Lord Kartikeya is a Hindu deity born to Shiva and Parvati. In the north, people mostly know him as the brother of Lord Ganesha. His stories of origin, the battles he fought remain unknown to a large number of the population. Many legends exist surrounding Kartikeya’s birth. Let us see how Kartikeya came to life.
Skanda Purana tells the following story of Kartikeya’s birth. Shiva’s first wife Sati felt insulted when she came to know that Daksha, her father, hadn’t invited Shiva to the Yagna (Offering) ceremony. Sati went to him to ask the reason for this dishonour. Daksha dismissed her, saying that he didn’t think Shiva was worthy. He continued to hurl abuses at Shiva. Hearing this from her father, Sati was deeply hurt. Sati immolated herself in front of Daksha.
Shiva was enraged. He destroyed the yagna with his Ganas. To calm himself down, Shiva went into a deep meditation state. Meanwhile, a demon named Taraka took advantage of this situation and created havoc everywhere. He was invincible to any attack due to a boon. The boon was such that only Shiva’s heir could kill him.
The gods were worried. Thus the Gods hatched a plan that would bring Shiva to conscience to meet his other half Parvati. Indra assigned Kamadeva to this task. Kamadeva with his wife Rati went to Kailash Mountain. He was confident about his power. The god of love shot an arrow at Shiva, which woke him to the world. Infuriated at the intrusion, Shiva opened his third eye, burning Kamadeva to ashes.
Eventually, Shiva fell in love with Parvati. But after so many years of meditation, his seed had become stronger. Agni (fire god) received the seed from Shiva. Even he couldn’t stand its severe burn and dropped it in the Ganga river. Skanda aka Kartikeya was born there. Later Ganga brought him to a forest called Sara Vana, which later became his name Saravana. Kalidasa’s epic poem Kumarasambhava (The Birth Of War God) tells a similar story.
Later he was raised by six mothers called Krittikas. The Krittikas are bright six stars from a cluster of seven stars. They were mesmerized by the child when he appeared in the Ganga river. All of them took care of him as a mother. That is why he is called Kartikeya, which means “of the Krittikas”.
There are different versions of this tale in many texts and regions of India. In the Vana Parva of Mahabharata Kartikeya is shown as the son of Agni and Svaha. Valmiki, the author of Ramayana, depicts him as the child of god Agni and goddess Ganges. In later books of Mahabharata, Shiv and Parvati are shown as Kartikeya’s parents. There is another legend that says that Kartikeya is a younger sibling of Ganesha.
In the South, where Lord Kartikeya is much more revered, he is called Lord Murugan. They believe him to be a Tamilian deity. He has the same importance as that of Krishna or Ganesha there. Many believe that the god was adopted by North India.
In popular culture, Lord Kartikeya’s birth story is adapted into a Malayalam movie named Kumara Sambhavam.