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Kartikeya Home -› Hindu Trinity -› The Destroyer -› Kartikeya
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Kartikeya - the god of war
Kartikeya, represented sometimes with only one face, is generally known as having six faces; is yellow-skinned; rides on a peacock, the killer of serpents; holds in his right hand an arrow and in his left a bow. He is widely known as the god of war.

Kartikeya has several names. As he was breast-fed by six KRITTIKA deities, he is called 'KARTIKEYA'. Since he has six faces, he is 'SHANMUKHA'. Because of his omniscience, he is 'SUBRAMANYA'. As he gathered a huge army to kill the demons, he is also called 'MAHASENA'. Since he captained the army of the gods in the fight with the Rakshasas, he was given the title of 'SENANI' or 'Commander'. Since he was born out of the life-source that slipped (Skanna) from Shiva, he is named 'SKANDA'. With the peacock as his mode of transport, he is 'SHIKHIVAHANA'. And he is always a young boy he is 'KUMARA'. This term also means that he is one who kills evil persons. And he is more handsome than Manmatha, the God of Love. He is worshipped as 'GUHA' too, since he protects his devotees from enemies. He is also known as AGNIBHOO, TARAKJEET and SHAKTI DHURU.

In the Mahabharata and Ramayana epics this god is described as the son of Shiva or Rudra. Sometimes his motherhood is prescribed to Ganga (hence GANGAPUTRA), and sometimes to goddess Parvati, the consort of Shiva. In some legends he is said to have born without the intervention of a woman through fire (hence the name AGNIBHU). This god is depicted sitting around the Shiva-Linga together with Nandi, the mount of Shiva.

The story of his birth runs thus as given in Kumar SAMBHAVA. Tormented by TARAKA, the demon, all the gods under the leadership of Indra, went to the Creator to rid them off this monster. The Creator advised them that only the seed of Shiva could produce a fighter, who can defeat the demon. Shiva was then lost in deep meditation. The god of love, named KAMA, was asked to break Shiva's penance.

Kama Dev was highly flattered by all gods and he boasted that he could conquer the mind of Shiva within no time. Kama consulted his wife Rati, who reproved him for this temerity but consented to accompany her husband and help him in disturbing Shiva's meditation. They set off together with Vasanta (god of spring) to Himalayas. Kama Dev pulled an arrow and shot at Shiva. The great Lord, smitten thus, awoke from meditation and shouted who had dared to interrupt his meditation. Looking towards south he spotted Kama Dev. In anger Shiva opened his third eye in the center of his forehead and thus reduced Kama to ashes. Taking pity and responding to the pleas of his widow, Rati, Lord Shiva restored her husband but only as a mental image, representing true love and affection and not just physical lust. Hence the other name of Kama Dev is ANANGA (the bodiless). Aroused thus from his penance Shiva accepted Parvati as his wife. Once Shiva's passions were aroused none could bear his seed's energy Agni alone could bear it by taking the seed into its mouth and thereafter transferring this seed to Ganga. The god Kartikeya so born is therefore called, GANG-JA or AGNI-BHU. The child so conceived is also called KUMARA forever young and chaste.

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