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Temples of Tamilnadu
Beliefs and Legends >> Shiva

Somaskanda - Iconography

Somaskanda is 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.

The Somaskanda manifestation of Shiva has been held in reverence in the Tamil region for centuries. The earliest stone panels of Somaskanda of the Pallava period date back to the 7th century CE. Most of the Shiva temples in Tondai Naadu (around Kanchipuram) bear a Somaskanda panel behind the Shivalingam in the sanctum.

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It was however in the Chola period (9th century onwards) that the rich bronze images representing Somaskanda came into being. Somaskanda is a unique concept of the Tamil region and it represents Shiva as the Supreme Godhead (in the Saivite system of beliefs) as a father by the side of his family, Parvati - a gracious mother full of tenderness, and Skanda (Murugan) one of the favorite deities of the Tamil region their son.

Interestingly in Kanchipuram, there is no shrine to Shakti in the famed Ekambreswarar temple; however the Kamakshi Amman temple, the Kumara Kottam temple dedicated to Skanda and the former comprise a Somaskanda formation, with Skanda's temple located in the middle of the vast temples dedicated to his parents. Yet another such formation exists in the Mullai Vananathar temple at Tirukkarukaavur (associated with fertility).

Somaskanda - Tyagaraja is given prime importance at Tiruvarur and at the other 6 of the Sapta Vitanka shrines.

See also:

Somaskanda - legend at Tiruvarur
All about Shiva
All about Shakti
All about Skanda