Swaminatha: The Guru of Lord Shiva

Lord Brahma once went to meet Lord Shiva. When he reached Kailash, he ignored and disregarded the presence of the little child, Kartikeya, Lord Shiva’s younger son. Kartikeya was displeased with Brahma’s behaviour. He immediately questioned Brahma on the fundamental principles based on which he was going ahead with the process of creation. Brahma said that he followed the principles enshrined in the Vedas for creation. Hearing this, Subramanya asked Brahma to recite the portions from the Vedas which described the process of creation. Lord Brahma started his recitation with the Pranava Mantra “OM”.

As soon as Lord Brahma uttered the word “OM”, Subramanya stopped him and asked him to explain the meaning of “OM”. Brahma was taken by surprise, and he realized that he had no answer to the child’s question. A creator who was incapable of explaining the meaning of “OM” was indeed unfit to carry on the process of creation, and had to be punished. As the commander-in-chief of the Devatas, Subramanya imprisoned Lord Brahma and took up the entire process of creation upon himself!

All the devatas went and prayed to Lord Shiva seeking the release of Lord Brahma. Shiva came to Subramanya and asked his son to release Brahma, but Subramanya refused stating that the Creator did not even know the meaning of the Pranava mantra “OM”, and hence he should not be shouldering the responsibility of creation of the world. Lord Shiva then asked his son if he knew the true essence of the Pranava to which Kartikeya said, “yes”. Shiva then asked him to impart the knowledge of the Pranava Mantra to him. Kartikeya agreed to initiate his father into the secrets of the Pranava on one condition. Shiva had to first accept him as Guru, and appropriately give him a higher seat than the student. The Lord agreed to accept his son as his Guru, and give him a higher place than himself. The Lord then lifted his son in his arms. Carried by his father in his arms, Kartikeya – the Guru whispered into the ears of his disciple the entire knowledge of the Pranava Mantra – OM. At that point of time, Parvati came and saw her son teaching her husband! She was very happy. The Guru (Swami) was initiating her husband (Natha). She looked at her son very lovingly and said that in future her son, Kartikeya will be known as SWAMINATHA – “The Guru of Lord Shiva”, and the sacred place where the initiation took place will be famously known as SWAMIMALAI (Tamilnadu).

Swamimalai is one of the six main abodes of Lord Subramanya. Here Lord Shiva’s shrine is located at the basement and Swaminatha’s shrine is located atop of a hillock. There are sixty steps leading to the shrine, each step representing one year of the sixty years in the Hindu calendar.

[PS: I request all to please forward and share these value based stories rich in our culture and tradition to elders, youth and children]

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