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Images of Skanda-Karttikeya-Murugan: An Iconographic Study

Haripriya Rangarajan (Author)
Synopsis In the Hindu pantheon of gods Skanda Karttikeya the son of Siva, is the only god who is endowed with six faces and twelve hands and named as Sanmukha. His six faces indicate five elements, ether, fire, air, water and prthvi and the Life Principle is the spirit that is the Supreme Force. The multi-faced god Sanmukha, the divine essence of Universal Spirit is being represented in the iconic forms known in the names of Skanda, Karttikeya, Guha, Subrahmanya and Naigameya, and exclusively as Murugan in the Tamil country. Second notable fact is that, in the legend of the birth (incarnations) of any other god we do not come across so much of various explanations and different analysations as we found in the legend of the birth of Skanda from various accounts, i.e., Puranas and other legendary folk tales. Thirdly, while in north India the six faced god had been worshipped as war god in the name of Skanda until the historical periods of Kusanas, Yaudheyas and Guptas, from the post-Gupta period the cult of war god changed its course towards south India where even today he is portrayed as hunter god, Red god and popularly called as Murugan and Muruga. In the present time his cult is known as Kaumaram.

For many of us it may be the perturbing question that how the cult of war god of north India being synthesized once for all with the hunter god of south India and completely absorbed by the society in the name of Kaumaram. The answer to this question is very clearly explained in the present book.

Interestingly, the images (icons) of Skanda Karttikeya in the forms of Subrahmanya and Sanmukha found in India and abroad are a great feast to the devotees and others. In the form of Subrahmanya, he is represented with snakehood or sometimes in the snake form only. The images of Skanda Karttikeya are worshipped with a single face and multiple faces and endowed with two to twelve hands. It is very important for the readers to know that he and his consorts Valli and Deivayani are the embodiments of Jnana Sakti, Iccha Sakti and Kriya Sakti, respectively. Above all his spear ‘Vel’ in Tamil endows his Jnana Sakti and thus, his name has come to be known as Velan which means “the holder of Vel”.

There are nine chapters in this present work which deals with each and every aspect of Kumara in analytical form. The text is enlivened with 87 copious illustrations, several among them appearing for the first time.

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About the author

Haripriya Rangarajan

Dr. (Mrs.) Haripriya Rangarajan obtained her Ph.D. degree in Indian Culture from the Gujarat University in 1987. She specialized in the iconography of Vishnu and has contributed articles to academic journals, national seminars and popular magazines. Her doctoral thesis was published in 1990 under the title Spread of Vaishnavism in Gujarat upto 1600 A.D. (A study with Special Reference to the Iconic forms of Vishnu). Her book on Ramanuja Sampradaya in Gujarat: A Historical Perspective was published in 1996. Her third work entitled Varaha Images in Madhya Pradesh – An Iconographic Study was published in 1997 and the Asiatic society of Bombay has awarded the Silver Medal for this work in 1998. she is a recipient of Indian council of Historical Studies fellowship for her research studies. She is keen in organizing and participating in the academic activities. She has organized several seminars and workshops in close association with well-known museums and research institutions.

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Bibliographic information

Title Images of Skanda-Karttikeya-Murugan: An Iconographic Study
Format Hardcover
Date published: 21.10.2010
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 9788188934676
length xx+268p., 87 B/W Figures; Appendix; Bibliography; Index; 25cm.