Kartikeya is the name of the Hindu Mars, or god of war, who is represented by the Puranic legends as having sprung from Siva after a most miraculous fashion. The germ of Kartikeya having fallen into the Ganges, it was on the banks of this river, in a meadow of Sara grass, that the offspring of Siva arose; and as it happened that he was seen by six nymphs, the Krittikas (or Pleiades), the child assumed six faces, to receive nurture from each. Grown up, he fulfilled his mission in killing Taraka, the daemon-king, whose power, acquired by penances and austerities, threatened the very existence of the gods. He accomplished, besides, other heroic deeds in his battles with the giants, and became the commander-in-chief of the divine armies. Having been brought up by the Krittikas, he is called Kartikeya, or Shanmatura, the son of six mothers; and, from the circumstances adverted to, he bears also the names of Gangeya, the son of the Ganges; Sarabhu, reared in Sara grass; Shanmukha, the god with the six faces, etc. One of his common appellations is Kumara, youthful, since he is generally represented as a fine youth; and, as he is riding on a peacock, he receives sometimes the epithet of Sikhivahana, or "the' god whose vehicle is the peacock."

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