The iconography of kumAra according to the sanatkumAra-prashna

We had earlier discussed vidyA-s of the various specialized mUrti-s of kArttikeya and their visualizations. Continuing with that discussion we shall now look at the mUrti-s of the god as described by the kaumArAgama known as the sanatkumAra prashna. The prashna series of kaumAragama-s are comparable to the core saMhitA-s of the vaikhAnasa-s with respect to providing the main scaffold for the temple rituals of skanda. The major ones known to the kaumAra ritual experts are the agastya prashna, the kaushika prashna and sanatkumAra prashna. Of these sanatkumAra prashna is preserved in reasonably good manuscripts. The sharavanabhava paTala of the sanatkumAra prashna outlines 16 icons of kumAra:

1) j~nAna shakti
black-colored garments; a garland of white arka flowers; golden jeweled crown; 4 hands with shakti, vajra, cock, skull-topped rod, white yaj~nopavIta.

2) skanda
cloud-colored garment, wearing gem-set ornaments and a flower garland, seated in padmAsana, hair in the form of a shikhA; smoky complexion; 3 eyes and 4 hands holding cock and vajra in right and left, the other two hands respectively showing abhaya and varada.

3) agnijAta
Of white and black complexion, with 2 heads and 8 hands holding sruva, akShamAla, sword, svastika mudra (in right hands) and cock, shield, vajra, ghee bowl (in left hands); performing vedic rites.

4) saubheya
red lotus complexion; 4 heads, 8 eyes, 8 arms and seated on a lotus; left leg bent and placed on right leg. Holds shakti, hibiscus, flower arrows, abhaya mudra (right hands) and vajra, sugar-cane bow, and varada mudras (left hands).

5) gA~Ngeya
scarlet complexion like fresh pomegranate flower; wearing a karaNDa makuTa (a turban with net-like weaving), gem-set ear-rings and a blue lotus garland; mounted on a gharial; One head with 3 eyes and 4 hands holding an axe and water pot (right) and cock and sacrificial fire drill (in left hands)

6) sharavanabhava
complexion of rising sun; wearing golden hued clothes; mounted on a lion; one head with curly locks and 3 eyes and 6 hands holding flower arrows and sugar-cane bow, sword and shield, vajra and cock banner in the respective pairs of right and left hands.

7) kArtikeya
complexion of the rising sun, garment of variegated colors, riding on a peacock, one head with a wreath of bilva leaves, 3 eyes with 10 hands holding shakti, trident, arrow, a~NkuSha and abhaya mudra (right), a tomara missile with launcher, lasso, conch vajra and vIra mudra (left)

8) kumAra
two lotus flowers adoring the ears; wearing a crown; 1 head, 4 hands holding shakti and vajra (right) and abhaya and vara (left); accompanied by varuNa and vAyu.

9) ShaNmukha
Attired with several jewels and all garments of yellow silk; dazzling ear-studs; 6 heads and 12 hands; riding a peacock; holding shakti, vajra, sword, chakra, lasso, abhaya mudras, cock, bow, shield, and a cudgel. Embracing two wives gajAyI (jayA) and gajavallI (vijayA) on left and right.

gajAyI: complexion of rising sun, right hand holding a lily, wearing a garland of mandAra flowers.
gajavallI: black in color; left hand holding a lotus, crown; wearing a jeweled bra on her firm breasts; blazing ear studs.

10) tArakAri
riding a bull; wearing a braided jaTa, holding trident, hatchet, sword, abhaya mudra (right hands) and a lasso, a paiShAcha (?), shield and varada mudra (left).

11) senAnI
Of black complexion; with a shikha; one head with 3 eyes; having a merciful face; smeared with sweet-smelling unguents; holding a conch and chakra and displaying abhaya and varada mudras.

12) guha
White garments; merciful face; 3 eyes; golden gem-set crown; 4 arms with trident, vajra, abhaya and varada mudras. Accompanied on the left side by his wife jayAyI.

13) brahmachAri
crimson complexion; 3 eyes and two hands with cudgel in the right and vajra in the left. Standing with legs held slightly bent on a gem-set lotus foot rest. Wearing the marks of a brahmachAri like shikha, yaj~nopavIta, mau~nji girdle and kaupIna.

14) shivadeha
1 head wearing karaNDa makuTa; 6 hands holding a shakti, vajra, flag japAmAla abhaya and varada mudras; mounted on a peacock.

15) krau~nchaddhAri (?)
Seated on a lion-throne with a peacock vAhana; 3 eyes and 4 hands holding a flag, cudgel, abhaya and varada mudras. Beside him are seated his two wives jayAyI and vijayA on left and right respectively. He is shown demolishing the krau~ncha mountain.

16) shikhivAhana
With complexion of a pink lotus wearing deep blue (indra-nIla) garments; 1 head with 3 eyes and with 4 arms bearing lasso, a~Nkusha, abhaya and varada mudras; having hair in a top knot that appears blazing like fire, with peacock vAhana.

In one type of kumAra temple the icon in the central shrine is recommended to be j~nAna shakti, in the eastern sub-shrine is skanda; south – saubheya; south-west- gA~Ngeya; west- a sub-shrine with two icons of sharavanabhava and ShaNmukha; in the north-west kArtikeya, kumAra and tArakAri; in the northern sub-shrine- senAnI, guha and shivadeha; In the north east- krau~nchaddhAri, shikhivAhana and brahmachAri.

Text also mentions the following division of offerings made at a kumArAlaya: brAhmaNa-s: recitation of vedic formulae and hymns; kShatriya-s: offer fowl; vaishya-s offer camphor and rock-sugar; shUdra-s offer fruits and flowers during the kR^ittkA festival.

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