Maa Skandamātā is the fifth form of Hindu Goddess Durga. Skandamātā is four-armed with a lion as her chariot.
She has four arms, out of which two often hold the lotus. One of her hands is always in the boon-conferring appearance, and with the other, she keeps her child in her lap. So, she is also called Padmāsana (Goddess with a lotus-seat.)
History and Significance of Ma Skandamata
The birth of Kartikeya is an exciting story. We discussed how Sati had immolated herself in our previous posts because she couldn’t bear the insult to Lord Shiva. Shiva detached himself from the worldly affairs and started meditating. During that time, numerous asuras (demons) started attacking other Devas (gods) led by Surapadman and Tarakasura.
It is said that these Asuras were blessed by a strange fact- only Shiva or his offspring could kill them. Scared, all gods rushed to Vishnu for guidance, but Vishnu blamed Devas as they had insulted Shiva. Daksha Prajapati’s yagna without Lord Shiva was the primary reason why Sati had immolated herself. However, Vishnu also confirmed that Parvati, an incarnation of Adi Shakti, will indeed become Shiva’s wife.
Narad, representing all gods, visited Parvati, and informed her that she does have a chance to marry Shiva again if she can prove her devotion and patience through Tapa. Devoted to marry Shiva, Parvati embarked upon a strict regime of prayer and devotion. For thousands of years, she only ate fruits and waited patiently for Shiva. She slept on floors under the open sky to complete her ‘tapa.’
After over 3000 years, Lord Brahma arrived in front of Parvati and told her that no one had witnessed Tapa the way she had. He also said that only she could have followed such hardships as her love for Shiva was pure and real.
Finally, Parvati married Shiva.
Parvati and Shiva’s energy produced a fiery seed. Lord Agni was entrusted with carrying the seed carefully to Saravana Lake until the seed’s brightness becomes Shiva’s offspring. The seed’s heat became intolerable even for Agni to hold, and he handed over the seed to Maa Ganga, who cautiously carried it to the lake in forest Saravana. Parvati Maa then took the form of the lake. She alone could carry the seed of her husband, Shiva. Later, six-faced Kartikeya (Kanda) took birth. He thus got the name Kartikeya.
As the commander-in-chief of the gods’ army, he was blessed by all the gods and given appropriate weapons for the war against Surapadman and Tarakasura. He later killed Tarakasura in a mighty battle.
Thus, Ma Skandamata is worshipped as a gifted child’s mother. When anyone worships Skandamata, Lord Kartikeya is also worshipped as he sits in her mother’s lap.
Kanda is another name for war god and her son Kartikeya and Mata for mother, and thus the Goddess’s name is Skandamātā.