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by six females who went to the river to bathe, from each of whom he received the breast.
The excellent work of Major Moor places those ladies in a somewhat dubious position, which may lead to no very high opinion of the chastity of the Hindu nymphs of ancient times, as he describes them as the daughters of as many rajahs. Mr. Ward calls them (as indeed does Major Moor elsewhere), more becomingly, the wives of six of the seven Rishis of the name of Krittíka (astronomically the Pleiades). Hence his name of Kartikeya, or he who was nourished by six mothers named Krittska, and hence his being occasionally described with six heads.
We are thus left in considerable perplexity respecting the maternal part of this hero's origin. He was, however, the son of Siva ; and in due time, after a desperate combat, accomplished the object of his appearance, if not of his birth, by the predicted destruction of Tarika.
Although the leader of the celestial armies, little more is related of the belligerent exploits of Kartikeya than the foregoing incident. In the battle between the gods and Jalandhara, this distinguished warrior appears to have thought that the better part of valour was discretion, and while the battle raged around him, to have deemed it wiser to retire on his peacock to the mountain, because he did not like to continue the contest with Rahu and his mother, as he was disinclined to offend the latter. If we can bestow a proper portion of credit on the account given of Rahu, we shall not be surprised that Kartikeya thought with Hudibras, that
“ He who fights and runs away,
Of this monster, whose mother so happily interposed, we are told in the third volume of the Asiatic Researches, that “he had four arms; his lower parts ended in a tail, like that of a dragon; his aspect was grim and gloomy, like the darkness of chaos, whence he had also the name of Tamas. He was the adviser of all mischief among the Daityas, who had a regard for him; but among the Devatas it was his chief delight to sow dissention : and when the gods had produced the amrit (water of immortality) by the
churning of the ocean, he disguised himself like one of them and received a portion of it. But the sun and moon having discovered his fraud, Vishnu severed his head and two of his arms from the rest of his monstrous body. That part of the nectareous fluid that he had time to swallow secured his immortality. His trunk and dragon-like tail fell on the mountain of Malaya, where Mini, a Brahman, carefully preserved them, by the name of Kétu or Cetu; and, as if a complete body had been formed from them, like a dismembered polype, he is even said to have adopted Kétu as his own child. The head with two arms fell on the sands of Barbara, where Prithenas was walking with Sinhica, by some called his wife. They carried the daitya to their palace and adopted him as their son, whence he acquired the name of Prithinasi. This extravagant fable is, no doubt, astronomical.
Kétu often appears as a comet, a whirlwind, a meteor, a water-spout, and a column of sand. Fifty-six comets are said in the Chintamani to have sprung from Kétu; and Rahu had a numerous progeny of grahas and crocodiles.
In this battle Ganesha too proved a degenerate son of his invincible and amazonian mother; for, on being wounded in the mouth, he cried out lustily on the field, “Oh, my mother! Oh, my father! Oh, my brother! Oh, my dear Rat!”
Kartikeya is worshipped in the month Kartika; on which occasion numerous images are made (Mr. Ward says not less than five thousand in Calcutta alone, some of which are twenty-five feet high), which, after the ceremony of worship, are cast, like those of Durga and Kali, into the river. Images of him are also set up and worshipped, as I have before mentioned, with those of Durga, on the festivals of that goddess. The model by Chit Roy, from which fig. 3, in the frontispiece, is taken, is a correct specimen of the images of Kartikeya on these occasions. Vows and offerings are made to him by Hindu females to obtain children, especially sons.
Kartikeya has many names; among which are Skanda, Subrahmani, Tarikajit, or he who conquered Tarika, &c. &c.
Fig. 1, plate 17, from a drawing, represents him on a peacock, the tail of which forms a back to his lotus throne. In one hand he holds a spear, in another a trident, in a third an arrow, and the fourth is held in the act of solicitation. The peacock is treading upon a serpent holding something red in its mouth.
Fig. 2, in the same plate, from the temple of Rama, represents him similarly mounted and armed, except that his fourth hand holds a bow. In the compartment of the temple the tail of the bird is trailing on the ground, which want of room obliged me to alter in the plate.