Kanda Ṣaṣṭi – An Occasion for Introspection

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Surasamharam at Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu
Kanda Ṣaṣṭi – An Occasion for Introspection
by V.S. Krishnan

VyāsaSkanda Purāna,
authored by sage Vyāsa, is one among the eighteen works of literatures that constitute the essence of spirituality. Though it deals with many aspects like cosmology, mythology, moral values like Dharma, it vividly describes Skanda and his relevance to the present age, Kali Yuga.

Skanda was not born in the usual sense of the term. His appearance was just an incident and Kalidasa termed it as ‘Kumāra Sambhavam’. The word ‘Skanda’ means being integrated. It means the Lord Muruga is the integrated power of Viṣṇu, Mukunda (MU), Siva, Rudra (RU) and Sakti, or Katyayini (KA).

Skanda Mata
Another version says that since he appeared as six babies and became one after being embraced by mother Parvati, he came to be known as Kanda. Skanda symbolizes truth, consciousness and bliss. In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says, “Among the warriors, I am Skanda.”

Kanda Ṣaṣṭi marks the triumph of good over evil. It was on this day, Muruga came to Tiruchendur, waged battle against Soorapadman and his accomplices and brought about peace on earth.

According to Kanda Purāna, the demon, Soorapadman got a boon that no power on earth, no one who has taken natural birth could harm him. Aspiring supremacy over the whole universe, he started oppressing the devotees, saints, devas and their head, Indra in the celestial world.

When they appealed to Lord Siva for protection, a powerful flame appeared from the third eye of Siva. Carried by Lord of Air, (Vāyu) and Lord of Fire, (Agni), the flame was deposited in Ganga from where it reached Śaravaṇa Poigai in South. The flame was transformed into six beautiful babies. The wives of sages shining as stars came down and nursed the babies.

As the young child came to his mother, Parvati took him in her lap and gave him the milk of knowledge (Jñāna Pāl). As the child grew up as a handsome youth, the mother gave him another gift; the Vēl as if to remind him the purpose of his appearance on earth.

Lord Muruga launched a bitter battle against Soorapadman and his allies; Singhamukhan and Tarakasuran. Soorapadman turned out to be a poor match before the supreme power of Murugan. When all his acts of deception failed, he took the form of a giant tree and launched indirect attack. Muruga then hurled his lance, the Vel, that pierced through the tree, dividing it into two parts.

When Soorapadman surrendered, Muruga, the Lord of infinite compassion, accepted him and transformed him as peacock and rooster. The peacock and rooster serves the Lord as His vehicle and banner. Thanigaimani Chengalvaraya Pillai, who brought Thiruppugazh into the limelight of the world, gave a new description to Muruga as “Carpenter”, who carved out of a rough tree called “Soorapadman” into two beautiful birds, peacock and rooster.

Soorasamharam is not the destruction of Soorapadman, Singhamukhan and Tarakasuran as individuals. It marked the destruction of the three stains or evils; ego, karma and maya which the triumvirates represented.  The event is recreated at Tiruchendur on Kanda Ṣaṣṭi day to convey the message that truth will ultimately triumph.  After observing austerities, devotees come walking  from far and near, carrying the kavadi on their shoulder, singing the glory of Muruga and congregate on the grounds of Tiruchendur to witness ‘Soorasamharam’ being enacted.  A sea of humanity experiencing the grace of Muruga on the seashore is indeed a spectacular sight. 

A devotee who visits Tiruchendur regularly during Kanda Ṣaṣṭi remarked:  “Though Muruga fought against three evils; ego, the effects arising out of karma and ignorance, these evils continue to persist among the community in some form or other. 
Kanda Ṣaṣṭi is an occasion when the individual should ponder how to guard himself Sri Ramalinga Adigalfrom these evils.  Kanda Ṣaṣṭi is not only an occasion for celebration but also an occasion for introspection”, he said. 

Kanda Ṣaṣṭi is also an occasion to bring about a discipline in our life.   There is no doubt that those who observe  austerities (vritam) during Kanda Ṣaṣṭi would be free from all obstacles in life, derive all that they aspire for and attain the ultimate state of realization. Sri Ramalinga Adigal, popularly known as Arut Prakāsa Vallalar, has said how an ideal devotee should conduct himself; “Thanithu Iru, Pasithu Iru, Cummā Iru” ('Remain alone, remain starving and remain quiet'). It may not be possible to observe these strict austerities on all days but at least during Kanda Ṣaṣṭi, the devotee should adhere to this practice.

Arunagirināthar becomes quite eloquent while describing the magnificence of Senthil Ᾱṇḍavar. All his poetic skills come to the fore while admiring the elegance of Muruga. He visited Tiruchendur during the Brahmōtsavam festival falling in the month of Māsi.

With all ornaments on, the deity was being taken out in a colourfully decorated chariot. Thousands of devotees thronged there to watch the majestic sight.

ArunagirinatharDelighted beyond words, Arunagirinātha Swāmigal exclaimed: “Oh! Lord, what a heartening sight indeed! My two eyes are not enough to admire this exquisite beauty.” He wondered how captivating it would look if the Lord performed dance with the same attire and ornaments in step to his song.

The Lord was too willing to oblige his devotee and gave him a signal to come to the reverse side. As the poet came over, the Lord was right in front of him, performing the dance. Sage Arunagirināthar explains this experience of having seen Muruga, his broad shoulder, his lotus feet being adorned by anklets like Thandai and Vendai in the song ‘Thandayani Vendayum’.

Let us worship Muruga, the Lord of infinite power, who awakens us, removes the false notion of ‘I’ and helps us to realize our inherent divinity. Let us worship the Vēl that enlightens us and let us worship the peacock that liberates us from all the adverse consequence of karma.
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