Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Hero and His Divine Spear

Thaipusam has just ended. The festival at Batu Caves was well managed especially when compared with the previous years. So I will say that this year's Thaipusam festival is something I enjoyed.

One of my blog reader, Ganesh Reddy, requested me to write something for Thaipusam. Since I was quite busy during the last few days, I could not do it. I took a break from writing.

There is something in my mind which I want to share with others. It is about the hero of Thaipusam, Muruga himself and his divine spear.

Like the other Devas in Hinduism, Muruga has many names. He is also known as Skanda. There was a time when people even considered Muruga as Alexander The Great. 

This is because Alexander was also known as Sikandar in Persian and Urdu. The Arabs and Malays call him Iskandar Zulkarnain. But Muruga or Skanda worship started even before Alexander's time.

The cult of Muruga is known as Kaumaram. One of the important aspects of Kaumaram is the Vel worship. The Vel is the divine spear which Muruga used to kill the Asura named Surapadman. 


Murugan receiving the Vel from his mother Sakthi.
PICTURE CREDIT murugan.org
Vel worship is an ancient form of worship. The Veddah tribe of Sri Lanka also have a form of Vel worship.

Muruga is considered by the Tamils as their God of War. He is the commander of the heavenly army. His mother Sakthi in the form of Durga is the Goddess of Victory. She is also associated with war. Durga has 9 main forms called NavaDurga. The 5th form is called SkandaMata, Mother of Skanda.

Tuesday is both Durga and Muruga's day. Tuesday is the day of the planet Mars and like the Romans believed, Mars is the planet that represents war. 

Mars is a red planet. Muruga is known as Seyyon or Senthil. The word Se (Che) here means Red and Muruga was portrayed as a red god on a blue peacock during ancient times. These are all somehow connected to astronomy.

Muruga received the Vel from Sakthi in the Tamil month of Thaai during the Poosam (Pusya) nakshatra. In Indian astronomy and astrology, a nakshatra is one of the 27 sectors on the path of the Sun on the celestial sphere. To make it sound simple, we can consider it as a form of astronomical coordinate system.

So our astrologers will calculate the coordinates each year and decide when exactly the event happens. For the year 2015, the month of Thai started on 15 January 2015. Poosam of Thai began on the night of 2 February 2015 up to the evening of 3 February 2015. There are more calculation involved to determine the exact moment. 
(I am not an expert in this so I cannot elaborate further.)


The Poosam nakshatra is in the Cancer constellation.
Indian zodiac: 3°20' -16°40' Karka

Western zodiac: 29°20' Cancer - 12°40' Leo

PICTURE CREDIT: Wikipedia
This is the moment Muruga received the Vel which he later used to kill Surapadman. So we celebrate it grandly each year as Thaipusam. 

Prior to this event, his father Siva destroyed the three Asura cities of Tripura during one of the Poosam nakshatra. So that event was celebrated as Tripura Samharam.

Eventually the son's event became more popular than the father's event. 

After receiving the Vel, Muruga goes to war with Surapadman. He camped in 6 different places. The 6 battle camps of Murugan are Tiruthani, Swamimalai, Palani, Palamuthircholai, Tiruparankunram and Tiruchendur. These 6 places are known as Aaru Padai Veedu.

There are actually many types of Vel. Devaraya Swamigal mentioned several different Vels in his Kandha Shasti Kavacham. Each of these Vels have its own meaning. It is invoked for different purposes.

AlahuVel
AnaiyaVel
ArulVel
AyilVel
ChaturVel
IniyaVel
KanagaVel
KarunaiVel
KathirVel
MunaiVel
MuranVel
MurugaVel
NalVel
ParuVel
PeruVel
PunithaVel
SevVel
ThiruVel
VadiVel
VajraVel
ValVel
VetriVel
YethirVel

Muruga was actually born from Siva's third eye. Therefore he is the wisdom of Siva. Even till today, Muruga devotees chant AroHara. Hara means Siva.

His Vel which was given by his mother Sakthi, is actually made from her own power. Therefore, the Vel also called as SakthiVel is an embodiment of Sakthi herself. 

When we worship Muruga and his Vel, we are actually worshiping both Siva and Sakthi. 

According to our sacred geometry, the upward triangle represents Siva. The downward triangle represents Sakthi. The union of the upward triangle with the downward triangle forms the hexagram.

The hexagram is the symbol of Muruga. Therefore, Muruga is none other than the representation of SivaSakthi.