collection of hauma hamiddha's scattered posts

Posts tagged ‘kumara’

Duplication, divergence and recombination in the Kaumara mythology

Myths in a long standing mythological tradition evolve pretty much
like the protein coding genes in an organism. The Kaumara mythology is
a rich source of material for studying this evolution. While
the so called ‘skandha gayatris’ have been claimed to attest presence
of Kumara in the yajurvedic maitrAyaNi saMhita and the AraNyaka of the
taittiriyins it is very clear that they have been ‘retrofitted’ into
these texts at a latter age. The evolution of kumAra from the early
Indo-Aryan deities the Maruts can be strongly argued. However here we
consider the later diversification of the kaumAra mythology. The
earliest references to kumAra come in the late ancillary texts of the
atharvan tradition namely the atharvashiras and the skanda kalpa. The
references to the deity in these two texts suggest a rather full
fledge evolution of his form by the time these text were layed down
suggesting an extended period of evolution and standardization
occuring probably around to Mahabharata period around 1300 BC down to
around 800 BC. Around this point through the focal point of the Deccan
Megalithic culture Kumara probably entered the Dravidian stream and
might have undergone some syncretic evolution with local
Dravidian deities of the Kandobha, kAttavarAyan, Ceyyon genre finally
accquiring a central position in the religion of the Aryanized
Dravidian elite.

The classic kumara mythology necessarily includes the following
elements: birth through multiple parents the kR^ittikas, Agni and
rudra; take over of commandership of the deva armies; accquisition of
a spear and other weapons and attendents; killing of a demon;

The mahabhArata furnishes 3 versions of the myth which can be
considered the oldest surviving forms of the kumAra myth. The oldest
of these has the important features of the slain demon being Mahisha
and the kumAra having a primitive form very close to the unified
maruts as alluded to in the vrAtya hymns of the atharva veda. In the
succeeding versions tAraka replaces mahishAsura. The next layer of
these myths is seen in the shaiva purANAs with the most classic form
seen in the kumAra kANDa of the shiva purANa. By this time GaNapati
had already emerged as a distinct deity. The next layer of the myth is
in the form of the references to kumAra in the Tamil text with the
usual name murugan- a new demon is now seen: churan- sanskritized as
surapadma. Then we have the kAvya of kAlidAsa and tirumurgAtrapaDai in
northern and southern traditions. Finally the work of kacchiappan
provided in the Tamil version of the kaumAra epic analogous to teh
sanskrit forms.

Following the earliest duplication mahisha was lost in the kumara
mythology and appropriated by the shaktas. This recombination led to
the shaktas incorportation the genesis of kumAra into their tale of
genesis of mahAlakshmi along with mahisha. This act may be linked to
the paurANic bhArgavas of the Markandeya branch. Evidently Nakkiran
and KAlidAsa similarly recombined the popular paurANic form of the
myth with local poetic devices to give rise to their master pieces.
Finally kacchiappan chose for his Tamil epic not the sanskrit
counterpart the the kampa rAmAyaNa as a template and fitted every
thing closely into that. He also borrowed from the popular
shiva-kR^ishNa yuddha of the bANasura myth. This trend of
recombination continued into later times as kArttikeyakarNAmrta used
vaishanavite sources as its template.

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