The Peacock – Lord Muruga’s Mount
See part 1
Lord Muruga or Subrahmanya as he is referred to is a very popular Hindu Tamil deity and is worshipped all over Tamil Nadu, Malaysia, Sri Lanka. This deity, the son of Shiva and Parvati, is mostly popular in south India and does not have quite so much of an impact in other parts of India. He is also known by the names Saravana, Senthil, Arumuga, Kumara, Shanmukha, Guha, Skanda, Swaminatha, Vadivel and so on. According to the Tiruppugh (hyms in praise of the Lord), “He never hesitates to come to the rescue of true devotees in distress.”
The Atharva Veda depicts Muruga as ‘Agnibhuh’ or the son of Agni, the fire God. Versions of the Purana, though, generally agree that he is the son of Shiva/Rudra. The main significance of the deity is His teaching of the relevance of ‘Aum’ or the Pranava Mantra (primordial sound) to his own father, Shiva.
How Kartikeya’s mount came to be
Kartikeya is known to be the protector of good, hence he carries a Vel or the divine spear. His mount is the beautiful national bird of India, the Peacock. He destroyed the terrible asura (demon) Surapadman by hurling the spear at him. The asura was split into two parts, one of which became His mount, and the other, His rooster banner.
The Fruit of Knowledge
There is an interesting story relating to both Velayudha (Muruga) and his mount. One day, Shiva and Parvati decided to conduct a competition between their sons, Ganesha and Muruga. They asked them to go round the world three times on their respective mounts and declared that the winner would get to have the unique Jnana Pazham (the Fruit of Knowledge). Ganesha mounted his vahana, the Rat and Kartikeya proudly sped off on his own vehicle, the peacock.
It was then that Ganesha, being the wiser one, realized merely had to go round his parents three times, and that would be equivalent to going around the world three times. He finished the three rounds quickly enough and got hold of the precious fruit. Kartikeya came back flying on the peacock, confident that he would finish much faster than his brother who would have to travel on a little rat! He was absolutely disappointed and angry when he learnt what had transpired in his absence and, renouncing the world, went off in a huff to Palani, where there stands a sacred temple today.
There are many temples of Muruga all over south India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Even Buddhists and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka venerate this deity. The Sinhalese refer to him as Kathirkamam. Lord Muruga is usually shown seated on his peacock, its brilliant plume spread out fully, with his two wives, Valli and Devayani seated by him on either side.
Next Vahana: Tiger