In the days of our childhood, which now seem like light-years away, our loving grandmother would perform offerings to kArttikeya and ShaShThIdevI on certain occasions, drawing their images near the gaushAlA by dipping her finger in turmeric and milk paste, and murmur some prayers for the wellbeing of us kids. Years later, we used to be reminded of it, when now living in the draviDa country we would flock to the lush hillock of the kongu-s and find ourselves at the ancient shrine of the fierce surasenApati. We would often wonder why the charming deity was almost forgotten by the hindU-s of North India, not knowing the answer. Still later, reading a hindI novel ‘jaya yaudheya’ written by the marxist scholar, we learnt how kumAra was indeed a very popular deity, a principal deity of North, in an era long gone by. But it is not until we read the encyclopedic essays by the AchArya of mAnasataraMgiNI that we learnt more about the kumAra traditions (Read several kumAra-related essays, starting with some discursion on skanda tantra-s and bAlagraha-s)
In our travels to rAjapUtAnA, mathurA and magadha in recent months, we have come across some ancient kumAra vigraha-s; posting here the pictures.
The following is a surprisingly intact and marvelous vigraha of skanda from abhanerI of dausA, datable to 700s:
This one has got to probably be the oldest available intact kumAra vigraha from anywhere in North India. From mathurA, 1st century of the CE, the age of the shu~Nga-s:
Also from mathurA, kept in the UP state museum there, is this 2nd century terracotta figure of ShaNmukha kumAra riding a flying mayUra, which has got broken into two pieces:
From the same age is this other figure where kumAra holds his shUla in the right hand and embraces his mayUra with left.
Our relatives settled in magadha country took us to this ancient temple on the shores of gaNDakI, at the meeting point of darabha~NgA and samastIpura, where true to his name skanda oozes out from shivali~Nga. There is no way to tell the date, but to us it seems like from roughly before the jehAd of bakhtiyAr khaljI.