The Birth of Lord Kartikeya
Lord Kartikeya who is also popularly known as Murugan is the second son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. He symbolizes perfection and is considered Dev Senapati or commander-in-chief of the divine army, who was birthed specifically to destroy demons. There are many stories of how Lord Kartikeya was born.
Legend has it, that before marrying goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva had married Sati, the daughter of King Daksha- a direct descendant of Lord Bramha. Lord Shiva is known to be the destroyer who had cursed Lord Brahma to a state where he would not be worshipped by mortals due to a foul play on Bramha’s part during a competition between him and Lord Vishnu. As such, King Daksha held an unyielding antipathy towards Lord Shiva. At a yagna ceremony Daksha publicly insulted Lord Shiva. Sati could not tolerate the insult of her husband and immolated herself. From then on ‘fire’ or Agni was cursed. It is said that the curse would cause extreme and unbearable inflammation in Agni’s body due to the fluid from Lord Shiva’s body. After Sati immolated herself, Lord Shiva went hysterical and destroyed the yagna and KaalBhairav, one of Shiva’s Rudra (enraged) avataar’s beheaded King Daksha despite the combined efforts of all the God’s and Goddesses to save the latter. Lord Shiva’s anger knew no bounds and the result was the impending destruction of all of creation, averted only by the active involvement of Lord Vishnu, who destroyed the body of Sati and broke Lord Shiva’s trance. When his rage subsided, Shiva brought King Daksha back to life, attaching to his torso, the head of a goat. It is believed that Sati was reborn as Goddess Parvati and later married Lord Shiva.
As Agni was cursed, only Lord Shiva could lift the curse. He told Agni that he would be relieved only when the ‘fluid’ from Lord Shiva’s body is transferred into the womb of a woman. Agni obeyed Lord Shiva’s orders and went to search for a woman who would bear Shiva’s child. He kept searching and reached a far off place to wait for the right woman to arrive. While he was waiting there, six Kritikas arrived to take shelter from the bitter cold. Agni held them and transferred the fluid into their wombs. All six of them got pregnant. When the Kritikas went back, their husbands found out that their wives were pregnant. They presumed adultery and cursed them to become a constellation in the sky. Before their transformation into stars, all the six Kritikas aborted their foetuses in the snow covered mountains of the mighty Himalayas. Seeing this sight, the holy Ganges carried the foetus to a secluded place called Sara Vana, which was extensively covered with reeds. After the passage of some time, Lord Kartikeya was born with six heads. There are many legends that explain the reasons behind Kartikeya having six heads. But the most common one ascribes the anomaly to the fact that he came from six mothers. The six heads symbolize the five senses and the brain. It is also believed that because of his six heads he could see in all directions. Upon his birth all the Gods and Goddesses rejoiced and blessed him.
In another version of the story, is it said that Agni carried six sparks that fell from Lord Shiva’s third eye instead of the fluid from his body. He deposited the sparks in a lake in Sara Vana where six children were born. It was the Kritikas who nursed the babies and took care of them. Later when Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati arrived there, Parvati ji picked up all the six babies in her arms and merged their bodies into one, but the multiple heads did not fuse into one. The baby was Lord Kartikeya and thus he has six heads.
Lord Shiva blessed Kartikeya and he was made the commander-in-chief of the Devas. With all his powers and the blessings of Lord Shiva he destroyed all Asuras (demons) both in the physical domain, in the form of evil doers and at the emotional domain in the form of evil thoughts and machinations.
In some southern states of India, it is believed that he is the younger son of Lord Shiva whereas according to the Brahma Vaivarta Purana he is the elder son and Lord Ganesha is the younger of the two.