Gatekeeper gods; Skanda in Buddhism

arul kumaresan arul_kumaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Jul 21 16:41:49 UTC 1999

<<<  There are also some dhaara.nii suutra, in which
Skanda is named among a group of demons who make children ill;
but this Skanda is a bad demon, not the good protector of the Law
like the Chinese "Weituo"... >>>

Ancient Tamil literature does not call Murukan (later identified
with Skanda, Subrahmanya) as the producer of childhood diseases;
On the other hand, Classical Tamil love poems, which are somewhat
like Manyoshu, (see T. Takahashi's book) has a routine motif:
Velan, (vElan = the one with a spear, the male
priest of Skanda) is called into the house. Parents, unaware
of their little girl's love-sickness, arrange the shamanistic
ritual by Velan priest. A spear is placed vertically on a
clean yard, the fresh blood from a ram is mixed with rice
and strewn around, the priest in trance drives away the ghosts
affecting the kid, ...  This >2000year-old ritual survives
in remote Kerala villages. P. L. Samy, I.A.S. has an excellent
article on this "Velan ATTam".

The famous saint Kumaraguruparar was deaf and mute, his parents
take him to Tiruchendur where he is cured by Murukan and becomes
one of the greatest poets later. On Skanda:
1) K. Zvelebil, Tamil traditions on Subrahmanya-Murugan,
Inst. of Asian studies, Madras, 1991
2) A. Parpola, "Evidence for Harappan worship of the god Muruku",
p. 225-237, Deciphering the Indus script, 1994, Cambridge

This Velan shaman rituals of Dravidians, as described in
Classical tamil texts to cure Children's illnesses, might
have been (mis)understood as Velan(Skanda) causing these
illnesses by Indo-Aryans; Correspondingly Skanda in Sanskrit
texts is said to create the sickness!


PS: I hear Tamil movies with Prabhu Deva and Rajnikanth
dancing like old Velan are extremely popular in Japan :-)

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