Thus far, we have seen Ashwini and Bharani. Out of the three, which constitute Aries, we shall see the final one, Krittika here. This star’s narration is inextricably woven with the birth of Skanda. Sati (Daakshayani?), the consort of Shiva immolated herself at Daksha yagna. She is reborn as Uma (Parvathi) as the daughter of Himavan.

Meanwhile Shiva withdraws himself from the activities of the Universe and enters into meditation in the Himalaya.The Gods conclude that only a son of Shiva could exterminate Surapadma, the demon.To achieve this goal, they connive with Kamadeva to tempt Shiva to make him fall in love with Parvati.. The sparks that emerged from Shiva were so hot that even Agni could not bear the heat. These sparks were transported by the River Ganges to the pond Saravana river, where the sparks turn into six babies. These six babies are brought up by the six Krittika divine maidens (who constitute the Krittika constellation). Parvati converts the six babies into a single child with six faces. Hence Skanda is also known as Shanmukha (or one with six faces). Even today Krittika Vrtam is observed as a day of penance by many believers in Hindu faith both in India and abroad. Because Skanda brought up by the six Krittika maidens, He bestows happiness and grants boons to those who observe the Krittika Vrtam.

The Krittika triad of stars comprises Krittika, Uttara Phalguni, and Utrashada. Sun is their ruling planet. The uniqueness of Sun in the Vimshottara Dasa system is that it is the planet, which rules over a person for the least time (measured in number of years). To recapitulate, Sun dasa operates for only six years; contrast this with that of Venus, which rules for 20 years.

The second peculiarity of Krittika triad is that all of them have their first quarter in a sign and the remaining three quarters in the next sign as indicated in the table below:

Krittika Uttaraphalguni Uttarashada
SIGN OF THE FIRST QUARTER Aries Leo Saggittarius

Krittika is linked fire(Agni). Note that Skanda is associated with the fiery planet Mars. There is a saying in southern parts of India, ‘Bharani and Krittika are inauspicious for all activities’. The logic is simple: Bharani is ruled by Yama and Krittika is ruled by Agni. Yama rules death and Agni rules fire.

During summer, the time span of ‘Agni nakshatra’ is inappropriate for auspicious events. The Sun takes about three weeks to move from the third quarter of Bharani to the first quarter of Rohini, which is ‘Agni nakshatra’ span. It spreads over the last two quarters of Bharani, whole of Krittika and the first quarter of Rohini. In old books on Astrology, woodwork and work involving either soil or stones are prohibited, when Agni nakshatra period is in progress. It is quite possible that in view of the hot weather prevailing in our country in summer, our ancestors considered that such labour-intensive work should be avoided at such times. Even today we have summer vacation for courts, schools and colleges in our country
In Astrology, the first lunar asterism is Ashwini and the last one is Revati. But according to the Vedas, Krittika is the first star and the sequence ends in Apabharani (or simply Bharani). There is a logical reasoning for this also. Consider a volcanic eruption. The build-up of temperature and pressure within the mountain induces the volcano to erupt. Similarly creation started with Krittika, which is ruled by Agni. Yama, rules Bharani. So Bharani is the terminal point in the sequence. This is the Vedic view of creation.

According to Brihat Jataka of Varahamihira (Chapter XVI,Verse 2), a person born in Krittika star will be a glutton, fond of others wives; of bright appearance and famous.

According to Parasara, a person born in Krittika will be charitable, rich, learned in Vedas, of noble lineage and handsome. When born in first quarter of Krittika, one will have regal appearance; in second, one will be learned; chivalrous, will be the one born in the third, and being blessed with children in the fourth. For Krittika, the Rasi depositors could be either Mars or Venus; while navamsa sign dispositors could be Jupiter or Saturn. Note that Moon is exalted in the second quarter of Krittika and therefore is most beneficial when at Taurus Rasi and Capricorn navamsa.

When a girl attains puberty during Krittika’s ruling, she will lose her children. Krittika is a favourable star for buying cattle, especially sheep. Paradoxically Krittika is an inauspicious star for selling cattle. So in a transaction involving sale of cattle, either the buyer or the seller can benefit by following this astrological rule, but not both. One who gives ‘Hiranya dhanam’ or gift of gold on a day ruled by Krittika, will in course of time become a pauper; he who receives the gift on Krittika day will flourish. Krittika belongs to a category of asterisms called ‘sadharana’ stars. New ornaments for the head can be worn when Moon is in the third degree of Taurus in Krittika, coinciding with the Ascendant. Construction of restaurants can be done, when the ruling star is Krittika. To construct a place for installing a lamp, Krittika star is suitable. In today’s context, we can say that a streetlight can be set up in Krittika star. Solar panels for generating electricity from Sun can also be installed, while this star operates.

Butter is clarified to ghee. Our Rishis used to choose an auspicious time for this activity. If the following criteria are satisfied, time is auspicious for clarifying butter.

Star is Jyeshtaor Krittika
Day is Wednesday

Moon is in the navamsa of a benefics. A separate rule exists for clarifying butter, from the milk of either a goat or a buffalo. Star should be Visakha· Day is Monday.

From a combined reading of the above two, the inference that needs to be drawn is that Krittika is suitable for clarifying butter, which is from cow’s milk.To adorn weapons — either one of defence or one of offence, Krittika is auspicious. A person who commences a journey in Krittika star will wander aimlessly.

For commencement of medical treatment ‘Ugra yoga’ is good. When Krittika star occurs coinciding with Navami tithi, the above yoga is said to occur. The patient who suffers from diseases of either vata (wind) or kapha (phlegm), should start treatment on a Tuesday in a movable sign, when the ruling asterism is either Bharani, or Krittika or Ardra. Even diseases such as leprosy and ascites could be cured if the above muhurtha is adopted. Once the patient has fully recovered he/she can bathe on a day ruled by Krittika. Full- moon day is generally considered auspicious. When Moon is in Krittika, with the Sun in Scorpio, we celebrate Karthigai Deepam – the festival of lights.

An interesting legend exists behind this celebration. In days of antiquity, a controversy arose between Brahma and Vishnu, who was greater. Brahma said to Vishnu, “I have created the five elements and all the living beings with their endless differences in form and sound. Therefore I am the greatest.” Vishnu said, “The whole universe is but an aspect of mine. Of what use is your creation if I do not protect it? It is my thought-power that creates, sustains and destroys the whole Universe. So I am the greatest”. Their dispute resulted in misery in the manifested world. Parameswara saw this and turned compassionate.

To settle the discord and subdue their pride, Shiva appeared before them in the form of blazing column of light and a voice issued from it asking them to seek its upper and lower limits and he who found either of these is the superior one. Both gods stopped fighting and decided to explore the ends. Brahma took the form of a swan and flew up to reach the top of the column of light, whereas Vishnu became a boar and started burrowing into the earth to find its base.

A thousand years passed as Vishnu dug deep into the nether worlds and the journey seemed endless. With all His power He could not discover the base and He got lost in meditation with the result that he experienced the Supreme Light, which dwells in the hearts of all. He soon realized and recognized that His true strength was derived from this Supreme Light that is Shiva. He prayed to Shiva seeking His pardon and then returned to earth. Brahma who flew up as a swan was mounting the sky and the higher He soared, the column of light rose higher before him. He was growing despondent and was about to return when he saw the fragrant Ketaki (screw pine, Pandanus odoratissimus) falling towards the earth. On asking from where it had come, the plant revealed that it had come from the crest of the fire column that was none other than Shiva himself and that it had been descending for thousands of four-fold Yugas. Brahma requested the plant to say that both of them came down after seeing the crest and thus the flower swore to Vishnu in the presence of the column of effulgence that Brahma had reach the summit. Splitting as under the column of Light, Siva appeared before the two. When the lotus- eyed Vishnu saw him, he danced with joy.

The guilty Brahma on seeing the Lord’s true form was confused and frightened. Mahadeva said, “The two of you need not be ashamed for having transcended your limits. Hari (Vishnu) pondered deeply and became enlightened. But Brahma has uttered falsehood and I now cut off his fifth head for that perjury. Brahma shall not hereafter be installed in any Temple. And this plant, which bore false witness, shall never again find a place on my head and shall not be used for my worship.” After cursing Brahma and the screw- pine plant thus, Siva turned to Vishnu and said, “Child! Be composed, I am pleased with you. You are one of my foremost devotees. You originated from me and are my sattwic part. At the end of the kalpa you shall merge in me.” Brahma and Vishnu prayed to Siva to abide there forever as a Tejo Lingam. In answer to their request, Parameswara established himself as the Arunachala Hill and also as Siva Lingam at the eastern foot of the Hill for the welfare of the world and for those who desire to worship Him and obtain enlightenment.It is only on the day of Mahashivaratri (third Kala Puja) that the screwpine is used for the worship of Siva.

Karthigai is essentially a festival of lamps. The lighted lamp is considered an auspicious symbol and believed to ward off evil forces and usher in prosperity and joy. It occurs on the day when the moon is in conjunction with the constellation Krittika.

KThe constellation, which appears as a group of six stars in the shape of a pendant, is considered in mythology as the six celestial nymphs, who reared Skanda in the Saravana river. Skanda is therefore also known as Karthikeya, the one brought up by the Krittika maidens.