Fight between good and evil: Skanda Shashti

SKANDA SASHTI TODAY: Sura, Asura, Good, Evil : Tarakaasuravadham

There's no end to the fight between good and evil. 
My friend TKE Das is a regular observer of Shashti Vratam.
The mythological stories which have very relevant messages for the present society do not get the attention they deserve from the media, policy makers who decide what students should read and authors who make noise about freedom of speech and expression.
I think, movie makers too have lost interest in mythology after Skanda's namesake (Subramaniam of Merryland)...

M G Warrier

Text received from P P Ramachandran


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Skanda Sashti is observed on the sixth day of the bright fortnight of the Tamil month of Aippasi (October – November). This day is dedicated to the second son of Lord Shiva – Lord Subramanya, also known as Kartikeya, Kumaresa, Guha, Murugan, Shanmukha and Velayudhan, who on this day, is believed to have annihilated the mythical demon Taraka. Celebrated in all Shaivite and Subramanya temples in South India, Skanda Sashti commemorates the destruction of evil by the Supreme Being.

During these days, devotees recite inspiring hymns, read stories of Subramanya, and enact the exploits of the Lord on stage. Thousands of people gather for feasts, and massive amounts of camphor are burnt.

Well-known temples of Lord Subramanya can be found in Udupi, Tiruchendur, Palani Hills, Tiruparankundrum, Tiruchendur and Kathirgamam in South India, as well as in Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Large fairs and festivals are held in these temples every year on Skanda Sashti.

It is customary to undergo penance on Skanda Sashti in the form of carrying a ‘Kavadi’ to the various Subramanya shrines. Many devotees also pierce long needles through their cheeks, lips and tongue as they go into a delirium charmed by the powers of the Lord.

The Tiruppugal, a popular religious book in Tamil, contains the inspiring devotional songs of Arunagirinathar in praise of Lord Subramanya. Hymns from Kavadichindu and the Skanda Sashti Kavacham are also sung on this occasion.

The background of Skanda’s birth

Once there were three demons named Surapadma, Simhamukha and Tarakasura. These three created havoc in the three worlds and troubled all the gods and humans. Surapadma had secured some great boons from Lord Shiva that none else than Shiva’s own power would be able to kill him. The boon made the demon and his brother highly arrogant and they tortured anyone and everyone in the universe.

In an utterly helpless situation, the gods approached Lord Brahma for help. Lord Brahma said none else than the power born out of Shiva’s will power can annihilate the demon. However, the task of taking the matter to Lord Shiva was a tough one since Lord Shiva was engaged in a severe penance. In order to bring Lord Shiva out of His penance, they approach Manmata, the god of love.
Manmata approached the meditating Lord and released his arrows that would create amorous feelings in people. The Lord was woken up by the arrow and in a great fit of anger, Lord Shiva burnt Manmata to ashes and later rescued him in response to the prayers of gods. The gods pleaded Lord Shiva to give birth to his power to vanquish the demon Surapadma. The merciful Lord consented to do so.

Lord Shiva released six sparks from his third eye that were immensely hot. These sparks entered the cooling waters of the Saravana River and manifested into six children of divine charm. Six damsels named as Kartika sisters nurtured the baby to growth. Once, Mother Parvati visited the six children growing in the pond and embraced them all at once. All the six babies now merged into one with six faces and thus Skanda was born.

The divine child Skanda was a matchless one. He had the knowledge of everything and none was required to teach him anything. He was the embodiment of wisdom and perfection. He was so loving and compassionate too. He had the thorough knowledge of warfare. Mother Parvati gifted the child with a lance which is also called as Vel in Tamil. The child was valiant enough to march at once with his assistants to wage a war against the deadly demon and his brothers.

On his way to Veera Mahendrapur, the city of the demon Surapadma, Skanda killed his brothers Simhamukha and Tarakasura. There was a fierce battle between the Lord and Surapadma. In all his mercy, Lord Skanda severed the body of Surapadma into two with his lance and a peacock and cock came out of him. The peacock became the vehicle of Lord Skanda and the cock entered his flag to sing the Lord’s praises.


Here are wonderful songs on Lord Muruga sung by Pithikkulli Murugadas.


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