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A beautiful print of Kartikeya painting by S Rajam.
S Rajam was a renowned painter and an accomplished Carnatic musician from Tamil Nadu. His paintings are appreciated for a unique style of his own that involved painting by colour-wash method. The figures were drawn with smooth minimal lines.
Another quality of his paintings is that they conform to the painting and drawing methods and principles mentioned in Chitrasutra, which is a collection of principles and standards of art and art techniques in ancient India. Chitrasutra is a part of the main text called Vishnudharmottara Purana - an extensive ancient treatise various modes of art.
This is print of a painting of Kartikeya, also known as Murugan, Subramanya and Skanda. He is seen twelve-armed carrying various attributes. This form of Kartikeya is called Tarakari (enemy of demon Taraka).
Kartikeya is seen seated on a peacock, his mount. He has six faces and wields dhanush (bow), dhwaja (flag), kshurika (dagger), patra (bowl), khetaka (shield), shakti (energy), sarpa (snake), vajra (thunderbolt) and Vel (a javelin specific to Kartikeya).
Kartikeya is the elder son of Shiva and Parvati. He is the deity of war and chief commander of the army of gods. Ganesha is his younger brother.
There is an interesting background behind Kartikeya’s birth.
When Shiva’s wife Sati had immolated herself at her father Daksha’s sacrificial arena when Daksha insulted her husband, the grief-stricken Shiva went to Himalayas and immersed his self into deep samadhi (trance).
At that time an evil demon called Taraka propitiated Brahma and obtained a boon that he may die only at the hands of Shiva’s son.
Puffed with power due to Brahma’s boon, Taraka started tormenting the worlds and gods. Meanwhile Sati was reborn as Parvati to Maina and Himvaan (deity of mount Himalaya). She had a natural fondness for Shiva seeing which Himvaan deployed her in the service of Shiva who was meditating on his ranges.
Unable to bear the atrocities of Taraka, gods approached Brahma who advised them to deploy Kama (the god of love) to stir passion in Shiva’s heart for Parvati who was serving him with devotion.
Kama, along with his wife Rati and his friend Vasanta (deity of Spring) went to the spot Shiva was meditating on. He saw Parvati offering flowers etc. to Shiva who had just got out of his meditation. Grabbing his chance Kama shot arrows of passion at Shiva’s heart. This altered Shiva’s gaze and under the influence of Kama he observed how beautiful Parvati was. Nonetheless Shiva controlled his thoughts immediately and snapped to his usual self again. Realising this to be an external mischief he looked around and saw Kama taking another aim at him.
Shiva burned Kama to ashes instantly and disappeared from the spot. This caused Parvati immense grief and she commenced severe penance to attain Shiva as her husband. Pleased with her penance Shiva appeared to Parvati and accepted her as his wife.
After marriage Shiva and Parvati remained immersed in conjugal bliss for a long time. Their lovemaking seemed to last forever and they were in the state of mithuna (sexual embrace) perpetually. This caused a great upheaval in the universe and the gods sent Agni (fire god) to break the sexual union of the divine couple. Agni succeeded in doing so but he also had to then accept the gushing semen of Shiva.
Agni could not bear the effulgence of Shiva’s semen and he left it with Ganga. Finding its heat unbearable, Ganga further emitted it in a forest of reeds called Shara. The forest turned golden with the heat and light of Shiva’s semen and a child was born there. He started crying in thunderous voice. Six Krittikas (divine women) who came to the spot saw the boy and felt deep affection for him. They all wanted to breast-feed him and the divine boy sprouted five more faces to suckle with. Thus breastfed by Krittikas, the boy was called Kartikeya.
Since many divinities contributed to his birth, he became the son of all and assumed more names accordingly.
He was called Guha as Shiva’s son.
Skanda as Parvati’s son.
Mahasena as Agni’s son.
Kumar as Ganga’s son.
Sharavana as Forests’s son.
Kartikeya was appointed commander-in-chief of the gods. He challenged Tarakasura and slayed him in the fight that ensued.