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Six Faces of Lord Muruga - Symbolism and Meaning of the Six Faces of Kartikeya

In his Virat form, or Vishwaroopam, Muruga is one with six faces and twelve arms. This form is also known as Arumugan. Here is the story, significance and symbolism of the six faces of Lord Muruga.

Lord Muruga, also known as Kartikeya, Skanda, Subramaniya and Kartik, was born as six different babies to Lord Shiva. Six Krittika stars or natchathirams looked after the six babies.

When Goddess Parvati found the six babies, she hugged them, and they became one. He then came to be known as Arumugam – the one with six faces and twelve arms.

There are numerous symbolism regarding the six heads of Muruga.

It is believed that the six faces of Muruga represents five elements – ether, fire, water, earth, air – and the sixth the spirit that infuses life into the beings formed by the elements.

Some scholars especially those associated with yoga states that the six heads represents the six centers with the human body – six chakras.

Nakkirar in his Thirumurugatrupadai (A classic book of the Sangam Age) states that :
  1. the first face removes ignorance and spiritual darkness engulfing the world
  2. the second face showers boons on devotees who follow dharma,
  3. the third protects and watches the pujas and offerings of devotees and blesses those devotees offering it with a pure mind,
  4. the fourth face helps those in search of self realization and helps those investigating the truth of Pranavam or Om.
  5. the fifth destroys those that practice Adharma
  6. the sixth face glances lovingly at the face of his consorts
As per another school of thought the six faces represent
  1. Wisdom
  2. Dispassion
  3. Strength
  4. Fame 
  5. Wealth
  6. All Pervading Glory
As per some teachings his six faces confer the light of wisdom, grace, austerity, mantra-Shakti, victory over evil, and love.

Adi Shankaracharya says that the six main qualities of Bhagavan, namely, lordship, valour, fame, wealth, wisdom and detachment are signified by the six faces of shanmukha.