Here we see Kartikeya / Murugan / Kumara / Skanda / Subramanium riding on his peacock accompanied by his two wives Devasena and Valli. The fact that he is shown as bachelor or literally Kumara in many accounts is interesting. Sometimes he is shown with his wives but not touching them, him holding only his lance and his wives standing apart on both sides. Their is no clear answer to this but only a vague one that he is known to have a dual nature. No one of these forms can totally depict all his facets. This one has him holding onto both his wives, as pictured by Raja Ravi Varma.
This post is going to be about his wives, as I have written about Kartikeya earlier. The one to his left is Devasena. Some say she is daughter of Indra, some say she was adopted by Indra. What most agree on, is that this was an arranged marriage. Marriage between Valli and Kartikeya was a love marriage. Skanda purana mentions that Devasena and Valli both were daughters of Vishnu in an earlier birth. That makes Kartikeya the son in law of Vishnu.
As puranas are orally transmitted way before they were written, there are many inconsistencies between them. The fact that some of them survived for so long make me think of these as not just accounts based on history but ways to make peace. The conflict between vaishnavites and shaivites is age old, the last big conflict recorded in 1790 when 12000 ascetics died in a bid to be first to have the shahi snan in the kumbha mela. But these gods like Kartikeya or Ayyapan who bridge both these traditions are symbols of peace since they are related to both Vishnu and Shiva. While Devasena is a Savarna lady with a upbringing in ‘sanskar’, Valli is a tribal girl. Tribals being out of the four folds of the varna, makes Kartikeya another bridge between the old indigenous worshippers of him and the new varna system that emerged.
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