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Muruga The EverMerciful Lord


bySRSAyyar
Extracted from Chapter One of the book Grandeur of Thiruppugazh: The Hallowed
Hymns of Arunagirinatha (Bombay: Bharata Vidya Bhavan, 1996) with the author's
permission.[Forinformationonhowtoorderthisbook,gotoSkandaPublicationspage.]
"ThefieryMassThatstoodasBrahman
Thathasthnobeginning
Assumingaformfromformless,
FromseveraluntoOne,
ThusroseaTirumuruga
Withsixmercifulfacesandtwelveeyes,
Fortheuniversetogetrescued."
KantaPuranambyKacciyappaSivachariyar1

In the Holy Pantheon of Hindu gods and goddesses, Muruga has been given pride of
place.2ThisisparticularlydiscernibleinthesouthernpartsofIndiaandsomecountriesin
theFarEastwhereTamilspeakingpeopleformasignificantsegmentofthepopulation.
Lord Muruga is considered essentially as the Tamil God (Tamizh Kadavul). He is the
repositoryofJana(Knowledge)andtheveryfountainheadofthethreebranchesofTamil
literatureprose(iyal),verse(icai)andtheatre(natakam).GreatsageslikeAgasthyahad
worshippedHimandsecuredHisgrace.
The dwarfish Agasthya, according to legends, had gone to Podiyamalai in the South and maintained the earth's equilibrium at Lord Siva's
command.TheoccasionwasSiva'smarriagewithParvatiwhenlargemultitudesofsagesanddevoteesflockedtoKailasa,causingsinkage
of the earth's north side (Himalayas) and upturn of the southern portion.3 Nakkeerar, Poyya Mozhi, Auvvaiyar, Kacciyappa Sivachariyar,
Kumara Gurupara and Arunagirinatha are the other names instantly coming to one's mind they were all close to Muruga's heart and who
composedpricelessandsoulstirringdevotionalgemsinTamil.
Muruga'sgloryandpreeminenceariseduetothreereasons:He'arrived'onthisplanetasthe
sonofLordSiva,astheyoungerbrotherofLordGanesaandasthenephewofLordNarayana.
HeisveneratedasKaliyugaVarada,theGodwhoblessesandprotectsthosewhoardentlyseek
His grace (in this Age of Quarrel).4 Kausalya, Lord Rama's mother invoked the blessings of
SkandawhenRamatookleaveofherpriortohisdeparturetotheforestasperKingDasaratha's
wish.5 And in the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna declares that among all commanders, He is
Skanda.6 Muruga contains in Himself the three divine eternal functions creation (sristi),
protection(sthithi)anddestruction(samhara)asevidencedbythethreefirstlettersinHisname:
MUMukundan(Vishnu),RURudra(Siva)andKAKamalan(Brahma).
The three integral elements of Muruga's personality are
spear (vel) in His hand, peacock as His mount and cock
adorning His banner. Vel signifies janasakti (power of
wisdom) this was given to Muruga by His Divine Mother.
Parvati wishing Him victory over asuras (titans) led by the
tyrannous Surapadma. The glittering spear of Muruga is
venerated by devotees as Sakti Vel or Veera Vel signifying
its extraordinary power and strength. Cock and peacock
representnadaandbindu. The peacock displays the divine
shapeofOmkarawhenitspreadsitsmagnificentplumesinto
afullblowncircularform,whilethecockproclaimsloudlythe
PranavasoundOM. Muruga shines as the very essence of
theVedasandmantras.7
Muruku in Tamil denotes divineness, handsomeness,
youthfulness,happiness,fragranceandsweetness.TheLord
is the very manifestation of handsomeness, robust youthfulness, masculinity, fragrance and unmatched
valour and the abode of happiness. One would be endowed with everlasting youthfulness only when he or she is not getting old. Human
beingstakebirthinthisearth,passthroughdifferentstagessuchaschildhood,adolescence,adulthoodandoldageandultimatelymetwith
theinevitabledeath.Theyareagainborninthisworldnotnecessarilyinthesameformastheywereintheirpreviousbirths.8Thisprocess
goesonendlessly.9Muruga,ontheotherhand,hasneitherabeginningnoranendHeisnotbornnordead.10Age doesnotwitherHim
away.ThisexplainsHisevergreenyouthfulness.Thesunisnotvisibletoustemporarilyatnightforthisreasononecannotconcludethatthe
sunhasceasedtoexist,forwhendarknessengulfsapartoftheglobe,thesunisshiningbrightsomewhereelse.Wecometoknowofits
existencewhenitrisesagaininthemorning.Muruga's'appearance'onthisplanetisanalogoustothiseternalphenomenon.11
TheepicSkandaPurana, one of the eighteen puranas created by Veda Vyasa, vividly narrates the circumstances which led to the divine
'appearance'ofMuruga,Hisgloryandheroicachievements.12He'rose'toprotectgodswhoweresubjecttoextremetormentationandcruelty
bydemonSurapadma.TheyallappealedcollectivelytoLordSivatocometotheirrescue.Movedbytheirplight,Sivawilledtobringfortha
powerfuldivinepersonality,anelementofHimself,butyetdistinctfromHim,WhowouldhaveunparalleledbraveryandWhoalonewouldbe
abletoslaySurapadmaandhisclan.

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TheextremelypowerfulsparkwhichemanatedfromHisthirdeyewascarriedbytheFireGod(Agni)
andwasdepositedinSaravana('standofreeds')Laketherearosesixcutetinytotswhowerelooked
after by six Krittika maidens the six forms later united to become a single SixFaced Child with
resplendentbeauty.AddedtoSiva'sfivefacesSadhyojata,Vamadeva,Aghora,TatpurusaandIshana
wasAdhomurkathusHebecameShanmukha.HeisknownasSaravanabhavaasHeemergedoutof
Saravana Lake, and Karttikeya since six Krittika maidens took the six babies in their arms and
showeredaffectiononthem.
Brahma, the Creator, happened to slight the young Muruga
during one of his visits to Kailasa. Muruga wished to teach a
lessontotheCreatorforhisactofimprudence.Heaskedthe
fourfaced Creator the meaning of the Pranava. When he
could not explain satisfactorily, Muruga taunted Brahma and
not content with that imprisoned him too. He concluded that
Brahma was not fit to perform the assigned job. He then
assumed the role of the Creator! Muruga freed Brahma from
prison when Siva, Vishnu and Indra prayed at His lotus Feet
andrequestedforthereleaseoftheCreator.13
Muruga turned a guru or teacher when He explained the
essence of Pranava to His Father who received the upadesa in all humility as a disciple. He thus
cametobeknownasSwaminatha.14
AnotherinterestinganecdotelinksMuruga'stakingafullroundoftheuniversemountedonHismighty
peacock.thelegendhasitthatsageNaradaoncevisitedKailasa,theabodeofSiva,andpresented
Himwithadivinepomegranatefruit.Asisusuallythecasewithfathers,SivawantedtogiveittoHis
childrenGanesaandMurugaratherthanconsumingitHimself.Inthisprocess,Hehatchedaplotas
apreludetoaneventfuldrama.Hewouldnotallowthefruittobesharedbytwobrothers.Instead,Heannouncedthatthefruitwouldbegiven
toeitherofthetwowhoreturnedfirstaftertakingaroundoftheuniverse.
NosoonerhadSivasaidthisthanyoungMurugastartedoffridingonthebackofHispeacock.HiselderbrotherGanesaactedinadifferent
manner.ToHim,HiseternalParentsSivaandParvatirepresentedtheworldandcircumambulatingthemwouldbeequivalenttocirclingthe
world.WiththiswellreasonedthoughtfixedinHismind,HetookaroundofHisParentsandinstantlyannexedtheprizedfruit.Muruga,on
returnfromHiswhirlwindtriparoundtheuniverse,learntthatHiselderbrotherhadalreadywonthecompetition.
AdisappointedMurugaleftKailasaandproceededstraighttoPalaniHillinSouthIndia.ThenamePalaniisinfactthederivativeofPazahm
Nee(ThouarttheFruitofJana)asaddressedbyHisParentswhorushedtoPalanitosoothetheenragedMuruga.
Surapadma,whohadthetemeritytoconfrontMurugadespitebeingforewarned,becamepreytoHispowerfulVel(spear)afterastifffight.
MurugaactedasSupremeCommander(DevaSenapati)andfreedthegodsfromtheircaptivity.TheevercompassionateLordconvertedthe
two portions of His slain enemy as an integral part of Himself one becoming Peacock, His mount and the other the Cock adorning His
banner.
Muruga's consorts are Valli and Devayanai. They represent Inch Sakti and Krill Sakti. They
wereinrealitySundaravalliandAmudavalli,whowerebornoutofthetearsofjoyofNarayana
whenHeincarnatedasTrivikrama.Boththecelestialsdamselsdidintensepenancewiththe
objectofattainingtheexaltedstatusasMuruga'sconsorts.Pleasedwiththeirprayers,Muruga
appeared before them and ordained that Amudavalli would be born in Devaloka as Indra's
daughter, while Sundaravalli would take birth on the earth in a hunter tribe.15 The Lord
promisedtomarrybothValliandDevayanai.
ThemarriageofMurugaandDevayanaitookplaceatTirupparankundramattendantwithfull
Vedicrites.DevayanaiwasinfactgiftedtoMurugabyDevendraingratefulacknowledgment
ofheroismandvalourdisplayedbyMurugaastheSupremeCommanderofdivineforcesand
His triumph over the deadly race of titans.16 Deva Senapati (General of the Gods) thus
becameDevasenaPati(HusbandofDevasena).
Muruga's wedding with Valli is replete with many interesting interludes. Muruga chose to
engageinafewfrolicsbeforeacceptingValli asHisConsort. KingNambiRajahofChittoor,
theheadofthehuntertribe,hadsevensonsandhewasaspiringtohaveadaughter.Hewas
deeplydevotedtoMuruga.ThesageSivamuni,whowasdoingtapasyaintheforest,chanced
to see a female deer and his mere sight resulted in the animal becoming pregnant.17 The
animal delivered a beautiful baby girl and left the place. King Nambi, who had gone to the
forestwithhissonstohunt,sawthebewitchingbabeandbroughtithomeandbegantofoster
the child as his own daughter. As the girl was found among valli creepers, she was named
Valli.18
Valli ceaselessly nurtured the thought of Muruga even from her tender age and was
determinedtohaveHimasherHusbandandnoneelse.Whenshebecameofmarriageable
age,NambiRajah,intunewiththehuntertribecustom,sentherto'tinaippunam'(fieldgrowingtinai[millet]).Shewastokeepvigilperchedon
ahighriserostrumandprotectthecropfromwanderingbirdsuntilthecropwasreadytoharvest.
ItwasatthistimethatValligotgurudikshafromsageNaradawhometherandsaidtoherthatMurugawouldbetheidealmatchforher.The
wordsofthesagepleasedVallihighly.Shewasinfacthavingthisverythoughtforyears!NaradawenttonearbyTiruttaniwheretheLordwas
inreposemoodafterthefiercebattlewithSurapadma.ThesageremindedMurugaaboutHisassurancetomarrythetwomaidensandtold
thatonegirlremainingtobewed,Valli,wasyearningintenselyandpersistentlyforHim.
Muruga'sleelabegannow.19Hefirstappearedasahunteranddid
not find any positive response from Valli to His clever approaches.
He turned into a giant venkai tree when Valli's father suddenly
appearedonthescene.Thereafter,Hetooktheformofatrembling
old man and ate millet flour and honey mixture offered by Valli
feigning that He was feeling very hungry. He proposed to wed her,
muchtothechagrinofValli.Finally,Murugainvokedtheblessingsof
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HiselderbrotherGanesaforsuccessofHismission.Onthefervent
appealofHisyoungerbrother,Ganesaappearedasawildelephant
in the forest and began to chase Valli. Terrified by the mighty
pachyderm's menacing advance, Valli ran for protection and came
straightintothearmsofMuruga.20
Muruga's abodes are countless. He resides mostly at hilltops.21
AmongHisholyabodes,sixareprominentandtheseareknownas
AaruPadaiVeedugal.Avividportrayalofthesesixsacredplacesis
foundintheoperaTirumurugatruppadaicomposedbyNakkeerar,the
famedpoet.ThesixholyabodesofMurugaare:Tirupparankundram,
Tiruchendur, Tiruvavinankudi (Palani), Tiruverakam, Kundrutordal
(Tiruttaniandseveralotherhills)andPazhamutircolai.
InthisKaliYuga,chantingofMuruga'sNameactsasapanaceato
all sufferings.22 Those who display love to one and all, devoid of
hatred, jealousy, passion, anger and avarice and are steadfast in
devotiontoMuruga,invariablygetmentaltranquilityandeverlasting
bliss. They do not even fear death.23 The pious saints who lived
amidst us and who got Muruga's infinite grace had in fact been in
direct communion with Muruga and their experiences with the ever
mercifulLordhavefoundexpressionintheirdevotionaloutpourings.
They have attained immortality and serve as a medium for the
worldlyminded who are after ephemeral pleasures to become
seekersofperpetualspiritualbliss.

At that moment, Murugan invoked the help of his brother Vinyaka who
appearedbehindValliintheshapeofafrighteningelephant.Theterrorstricken
girl rushed into the arms of the Saiva ascetic for protection. Painting from
TiruttaniDevasthanam.

ENDNOTES
1."Aruvamumuruvamkiandiyaipalavaionrai
Brahmanaininrajotippizhampadormeniyki
Karunaikoormugangalrumkaramadu
Pannirandumkonde
OrutiruMuruganvandunkuvudittananvulakamuyya"
2. Also known as Subrahmanya, Karttikeya, Visakha, Shanmukha, Kumara, Skanda, Guha
andSaravanabhava.
3. Arunagirinatha recalls this happening in his Tiruppukazh hymn "Ayilappu" sung at
Kanchipuram.
4."SkandasyakiirtimatulmKalikalmashanshiniim"(Skanda'ssacredstoryremovesallsins
andbestowsfameandname).SkandaPurana

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5.ValmikiRamayana,AyodhyaKnda,Sarga25,stanzas1112.
6.BhagavadGita,Chapter10(VibhutiVistaraYoga),stanza24.
7. A Vedic intonation on Muruga ends thus: "Subrahmanyoham, Subrahmanyoham,
Subramanyoham."TherepetitionofMuruga'snamethriceimpliesthereigningsupremacyof
theLord.
8.ArunagirinathasaysinoneofhisChidambaramTiruppukazhhymnsYezzhukadalmanalai
('NumberofdistressfullifeformshaveIassumedoverseveralbirthswouldexceedthesands
ofsevenseas.").
9."BirthsanddeathsbyturndoIface,
Inmother'swomblieIagainandagain.
Oceanoflifethis,impassableandboundlessis.
OhMurari,havemercyandprotectme!
AdiShankarainBhajaGovindam
10.Stanza12ofKandarAnubhutideclaresthistruthinunequivocalterms.
11. Note the title of Kalidasa's masterly literary piece on Muruga. He calls it Kumara Sambhavam ('The appearance of Kumara') and not
KumaraJananam('ThebirthofKumara').
12.ThecreditfortranslatingthismagnumopusintoTamil,andthatatthecommandofMuruga,goestoKachiyappaSivachariar,wholivedin
KanchipuramandwasthepriestinthetempleofKumarakottam.ItisbelievedthathissacredbookhasthestampofapprovaloftheLord.
13."Piquedathisignorance(ofthesubstanceofPranava)
OncedidThoudishevelthetuftoftheFourfacedBrahmainthetwinkofaneye
TheThreesomebeseechingTheeatThytwinfeet
DidThousetfreeBrahmafromcaptivity..."
TiruEzhukkootrirukkai(Arunagirinatha)
14.GurunathaWhopreachedupadesamantraintothetwoearsofSivatoHisheart'scontent"(SivanrManamKulira)fromTiruvavinankudi
(Palani)Tiruppukazh.
15.AdifferentversiontheauthorhappenedtohearisthatshewasthedaughterofUpendra,
younger brother of Indra. However, the Ashtothara Satha Namavali dedicated to Davayanai
referstoheramongothernamesasVajriSut(daughterofVajrapani[Indra]whichcontradicts
thisversion.ThatDevayanaiwasthedaughterofIndraisconfirmedbyArunagirinathawhen
he refers to Devayanai as Vajrapanikkumari in his Bhuta Vetala Vakuppu and to Muruga's
weddingto"Indra'sdaughter"inTiruchendurTiruppukazh'PadarBuviyin'.
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16. Asurar Kulantaka (Yama to the Asura race), so eulogizes Arunagirinatha in one of his
compositions.
17. Sage Sivamuni and the deer were none other than Lord Visnu and r Lakshmi sage
Kanvahadcursedthemtotakethesebirths.
18.Athick,sweetandedibletuberousroot.
19. It is seen from the Tiruppukazh song Talai Mayi Kokkukku... (Pazhamutircolai) that
MurugaproceededtowedValliwithouttheknowledgeofDevayanai.
20. "Lord who came as elephant and blessed young Muruga to marry that hunter girl (Valli)
thatverymoment"runsaTiruppukazhsonginpraiseofVinayaka(KaitalaNiraikani)
21.DevoteescallMurugaasKundrutorAadumKumaran,'Kumarawhoresidesoneveryhill'.
22.MurugaHimselfissaidtohavetoldNarada,"ThosewhohavesoughtrefugeinMehave
no fear, they won't be left with any wants those who are devoted to Me have no enemies,
theyhavenodiseases..."
23.ArunagirinathaintheconcludingverseofhisKandarAlankaramsays:
NevershallIfearYamawhofollows(me)holdingsoolaandwhippinghisrope.
HathIthetruehelpofVelandtheholyHandsoftheSixfacedGod,
TheoffspringoftheLordWhoconsumedthevenomthatgushedoutoftheocean."
See also:
'Arunagirinathar'sViewsonAcquisitionofWealth'bySRSAyyar
Kaumaram.com'sThiruppugazhresourcesection

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