Kanthar Anubhuthi - Kaappu
By Sri Arunagirinathar
Kaappu what is it?
Kaappu is the invocatory song a poem of prayer for the removal of obstacles. It is customary to invoke the blessings of Lord Sri Ganesha for the success of one's undertaken task. Arunagirinathar, too, adorns his work Kanthar Anubhuthi with a Kaappu. Even in this poem, wherein he bows to the Lord of five-arms (Sri Vigneshvara) invoking His grace of the successful completion of the work, he exquisitely glorifies Lord Skanda, as his love for Him was supreme.
This invocatory song is to obtain the blessings of Lord Sri Ganesha so that the work may be completed successfully, without any obstacles and also for the renown of the work. This work will bring renown to those who sing, write, listen to or read it, because they will enjoy the Grace of the Lord. Also, it will bring glory to the saint himself, to the Tamil language, and to the Lord, too.
Five functions of Sri Ganesha
For the fame of Kanthar Anubhuthi let us bow to Lord Sri Ganesha of five-arms. Tamil scriptures vividly describe the functions of the five arms: the hand with the stylus does the work of creation; that with the Modaka (sweet-ball), preservation; that with the Ankusa (Goad), destruction; that with the Paasa (cord), veiling; and the trunk, the fifth-arm, the work of bestowing grace.
Superiority of word-garlands over flower-garlands
This work is a garland made of beautiful, sweet Tamil. Flower-garlands fade away by usage in a couple of hours or at the most in a few days. But this word-garland wafts more and more fragrance as days pass by, because more and more people will come to know of it, sing or read it and be benefited by it. Hence, such word-garlands are more pleasing to the Lord than flower-garlands. In verse 29, the saint, therefore, says that the Lord is always wearing his garland of words.
The Lord blesses those that take refuge in Him even as the sun gives warmth to those who expose themselves to it. It is the nature of the sun to give warmth; so also it is the Svabhava (spontaneous nature) of the Lord to melt the desire-hardened hearts of devotees, who take shelter under His feet, repenting for their past wrongs, and surrender themselves totally, realizing their helplessness and the greatness of the Lord.
Skanda Puranam: Skanda Avatara
The Puranas recount the fight going on between the Devas (gods) and Asuras (demons) always. The Devas defeated the Asuras repeatedly. The Asuras, Sorapadma, Simhamukha, and Taraka, whom the demoness Surasa got through the sage Kashyapa by a deceitful marriage with him, did severe Tapas, propitiating Lord Siva and obtained from Him many boons with the power of which they invaded and captured Devaloka (Svarga) and subjected the Devas to great humiliation.
Soorapadma extracted from them menial service, and as days passed by, his atrocities also increased. Unable to bear the torture any more, the Devas, under the leadership of Indra and headed by Brahma and Vishnu, approached Siva in Mount Kailasa for help. They surrendered themselves to the Lord and cried out to Him for immediate protection.
Moved by compassion, Lord Siva assured them His help. As, however, the Lord again was absorbed in meditation, the Devas entreated Kamadeva (cupid) to awaken the Lord from his samadhi. Though unwilling, due to fear of the Lord, yet compelled by the Devas, Kama disturbed the Lord by his flowery arrows. Thus, disturbed in meditation, the Tejas that flashed from His third eye burnt Manmatha (Cupid). The Devas at once fell at the Lord's feet and prayed for help without any further delay.
As the Asura had obtained boons from Lord Siva, He could not kill him in His from as Siva. The Lord, therefore, assumed His original form of six faces and from the third eye of each face a light (Tejas) emanated which filled all space. The Devas, bewildered at this unexpected happening, trembled in fear, but the Lord assured them safety and withdrew the Light into His own hands. He passed on that light to Vayu (Wind-God) and Agni (Fire-God) commanding them to carry it to Ganga. But when they hesitated to receive it because of its mighty power, Lord Siva granted special power to them.
Vayu, with the strength granted by the Lord, carried it somehow, with great difficulty, for some distance, and unable to carry it any further, gave it to Agni, who hurried and threw it into Ganga.
Ganga was also unable to bear the power of the light and she carried it on to a small pond surrounded by Sara-shrubs called Saravanappoigai. Alas! Nothing happened to the pond, but a wonder took place. Immediately on reaching the pond, the Light assumed the form of six-beautiful babies, with Divine splendour, being lulled on six lotuses. Vishnu, Brahma, and all the gods assembled there to witness this Avatara of Lord Subrahmanya.
They asked the six Karthika Devis to suckle the six babies and feed them, which they did. In the meantime, Lord Siva and Parvathi arrived there, and when Parvathi took the babies, they joined together into a single body with six faces and twelve hands. This is Lord Shanmukha (Lord with six-faces) whose nature it is to bless those who take refuge in Him, as that is the purpose of His Avatara. He is called Skanda ("one who was ejected" or "one who leaped out," referring evidently to the way of His emanation from Siva; also called "the joined One") as the six-babies joined and assumed a single form; He is called Karthikeya, as He was nursed by the Karthika Devis (3rd constellation of the 27 stars); He is called Saravanabhava, as He was born in the pond of Sara plant (Saravanappoigai). The Lord has many other names, too. Since he was born of the third eye (Eye of Wisdom) of Lord Siva, He stands for divine knowledge and is an incarnation of pure consciousness (Siva). A remembrance of these facts will help us much in our study of the work of Kanthar Anubhuthi.
Kacchiyappa Sivachariar (about the 9th century A.D.) who was ordered by Lord Shanmukha to compose the work Skanda Purana in Tamil, by giving him the first line for his work, precisely and beautifully portrays the Lord Avatara thus, in two verses:
"That ever-pure, Omnipresent and All-full Lord Siva, who cannot be comprehended by speech, or mind, or even by the Vedas, assuming the form of six-sweet babies, was gracefully seated on six-lotuses in the Saravanappoigai."
Mystic significance of Murugan's six-faces
The six-faces represent the Spirit and the five elements of which He is the Lord. The Tejas that filled space (ether) was carried by Vayu (air) and Agni (fire), thrown into the Ganga (water) and shoved into the pond (earth).
The six-faces face the directions east, west, north, south, upward, and downward which shows that His vision is everywhere, that He is all-pervading and all-knowing.
The six-faces represent the six attributes of Bhagavan Jnana (wisdom), Vairagya (non-attachment), Kirti (fame), Aishvarya (wealth), Sri (prosperity), and Bala (strength).
The six faces also represent the six Chakras, the plexuses or centers of spiritual energy in the astral body. Each face is of the form of the deity presiding over the respective charka, namely, Ganesha, Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Maheshvara, and Sadasiva.
The glory of the six faces is indescribable, of which great details are given in Tamil scriptures.
To fulfill the purpose of the Avatara, Lord Skanda, after performing many bala-lilas (divine sportful plays in His childhood), assumed leadership (Senapati) of the Devas, attacked the Asuras and killed them all with His Vel, which represents Jnana Sakthi. He released the Devas and restored them back to heaven. Indra offered his daughter Deivayaanai in marriage to the Lord. Deivayaanai stands for Kriya Sakthi. He then married Valli-Devi, who represents Iccha Sakthi. Thus, Lord Skanda is the Lord of Sakthis and confers all boons. He resides in the heart-cave of His devotees and is therefore known as Guha.
Lord Skanda is not just a boy
Lord Skanda is not merely a Commander-in-Chief of the Deva-army and a destroyer of Asuras, but the Supreme Being Himself who took Avatara for a specific purpose; even as Lord Krishna is not merely the son of Yashoda or the killer of Kamsa or the charioteer of Arjuna, but Bhagavan Himself, as revealed in the Bhagavad Gita. In fact this Skandavatara is perpetually going on in creation and in one's life. Whenever and wherever there is a need for the intervention for the Lord to set things right, He manifests Himself then and there in a manner necessary to tackle the situation. He took Avatara as a small boy (Vamana) and not as the terrible Parasurama, or Lord Rama, or Lord Krishna to destroy Bali. Where a particular aspect of Him is sufficient to meet the particular situation, He will not manifest Himself more than what is necessary, though He is all prowess.
He is the greatest economist, not more and not less, but what is just needed. Hence, He often helps the devotees with the needed physical strength, intellectual understanding, and even as material help from outside but does not manifest Himself and appear before them though they wish it, because it is not necessary. He appears in various form sand with different names at different times, with various powers to fulfill various purposes all from our standpoint but He is what He is, irrespective of what He appears to us or what we understand Him to be.
Karthikeyan, N.V. Kanthar Anubhuti (God-Experience) of Saint Arunagirinathar. 2nd ed. India: Divine Life Society, 1990.