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21 June, 2015

In Indian Culture Why do we worship Lord Subramanya?

       The second son of Lord Siva is Subramanya.  Subramanya is also known as Kartikeya and Sanmukha. Subramanya holds a spear or javelin, sakti in his hand.  He rides a peacock.  The peacock grips a snake with his feet. Subramanya like other gods is a picture of human perfection.  Through symbolism, he indicates ways and means to reach that Perfection.

Symbolism behind Lord Subramanya

       A normal human being goes through three experiences, waking, dream and deep sleep states of consciousness.  Waking state is the state of consciousness which man experiences when he is awake.  The dream is the state of consciousness which he experiences when he is dreaming.  The deep-sleep is dreamless sleep when he experiences a realm of nothingness.  Beyond these three states is the state of God-consciousness.  That is the fourth state, called turiya.  Man is hardly aware of this state much less does he experience it.  Nevertheless, that is man's original and real state, the man's original and real state, the core of his personality, his essential and infinite being.  When you transcend the limitations of the waking, dream and deep-sleep you reach that state.  This is the state symbolised by Subramanya.

       Subramanya holds a sakti spear in his hand.  Most of the Hindu gods wield weapons of destruction. Siva holds trident, trisula.  Vishu carries a discus, chakra.  Rama carries a bow.  These weapons are meant to attack, to destroy vasanas, desires within oneself.  It is only by the destruction of vasanas, desires that you attain your divine state.  Your vasanas, desires are the impurities covering the Godhead within you.

Man minus desires is God.
God plus vasanas is man.  

       Holding a spear, Subramanya proclaims the destruction of all his vasanas.  You too, by destroying your vasanas, can attain your supreme Stature.

Significance of peacock as vehicle

       The peacock is the vehicle of Subramanya.  The significant characteristic of a peacock is its vanity   The vanity of the peacock is seen during its continuous dancing with its colorful feathers spread out like a fan. The peacock is blue in color   This subtly suggest the means the seeker should adopt to attain the state of Subramanya.

Who is real Subramanya?

       Man is now absorbed in the material layers of his personality.  All his attention and interest are upon the physical body, mind and intellect.  Identifying himself with them he imagines himself to be a perceiver-actor at the physical level, a feeler at the mental level and a thinker at the intellectual level.  He is proud of his physical, mental and intellectual  achievements.  He is lost in the mire of perceptions, emotions and thoughts. Thus, he assumes a limited personality.  He has no glimpse of the supreme Self within him.  He has now to shift his attention and concentration from his body, mind and intellect to the Godhead,  Atman within him. The Godhead is his supreme Self within. The essential nature of man is his Godhood and not his physical-mental-intellectual personality.  He must now lose the false vanity of his physical-mental-intellectual personality, ego and develop he true 'vanity' of his infinite Being.  He must ride on the blue bird representing his infinite Being.  Blue colour is associated with infinity.  The sky is blue, so is the ocean.  He must repeat to himself that he is God - Aham Brahma Asmi; Aham=I, Brahman=God, Asmi=am.  He must constantly remember the Truth - I am God.  If he practises this, concentrates and meditates upon his real Self, he becomes the Atman.  He attains the state of Subramanya.

Symbolism behind Peacock clutching the serpent with its claws

       The peacock is the enemy of the serpent.  It is seen clutching the serpent with its claws.  The serpent is not killed but held in captivity.  This symbolises complete control over he ego.  The serpent represents the ego.  The ego carries the poisonous mind.  It is interesting to note that the poison in the fangs of the snake does not kill the snake.  It is harmful only when it is directed outside.  Similarly, the mind is harmless as long as it is contained within.  The moment it is directed outside, used extrovertedly it assumes the vanity of I-ness and my-ness.  It becomes poisonous.  It generates desires and destroys peace and tranquility.  The infinite Atman becomes the limited individual.  But when the ego is held firm and the desires are kept under perfect control, man gains mastery over the mind and reaches perfection.

Moses holding serpent

       In the Old Testament, Moses is said to have fallen into this state of slavery.  Walking on Mount Sinai, Moses saw a serpent.  He trembled at the sight of it.  Just then he heard a voice saying, "Hold it, hold that hissing serpent, Moses."  It was the voice of God.  Moses hesitated.  He shuddered at the thought of it.  The voice was insistent, "Get hold of it". Moses took a bold step and held the serpent.  Instantly, the serpent turned into a staff.  And that staff worked miracles.  Moses touched a rock with the staff and fresh water gushed forth from it.  When the Israelis were fleeing for safety the Red Sea stood in their way.  Moses again used his staff.  No sooner did his staff touch the sea than the waters divided and dry land appeared before them.  Thus the Israelis passed into safety.

Get hold of the Ego

       Similarly, Reality seems terrifying.  You would keep off from it.  You would prefer to indulge in the pleasures of your senses.  You don't want to stifle your ego and experience your Godhead.  You are afraid to leave the comforts of the known and plunge into the unknown.  You are ignorant of the supreme bliss of Godhood.  Your ignorance is the cause of your fright.  Vedanta, the supreme philosophy of life, offers you knowledge to overcome ignorance, emboldens you to smoother your ego an reveal your Self.  It seems difficult.  The suggestion to annihilate your ego appears frightening.  But you must take the plunge fearlessly.  Get hold of the ego.  Destroy your selfishness.  Assert your divinity.  Embrace your Godhead within.  You will become the monarch of all you survey.  All your worries and anxieties vanish instantly.  You live in perfect peace and bliss.


       Another form of Subramanya is Sanmukha.  This form has six faces, sat means six, mukha means face. Sanmukha is a deity with six faces.  It is only means that the supreme Self expresses itself in the human being through the five sense organs and mind.  The Self within has no expression but when It functions through the sense organs and mind It manifests as a human being.

Source: Excerpts from the book on "The symbolism of Hindu Gods and Rituals