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Temples of Tamilnadu
Beliefs and Legends >> Shiva

The Somaskanda Legend

Legend has it that Vishnu desirous of progeny worshipped Shiva at Tiruvarur and that Shiva blessed him with a male child Kaama.

Parvati (Shakti) who was enraged by the fact that Vishnu had not included her in his worship of Shiva inflicted a curse upon him that his child would be burnt to death by Shiva. (see Kumarasambhava legend).

Upon realization of the curse, an aggrieved Vishnu created a composite image featuring Shiva, Uma and Skanda (Somaskanda - symbolic of fertility) and offered worship to it. Parvati alleviated the curse placed on him stating that despite being burnt to death, Kaama would live on to create the forces of attraction between the male and the female that would ensure the continuation of the human race.

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Somaskanda is thus a manifestation of Shiva featuring Shiva, Uma and Skanda; Shiva in a seated posture, with Parvati to his left and with Skanda his son, seated in between the two.

It is to be noted that Somaskanda represents the processional image of Shiva in most Saivite temples and there is thus a shrine dedicated to the Utsavamurthy Somaskanda in most Saivite temples. Tyagaraja represents a special class of (the iconic representation of) Somaskanda and is enshrined (in a royal shrine) only in a handful of temples (as in Tiruvarur).

Also see:

Iconic Representations of Shiva
Somaskanda - Iconography
All about Shiva