A Moment of Gratitude – The Birth of Shanmukha


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Lord Shiva was immersed in deep meditation after losing his wife Sati. Taking advantage of this state of Shiva was demon Tarakasura. He offered a long and hard thousand-year penance to Lord Brahma and obtained a boon, “Let my death come only in the hands of a young boy who is an offspring of Lord Shiva.”

Tarakasura’s atrocities on Gods, sages and devotees became unbearable after that. The harried Gods got together and hatched a grand plan. They got Shiva and Parvathi married with the help of Kama, the god of love.

However, after the wedding, even after several hundred years, there was no sign of the couple stepping out of their palace in Kailasa. The Gods, now desperate, debated their next move. “If Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi do not have a Son soon, then we will lose heaven to this demon Taraka. Let’s go talk to them.”

Nandi, the assistant of Shiva, guarded the palace door in Kailasa. He point blank refused entry to the visitors. Then they debated again, “Let us loudly sing praises of Shiva from here. He will certainly come out for us. He is a kind God.”

As they had expected, Shiva, after hearing the voices of the Gods and sages stepped outside and was taken by surprise, “What brings all of you to my abode?”  Shiva asked.

The gathering, now perked up momentarily, explained to Shiva how they were eagerly awaiting for his son to be born. Shiva thought for a moment and then he said, “I will unleash this energy from my body now. You nurture that and an able boy will be born out of it.”

The Gods’ happiness knew no bounds. But, when they realised that the energy emitted by Shiva was unbearably hot, they pushed the god of fire, Agni to the forefront. “Catch the energy, Agni!”

And he did. After a while, the very god of fire was on fire! “I have to get this out of me. This heat is hotter than anything I have felt so far.”  Agni transferred the energy into the bodies of six Krittikas (except Arundhati), the wives of Saptarshis.

The delicate Krittikas started burning with the heat of the white light they had enthusiastically received from Agni. They quickly released it on Mount Himalaya. When his snow started melting, Himavantha floated the energy on river Ganga. The river Goddess, drying up from the heat, gently deposited the energy on the lush Shara grass at her river bank.

And, the minute the energy touched the grass, an infant who exuded a bright light all around him, formed. When the baby’s cries reached Krittikas, they came running to nurture him. Then they fought, “He is my baby,” said one.

“How is it so? I bore him in me too,” said the next.

The baby, then magically grew six heads to appease each of his six surrogate mothers! The adorable little one soon grew up to be a valiant boy under the loving care of Krittikas.

In the meanwhile, Lord Shiva and Parvathi were on a frantic search for their son. Shiva’s men, Ganas, finally located the boy who shone with a brilliance that equalled the Sun’s.

“We will forever be grateful to you for raising our precious son,” Shiva and Parvathi thanked Krittikas, who, though very sad, sent their son to his rightful parents.

Shiva and Parvathi then declared, “This son of ours was raised by many kind-hearted people. We want to thank all of them. He will be called Kartikeya for being nurtured by Krittikas. He will also be called Agneya for being borne by Agni, Gangeya for being in the womb of Ganga, Saravana for being protected by the Sara grass.”

Young Kartikeya, then appointed the commander-in-chief of the God’s army by Shiva, fought with and killed the mighty demon Tarakasura, restoring peace through the entire the universe.

What is noteworthy in this story, apart from being highly imaginative, is how each one, from Agni to Krittikas, who nurtured Karthikeya is acknowledged and thanked. May be we can implement that too in our lives. Many times we are quick to forget those who help us. So this New Year, we can change that and be thankful to those who have helped us become better and stronger.

[Editor’s note: Vani Mahesh has a deep rooted interest in the Indian mythology and classics. She is a consultant writer for Amar Chitra Katha where she scripts stories from the Puranas. She has so far authored two comics and a novel published by Amar Chitra Katha. (‘Tales of Creation From the Brahma Purana’, A Kingdom for His Love, a novel based on Bhasa’s play, and now Saptarshi – The Seven Supreme Sages.)]

Author’s website: vanimahesh.com

13 comments on "A Moment of Gratitude – The Birth of Shanmukha"

  1. Vipin says:

    OM!
    Very nice story and told very well. Each of our stories is full of wisdom and shiksha.
    our youngsters need to know much more.

  2. Subramaniam Muthusamy says:

    Simple and informative . Thanks.

  3. K. Sridharan says:

    Interesting to know about the unknown story

  4. Niresh says:

    Great story. Love reading these stories daily.

  5. A.Perumal says:

    Very nice story Thank You

  6. Ranjan Ramakrishnan says:

    This is a nice story. But in south India they have a different version. When cupid the God of love called Manmatha (who is also Shiva’s son) was asked by Parvathi shiva’s consort to wake up Shiva from meditation, he was afraid to disturb him directly. So he used an arrow made of flowers and hiding from him he shot at his thrikuti (forehead). This disturbed Shiva and his third eye opened and six sparks flew which eventually got his son Manmatha, further as the sparks were destroying all around, Divine Mother Parvathi gathered those sparks and immersed them in a water Pond which resulted in instant lotuses sprouting out from the pond holding six different babies! Now as the Divine Mother Parvathi was very happy she gathered the six children together with love, which made them have six heads and twelve hands with one body! However Kartikeya – Murugan another name he got, was extremely loving toward his parents notably more to his brother Ganesha. As is Shiva’s wishes a commander for the God’s Army was born. May every one live with peace and satisfaction in this world full of health and joy.

  7. Geetha R says:

    This story is slightly different from what is being narrated normally.

    From the third eye of each face of Lord Shiva (Sathyojatham, Vamadevam, Thathpurusham, Eesanam, Aghoram and Atho) , a fire spark came out into Space. Vayu (God of wind) and then Agni (God of fire) took the six fire sparks to the Ganga. Later Ganga took them to Sarvana pond. The six fire sparks became six beautiful babies on six red lotus flowers. Six ladies called Karthigai maids took care of Him. Hence, He was also called Karthigeyan. When Goddess Parvati came and hugged them together, they joined to become one form with six faces, twelve hands and was named Skanda. He is called Muruga in Tamil meaning ” Beauty”. Thus Skanda has all the 5 elements associated with Him – Fire, Space, Air, Water and Earth.

  8. Miguel Pardo says:

    The cowherd boy Krsna did not surround himself with luxuries either. Lord Shiva is the prince of yogis, but Lord Krsna is the king of yogis. The fact that Lord Shiva does not wear clothes or jewelry does not necessarily make Him the most worshipable deity. Lord Shiva is a pure and a very dear devotee of Lord Krsna

  9. Pt RamDas says:

    It is nice article. But I need to comment. In the second paragraph, last sentence “They got Shiva and Parvathi married with the help of Kama, the god of love. ” It sounds as if Kama brought them together. But we all know that Kama was burnt to ashes as soon as Shiva opened His eye. Kama was used only to bring the Lord from state of Absolute Samadhi to relative sphere for welfare of this dualistic/relative world. Parvati(who was only 16 year old girl then)had to perform severe austerity, Tapasya, to invoke Divine Grace of Lord Shiva to marry Her. The message here is Tapasya is the way for attainment of Highest Good. Mother Parvati is showing us through her Divine Leela of Tapasya. This is to be highlighted to our younger generation is my opinion. You have the right to disregard what I have mentioned here.

  10. K. Ramamoorthy says:

    Thanks for the nice story and the message…….. JaiGurudev.

  11. Dr. R B Sharma says:

    A fine narrative that has been skillfully delivered. My take is: Shiva and Parvati are integrated ‘one entity’ viz. the Father Essence(the Father element) absolutely absorbed into the Mother Essence(the mother element)as one. The perception of Shivalinga is the case in point. In the mundane logic, you need two to produce the third one. Logic essentially is a process that has its reach unto mind only and not beyond that. We (Ganesha and Kartikeya both inclusive) all are essentially born of both Father and Mother essences. Thus, the stories of their births are mere illogical explanations of something ‘beyond logic’. The Lord is beyond the reach of mind.

  12. Vijayalakshmi says:

    Good stories

  13. kausik says:

    krittikas are not wives of saptarshis

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