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Encyclopedia of Hindu Gods


KARTIKEYA



Image from Moor.                                          Image used by permission.

Basic Description:  Kartikeya is shown as an adolescent with one or six heads, two or twelve arms, dressed in red, holds a bow and some arrows, a sword, thunderbolt and an ax.  Also, Kartikeya has a spear, which never misses a mark, and returns to his hand after killing its enemies.

Alternate Names:  Skanda, Muruka, Subramanya.
With the different names also come different iconographic representations and legends, making it virtually certain that the present figure is the amalgamation of a number of pre-Aryan deities who were fairly loosely absorbed into the one person.

History/Practices:  Kartikeya is worshipped almost exclusively in Southern India as Subrahmanya.  In some areas women are not allowed to worship him because he is known as a misogynist and a bachelor. In other areas, women come to the temple with large amounts of milk that are poured over him at puja.

Iconography:  Kartikeya is said to have 6 heads to drink the milk of the six Pleides.  The main purpose of his birth is said to have been the leadership of the god's army.

Mythology:  Some of the most important myths regarding Kartikeya revolve around his birth.

Riding Animal:  Peacock

Consort:  It is commonly said that the army of the god is his only wife.  However, other traditions have him married to Sena, Devasena, and wooed by Siddhi and Buddhi.  He could have been the husband of several wives.

Sources:

Danliélou, Alain.  The Myths and Gods of India.  Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 1991.

Thomas, P.  Epics, Myths and Legends of India.  Bombay, India: D. B. Taraporevala Sons & Co. Private Ltd, 1961.


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