Today is TUESDAY – the Day of Mars (Dies Martis in Latin). Therefore, art of Mangala (a term which, intriguingly, may either mean ‘Auspicious’ – or Mars, a Graha [‘Planet’/’Influencer’] often regarded as rather Inauspicious indeed).
He is a General of the militant forces of the Gods, and amidst Their foremost martial champions. And therefore, perhaps understandably, is often co-identified with Lord Skanda / Kartikeya – the similarly perceived Son of Shiva and Parvati … via the ‘assistance’ of Agni and the Pleiades (Krttikas).
Although this is not the only mythic interlinkage of co-occurrence for Lohita [‘The Red One’], however we shall address that in due course.
As in the Western understanding, we find Mangala in the Hindu perspective to be a Red and Warlike force. Indeed, this is partially why Mangala is paradoxically spoken of as a Baleful influence – it leads to Anger, Strife, and Death.
One area where this tends to cause difficulties (other than the obvious), is relationships and marriage. Hence the custom often observed wherein prior to marriage a Manglik [person with prominent Mars association] is expected to marry an object like a tree or a small clay pot, and then cut down the tree or smash the pot … because that way the Mangala force’s ‘thirst for death’ is satiated.
If this is not done, it is held that the Manglik shall likely cause the death of their soon-to-be spouse.
Although as it happens, it is also said that two Mangliks are able to ‘cancel each other out’ in that regard and pair quite happily. If, likely, tempestuously in some departments.
Various other remedies may be prescribed for the purposes of rendering positive one’s Mangala saliency. For example, one of the major reasons for Lord Hanuman’s veneration upon the Tuesday is that He is said to be able to help condition the Manglik force so that it does not trouble His devotees. (He has similar potency for Shaani – and hence Saturday).
And, as we have previously commented upon, there is a prominent belief in the efficacy of wearing Red Coral in order to ‘potentiate’ the positives and constrain the somewhat dissolute ‘negatives’ of the Mars essence within us. Perhaps helping to explain the Red Coral looking stones adorning Him in this illustration.
In my particular case, my Nakshatra is Chitra [‘Brilliant’ / The Divine Craftsman], and as Fate should have it, my birth-charts contain … a triple dosage of Mangala. This presumably explains a few things.
To speak more Generally, the confluence of a ‘designer’, an ‘artificer’, a ‘visionary’ and its executor (for such, Chitra is), with the Mars force presents an obvious association. One which, to slip into Classical Greek terms, should seem more akin to that of Athena than that of Ares – at least, per the prominent ‘popular’ perception of the difference between the Two.
Rather than heedless violence and indiscriminate devastation – tactics, strategy, techniques. Command instead of chaos. Objectives over mere obliviation.
The Puranic mythology around Mars makes for interesting reading. There, we find the origin of Mangala stated to be drops of sweat from tapasic exertion from the brow of Lord Shiva that had fallen upon the Earth (with the Latter acting as His Mother for these purposes).
Shiva’s situation at the time of this was engaging Himself in strenuous pursuits to endeavour to control and contain His immense grief at losing His Wife, Lady Sati.
I therefore instantly thought of the situation of the Manyu, Veerabhadra, et al – wherein we have an ’emanation’ from the Brow / Third Eye of Mahadev, when He is in a state of extreme emotion.
In the case of the former, The Manyu is one of the foremost of the Vedic War Gods – and has a name that means ‘Active Spirit’, ‘Wrath’, ‘Zeal’.
In the case of the latter, Veerabhadra [the ‘Great/Auspicious Hero’] is sent forth by Lord Shiva to disrupt and destroy the Horse-Sacrifice of Daksha due to the death of Sati at same – or, per the Vayu Purana etc., for other reasons that had insulted Lord Shiva and caused the necessity of an Emissary of His Wrath to be sent forth.
In both instances – that of The Manyu, and that of VeeraBhadra – what we see is that same aforementioned pattern: Lord Shiva in a state of ‘high emotion’, and this emotion becoming ‘externalized’ as an executor form. A quite similar understanding has also informed the situation of Bhairava / KaalBhairav ; and in feminine equivalency, some situations viz. Kali et co.
We have explored the general typology that all of these pertain to (and which, interestingly, also shows up in the origin-mythology of Athena in the Greek sphere – pointing toward an archaic Indo-European foundation) in our earlier work, “MahaShivRatri And The Mytholinguistics Of War [Part 3] – The Mind, The Mania, The Manyu”.
And lest I be accused of seeking to apply a typology with little regard for the results’ accuracy in terms of the subject-matter … I was (un)surprised to find that there is apparently citation in the Matsya Purana confirming Veerabhadra, the Despoiler of Daksha’s Sacrifice, to be the figure that is elevated as the Graha [Planet] Mars.
Or, phrased another way – the typology was ‘predictive’.
Another portrayal, in the Skanda Purana, has the young Mars performing a significant penance in Lord Shiva’s Holy City of Varanasi in order to attain the favour of the Emperor of the Worlds [Ishvara], following which He is granted the status of a Planet.
There are, of course, literal litanies of other and often slightly differing explications as to His Origins.
Whatever perspective one chooses to run with, the influence (be it Baleful or Auspicious) of Mangala is undeniable.
Hail Mars !