When all these were matter of the past, Siva – who is called ‘Hiranyaretah’ and ‘Mahabeeja’ *2, the god with golden and powerful seeds – and Parvati – the Mother of the Universe and embodiment of ‘Shakti’,i.e. Power – were engaged in Divine union, secluded in their heavenly abode. This was when they heard the wail of the gods from outside :
‘ Oh Lord of the Gods!
Withhold – oh please do withhold
Shedding your seeds so Powerful !
You are the Super Yogi ! So is Parvati !
We are so very afraid
You two together will give birth
To such Power and Strength
That would vanquish us – the gods,
Oh ! His ** power would not be contained in the Universe –
Alas! All will be singed !
Siva was moved by this appeal . He withheld his ejaculation through his Yogic power . When he withdrew, his semen spilled outside Parvati’s womb . His Yogic power has been hailed by his devotees when they address him as ‘Urddhalinga’ – Ithyphallic’ – and ‘Urddharetah’ *2- in control of ejaculation.
Thus interrupted ,Parvati was furious with the gods assembled outside . Deprived of motherhood of Siva’s child, she cursed them that they would not give birth to children in future*3. Agni was not present this gathering of gods – so he was not affected by this curse. Siva’s spilled semen was collected by Agni which grew within him *
Gods were faced with a great dilemma – they needed Siva’s progeny to defeat Tarakasura. Very much scared of Parvati, Agni was then in hiding – first within water and then atop an ‘Ashwaththa’ tree. Gods chased and hounded out Agni and coaxed him, who had Siva’s seeds within him, to father a son in union with Ganga. Agni and Ganga complied and the gods started waiting eagerly for the birth of the child growing within Ganga.
Ganga found after a while that she would not be able bear the growing child within her for long . She gave birth to the future Lord of the war – prematurely – on mountain Sumeru . She described the child to Agni as an infant with countenance as bright as that of the Sun, the Moon and Agni, with fragrance of Neolamarckia Cadamba flower and cool like water of a lotus-filled pond ! Wth the flow of the river, the infant reached a water-body filled with weeds where he was nursed by six ‘Kritikas’. Thus, he developed six heads.
Soon, he grew to be a great warrior god and led an army to kill Tarakasura by an infallible weapon called ‘Shakti’. He restored rule of the Heaven to the gods and Indra got back his throne after long years.
योगीश्वरो महासेनः कार्तिकेयोऽग्निनंदनः ।
स्कंदः कुमारः सेनानीः स्वामी शंकरसंभवः ॥
शब्दब्रह्मसमुद्रश्च सिद्धः सारस्वतो गुहः ।
सनत्कुमारो भगवान् भोगमोक्षफलप्रदः ॥
Skanda or Kartikeya, the second son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati or Shakti, is known by many names Subramaniam, Sanmukha, Shadanana, Skanda and Guha. In the southern states of India, Kartikeya is a popular deity and is better known as Murugan.
He is an embodiment of perfection, a brave leader of god’s forces, and a war god, who was created to destroy the demons, representing the negative tendencies in human beings.
Kartikeya’s other name, Shadanana, which means ‘one with six heads’ corresponds to the five senses and the mind. The six heads also stand for his virtues enables him to see in all the directions – an important attribute that ensures that he counters all kinds blows that can hit him.
The war imagery and the six heads of Kartikeya indicates that if humans wish to lead themselves efficiently through the battle of life, they must always be alert lest they are shown the wrong path by crafty people with the six demonic vices: kaama (sex), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha (passion), mada (ego) and matsarya (jealousy).
Kartikeya carries on one hand a spear and his other hand is always blessing devotees. His vehicle is a peacock, a pious bird that grips with its feet a serpent, which symbolizes the ego and desires of people. The peacock represents the destroyer of harmful habits and the conqueror of sensual desires. The symbolism of Kartikeya thus points to the ways and means of reaching perfection in life.