By Rahul Kabade
Pp 194, Price not stated
This could well be the most comprehensive book in English on Muruga, the handsome son of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati and the brother of Lord Ganesha, the Hindu god of luck. The six-faced god is the most loved deity among Tamils in India and around the world. Author Rahul Kabade fell in love with Muruga after meeting Satguru Sri Sharavana Baba whose grace results in his visits to numerous Muruga temples in southern India and abroad. Most literature about the god exists in Sanskrit, Malayalam or Tamil, but Kabade, a Marathi with no knowledge of the Dravidian languages, has done a truly admirable job.
Despite his strong following in both Kerala and Tamil Nadu in particular, the peacock-riding Muruga - Kabade says - was worshipped even during the Gupta period, as was evident from the discovery of coins and sculptures depicting Muruga in the traditional warrior pose. It is Muruga - also known by numerous other names including Murugan, Kartikeyan, Subramanian, Skanda et al - who taught Tamil to sage Agastya when he moved from northern to southern India.
Using his story telling abilities, Kabade delves into ancient literature on Muruga and takes the reader to all the major temples dedicated to the god, mostly in Tamil Nadu.
One of them, close to Vellore, was built around 5,000 years ago! He unveils many tales surrounding the god, detailing ancient sage poets as well as Adi Sankara whose lyrics in honour of Muruga are sung even today. This is undoubtedly a must read for students of Hindu religion and Muruga devotees.
(M.R. Narayan Swamy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)