Karrupuswamy as a deity is stealing the limelight on the contemporary.His popularity is rising as we speak and people of different ethnicity around the globe have started worshiping Him.
This would be my third article on this deity,who is indeed very much close to my heart.The other two articles can be found here :
(1) Karrupar Mantra
(2) Mystery behind the salt immersed Karrupar @ Sivakaliamman temple
So let's look into the 'morphological' aspects of this deity.We start with Sri Karuppar.
Sri Karuppar or Karuppanaswamy or Karrupuswamy ( all three terminologies denote the same deity ) is the prototype of the Karrupar vamsam or lineage.This means that there are many other individualised consciousness or identities of karrupar along the line after sri karuppar,which we will discuss later.
Sri Karuppar is described as a fierce looking warrior,dark in colour ( depicted blue) , handsomely moustached, forehead adorned with tirunaamam ( vaishnavite tilak ) , holding a machete or sword (aruval ) and riding a white horse.These are the standard features of Sri Karuppar, or the standard form of Karuppar.
The widely-accepted legend behind Sri Karuppar dates back to the period of Ramayana,which occurred more than 20 000 years ago.
Kusha,brother of Lava who is the child of Sri Rama is said to be Karuppar.
When Sita Devi was sent to exile into the forest,she delivered a son - Lava.Once,Mother Sita left Lava to be daycared by Sage Valmiki in her absence.The sage slipped into meditation and found Lava missing when he came back to his senses.To handle this situation,Sage Valmiki created a child that looked like Lava using darbha grass-in exchange for the missing Lava - which he felt responsible for.
However,the real Lava kiddo was actually safe with his mother..Perhaps he found his way to Mother Sita when his babysitter went into meditation.Upon mother Sita's meetup with the sage,she found this darbha-made child.So two children that looked alike ! A situation arose where they were unable to differentiate the real Lava from the darbha-born child ( kusha).
In order to differentiate the children,they were asked to walk through a fire test.Lava braves it unhurt while Kusha gets somewhat charred into a dark-skinned child.Sri Rama blesses Kusha as His guardian deity.
There are several versions of this story above with slight variations.Again,emphasising that this is the widely-accepted story and not purely authentic.There's no solid evidence for this story.
Some facts correlate with the incidences of this story though.
1. Kusha in sanskrit means darbha grass.It corresponds with the story which claims that Kusha was created from darbha grass.In many Karuppar temples,the dhyana shloka ( invocation prayer describing the deity to be meditated upon) sung in tamil address the deity as ' He who is born from darbha' ( darbhaiyil piranthavane ).
2. Karuppuswamy's naamam ( forehead marking) indicates a vaishnava relation.This could be highly possible if Karrupar is Kusha, son of Rama.
There is also a significant parallel between Lord Kalki and Karuppanaswamy.Kalki is considered as the 10th avatar of Mahavishnu in the dashavatars.
Other karuppars along the line
Sri Karuppar,as mentioned earlier,is the prototype in the karuppar deities.There are more forms of karuppars.Each have their own name,features,history and traits.
Many have confusions regarding this.They confuse other forms of karrupar and associate them with Sri Karuppar.However, there's no significance in this confusion as all of them express the same energy.But some clarification does no harm.There are 108 karuppar identities overall.
Sangili karuppar is one of the most well-known identities amongst the 108 karuppars.His history dates back to the era when Madurai was ruled by Tirumalai Naicker ( 1623 - 1659 AD ).He was the leader of the Piranmalai Kallars ( Kallars of the forest region ).Madurai Veeran,another well-known guardian deity co-existed with Sangili Karuppar.Apparently ,they were rivals, as the former was under the king while the latter,Sangili was a robinhood.
An interesting part is that there are elders who reside in Madurai today who claim that their grandparents were certain that Sangili Karuppar and Veeran were the same person.In fact,there is a famous saying in tamil about how Veeran and Sangili cannot be seen together.Sangili Karuppar is said the be the mask uptaken by Veeran to help the poor beyond his royal patronage
If you notice the features of Sangili,He is different from Sri Karuppar.Sangili does not wield an aruval (machete ) or sword,eventhough it is considered as an important insignia of karuppar worship.He wields a spear instead and is wrapped with chain.You can see these features in Sangili Karuppar trance sessions to verify this.
18 aam padi Karrupar
Another famous form of Karuppar.Also known as Malayala karuppu.Legends say that Malayala Karuppu appeared to the priests who protected the temple in the form of a pitch-black warrior,with a long sword and matted locks.He promised to guard Azhagar temple.
Similarly,there are many other forms of Karuppar, such as Periya karuppu,chinna karuppu,nondi karuppu etc. Some SriLankans refer Karuppar as 'bhootaraja'.
Video above : Sankaran Kovil Karuppar.The priest here channels the karuppar through trance.You can see that the karuppar's language,style of speaking and even diet varies from other karuppar forms.
Ultimately,they all express the same energy.They respond fast to one's prayer,protect dharma ( righteousness ) and safeguard justice and control time.
Karuppars are associated with both Shaivism and Vaishnavism.Karuppuswamy is said to be the expression of Kala Bhairava.He is also seen as the fierce aspect of Krishna or Vishnu.Personally, I have testified this as well.You can access His energy in the same way whether you see Him as an expression of Shiva or Vishnu.
The Bhairavas. We can see the parallel of Karuppar system to that of the Bhairava system. The picture depicts the Ashta-Bhairavas - eight expressions of Bhairava, headed by Kala Bhairava - who is the standard form of Bhairava ( like how Sri Karuppar is the standard in the karuppar system ).
Note that each of the Bhairava forms are unique in their own way.They have their own vahana ( vehicle ) , attribute and form.60 more forms of bhairava branch from these ashta-bhairavas.So that totals to 68 forms of bhairava excluding the prototype Kala Bhairava.
This is the form of Swarna-Akshara Bhairava.He does not have a fierce form as how we would expect a Bhairava to be.He sits with His consort and blesses devotees with wealth.A form of Bhairava who gives wealth. Heard of it ? Yes,He exists.
In a nutshell...
Whichever guardian deity you worship,worship them with the adhered protocol.If you are going into rituals,it may be better to learn up about the forms properly.For example,the shrine of Sangili Karuppar must have a chain.An aruval ( machete ) may not be favourable in a sangli shrine.On the other hand,18am padi karuppar's primary worship is that of a form of an aruval...
If these are too complicated,simply use the karuppar mantra-meditation technique I have posted via a link at the beginning of this article.That can get you connected to the energy of karuppar through any form you like.Or you could even worship Karuppar as Vishnu or Kala Bhairava. Shivakaliamman temple of Serdang expresses their Karuppar as Vishnu.I have articled this as well,which you can again,find in a link at the beginning of this article.