The second son of Lord Siva is Subramania. Subramania is also known as Kartikeya and Shanmukha. Subramania holds a spear or javelin (shakti) in his hand. He rides a peacock. The peacock grips a snake with his feet.
Subramania like other gods is a picture of human perfection. Through symbolism he indicates ways and means to reach that perfection.
A normal human being goes through three experiences of the waking, dream and deep-sleep states of consciousness. Waking state is the state of consciousness which man experiences when he is awake. The dream is the state of consciousness which he experiences when he is dreaming. The deep-sleep is dreamless sleep when he is experiencing a world of nothingness. Beyond these three states is the state of God-consciousness. That is the fourth state called the twnya. Man is hardly aware of this state much less does he experience it. Nevertheless, that is man's original and real state, the core of his personality, his essential and infinite being. When you transcend the limitations of the waking, dream and deep-sleep you reach that state. This is the state symbolised by Subramania.
Subramania holds a spear (Shakti) in his hand. Most of the Hindu gods wield weapons of destruction. Lord Siva holds
the trident (Trishul). Vishnu carries a discus (Chakra), Rama carries a bow. These weapons are meant to attack, to destroy desires (Vasanas) within oneself. It is only by destruction of vasanas or desires that you attain your divine state. Your vasanas or desires are the impurities covering the godhead within you. Man minus desires is God. God plus vasanas is man. Holding a spear Subramania declares the destruction of all his vasanas. You too by destroying your vasanas can attain your supreme stature.
The peacock is the vehicle of Subramania. The significant characteristic of a peacock is its vanity. The vanity of the peacock is seen during its continuous dancing with its colourful feathers spread out like a fan. The peacock is blue in colour. This subtly suggests the means the seeker should adopt to attain the state of Subramania.
Man is now absorbed in the material layers of his personality. All his attention and interest are upon his physical body, mind and intellect. Identifying himself with them he imagines himself to be a perceiver-actor at the physical level, a feeler at the mental level and a thinker at the intellectual level. He is proud of his physical, mental and intellectual achievements. He is lost in the mire of perceptions, emotions and thoughts. Thus he assumes a limited personality. He has no glimpse of the supreme Self within him. He has now to shift his attention and concentration from his body, mind and intellect to the godhead (Atman) within him. The godhead is his supreme Self within. The essential nature of man is his godhoo.d and not his physicalmental-intellectual personality. He must now lose the false vanity of his physical-mental-intellectual personality (ego) and develop the true "vanity" of his infinite being. He must ride on the blue bird representing his infinite being. Blue colour is associated with infinity. The sky is blue, so is the ocean. He must repeat to himself that he is God- A'ham Brahma Asmi, Aham=l, Bralzman= od and Asmi== am. He must constantly remember the Truth-1 am God. If he practises this, concentrates and meditates upon his real Self he becomes the Atman. He attains the state of Subramania.
The peacock is the enemy of the serpent. It is seen clutching the serpent with its claws. The serpent is not killed but held in captivity. This symbolises complete control over the ego. The serpent represents the ego. The ego carries the poisonous mind. It is interesting to note that the poison in the fangs of the snake does not kill the snake. It is harmful only when it is directed outside. Similarly, the mind is harmless as long as it is contained within. The moment it is directed outside, used extrovertedly it assumes the vanity of I-ness and My-ness. It becomes poisonous. It generates desires and destroys peace and tranquillity. The infinite Atman becomes the limited individual. But when the ego is held firm and the desires are kept under perfect control, man gains mastery over the mind and reaches perfection.
In the old Testament Moses is said to have fallen into this state of slavery. Walking on Mount Sinai, Moses saw a serpent. He trembled at the sight of it. Just then he heard a voice saying, "Hold it, hold that hissing serpent, Moses." It was the voice of God. Moses hesitated. He shuddered at the thought of it. The voice was insistent, "Get hold of it". Moses took a bold step and held the serpent. Instantly the serpent turned into a staff. And that staff worked miracles. Moses touched a rock with the staff and fresh water gushed forth from it. When the Israelites were fleeing for safety the Red Sea stood in their way. Moses again used his staff. No sooner did his staff touch the sea than the waters divided and dry land appeared before them. Thus the Israelites passed into safety.
Similarly, Reality seems terrifying. You would keep off from it. You would prefer to indulge in the pleasures of your senses. You do not want to stifle your ego and experience your godhead. You are afraid to leave the comforts of the known and plunge into the unknown. You are ignorant of the supreme bliss of godhood. Your ignorance is the cause of your fright. Vedanta, the supreme philosophy of life, offers you knowledge to overcome ignorance, emboldens you to smother your ego and reveal your Self. It seems difficult. The suggestion to annihilate your ego appears frightening. But you must take the plunge fearlessly. Get hold of the ego. Destroy your selfishness. Assert your divinity. Embrace your godhead within. You will become the monarch of all you survey. All your worries and anxieties vanish instantly. You live in perfect peace and bliss.
Another form of Subramania is Shanmukha. This form has six faces, shat means six, mukha means face. Shanmukha is a deity with six faces. It only means that the supreme Self expresses itself in the human being through the five sense organs and mind. The Self within has no expression but when it functions through the sense organs and mind it manifests itself as a human being.