The Magnificence of Muruga
by V.S. Krishnan
The Tamil month Thai
is considered very sacred. “When Thai
dawns, it heralds the new way for prosperity (Thai piranthal vazhi pirakkum
) says a Tamil proverb. When the star Pusam dawns in the month of Thai, it becomes more auspicious. This is the day when devotees coming from all over India converge at Palani and experience the grace of Palani Āndavar.
Palani Āndavar defies description. While Murugan is adorned with various ornaments elsewhere, at Palani, he appears devoid of ornaments, devoid of attire, with just a danda
(staff). The Dandayudhapani symbolizes renunciation and detachment; the one who is bereft of all desires. The message Dandayudhapani gives is very loud and clear: “He who discards desires, he who is detached and he who surrenders, he is protected by me.”
Even before the advent of Thaipusam, devotees start practising austerities and discipline. They forgo all worldly comforts, live with bare necessities and start walking towards the Palani hill. Their body smeared with vibhuti (sacred ash) and mind concentrated on the Lord, they deny themselves all comforts and start walking the rough road ahead, braving the adverse weather. No other thoughts occupy their mind. The only words that come out of their tongue are “Hara Haro Hara Hara”. In fact, they have defined what true devotion is.
On this auspicious day of Thaipusam, let us distance ourselves from the world of materialism, the world of illusion and Maya and think of Muruga. Let us recite the various names of Muruga, hail his qualities of compassion, worship the Vel he holds and admire the beauty of his vehicle, the peacock.
Muruga defies description. The name Murugan is derived from the root Tamil word murugu
, a term associated with beauty, divinity and youth. He is known as Su-Brahmanya, su
signifying sacred and brahmanya
signifying the eternal reality, Brahman.
He is also known as:
- Jnāna Pandita by the knowledge he symbolizes;
- Karunākara by his qualities of love and compassion;
- Velāyudha by the spear he wields;
- Mayilvahana by the peacock he travels;
- Ceval Kodiyon by his ensign of rooster;
- Kadamban by the garland he wears;
- Dandāyudhapani by the staff he holds at Palani;
- By the places where He resides, like Vayaloora; and
- Shanmukha by his six sacred faces.
Since he was carried by Ganga, he is known as Kangeyan. Since he was nursed by stars from the galaxy, he is known as Kārttikeya. As Parvati integrated the six babies into one, he came to be known as Skanda. Since he came to remove the sorrows of the age of Kali, he came to be known as Kaliyuga Varada. Since he came up among the sacred bush of reeds in the marsh Saravana Poigai, he came to be known as Saravanabhavar. Since he gave advice to his father, Lord Siva, he came to be known as Swāminātha.
He is known as Thambiran, the leader; as Āndi, the renounced saint; as Guhan who resides in the cave of the heart of devotees; and as Kaumara who is ever in youth. Artharva Veda describes him as the son of Agni. In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says: “Among generals, I am Skanda”. Nakkeerar described him as one who has six sacred abodes; as conqueror in Tiruchendur, having family in Tiruttani and Tiruparamkundram, as a youth in Tiruavinangudi and as a mature old man in Pazhamudir Colai.
Kachiyappa Sivācharyar, the author of immortal epic Kanda Purānam
, portrays the splendour and glory of Murugan in beautiful verses. “You, who are with form and without form, who have no beginning or end, who manifests as one and as many, who is the reflection of Brahman, the eternal reality, who originated as powerful flame of fire and manifested in a divine form, you who have six sacred faces that exude grace and compassion, you, who have twelve hands that shower blessings, who appeared like many brilliant suns emerging from the horizon; you are Murugan, the Lord I worship.” (Aruvamum Uruvamaki)
In his song Akaramum aki,
Arunagirinathar describes Murugan as the first and foremost one, like the sound ‘ā’ by which all languages begin, as all encompassing, as eternal and ever bestowing his grace. The power of Murugan is infinite. He is indescribable and indefinable. He manifested from fire and he appears as a brilliant light that enlightens. In exact revelation of this truth, we find Murugan in Kathirkāmam shrine without form and radiating the light of knowledge all over.