Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Taraka - Asura Killed by Skanda


Taraka was an Asura, the son of Vajranaga and Varangi. His father had conquered and humiliated Indra, only sparing the life of the king of the Gods when Brahma and Kashyapa intervened. Indra had his revenge when Vajranaga went away for a thousand year penance. He tormented Varangi by various means. When Vajranaga returned, he was very angry and prayed to Lord Brahma. The Lord blessed him with a son who could defeat Indra and who would be the scrouge of the Devas. Varangi bore the child in her womb for a thousand years and the demon Taraka was born.

After his father's death, he was crowned the King of the Asura. First, he wanted to become more powerful. To that end, he went to the Pariparta mountains and performed a terrible penance in a cave. Some days he would eat nothing, other days he drank only water. He started slicing parts of his body and offered it to the fire as an offering. Pleased by his devotion, Lord Brahma appeared before him.

Taraka wanted immortality, but Brahma could only grant him conditional immortality. Taraka chose that he should be killed only by a seven year old boy. That boon was granted.

Armed with this boon, Taraka attacked the heavens, amassing a huge army. Jambha, Kujambha, Mahisha, Kunjara, Megha, Kalanemi, Nimi, Mathana, Jambhaka and Shumbha were some of his generals. The Devas and the Asuras met in the battlefield, with Yama as their general. Yama was mounted on his buffalo, Indra drove his chariot, Agni rode a goat and Varuna slithered on a snake. Chandra, and Kubera were also present with their followers.

From the beginning, the war went badly for the Devas. Kujambha defeated Kubera and forced him to flee. Kalanemi defeated both Chandra and Surya. The twin Ashwinis were thrashed by Kalanemi. When Vishnu heard that the Devas were hard pressed, he joined the battle. He immediately slew Grasana with his discus. The Devas gained the upper hand.

However, try as they might, nobody was able to stop Taraka. Armed with his boon, he easily defeated all the deities. They had no choice but to flee. Great numbers of the Devas were taken prisoners. The Asura army emerged victorious.

Those that fled, regrouped and sought counsel with Brahma. Lord Brahma said, "Only the son of Shiva can slay this Taraka. Unfortunately, Shiva has become a recluse after the death of his wife Sati. She has been reborn as Parvati, the daughter of Himavan. Arrange for their marriage and your problem will be solved."

Accordingly, with the help of Kama, the task was accomplished. Unfortunately Kama was burned by Shiva's anger. He was allowed to live, when his wife Rati pleaded for his life. At last Skanda, the son of Shiva and Parvati was born.

Once Skanda reached the age of seven, he was invested as the generalissimo of the the Devas. Each of the deities equipped him with their special weapons. The boy-warrior led his army into battle against the Asuras.

The battle was fiercely fought. Taraka employed various illusions to try and frighten the boy-warrior. When those failed to do the trick, he tried to slay Skanda with a club, but the boy repelled it with Indra's Vajra. At last, he fell dead, slain by a spear launched by Skanda.

This account of the battle is taken from Ms.P..

Last Modified At: Sun Oct 24 12:44:39 2004