Please read Part I here before proceeding to read this story.
Skanda, then proceeded to the city of “Seer Alaivai” which is known to us as Tiruchendur. Tiruchendur was by the sea-shore and Soorapadman’s city of Mahendrapuri was located on the sea at a distance.
On his way to Tiruchendur, while coming south from Kailasa, Lord Skanda and his army saw a huge mountain with many tunnels running through it. This was actually not a real mountain, but the magical illusion of the Asura Krauncha who was the assistant of Soorapadman’s brother Tarakasura.
Kraunchasura would transform himself into a mountain and when people unwittingly walked in through a tunnel, the entrances and exits would close, thus trapping all the people inside. Krauncha had once tried to trap sage Agastya and was in turn cursed by the sage to remain in that spot to be killed by Lord Skanda at a later date.
Veerabahu and his army who were going ahead of Lord Skanda happened to walk into the tunnel pathways of the mountain and in a few minutes the entrances and exits closed, trapping them inside the mountain.
When Lord Skanda came to know of this he was furious. He destroyed the mountain which was shattered to pieces killing the Asura, thus releasing Veerabahu and the other warriors.
Tarakasura, who was shocked by this action of Skanda, started attacking him and he also became a prey to the spear of Lord Skanda.
Skanda then proceeded to Tiruchendur and camped on the sea-shore.
Following due protocol, he first sent Veerabahu as a messenger to Soorapadman, requesting him to set free the Devas and return their city and belongings failing which he would have to face war.
Soorapadman was drunk with excessive arrogance and power. He did not even offer a seat to Veerabahu. Veerabahu, however, manifested a wonderful throne by the grace of Skanda and sat in front of him and conveyed the message. The incident slightly shook Soorapadman but he did not take it seriously.
In the meanwhile, the news of Tarakasura’s demise reached them and Soorapadman’s brother Simhamukhan realized that oppressing the young boy-like Lord Skanda was going to be disastrous. He tried to make his brother understand.
“Brother!” he said. “I think it is not wise to provoke this young man. He has single-handedly destroyed Krauncha and our brother Taraka. We also risk losing our lives if we fight with him. So…”
“Stop it Simhamukha!” said Soorapadman. “Are you not ashamed to talk to me thus? What happened to your valour and courage? What makes you shudder at the sight of that young inexperienced boy huh? Have we not won over so many kings and others who were way more experienced than this young fellow? What happened to you? Come to your senses!”
Simhamukhan tried once again to reason that it was Soorapadman who should be coming to his senses but could not convince his elder brother to surrender.
With Veerabahu’s peace effort bearing no fruitful result, the war started. Lord Skanda with all his warriors fought for six continuous days.
Soorapadman used many tactics and magic in the war in his effort to frighten Lord Skanda. He assumed the forms of the Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra. He transformed himself many fierce animals and birds. He kept appearing and vanishing from near and afar with thunderous roaring laughter. He created illusionary darkness, thunder, fire and lightning using different weapons all the while.
However, Lord Skanda was unfazed and showed his magnificent Viswaroopam in which the whole universe was contained. The figure was so fearful that for a moment, Soorapadman paid obeisance to the Lord. However, the next moment Skanda was back to his old form and Soorapadman forgot who he was fighting with and continued his fight.
First Simhamukhan was killed. It was followed by the death of Banu Gopan and Agni Mukhan, the sons of Soorapadman. Almost all the Asuras were killed. As Soorapadman was in despair, he went and met his mother Maya.
Being a sorceress, she advised him to get some herbs from the Mandara hill. As soon as the herbs were brought, the fragrance gave life to all the dead Asuras and the fight resumed.
The next day Skanda had to act fast. It was the sixth day of fighting. He took up the Paasupata and in lightning speed killed all the Asuras.
Soorapadman under tremendous pressure, now transformed himself into a huge mango tree which sprung from the middle of the sea.
Skanda aimed and threw his “Vel” and in an instant, had split open the tree into two. One part of the tree turned into a fierce huge peacock and the other turned into an aggressive cock of a massive size. Both the birds tried to pounce on Lord Skanda and attack him. But the very glance of the Lord Skanda turned them into meek birds and the peacock submitted himself to Lord Skanda as his vehicle and the cock merged with his flag.
The war was over. The Devas were extremely grateful and thanked Lord Skanda. Lord Indra offered the hand of Deivaanai, his beautiful daughter and Lord Skanda married her at Tirupparankunram.
This victory of good over evil is celebrated on the Maha Skanda Sashti.
The Skanda Sashti festival is celebrated by most of the devotees of Lord Kartikeya with great fervor and devotion especially in the Southern part of Bharat and at the temples of Muruga (especially in the six abodes – Arupadaiveedu). The celebration is grandest at Tiruchendur where the incident is said to have happened and on the sixth day, the war between the Asura brothers and Lord Skanda and the Soora Samharam (vanquishing of Soorapadman) is enacted on the sea-shore, witnessed by thousands of devotees. The celebration concludes with the marriage of the Lord Skanda on the next day.
Let us all propitiate Lord Skanda on this day and receive his blessings!
- The legend of Lord Skanda is narrated with slight differences in the northern and southern parts of Bharat.
- The version in North India does not mention Tarakasura and Soorapadma.
- The versions in Southern India especially in Tamil Nadu according to Kanda Puranam and Kandar Kali Venba and other accounts are similar.
- In Ramayana, Valmiki narrates to Sri Rama and Lakshmana, the story of Lord Skanda.
- In the Gita, Lord Krishna says, “SenAninAm aham skandah” meaning, “Of all the war commanders, I am Skandah”.
- The ritual of Lord Skanda receiving the spear (VEL) from Parvati Maa is celebrated with great fervor in the Murugan temples in Tamilnadu on the fifth day of the Sashti festival.
- The temple at Sikkal in Nagapattinam district holds special significance for this ritual and even on this day, it is said that the Murti of the Lord perspires when the VEL is given by his mother. This festival is witnessed by thousands of people every year.
- There is the Parvati Kumaraswamy temple at Krauncha Giri near Bellary. This temple is said to be built in the 7th to 8th century by the Badami Chalukyas.