Kartikeya exterminates Tarakasura

Lord Siva was engaged in continuous ‘Tapasya’in recluse and was disinterested in usual activities following the self-immolation of Devi Sati’s life after Daksha’s insults at Daksha Yagna. The Demon Tarakasura did rigorous penance and obtained a boon of invincibility except by a child of Lord Siva as the latter was in meditation and was very unlikely to wed and beget a child. Meanwhile King Himavant was blessed with a daughter Girija as Devi Bhagavati’s incarnation and at her age of eight approached Lord Siva to help Him for His daily pujas and Bhagavan agreed reluctantly. In course of time as Girija continued to serve Parama Siva in the chores of worship, the Deities, who were frustrated with the dreadful deeds of wickedness of Tarakasura hurting Devas, Sages, and the Righteous Beings, planned that Manmadha the God of Love along with Devi Rati would use his flowery arrows to kindle thoughts of Love in Bhagavan’s mind in favour of Devi Girija as a stepping stone for their wedding to beget a son to Siva and Girija who alone could kill the imperishable Tarakasura.But the plan of Devas got badly misfired, since Bhagawan’s third eye of fury opened and Manmadha got burnt as ashes. The inconsolate Rati Devi appealed to Lord Siva as after all it was at the behest of Devas that Manmadha acted for a ‘Devakarya’ or a Divine Task and the brunt was borne by her husband! Devi Girija assured Rati Devi that she would help to revive Manmadha and also please Bhagavan to ask for her hand in wedding. She commenced such rigorous meditation as would shake up the whole Universe by not taking food for long, not even consuming dried leaves dropped from trees thus earning an epithet of ‘Aparna’ and finally even discarding water. As the Trilokas were ablaze with the heat of her Tapasya, Devas and Sages approached Lord Vishnu who assured that Bhagavan Siva was indeed a ‘Purana Purusha’ or the Most Ancient, approachable to one and all with clean mind; Varenya or Varaneeya (Devotion worthy) and the Paratpar Paramatma. Thus along with Brahma and Devas, Vishnu prayed for the vision of Pinakadhari Maha Deva who was in a Yoga Samadhi with Vasuki Serpent as Yagnopaveet or the Sacred Thread, Kambal and Aswatar Snakes as His earrings, Karkotak and Kulik as wrist ornaments, Shankh and Padma Serpents as shoulder ornaments, tiger skin as loin cloth, Bhagirathi Ganga and Ardha Chandra or half moon on His head inside the jatajut or His twisted hair and Blue Throat, while Nandi Deva too was nearby. As Lord Brahma eulogised Maha Deva, slowly the latter opened His eyes and described the prevailing situation created by Demon Tarakasura, Brahma’s boon that only Bhagavan’s son could kill him, the efforts made by Himaraja and Devi Girija whose Tapasya of extreme nature was bursting into flames across the Universe, the burning of Manmadha and Sati’s agitation and finally the grand request being submitted to Bhagavan to wed Devi Girija which would eventually lead to the birth of an Illustrious Son who would exterminate the hazardous Demon Tarakasura.Bhagavan replied that as far as Kama Deva was concerned, the decision to burn him off was justified as all the Devas and such other Celestial Beings who had been victims of passion and worldly temptations were unstable of mind and action thus far and after Kamadahan or the destruction of Kama, they would all be like Himself and could all now concentrate in Samadhi the pursuance of Truth and Virtue and seek real bliss of Sat-Chit-Ananda; Bhagavan further said that ‘Kama’ would inevitably lead to ‘Krodha’ or anger, Krodha would lead to ‘Sammoha’or infatuation and rigidity of thinking, Sammoha would further lead to ‘Bhrama’ or Maya / Illusion which would for sure camouflage Reality or Truth or the Everlasting; thus Kama the root cause be better put ablaze.

 

Meanwhile Parvati was fully engrossed in high meditation. Bhagavan Siva was indeed impressed but desired to test her sincerity and unswerving attachment to Him. He took the form of a Brahmachari and enquired from Devi Girija’s associates around her as to who she was and why was she performing such severe Tapasya? The associates replied to the queries and the Brahmachari had a hearty laugh that the Tapasya of such severity was a sheer waste as the Tapaswini was replete with ignorance since Rudra was an abhorable and wild person with a ‘kapaala’ (skull) in hand, a dweller of Smashaan (Burial Ground), an odd exhibitionist of poisonous serpents all over His Body, a bearer of Tiger skin as Loin Cloth, an unkempt and ugly hair style with water flowing from head, always in the highly inauspicious and disgusting company of Pisachas, Goblins, Pramatha Ganas and a typically crazy creation of God! This beautiful and attractive lady coming of a wonderful family background could indeed wed a Demi-God like Indra, Dharmaraja, Varuna Deva, Kubera, Vayu or Agni, but never ever that horrible species like Rudra! Devi Parvati got infuriated with white anger and asked the Brahmachari to be lifted and thrown out at once to have affronted such Mahatma; the stupid and arrogant person was an unpardonable sinner, a Veda-dushak and a brainless brute! Bhagavan Siva then showed up in His real form to Devi Parvati who felt shy and reminded Rudra that She was a reincarnation of Devi Sati and that She gave birth to Devi Meena with the immediate and noble cause of begetting a Son, who alone could free the Universe from the great peril of Tarakasura. On being asked her by Lord Siva for a boon, Devi Parvati desired that Bhagavan should approach her father Himavanta to allow Him to wed her! To this Siva replied that Parvati had indeed declared her real form of Maya or Illusion and that of Maha Tatva which was a display of the interaction of three Gunas of Satva, Rajas and Tamas and that He would never extend His hand to ‘receive’ as Bhagavan was always a ‘Giver’!!

However, Bhagavan Siva deputed ‘Sapta Rishis’-the illustrious Seven Sages viz. Marichi, Atri, Angeera, Pulasthya, Pulaha, Kratu and Vasishtha- to Himavant’s residence to formally present Devi Parvati and Himavant proposed his daughter to wed Siva after consulting the bride’s mother Mena and the co-Mountains like Meru, Nishadh, Gandhamadan, Mandarachal and Mainak. The Sapta Rishis who conveyed the most auspicious news to Siva and suggested that Lord Vishnu be immediately called and along with Him Lord Brahma, Indra, Dikpals, Devas, Rishiganas,Yakshas, Gandharvas, Nagas, Siddhas, Vidyadharas, Kinnaras, Apsaras and their spouses and cohorts. Sage Narada among the Sapta Rishis was commissioned to personally invite Vishnu, Brahma, Indra and Devas. Gargacharya was asked to supervise the rituals of the wedding and Viswakarma constructed the ‘Mangala Vedika’ or the Auspicious Platform to perform the Wedding and oversee the decorations. Chandra provided coolness in the atmosphere, Surya the luminosity, Vayu Deva blew fragrant airs and Indra organised dance, music and instrumental extravaganza. The Bridegroom arrived on Nandi, accompanied by Vishnu, Brahma and Devas, Maharshis, Pramathaganas, Rakshasas, Ghosts, Goblins, Pisachas and Spirits. Indeed the unprecedented and the Most Glorious Wedding of Siva-Parvati was the unique talk of the entire Universe. At the Wedding ‘Muhurat’, Himavan declared: ‘I, Himavan of the Gotra and clan of Mountains have the greatest privilege of offering the hand of my daughter Devi Parvati to Parama Siva in the august presence of Brahma and Vishnu. In turn, I wish to know the Gotra and Vamsa of Bhagavan’. As Sage Narada lifted his Veena instrument, Himavan stopped Narada not to play on it as a reply about the Gotra and Vamsa of Bhagavan; Narada told Himavan that the Gotra and Vamsa of Maha Siva was ‘Naad’ or Sound and that was why Narada lifted the Veena as a reply! Bhagavan is ‘Naadamaya’or the Embodiment of Naada and one could realise Siva only through Naada, as He has no Gotra and no Vamsa since He is above these nomenclatures and yet belongs to all Gotras and all Vamsas. He has neither beginning nor end; He is the Most Supreme Energy beyond comprehension! Then Himavan gave the ‘Kanyadaan’ or the offering of his daughter saying: ‘Imam Kanyaam thubhyamaham dadami Parameswara! Bharyartham prathi gruhneeshva’ (Parameswara! I am offering my daughter as your ‘Dharma Patni’; kindly accept). After wedding, Maha Deva and Devi Parvathi moved on to Mountain Gandhamadan to a luxurious and lonely place for their honeymoon. As Bhagavan’s virility was so potent that parts of humanity were getting destroyed and Vishnu asked Agni Deva to take the form of a Hermit and asked Parvati to donate it and extended his hand which was immediately consumed by Agni even before Her eyes. Parvati got angry and cursed Agni to become ‘Sarva Bhakshak’ or he who consumes everything. Agni could not bear the brunt of the virility of Maha Siva and begged Him to show a way to pass it on to someone; Siva advised that the same be planted into virtuous women and Sage Narada annotated that such women of high merit taking bath on an early morning in the instant month of Magha would be attracted to Agni and his hot flames and they would be the best choice for the transfer of the virility in particles. As advised by Narada, Krittikas approached Agni seeking warmth from the cold morning and Agni transferred some drops of virility to the ladies through their skin pores. Kritthikas got pregnant and their angry husbands gave a curse to them to roam on the Sky.They became Stars in a constellation and aborted their pregnancies. The major portion of the virility got left however on top of the Himalayas which was lifted by a crane and pushed into Ganges and the drops which were radiant like fire sparks got meshed up in the river bed plants (Sarkhand) of Ganges, who carried the foetus to a secluded place in the bushes thus emerging a Six Headed Child Kartikeya! As soon as the boy of highly chiselled face and limbs was born with extraodinary splendour, there was such illumination that travelled all over the Three Worlds instantly. Siva Deva and Devi Parvati appeared at once on their Vrishaba carrier and were overwhelmed with parental love and affection. Soon Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and the entire Devaloka assembled and so did Rishis, Yakshas, Gandharvas and all Celestial Beings. Veerabhadra and Pramathaganas as also the whole entourage of Maha Deva were ecstatic with boundless rapture. Devas put their chins up with indescribable relief that it would not be far for the greatest menace of Takakasura to be devastated by the new arrival on the scene! The whole atmosphere was of liberation, festivity and celebration.

The Deities commenced preparations of war to kill Tarakasura but a Celestial Voice was heard that victory would be assured only under the Leadership of Kartikeya and hence all the Devas requested Skanda to become the Chief of the Army of Devas. Meanwhile, Devasena, the daughter of Mrityu Devata, became his wife and hence Skanda was known as Deva Senapati. Kartikeya led the army of Devas of the rank of Indra, Agni, Vayu, Kubera and Yama Dharma Raja and was seated on an elephant. Tarakasura arrived with a huge army of mighty warriors who dominated and controlled the opponents intially. Indra’s ‘Vajra’ was overpowered by Tarakasura’s weapon called Shakti and wounded Indra. King Muchukunda who fought for Devas and sought to stop the domination of Daityas but Tarakasura felled him on the ground; Muchukunda wanted to use the ‘Brahmaastra’ but was restrained by Sage Narada as that weapon would no doubt create havoc but would be ineffective to destroy Tarakasura and hence Kartikeya would have to be warmed up gradually.Veerabhadra swung into action and slaughtered thousands of Demons; Tarakasura realised that Veerabhadra was not easy to control and thus used his ‘Maya’ and assumed a thousand arms. Lord Vishnu suggested that the time was ripe to kill the Big Demon before he became more powerful and asked Skanda to charge him. With his mighty weapon Shakti on hand, Kartikeya chased Tarakasura but the latter retaliated with his own ‘Shakti’ and even got Skanda unconscious for a while. After quickly recovering his poise, Kartikeya prayed to his parents and released the Maha Shakti which was fortified with the blessings of Bhagavan and Bhagavati and finally annihilated Tarakasura who incidentally was a Great Siva Bhakta! But Siva Himself was so pleased at the valour of the lad who was more than a match to the Greatest Demon of the times who sent shock waves across the Three Worlds! While Devas and Gandharvas were engaged in unending praises and noise of resounding musical notes, Rishis were engaged in Vedic Hymns to please Kartikeya and there was ecstasy across the Globe. Whoever reads or hears the details of the historic victory of Deva Senapati over the obnoxious Demon would be rid of Sins of even great severity and magnitude.

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham

Kamakoti.org presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam.

Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by
V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager,
India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi
Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India
The author can be contacted at raovdn@yahoo.co.in