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Tamil people take pride in naming Murugan a Tamil Kadavul. Their love for this particular deity is high and he is the most worshiped god in Tamil Nadu. His popularity is very high in south unlike north. The concept of Murugan as Tamil Kadavul is even expressed in latest film Billa in ‘Seval Kodi’ song.
Now let us make a small survey of names used to denote Murugan,
- Kandha (dervative of Sanskrit word Skanda)
- Subramaniyan(Sanskrit form Subhramanya)
- Saravana(One who is born in Sara Vana, where Vana means forest)
- Kumaran(which means younger one in Sanskrit)
- Shanmuha (one with six faces in Sanskrit)
- Karthikeya (also Sanskrit orgin)
As you see all the names is either Sanskrit or Sanskrit derivatives.
Let us now see his orgin, He is son of Shiva, Parvathi and brother of Ganesha.
So what are the elements which make him a real Tamil Kadavul?
What is the Myth as we know?
The basic Myth we know is as follows :
- Shiva created Murugan to kill Curan.
- He was born as six children and later integrated into one.
- He arrested Brahma and taught Veda to Shiva in Swamimalai.
- He fought for Gyana Palam and became an Aandi(saint) and stood on Palani hills.
- He received his Vel from Parvathi in Sirakali
- He destroyed Curan in Thiruchentur.
- He freed the Devas and in turn got married to Indra’s Daughter Theivanai in Thiruthani. Fell in love and married Valli in Palamudhirsolai
- Settled in Thriparankundram as Deity with two wives.
This myth is standard myth known to all Tamilians and explains the concept of Arupadai vedu(Concept of six sacred houses/Temples).
How does it differ from Northern Myth?
- The Atharva Veda describes Kumaran as ‘Agnibhuh’ or son of Agni, the fire god.
- The Satapatha Brahmana refers to him as the son of Rudra and the ninth form of Agni. Unbarable to bear handle the heat , the sisu was split into six and put in the Pond in Sara Vana (Saravana Poigai).
- He is brought up as six children and later in fight with Indra he was combined as one person with six heads.
- He lead the army of Gods(Devas) to defeat Taraka.
- He is an eternal Bachelor or he is married to Devasena, which means army of gods.
- His weapon was raging fire , since he was a form of Agni.
- He is eternally young god
- He has attributes of attributes of being a teacher (The Chandogya Upanishad refers to Skanda as the “way that leads to wisdom”)
- Myth of Skanda arresting Brahma also comes up.
Some important points to be noted here are:
- Skanda is not son of Shiva.
- He has no mother.
- He is an eternal bachelor.
- He doesn’t have a weapon called Vel.
- There is no mention of Valli.
What was the Early Tamil myth?
There is no structured myth in Tamil for Murugan, but from various Sangam sources and archeological evidence and by inference, Murugan had the following features and attributes:
- Eternal youth and beauty
- Prowess in hunt and fighting
- Prowess in love making (like Kama in Sanskrit)
- Ability to enter and possess human beings
- Red colour
- Vel as his main weapon
- Connection with animals like peacock, cock ,elephant and possibly goat and snake
- Slayer of enemy cur ,representing fear ,terror and anxiety
- Love for and union with Valli
- Son of Mother goddess Korravai.
So here you see Murugan has a mother and not a bachelor. He has lover Vali, the daughter of mountain chief with whom he makes sexual union. He is also god of love and victory.
How was he worshiped in Early Tamilnadu?
- He was believed to posses Katampu tree , hence the name Kadamban
- He also possessed young women.
- His priest was known as Velan.
- Murugan was believed to posses Velan and give blessings to people.
- He was worshiped by a form of Dance called Veriyatu.
- He was also god of mountainous region Kurunji.
- He was worshiped as slayer of evil and terror Cur, which later became Curan.
- He was also believed to be god of Love, and often quoted in Sangam literature for his interludes with Valli.
Integration of Dravidian Murugan and Aryan Skanda has taken place when Pallavas came to Tamil Nadu. The Brahmins have spearheaded this integration.
Some important points in the integrated form:
- The similar traits of both gods are eternal youth and destruction of evil.
- The Aryan god had a father but no mother and Dravidian god has mother but no father.
- The Dravidian mother Korravai was identified with Kali, Durga or Amman as early as Sangam age.
- Since Kali /Durga were identified with Parvati the consort of Shiva, Murugan was identified as son of Shiva.
- Taraka the asura in Aryan version was made brother of Surapadman(later name of Cur,Curan)
- The eternal bachelor who was married to Devasena(Army of god) was changed to God with two wife to accommodate Valli, which was very famous tradition among Tamil .
- Devasena was comfortably converted to Theivanai(Devayanai- Tamil myth says she was brought up by Ayiravatham the elephant of Indra – hence Deva yanai instead of Deva Sena or Deva Senai) a Brahmin girl and daughter of Indra.
- The myth also was made up to represent two kind of marriage, Kalavu – love marriage (a Tamil/Dravidian tradition- Valli and Murugan) and Karpu – arranged marriage (Brahmin tradition- Theivanai and Murugan).
- The fire weapon of North was replaced with Vel which is South Indian tradition.
- Murugan as a mountain god is still maintained with all his temples situated on or near mountains.
When does the current myth come into Tamil Nadu?
- The first textual evidence of Murugan as on of Shiva appears in Silapadikaram(4th Century AD).
- The whole myth was first explained in Thirumurgatrupadai by Nakkirar(7-9th Century AD)
- Final form of myth we know was written by Kasiappa Civasariyar in Kanthapuranam(14th Century AD)
- Even in Kanthapuranam , Palani was not mentioned and surrounding myth of Gyana Palam was not included.
- The standard Myth we know about Murugan was only written in 14 th century by Kasiappa Civacariyar a Brahmin priest at Kanchipuram.
How did the myth enter North India?
- The myth of Muruga as we know was first written in Sanksirt sources in Sivapurana.
- Sivapuranas were composed around 9-10th Century AD by Sanskrit scholars of south and it was heavily influenced by the Bakthi movement prevalent in south.
- Unlike south, the North Indian myth says that Karthikeya was elder to Ganesha.
- The popularity of Karthikeya is also not much in North India.
This is very brief essay to outline the process of Skanda – Muruga integration. There some evidences which has come up recently to indicate Murugan might be Pre Historic god and an inherited God of Tamil people rather than an indigenous deity. My next essay would be on his Pre Historic origins.
- Tamil Traditions on Subrahmanya-Murugan by Kamil Zvelebil.
- Tiru Murugan by Kamil Zvelebil.
- Tamil Kandhapuranam by Kamil Zvelebil.
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