Once sage Narada presented Siva with a ripe luscious golden fruit–a mango. It looked so delicious that Parvati called out to her two sons, Ganesa and Kumara. They were involved in a mock fight in the garden but on hearing their mother’s voice came in still glaring at each other. At the sight of the ambrosial fruit both boys rushed towards it. Siva stopped them with a gesture and said, ‘There is only one fruit here. He who goes round the world and returns first shall have it.’ Kumara pouted his lips. ‘That shouldn’t be difficult,’ he thought, glancing at his carrier peacock. In a trice he was astride the bird and shot into space to go round the earth. Ganesa was downcast. He looked at his paunch and then at his mouse, a little uncertainly. Suddenly a light spread over his face. ‘Father,’ he cried and speedily went round his parents, his little tummy bobbing up and down as he ran. Then he held out his hand for the fruit. Just then Kumara walked in. ‘Father, it’s mine. I have been round the earth,’ he said looking hard at his brother. Ganesa explained to his brother, ‘Father and mother are the whole world. The entire universe is contained in them and I went round them three times.’
Siva was greatly moved. He blessed Ganesa and gave him the golden fruit.
This time Kumara did not sulk. He understood that he was yet to grow up. For a god to do that, is to be alone, to meditate and to learn to know oneself. And so he discarded all his rich robes and ornaments, and lived as hermits do, alone on a hill.
Once all the gods and sages had gathered at the capital of the king of the Himalayas. The earth tilted to one side with the weight of this dense mass of people. Siva sent for the sage Agastya and commanded him to go to the southern tip of the land near the ocean so that the balance of the world may be restored. The sage agreed to go provided he was allowed to carry away with him two little mountain peaks to remember his home at Kailasa. Siva readily consented. The sage appointed the demon Ettumba to transport the hills for him. The demon tied the peaks to either side of a thick pole and slinging it over his shoulders, walked towards the south. On reaching a spot near Palani, he paused for a little rest and put down the hills. When he tried to move them again he found they had struck root.
At the same moment, a beautiful youth appeared on top of one of the hills. Something told the demon that the boy had caused the mishap; he shouted to him to move away. The youth only laughed but made no move to vacate the place. Enraged the demon raised his arm to strike him down but fell smitten. Before long Agastya arrived and divined what had happened. He raised his hands in adoration towards the summit of the hill and said in earnestness, ‘Forgive the demon, my Kumara. He did not know you.’
Kumara graciously pardoned him. The hills stayed where they were and on one of them, Palani, Kumara dwells. Up to these days, devotees wishing for the grace of Kumara, carry two jars of milk each slung over their shoulders even as Ettumba had carried the hills. Kumara also resides on another hill further north-east where he is known as Swaminatha. It’s interesting to know why he came to be called by that name.
Brahma was once on a visit to Kailasa. The two boys were going in and out as usual as Siva, Parvati and Brahma, conversed. Stray words fell on Kumara’s ears. Brahma thinks he’s the fount of all knowledge. It ’ll be fun to teach him a lesson,’ said Kumara to himself. He waited outside for Brahma to emerge. Soon Brahma came out. Kumara walked along with him, smiling pleasantly. ‘Can you explain the meaning of the very first syllable that was sounded in the universe-I mean the syllable AUM?’ Brahma blinked. He hadn’t expected such a question from so small a boy and wondered how best he could answer him. While he pondered over it, Kumara quickly tied up Brahma’s hands behind his back and took him prisoner.
When, Brahma disappeared the world was plunged into darkness. There was no light, no creation, and no inspiration. The devas were aghast when they understood what had happened and appealed to Siva. ‘Child, what have you done!’ said Siva.
‘Why did he stutter and stammer? Why couldn’t he just tell me the spirit of the letter AUM?’ asked Kumara.
Siva understood-Kumara was angry because Brahma had treated him as a child and wondered whether he should be told of matters beyond his range.
‘Can you tell me?’ He asked of his son.
‘Oh-yes,’ said Kumara.
‘Come on then. Let me hear it,’ said Siva.
Kumara climbed onto Siva’s lap and bringing his red round lips close to Siva’s ear, whispered to him the great truth of the first sound.
“Siva is known as Swami,” “And yet for a short while his son led him! That is the reason why Kumara is known as the leader of Swami-Swaminatha.”