Gatekeeper gods; Skanda in Buddhism

Venkatraman Iyer venkatraman_iyer at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jul 19 22:15:48 UTC 1999

>>Yes, I think you are right.  I read again the passage of Wendy
Doniger, who write: Two of the figures in the east wing shrine are
sons of Shiva who are doorkeepers: Ganesha [Pl. 13] and Karttikeya
(or Skanda) [Pl. 14].  They flank the central shrines as their
stories flank his; they are outgrowths  of him, literally and
I would say that I probably misunderstood the meaning of this passage;
the author does not say that these two sons of "Siva are in function
of doorkeepers specifically *there*, at that place of east wing
shrine of Elephanta; she only says that (in general) these two gods
may be in function of doorkeeper in some myths or occasions.
But while I know that"sa, Nandin, Viiraka, are doorkeepers in
some myths, I know of no myth in which Skand serves as a doorkeeper.
  Is there any such myth?
On the other hand, I would like to know if at the entrance of Hindu
("Saiva) temples, one or the other of these two gods ("sa and/or
Skanda) serve as gatekeeper. >>

Dear Ms. Iyanaga,

As far as I know, no Skanda image or myth as door-keeper of Shiva.
Doniger must have used it metaphorically. That's all.
Atleast in Hindu caves or books; There are many Gupta
images of Shiva where both Ganesha and Skanda are depicted
on the sides - but they aren't door-keepers. Of course, Skanda is a
guardian deity from the Mahayana phase of Sri Lanka, Eg., in the
Tooth temple.

Indeed, the seven mothers with Skanda and Ganesha are rare,
whereas Ganesa and Shiva on the sides of the mothers are much more
common. On Skanda's antiquity, please see the latest issue
of J. Inst. Asian Studies (Chennai/Madras) where
Iravatham Mahadevan has an article on Murukan in Indus culture.
This was originally presented as a paper in the recent conference on
Skanda-Murukan held at IAS in Dec. 1998.

V. Iyer

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