. In perils unbounded, His vel betokens, 'Fear not.'" Aum Namah Sivaya.
Vaikasi Vishakham celebrates the anniversary of Lord Karttikeya's creation. Skanda Shashthî is a six-day festival honoring His conquest of light over darkness. Tai Pusam is a time of sadhana and public penance. Aum.
On Vaikasi Vishakham day, Lord Karttikeya's birthstar, Vishakha nakshatra, in May-June, elaborate abhisheka is conducted in all His temples. It is a time of gift-giving to panditas and great souls, weddings, feedings for the poor, caring for trees, spiritual initiation, diksha, and conclaves of holy men. Skanda Shashthî is celebrated on the six days after the new moon in October-November with festive processions and pujas invoking His protection and grace. It honors Karttikeya's receiving the vel, His lance of spiritual illumination, jnana shakti, and culminates in a dramatic victory celebration of spiritual light over asuric darkness. Tai Pusam occurs on Pushya nakshatra in January-February. During this festival we fast and perform public penance, called kavadi, seeking Karttikeya's blessings to dispel our selfishness, pride and vanity. His special monthly days are Krittika nakshatra and Shashthi, the sixth tithi after the new moon. The Vedas say, "Like the cry of watchful birds swimming in water, like the loud claps of thundering rain clouds, like the joyful streams gushing from the mountain, so have our hymns sounded forth to the Lord." Aum.
Arunagirinathar was born in 15th century at Thiruvannamalai. As his father expired soon after his birth, his mother, Muthamma and sister, Adhi, nursed him and brought him up in the rich cultural and religious tradition. Unfortunately, his interest centered around momentary pleasures and outward beauty of women. Affected by disease and dejected, he decided to end his life and leaped from the tower of Thiruvannamalai temple. But rather than falling in the ground, he found himself in the hands of a savior. It is believed that the savior was none other than Lord Muruga. “You are not born to die. You are born to give sustenance to lives. You are born to fulfill certain tasks assigned to you. You are born to sing the glory of Lord Muruga..” Having said that, Lord graced him and conferred him the saintly advice.
Many saints have dedicated their life to know God and reach Him. They all reached their goal after following a hard and strenuous path. They all reached their goal at the end. But Arunagirinathar was unique. He was graced by the God even at the beginning. He did not have to undergo penance or struggle like other saints. Rather, he was leading a life of pleasure. Strange are the ways of God and it was such a person God had selected to sing His glory.
Arunagiri, who has been transformed into an enlightened saint and a poet of excellence, rendered his first song “Muthai Tharu...”. That marked the advent of a saint who described Muruga in all His splendour, glory and magnificence. That marked the beginning of a glorious chapter of a saint who showed the path towards knowledge and devotion, the path that leads to the Lotus Feet of Muruga, the path of Thiruppugazh.
Arunagiri visited temples all over South India and composed over 60000 songs in his inimitable style, the songs that remain as the perennial source of inspiration and an outstanding works of devotion, the songs that show the way to the life of virtue and righteousness, the songs which set the tone for a new form of worship, the musical worship.
Unfortunately, the Thiruppugazh songs, which remained in manuscript form were lying in some dark corners. They remained unsung and unheard till Sri Subramaniam Pillai of Tiruthani and his son, Son Sri Sengalvarayan realized their value, retrived them and publicized them. Sri Sachidhananda Swamigal took up Thiruppugazh as his “Mantra” , the goal of life and revived its glory.