In south India, Murugan is the second son of Shiva and Uma (in the north he is first born of Shiva and Parvati, and his name is Kartikeya). The story of his conception is the stuff of legend, involving a fiery dove, a drop of Shiva’s seminal fluid, bathing wives, and an embryo atop a Himalayan peak. However he was conceived, Murugan’s birth delights Shiva and Uma, their luminous six-headed son. As a newborn, he was nursed by six star-mothers of the constellation Pleiades, mitigating their jealousy by creating a face on his head for each of them, each of whom came to represent the five senses plus the mind.
Murugan, also known as Skanda, grew up to become an intelligent, courageous leader of Shiva’s army. Fiery by nature, he is the most masculine and fierce of all the Gods, born to kill demons, which symbolize the dark forces in human nature disrupting Dharma. While his elder brother, Ganesha, removes all obstacles, Murugan bestows spiritual powers, particularly the power of knowledge upon his followers. Devotion to Murugan in south India is strong with half the area’s significant temples dedicated to him.
In this sculpture, Murugan requires many arms and hands to symbolize his many characteristics. The gestures (mudras) of his forward hands are, on his right offering protection (abhayamudra) while his left bestows favour (varadamudra). The rear hands hold ten attributes, front to back on his right; club (ghana), sword (khadga), bell (ghanta), dagger (churi), and spear (sakti). On his left front to back; lightning bolt (vajra), axe (parasu), banner (dhvaja), bow and arrow (bama and dhanus), and shield (khetaka). The weapons are not literal representations but symbolize how Murugan’s positive attributes help us overcome the dark human traits which keep us from achieving moksha. Murugan’s vahana is Paravani, a peacock capable of destroying serpents symbolizing harmful ego.
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9 in / 23 cm
5.4 lbs / 2.45 kgs