Lord Muruga is a ray born of the Chaitanya of Lord Shiva, the Light of lights, and the innermost self of all. Lord Krishna in the Bhagavat Gita says, “Senaninam Aham Skandah”. He is called Guha, Skanda, Kumaresa, Kartikeya, Shanmukha, Subrahmanya, Velayudha, Swaminathan, Mayilvaganan, and Saravanabhavan.
Oppression of Taraka
Skanda Purana, the longest of the 18 Puranas says that the Devas or the Gods faced terrible cruelty and oppression at the hands of the demons, Soorapadman and his brothers Tarakasura and Simhamugan. The asura Taraka oppressed the Devas very much. He drove them out of the heavens. All the Devas went to Brahma. Brahma said to the Devas: "O Devas, I cannot destroy Taraka, as he has obtained my grace through his severe Tapas. But I shall give you a suggestion. Get the help of Cupid or Kama Deva. Induce him to tempt Lord Shiva, who is now absorbed in his Yoga-Samadhi, to marry Parvati. A powerful son, Lord Subrahmanya or Kartikeya, will then be born to them. This son alone can destroy the Asura.
Avatar of Lord Muruga
All the deities went to Lord Shiva and sought his refuge. Lord Shiva took a form of six faces and from the third eye of each face, divine fire sparks emanated. Lord Shiva asked Vayu, the wind God and Agni, the fire God to carry the six sparks to Ganges. Mother Ganges carried the sparks to the Saravana pond and there the holy sparks became six babies on six red lotus flowers. Mother Parvati hugged the babies and made them into one and thus Muruga was born. His birth was absolutely needed to destroy the all-powerful Soorapadman and his brothers.
Battle of the Gods with Soorapadman
The Gods fought the battle with Soorapadman and his brothers under the leadership of Indra, his son, Sayanthan and Commander in Chief, Veerabahu, an emissary of Shiva. Soorapadman defeated them and held Sayanthan and other Gods captive. Indra and Veerabahu escaped and went to Kailash. Hearing this, Lord Shiva knew that it was time for Soorapadman`s destruction. To fight the war against Soorapadman, He sent the eleven Rudras with eleven weapons, and Parvathi gave the Vel or lance to Lord Muruga for the war. The Vel, or sacred spear, is the most powerful weapon. Indra gave his weapon Kulisam and his chief battle elephant, Pinimugam to Muruga.
Muruga`s Battle with Taraka
Lord Muruga stayed in Thiruchendur with His army. Tarakan had created an illusionary mountain and trapped Veerabahu and other Gods. Muruga used his Vel to tear the mountain apart and rescued the Gods and Veerabahu. He killed Taraka in the battle that ensued. Paanugopan, the son of Soorapadman marched into the battlefield to avenge the death of his uncle. He too was killed.
Destruction of Simamughan
Indra became a peacock and a vehicle for Muruga to fight the final war with Simamughan and Soorapadman. Simamughan came to fight with Muruga with a thousand heads. Muruga used his Vel to destroy all the heads of Simamughan. Finally, he destroyed him.
Vehicle of Muruga
Soorapadman did not give up the battle easily. He did not want to surrender to the Lord. He took the form of a big mango tree. Lord Muruga’s Vel split the tree and one part became a peacock and the other became a cock. Lord Muruga took the peacock as His vehicle and the cock as His flag. He defeated and killed him on the sixth day on the day of Shashti. Hence even today, Skanda Shashti is widely celebrated to rejoice the victory of the Lord over the Asura. Death of Soorapadman brought immense joy to all the Gods who were set free of captivity and they went to their abode. Indra was immensely happy and he gave his daughter, Devasena in marriage to Muruga. Indra and his wife, Indrani got back their lost glory and ruled the heavens with the grace of Muruga.