The Padma Purana

by N.A. Deshpande | 1951 | 1,261,945 words | ISBN-10: 8120838297 | ISBN-13: 9788120838291

This page describes taraka’s victory in the war between gods and demons which is chapter 42 of the English translation of the Padma Purana, one of the largest Mahapuranas, detailling ancient Indian society, traditions, geography, as well as religious pilgrimages (yatra) to sacred places (tirthas). This is the forty-second chapter of the Srishti-khanda (section on creation) of the Padma Purana, which contains six books total consisting of at least 50,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

Disclaimer: These are translations of Sanskrit texts and are not necessarily approved by everyone associated with the traditions connected to these texts. Consult the source and original scripture in case of doubt.

Chapter 42 - Tāraka’s Victory in the War between Gods and Demons

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Bhiṣma said:

1-4. O brahman, I have listened to (the account of) the rise of the lotus which you described in detail. O brahman, (now) I desire to hear from you about the greatness of Bhava (i.e. Śiva) and the birth of Guha (i.e. Kārttikeya)—how he was born and what he did; how Tāraka the demon became more powerful and how that great demon was killed (by Kārttikeya); how Rudra sent the sages to the Mandara mountain; how Rudra, the supreme lord, obtained Umā there. O great sage, tell me all this as it took place.

Pulastya said:

5-6a. Formerly Kaśyapa said to Diti, the auspicious origin (i.e. the mother) of demons: “O respectable lady, you will obtain a son having limbs as strong as thunderbolt. You will have a son by named Vajrāṅga, devoted to piety.”

6b-7. The honourable lady, who had (thus) obtained a boon, got a son difficult to be cut (i.e. destroyed) like thunderbolt. As soon as he was born, he became the master of the significance of all sciences (i.e. branches of learning). He said devoutly to his mother: “O mother, what should I do?”

8-9a. Diti, hearing (these) words of the lord of demons, became delighted, and said: “O son, Indra has killed many of my sons. Go to kill (i.e. go and kill) Indra to make up the loss due to (i.e. to avenge) them.”

9b-10. Saying, “All right”, to her, he forcibly went to the heaven. Then having tied Indra with a noose of unfailing power, he came to his mother as a hunter (would bring) a poor deer.

11. In the meanwhile, Brahmā and Kaśyapa of great penance came there where the fearless mother and son remained.

12-14. Seeing them Brahmā as well as Kaśyapa said these words: “O son, release this lord of gods. What have you to do with him? O son, for a respected person his insult is said to be his murder. He who is freed from your hand on our telling (you to release him) is certainly dead. That enemy, who is released in the battle through generosity by his enemy, is, though alive, dead, day after day.”

15-17. Hearing this, Vajrāṅga, bowed (to them) and said (these) words: “I have nothing to do with him. I have (simply) obeyed my mother’s order. You are the lord of the gods and demons; and you are (my) respectable great grandsire. O god, I shall do as you say: this Śatakratu (i.e. Indra) is released (by me). O god, I have a liking for penance; O lord, let it be practised without any obstacle through your favour.”

18a. Saying so, he ceased (speaking). When the demon remained silent, the grandsire said these (words):

Brahmā said:

18b-19a. Being free from difficulty, remaining. under my command, practise penance. With this purification of the mind (i.e. having thus purified your mind) you (will) have obtained the fruit of your existence.

19b-20. Saying so, the Lotus-born (Brahmā) created a broad-eyed daughter. The Lotus-born god gave her to him as his wife. Having named her Varāṅgi, the grandsire went (back).

21-23a. Vajrāṅga too went to a forest with her for (practising) penance. The lord of demons, having eyes like lotus leaves, of a pure mind, and having a great penance (to his credit), practised penance for a period of a thousand years with raised hands. Till that (period was over), he remained a great ascetic with his face hung down and remaining in the midst of five fires[1], not eating anything and practising severe penance.

23b-25a. Then for a thousand years he resided in water. The great-vowed wife of him, who had entered the water, remained, observing silence, at the bank of that lake only. Without eating anything, the very lustrous one entered upon a severe penance.

25b-26. When she was practising penance, Indra scared her. Going in the form of a monkey to that great hermitage, he snatched her holy seat and casket containing sandal etc.—(the material of) worship.

27-28a. Then, he, taking up the form of a lion, frightened her; then taking up the form of a serpent he bit both her feet; but due to the power of penance she did not die.

28b-30. When Indra, troubling her with many scares, did not stop (from doing so), the queen of Vajrāṅga, thinking it to be the wickedness of the mountain (on which she was seated), set about to curse the mountain. Seeing her about to pronounce a curse, the mountain, in a human form, with frightened eyes, said to that beautiful Varāṅgī:

The mountain said:

31. O you lady of a great vow, I am not wicked. I deserve to be resorted to by all human beings. This angry Indra is doing what is disagreeable to you.

32-33a. In the meantime the period of a thousand years was over. Knowing it, the Lotus-born (i.e. Brahmā) came to the lake and being delighted said to Vajrāṅga:

Brahmā said:

33b. O son of Diti, I shall satisfy all your desires; get up.

34. Thus addressed, the lord of demons, the treasure of penance, with the palms of his hands folded in obeisance said (these) words to the grandsire:

Vajrāṅga said:

35. Let me not have the demonish disposition. Let me have (i.e. let me go to) the eternal worlds. Let me be interested in penance. Let the body stay (as it is).[2]

36-37. Saying, “Let it be so,” the lord (Brahmā) went home. Vajrāṅga too, of a firm control, completed his penance. Desiring to meet his wife (i.e. he desired to meet his wife, but) did not see her in his own hermitage. Afflicted with hunger, he entered a thicket of the forest.

38-39a. (When he looked here and there) in the thicket to obtain fruits and roots, he saw his dear helpless wife, whose face was covered with a tree. Seeing her, the demon, consoling her, said:

Vajrāṅga said:

39b-40a. O good one, who, desiring to go to the world of Yama, has harmed you? O you proud one, quickly say which desire you want to be satisfied.

Varāṅgī said:

40b-42a. I am repeatedly scared, tossed away, beaten up and harassed, like one without a husband, by the fearful lord of gods. Not seeing the end of my grief, I am determined to give up my life. Give me a son, who would save me from the ocean of misery.

42b-44. The very mighty lord of demons, thus addressed, and with his eyes full of anger, though capable of retaliating the king of gods, set about to practise penance again. Knowing his harder intention, Brahmā again hurriedly came to the place where the son of Diti remained.

Brahmā said:

45. O son, why are you again setting about to practise the vow? I shall give you the son (endowed) with vigour, (as) desired by you.

Vajrāṅga said:

46-47a. I, who got up by your order from the profound meditation saw my wife scared by Indra. The beautiful lady, said to me (that) she desired a son. O grandsire, you, who are pleased with me, give a saviour son (Tāraka) to me.

Brahmā said:

47b-48. O hero, enough of your penance; do not get into insuperable suffering. A very powerful son, who will loose the braided and ornamented hair of divine ladies will be (born to you).

49-51. Thus addressed, the lord of demons, having saluted the great grandsire, and having gone to his queen delighted her, whose mind was distressed. The fortunate couple then went to their own hermitage. That Varāṅgī, of an excellent complexion, carried in her womb for a thousand years, the embryo (i.e. the seed) deposited (by Vajrāṅga). At the end of a thousand years Varāṅgī brought forth (a son).

52-53. When that demon, fearful to all the world, was being born, the whole earth trembled, the great oceans were agitated, the mountains shook, and fierce winds blew; the best sages muttered prayers, and fierce beasts roared.

54-55. Lustre left the Moon and the Sun, and the directions were covered over with mist. When that great demon was born, all great demons, being delighted, came there, and also the demon-females. Full of joy they sang, and hosts of celestial nymphs danced.

56. O you of great lustre, when the great festival of the demons was (being celebrated), gods along with Indra, became mentally dejected.

57. At that time seeing the son, Varāṅgī was filled with joy. The lord of the demons also greatly prized that (newly-) born son.

58-59a. As soon as Tāraka, the lord of demons, was born he was consecrated as the sovereign emperor of the entire kingdom of the Asuras, which was capable of being compared with the earth, by the chief demons like Kujambha, Mahiṣa etc.

59b-60a. O great king, when Tāraka got the great kingdom (i.e. when he became the emperor), he, the greatest among the demons, said these proper words:

Tāraka said:

60b-62. O mighty demons, listen, all of you, to my words. O demons, gods would destroy all the families (of us). (Between gods and us) eternal enmity due to the practice of our families has mounted. All of us, resorting to (i.e. depending upon) the might of our own arms will practise penance for curbing gods. There is (i.e. should be) no doubt about this.

63-64a. Saying so, and getting their consent, he went to the Pāriyātra mountain. For a hundred years he practised all the penances like not eating at all, honouring the five (fires), eating leaves of trees (only) or subsisting on water (alone).

64b-65. When thus his body was emaciated and his penance grew in strength, Brahmā, having come there, said to the lord of demons: “O you of a good vow, ask for a boon”. He chose (the following boon): “I should not die (i.e. be immune to death) from all beings”.

66. To him then Brahmā said: “Since death is certain to beings, (you may) ask for death at the hands of him of whom you are not afraid.”

67. The great demon, the lord of demons, deluded by pride, thought (for a while) and chose death from a child seven days old.

68-69. Saying, “All right”, Brahmā went home, and also the demon. Then he said to his ministers: “Make ready my army quickly. If you desire to do what I like, then you must supress the best gods. O demons, I shall have uncommon joy when they will be suppressed.”

70. Having heard Tāraka’s words, a demon named Grasana, the general of the king of demons, made ready the army.

71. Having beaten the deep (-sounding) kettle-drum, he quickly called the demons, and also very brave ten crores of lords of demons.

72-73. Leading them was Jambha. Next was the demon Kujambha. Mahiṣa, Kuñjara, Megha, Kālanemi, and Nimi, (and also) Manthana, Jambhaka, Śumbha—these ten lords of the demons were the leaders. There were hundreds of others, who were capable of being compared with the earth.

74. The chariot of Tāraka was decorated (i.e. yoked) with a thou sand eagles, and with eight wheels; it had a train of poles and its expanse was four yojanas.

75. The chariots of Grasana, Jambha, Kujambha and Kumbha were yoked with tigers, lions, donkeys and horses.

76. The chariot of Megha was yoked with elephants; that of Kālanemin with a demon. Nimi’s great elephant had four tusks (like the Airāvata) and resembled a mountain.

77. The lord of demons, named Manthana, was seated in a chariot, having its horses a hundred cubits in length. The very mighty Jambhaka had mounted a camel resembling the lord of mountains.

78-79. Śumbha was mounted upon a ram. Thus, other mighty demons, seated in various vehicles, had put on bright armours and were decorated with bracelets and turbans. That army of the lion of demons (i.e. of the brave demon) appeared to be of a terribe form. The army had very intoxicated elephants and was crowded with horses and chariots, a number of foot-soldiers and banners.

80-83a. In the meanwhile, Vāyu, the messenger of gods, seeing that army of the demons in the residence of the demons went to report it to Indra. Having gone to the divine assembly of the great-souled Indra, he told (him) among the gods, the time for action that had approached. Hearing it, the greatarmed lord of gods, having closed his eyes, said these words to Bṛhaspati at that time.

Indra said:

83b-84a. Now comes this fight of the gods with demons. Tell (us) that should be done (whicḥ is) supported by political wisdom.

84b-85a. Hearing these words of Indra, the lord of speech, the magnanimous, the highly intelligent Bṛhaspati said these words:

Bṛhaspati said:

85b-88a. O best among gods, this is said to be ancient, natural state of those who wish to be victorious: political stratagem preceded by negotiations, and (keeping ready) the army with its four divisions.[3] These are the four constituents (of political wisdom)[4]: negotiation, creating dissension, bribery and punishment (i.e. open attack). The greedy cannot be won over by negotiation (or conciliation); those having same qualities (i.e. belonging to a homogeneous group) cannot be won over by creating dissension; here bribery will not lead to success; if you like (i.e. if you please), in this case, openly attacking the plunderers by force is the only remedy.

88b-89a. Indra, thus addressed, giving thought to what should be done, said these words in the assembly of gods:

Indra said:

89b-92. O you residents of heaven, listen attentively to my words. You, of divine souls, are the enjoyers of sacrifices; and always remaining in (i.e. adhering to) your own greatness with your families, you are always engaged in protecting the world. Be prepared to fight; unite my army; get (your) weapons; worship the deities of weapons. O you lords of gods, having made Yama the General, quickly bring together the vehicles and the aeroplanes.

93-94. Thus addressed, those who were prominent among the gods armed themselves. The invincible chariot of the lord of gods was yoked with a myriad horses, was decorated with golden bells; it had many wonderful properties; it was approached by gods and demons: it was harnessed by Mātalin.

95-96a. Yama, surrounded on all sides by fierce servants, filled with flames that would rise at the time of the universal destruction, having seated himself upon a he-buffalo, and moving in the sky, remained at the head of the army.

96b. Agni, mounted upon a goat, and having a kind of missile in his hand, settled himself.

97. Vāyu, with a goad in his hand, increased his speed. The revered lord of water (i.e. Varuṇa) had mounted upon a lordly serpent.

98. The lord of demons, moving in the sky, and (looking) terrible on account of having a sharp sword, occupying a chariot, to which men were yoked, got settled in the battle.

99-100. The lord of wealth (i.e. Kubera) with a mace in his hand, (was seated) in a chariot to which large lions were yoked. The Moon, the Sun, the two Aśvins, the invincible generals of the divine army in the three worlds were endowed with the army having four divisions. That assemblage of the divine army numbered thirty-three crores.

101-103a. Indra was seated upon the elephant named Airāvaṇa, which looked like Himālaya, (decorated with) white charming chowries, and (with) golden lotuses and spotless, beautiful garlands, made charming (i.e. decorated) with sprouts (i.e. lines) of saffron and with his temples crowded with sporting swarms of bees. He, of a magnanimous mind, who had put on variegated ornaments and garments, whose thunderbolt was big, who was decorated with a cushion, who had serpentlike scattered armlets, whose sproutlike feet were honoured by a thousand eyes, looked charming in the heaven.

I 03b-104a. That army was thronged withstreams of groups of horses and elephants; its umbrella and banner were white; it had continuous (streams) of invincible foot-soldiers; it was difficult to be subdued on account of warriors having various weapons.

104b-105. Then the very mighty Aśvins, Maruts, with Sādhyas and Indra, Yakṣas, goblins, Gandharvas, having many missiles in their hands, all came together and struck the lord of demons.

106-108a. However, the missiles did not cling to his body resembling thunderbolt and a mountain. Then having jumped down from his chariot, Tāraka, the king of the demons, hit crores of gods with his hands and kicks. The armies of gods, that escaped being killed, being afraid, and having given up weapons, fled in (various) directions.

108b. Seeing the gods fleeing, Tāraka said (these) words:

109. “O demons, do not kill the gods. Tying them, bring them quickly, and show them to Vajrāṅga. Let him see gods.”

110-112. Then the demon, being praised by Diti’s sons and well-served by the celestial damsels, having tied, in the battle, the regents of quarters led by Indra and with Rudra, with strong bonds, as a herdsman leading the beasts, again went, after getting into his chariot, to his own house, beautified with Siddhas and Gandharvas, and having a top like the Vipula mountain.

Footnotes and references:


Pañcāgni—See note on 41.83. above.


Śarīrasya.... text is not quite clear.


The fourfold army: (1) Elephants, (2) Chariots, (3) Cavalry and Infantry.


Aṅgacatuṣṭaya: (1) Sāman (conciliation or negotiation), (2) Dāna (bribery), (3) Daṇḍa (punishment, open attack), (4) Bheda (creating dissension).

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