Kartikkeya is the son of Shiva. He is the Hindu god of war, equivalent to the Greek god Ares or the Roman god Mars. He is portrayed with six heads and twelve arms, with a peacock as his mount. The story of his birth explains how he came to have six heads.
Read on to find out...
Long ago there lived an asura or demon called Taraka, who wished to become the most powerful person in the universe. Taraka prayed long and hard to Brahma, and practiced such severe austerities, that Brahma was at last forced to appear before him.
'What is it you want, that you practice such penance?' asked Brahma of Taraka.
'Grant me my wish - that I become the most powerful person in the Universe, and that no one may be able to kill me, except a son of the god Shiva.' Shiva at that time was unmarried, and it seemed to the entire world that he would always remain so and never have any children. Taraka felt he was safe in making this request of Brahma.
The strength of Taraka's prayers and penance was such that Brahma had to grant him what he desired. Taraka became stronger and more powerful each day. No one could resist him, and no one could kill him. Shiva remained unmarried, without a son.
Soon Taraka threatened the gods themselves. Indra, king of the gods, had to give up to Taraka his marvellous white horse, Uchchaisraivas; the Rishis had to give him their magic cow, Kamadhenu, that fulfilled every wish; Kubera, the god of wealth, had to give him his thousand sea horses. Vayu, the wind-god, blew as Taraka dictated. Chandrama, the Moon, was so terrified that it remained full all the time, while Surya, the Sun, forgot to give any heat. The world was in chaos, and the gods were terrified.
Kartikkeya, the son of Shiva cont'd...
See also: A Trip Around the Universe