The Origin Of Murugan – The Boy Wonder
Murugan, also known by the name Kartikeya, is the son of Shiva and Parvati and brother of Ganesh.
It’s not an easy job to explain the origin of Murugan, because each and every source you look at has a different tale or a different version of events.
Murugan is referred to as the son of Indra in the Vedas and in the Mahabaharata but by the time the later Puranas were written, he came to be recognised as the son of Shiva.
The Best Known Origin Story Of Murugan
If you’re familiar with ancient times according to Hinduism, you’ll know that the Gods (the Devas) and the demons (the asuras) were always at war. Literally, always.
Once, three demon brothers by the names of Supradman, Simhamukha and Tarakasura performed a major penance dedicated to Lord Shiva in order to be granted boons so that they would be able to defeat the Devas once and for all.
They asked for immortal bodies and to rule the universe. Immortality however is against the laws of nature and Shiva couldn’t grant them this boon.
Instead, he said that they will be invincible and that Shiva’s own power would be the only force in the universe that could destroy them.
This was enough for the demon trio.
They waged war on the Devas and took Devaloka (the world of the Devas) as their own. They enslaved many of the Devas, including Indra, Vayu and Jayanta, who was Indra’s son. They built their own capital, Mahendrapuri which went on to become a grand city and the envy of other asuras.
The Devas became more and more desperate for help and appealed to Shiva for aid.
Shiva released six brilliant white sparks that gave off an incredible heat and proclaimed that the child born from these sparks would slay Supradman and his brothers and restore order to Devaloka.
Shiva told Agni, the god of fire, and Vayu, the god of the winds, to take these sparks to Ganga who would be able to carry them to the reed forest (Sharavana).
When Ganga finally got the sparks to the forest, they turned into a 6-headed baby. Six nymphs, called Krittikas, happened to find the divine child and began to mother him before Shiva and Parvati appeared to greet the child.
An argument broke out amongst them about who the parents of the child were, before Shiva intervened and said the child is all of theirs as they were all involved in his birth. As Parvati’s child he would be known as Skanda, as Agni’s he would be Mahasena, as the son of the goddess of the forest he would be Sharavana, as the Krittikas’ son he would be Kartikeya and as Shiva’s own son he would be Guha.
Kartikeya was brought up on Mount Kailash and became a skilled warrior. Eventually, Shiva felt the time was right to send the boy to slay the asuras and restore the Devas to rulers of Devaloka.
When word reached the demons of this child who had set out to kill them, Supradman sent Tarakasura, his youngest brother to defeat Murugan.
What is interesting about Tarakasura is that he thought he was invincible.
Shiva had once told him that only the son of Shiva would be able to kill him and since Sati had passed away (you can find out about that when you read about Virabhadra’s Story) he believed Shiva wouldn’t have a child and he wouldn’t be killed.
Murugan, with his weapon, the spear, easily slayed Tarakasura however.
The same fate met Supradman’s son, Baukopan, on the second day of battle. This made Supradman nervous. How could a mere child defeat to of the greatest demon warriors of the era?
He sent Simhamukha into battle next. When Simhamukha was almost defeated, he had a divine vision and saw Murugan in his true form as Shiva’s son, and begged for forgiveness. Murugan blessed the fallen asura and made him the mount of Kali Mata.
Finally, Supradman went to battle with the boy wonder, Murugan. Supradman tried every possible trick he could come up with, but none of them worked in the face of such a skilled opponent. Eventually, Murugan killed him with his spear.
As Supradman lay dying, he realised he wasn’t fighting any ordinary child, but the divine child of Lord Shiva. And at this moment he begged for forgiveness. Murugan not only forgave him but allowed him to take the form of a peacock and become his mount.
So when you see images of Lord Murugan on a peacock, remember that the peacock is a demon who was saved by divine compassion.
Worship Of Murugan
Murugan is a much more commonly worshipped deity in South India than in North India. He is also well-known in Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Malaysia and Singapore.
In these areas, he is referred to as Murugan whereas, in North India, he is best known by the name Kartikeya.
In Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, he is more commonly called Subrahmanya.
Murugan has always been a very popular deity in South East Asia. Right from being referenced by Lord Krishan in the Mahabharata to 2 Gupta dynasty kings being named after him and remains extremely popular throughout South and East India, Sri Lanka, as well as South East Asia.
In Bengal, as a son of Shiva and Parvati and as Parvati is a form of Durga, Murugan is also worshipped during Durga Puja.
However, it is undoubtedly in Tamil areas that he is most widely revered. Tamil people often refer to him as Thamizh Kadavul which means ‘God of Tamils’, and the main temples dedicated to him are located in Tamil Nadu and in Sri Lanka.