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Story of the birth of Kártikeya.

Long ago, when Indra oppressed by Táraka was desirous or obtaining a son from Śiva to act as general of the gods, and the god of love had been consumed, Gaurí by performing austerities sought and gained as a husband the three-eyed god, who was engaged in a very long and terrible course of mortification. Then she desired the obtaining of a son, and the return to life of the god of love, but she did not remember to worship Gaṇeśa in order to gain her end. So, when his beloved asked that her desire should be granted, Śiva said to her, “My dear goddess, the god of love was born long ago from the mind of Brahmá, and no sooner was he born than he said in his insolence, ‘Whom shall I make mad? (kan darpayámi).’

So Brahmá called him Kandarpa, and said to him, ‘Since thou art very confident, my son, avoid attacking Śiva only, lest thou receive death from him.’ Though the Creator gave him this warning, the ill-disposed god came to trouble my austerities, therefore he was burnt up by me, and he cannot be created again with his body. But I will create by my power a son from you, for I do not require the might of love in order to have offspring as mortals do.”

While the god, whose ensign is a bull,was saying this to Párvatí, Brahmá accompanied by Indra appeared before him; and when he had been praised by them, and entreated to bring about the destruction of the Asura Táraka, Śiva consented to beget on the goddess a son of his body. And, at their entreaty, he consented that the god of love should be born without body in the minds of animate creatures, to prevent the destruction of created beings. And he gave permission to love to influence his own mind; pleased with that, the Creator went away and Párvatí was delighted. But when, after the lapse of hundreds of years, there appeared no hope of Párvatí having any offspring, the god by the order of Brahmá called to mind Agni; Agni for his part, the moment they called him to mind, thinking that the foe of the god of love was irresistible, and afraid to interfere, fled from the gods and entered the water; but the frogs being burned by his heat told the gods, who were searching for him, that he was in the water; then Agni by his curse immediately made the speech of the frogs thenceforth inarticulate, and again disappearing fled to a place of refuge.

There the gods found him, concealed in the trunk of a tree, in the form of a snail, for he was betrayed by the elephants and parrots, and he appeared to them. And after making by a curse the tongues of the parrots and the elephants incapable of clear utterance, he promised to do what the gods requested, having been praised by them. So he went to Śiva, and after inclining humbly before him, through fear of being cursed, he informed him of the commission the gods had given him. Śiva thereupon deposited the embryo in the fire. Then the goddess distracted with anger and grief, said, “I have not obtained a son from you after all,” and Śiva said to her; “An obstacle has arisen in this matter, because you neglected to worship Gaṇeśa, the lord of obstacles; therefore adore him now in order that a child may be born to us of the fire.”

Birth of kartikeya

When thus addressed by Śiva, the goddess worshipped Gaṇeśa, and the fire became pregnant with that germ of Śiva.

Then, bearing that embryo of Śiva, the fire shone even in the day as if the sun had entered into it. And then it discharged into the Ganges the germ difficult to bear, and the Ganges, by the order of Śiva, placed it in a sacrificial cavity on mount Meru. There that germ was watched by the Gaṇas, Śiva’s attendants, and after a thousand years had developed it, it became a boy with six faces. Then, drinking milk with his six mouths from the breasts of the six Kṛittikás appointed by Gaurí to nurse him, the boy grew big in a few days.


In the meanwhile, the king of the gods, overcome by the Asura Táraka, fled to the difficult peaks of mount Meru, abandoning the field of battle. And the gods together with the Ṛishis went to the six-mouthed Kártikeya for protection, and he, defending the gods, remained surrounded by them. When Indra heard that, he was troubled, considering that his kingdom was taken from him, and being jealous he went and made war upon Kártikeya. But ]from the body of Kártikeya, when struck by the thunderbolt of Indra, there sprang two sons called Śákha and Viśákha, both of incomparable might. Then Śiva came to his offspring Kártikeya, who exceeded Indra in might, and forbade him and his two sons to fight, and rebuked him in the following words:

“Thou wast born in order that thou mightest slay Táraka and protect the realm of Indra, therefore do thy own duty.”

Then Indra was delighted and immediately bowed before him, and commenced the ceremony of consecrating by ablutions Kártikeya as general of his forces. But when he himself lifted the pitcher for that purpose, his arm became stiff, wherefore he was despondent, but Śiva said to him; “Thou didst not worship the elephant-faced god, when thou desiredst a general; it was for this reason that thou hast met with this obstacle, therefore adore him now.” Indra, when he heard that, did so, and his arm was set free, and he duly performed the joyful ceremony of consecrating the general. And not long after, the general slew the Asura Táraka, and the gods rejoiced at having accomplished their object, and Gaurí at having obtained a son. 

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