The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes Taraka’s Victory in the Battle which is chapter 21 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the twenty-first chapter of the Kaumarika-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 21 - Tārakā’s Victory in the Battle

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nārada said:

1. On seeing him fleeing with his flag and bow smashed and destroyed and the Daityas rejoicing, Indra (was in a dilemma) not knowing what he should do.

2. The Lord of Suras came near Viṣṇu in a great hurry. He then spoke to him (Viṣṇu) sweet words instilling enthusiasm.

3. “O Lord, why do you play with these Dānavas of vicious minds? How can that man whose vital and vulnerable points have been found (controlled) by wicked men, pursue his activities?

4. A base man treated indifferently by a powerful person thinks that it is due to his strength. Hence an intelligent man should never neglect a mean-minded one.

5. If you think that a warrior on a chariot becomes victorious by the excellent fighting performance of a good warrior going ahead, O Lord, who was your friend (and assistant) formerly at the time of slaying Hiraṇyākṣa?

6. Daitya Hiraṇyakaśipu was very powerful and arrogant. But coming into contact with you, he was destroyed like a blade of grass (in fire). Who was your forerunner (i.e. going in front of you) (then)?

7. Formerly, the very powerful Daityas who were equal to Madhu and Kaiṭabha went to the jaws of Death after coming into clash with you, like fireflies entering a fire.

8. In every Yuga, O Hari, Daityas met with death at your hands. Similarly, O Viṣṇu, you are the support now of Suras here, who are terrified.”

9. On being urged thus, Viṣṇu of great powerful arms, increased in size, strength, splendour and prosperity. The slayer of enemies had been the support of all living beings.

10-15. Then Keśava said to the Thousand-eyed one (i.e. Indra) laughingly: “What you said is true. It is the same as the words within me (i.e. what I feel about it). I am able to burn all the Dānavas in the three worlds within a moment. But Tāraka cannot be killed by anyone excepting a seven-day old infant. Mahiṣa and Śuṃbha—these two are destined to be killed by a woman. Jaṃbha has been cursed by Durvāsas that he will be killed by you. Hence you kill Jaṃbha who has been excessively haughty. That Dānava cannot be killed by any other living being except you. Protected by me in battle, you do annihilate Jaṃbha, a thorn unto the universe, with your divine valour.

On hearing these words of Viṣṇu, the slayer of the enemies of the immortal ones, the Thousand-eyed Lord (Indra) ordered the presiding (i.e. Commanding) officers of Suras to arrange the army. Then requested by Devas, Viṣṇu arranged the army (strategically).

16. Hari made the eleven Rudras occupy the frontline going ahead as they possessed the essence of the heroism and power of penance of all the worlds.

17-24. They assumed the Ālīḍha[1] posture. Those great gods were very powerful. Their necks were blue. They applied Tripuṇḍra (‘three parallel lines of sacred ash’) on their foreheads and the crescent moon on their crests. They were tawny-eyed and wielded spears in their hands. Their lofty matted hair was tawny-coloured. They wore lion’s hide (as dress). Those (gods) with terrible arms, besmeared their bodies with sacred ash.

Those Rudras beginning with Kapālīśa had routed great Asuras (formerly in battles). They were: Kapālī, Piṅgala, Bhīma, Virūpākṣa, Vīlohita, Ajaka, Śāsana, Śāstā, Śaṃbhu, Caṇḍa and Bhava.

These eleven Rudras of infinite strength and superhuman power protected Devas roaring like rumbling clouds.

Śatakratu (Indra) was seated on the Airāvata who was very huge and had the lustre of Himālaya. He wore a golden lotus-garland and was adorned with a series of great golden bells that were moving to and fro. He had four tusks. He could assume any form as he pleased. Ichor was flowing from his cheeks. On this intoxicated elephant Indra was seated. He sat on it like the refulgent sun on the peak of Himagiri. Māruta (‘Wind-god’) of unmeasured exploit protected the region to his left. Agni (‘Fire-god’) who filled all cardinal points with flames protected the other one. Viṣṇu, the lord of battles, was the protector of Indra at the rear.

25-27. Ādityas, Vasus, Viśvedevas, Maruts, Aśvins, Gandharvas, Rākṣasas, Yakṣas, Kinnaras and the great serpents—crores and crores of these—made their (separate) groups marked by their respective emblems. They proclaimed their reputation through groups of bards and panegyrists going ahead. They moved ahead proud of (their ability) to slay Daityas. They had weapons and banners of different colours.

28. The army of Indra was guarded and defended by groups of immortal beings. With the sound of the vehicles reverberating and adorned with crores of banner-cloths white and (fluttering) far above it increased the sorrow of the sons of Diti.

29-30. Gajāsura, a Daitya in the form of a bull-elephant, saw the army of Suras coming. He was a great performer in the ocean of wholesale killing. He had an axe for his weapon and made a cup of teeth and lips (teeth firmly cutting the lips). He stamped and crushed Devas under his feet and hurled the others with his trunk.

31. He killed the others with his battle-axe. The great Daitya had terrific power. Even as he was killing (them), Devas, Gandharvas and Kinnaras became furious.

32-33. All of them jointly discharged a mass of miraculous weapons and missiles such as battle-axes, discuses, small javelins, mallets, lances, barbed missiles, sharp (pointed) arrows and unbearable mallets. The Daitya swallowed all of them like the leader of a herd (of elephants) swallowing mouthfuls of his food.

34. With the tips of (his) curved fangs throbbing with anger, he made a roaring sound slapping his palms. Killing Suras in the battle, he moved (so quickly) everywhere, that the Dānava could not be seen (in one place for a long time).

35. A loud noise of “HĀ, HĀ” (Alas!) arose from all those groups of Suras whereon Gajāsura fell.

36. On seeing that army fleeing all round, the Rudras with egotism rising up like flames of fire, spoke to one another:

37. “O, catch hold of the leading Daitya, O powerful ones split him; drag him. Break (pierce) him with sharp spears through, at the vital points.”

38-39. On hearing those words, Kapālī took up his spear, sharp and shining at the tip, and wiped it with his left hand. In his excitement his eyes were gaping. It appeared as though he had (scattered) red and blue lotuses in all the quarters. Then he went towards the great Daitya, knitting his eyebrows.

40. He held the spear with a firm grip of his fist. Kapālī, devoid of impurities, struck the Dānava in the elephant form, on the frontal globe of his forehead.

41. Thereupon all the other ten Rudras struck the great Daitya whose body resembled a huge mountain, by means of spears made of iron without impurities (? steel).

42-43. From all the tubular vessels and pores (of the Daitya) blood began to flow. With the flow of blood caused by the spears of the Rudras, the Dānava Gaja shone like a pure lake in the autumn, full of full-blown blue lotuses without any impurities and surrounded by swans whose bodies had white splendour like Rudras.

44. In the course of fighting Daitya Gajāsura with his sprout-like ears moving to and fro, pierced the infuriated Kapālī and Bhava in the navel region by means of his tusks.

45. On seeing him engaged with two Rudras, the (other) nine Rudras immediately pierced the body of the enemy of the immortal ones by means of arrows and spears.

46-47. Then the great Asura left off Kapālī and Bhava. With great speed, the infuriated Daitya rushed towards the nine Rudras. He pressed them with the kicks of his feet and trunk as well. Then, when he became exhausted by the spear fight, Kapālī caught hold of the trunk of the enemy of the immortal ones (i.e. Devas).

48-50. With great velocity he whirled Gajāsura. On seeing that the Daitya was sick with fatigue and that the life had slipped a little and that he was not enthusiastic to fight, he himself lost enthusiasm in the battle. Even as he (i.e. Gajāsura) was being whirled, his terrible hide was scraped off. In spite of blood dripping from every part of it he made it his robe. Then Devas eulogized him in various ways by means of many hymns.

51-53. And they said to him: “He who kills him will die”. On seeing the form of Kapālin covered by the elephant-hide, they were frightened and fled. They hit and they fell down in thousands.

Thus, when that leading Dānava of great strength was shaken and tossed about, Nimi rushed quickly riding on an inebriated elephant with sounds raised by a hundred Dundubhis. He agitated the armies of Suras.

54. To whatever directions the elephant of Nimi went, Devas fled from them (i.e. cardinal points) along with their vehicles and trembling frequently through fear cried loudly.

55-58. Even at the smell of his (i.e. Nimi’s) elephant, the elephants of Suras fled. While the armies of Suras were running away, the Chastiser of Pāka (i.e. Indra) stayed there along with the eight defenders of the cardinal points and Keśava.

When his (i.e. Nimi’s) elephant came near the elephant of Śakra, the latter became frightened. He trumpeted terribly. Though he was held with great effort, he stood like the Cakora bird (i.e. frightened).

When (his) elephant fled, Indra who was riding on him took an aboutturn and fought with the great Dānava.

59. Śatakratu hit Nimi on his chest with his spear, and with his iron club he struck with great force the elephant on his cheek.

60. Without minding that blow, Nimi of fearless manliness struck Airāvata in the region of the hip by means of a hammer.

61-62. On being hit by the mallet in the course of the fight, the elephant of Śakra, mountain-like in form, went down (i-e. sat) to the earth on his hind legs. With agility that great elephant of Devas got up quickly. On being threatened by the elephant of Nimi, he fled from the battlefield.

63. Then a harsh and strong wind blew raising much gravel and dust in the face of Nimi’s elephant. He did not tremble but stood like a mountain shedding blood from his body. Thereby he appeared like a mountain full of lakes of minerals (in its body).

64. Dhaneśa hurled a heavy iron club forcefully towards the elephant of the Dānava and the iron club fell and hit his head.

65. On account of that stroke of the iron club the elephant fell into a swoon. With a great force he hit the earth with his tusks, and fell down like a mountain,

66-68. When the elephant fell down, there was a great leonine roar everywhere among the armies of Suras. It became intense by the trumpeting sound of the elephants, neighing sound of the horses and the sounds of slapping of the hands by the archers in the army. On seeing the elephant killed and Nimi turned away (from the battlefield), and also on hearing the leonine roar of Suras reverberating in the cardinal points, Jaṃbha, blazed with anger like a fire that is enkindled.

69. Thereafter, with his eyes turned red with anger and fixing an arrow to the bow, he said in a shrill voice, “Stop, stand.” He also encouraged his charioteer.

70. On seeing him coming with the arrow fixed to the bow, Śatakratu who never got frightened, grasped his bow tightly.

71-74. He took up an arrow with a crescent-moon-like tip, cleaned with oil and capable of flying in a straight line. With that, the slayer of Bala and Vṛtra, cut off his bow along with the arrows.

After casting aside that bow which had been broken, Jaṃbha, the delighter of Dānavas, took up another heavy bow and with it he discharged oil-cleaned, straight-flying arrows which had the shape of a serpent.

He pierced Śakra in the region of the collar bone with ten arrows, in the region of the heart with three arrows and in the shoulders with two arrows.

75-78a. Śakra discharged a volley of arrows towards the great Dānava. Even before the arrows discharged by the arm of Śakra reached him, while they were in the sky itself, the great Dānava cut them into a hundred pieces by means of arrows comparable to flames of fire. Thereupon, Devendra covered the Lord of Dānavas carefully by means of a volley of arrows, like the sky with clouds during the rainy season.

The Daitya too pierced (Śakra) by means of sharp arrows, just as the Wind scatters away the cluster of clouds which could not be stopped at the cardinal points.

78b-81. When Śakra could not excel the great Dānava on account of his fury and agitation, he discharged an extremely miraculous Gandharva missile. Thereupon, the whole of the sky was pervaded by its refulgence. (It created) Gandharva cities of miraculously wonderful shapes having different kinds of ramparts and arched gateways, discharging showers of arrows all round.

The great army of Daityas which was being killed by that shower of arrows sought refuge in Jaṃbha saying “Save us, save us”, O descendant of Bharata.

82. Then Jaṃbha of great virility, roared and laughed frequently. Remembering the good behaviour of good people, he assured them freedom from fear.

83. Then he discharged a very excessively frightful missile named Mauśala. Thereupon, the entire universe became filled with terrible threshing rods.

84-85. All the Gandharva cities were shattered by them. Then with a single fierce blow, he smashed to smithereens the Sura, his chariot, horse and elephant. They fell into hundreds and thousands of pieces.

Thereafter the lord of Suras, Śakra, discharged a Tvāṣṭra missile.

86. When that missile was being fixed (to the bow), sparks of fire came out. Then thousands of mechanical arts and lores(?) manifested themselves.

87. (Now) the fight (was carried on) by those machines (in the sky). The firmament became devoid of stars. The Mauśala missile was broken by those machines. Asuras were killed then.

88. Jaṃbha then released a Śaila missile that could reduce the collection of machines to powder. Thereupon showers of stones of the Vyāma (i.e. the measure equal to the distance between the tips of fingers when the arms are stretched on either side) length began.

89. Whatever machines had been made by the Tvāṣṭra missile, O descendant of Bharata, were reduced to very small pieces like gingelly seeds, on account of the fall of those stones.

90. Falling with great speed, those stones then fell with great force and hitting the heads of Devas, tore up the ground and the army consisting of the four units.

91. Thereupon, the thousand-eyed Purandara despatched the Vajra missile whereat the great shower of stones and rocky slabs was shattered all round.

92. With the Śaila missile subdued, Jaṃbha who resembled a mountain (in steadiness) despatched an Aiṣika missile. He (thus) smashed the valour of the enemy.

93-95. When the great missile Aiṣika, the extremely terrible missile, prevailed, the armies of Devas were burned along with the chariots and elephants. The Vajra missile that had split even mountains was destroyed by the Aiṣika missile. While the armies were being burned all round by the refulgence of the missile, the Slayer of Bala, the Chastiser of Pāka, despatched an Āgneya (‘of Fire-god’) missile. On account of this missile, the Aiṣika missile was destroyed.

96. When that missile was repelled, the Pāvaka (i.e. Āgneya) missile gained the upper hand. The army of Jaṃbha, his chariots and the charioteer were burned.

97. When his missile had been repulsed the great Daitya who had presence of mind and brightness of conception discharged a Vāruṇa (i.e. presided over by Varuṇa, the god of rain) missile that could subdue the flames of fire.

98. Thereupon, the sky was filled with clouds shining with lightning streaks. The earth was covered with, hailstones as big as elephants.

99-101. The universe was filled with torrents (of rain) equal in size to the trunks of elephants.

On seeing the Āgneya missile subdued and repulsed, Indra despatched a matchless Vāyavya (i.e. presided over by the Wind-god) missile. Thereby the clouds were dispelled.

As the cluster of clouds was dispelled by the power of the Vāyavya missile, the sky became devoid of turbidness. It assumed the lustre of the petals of the blue lotus. On account of the excessively (violent) gust of wind, all Dānavas began to shiver.

102-103. Even those who were the most powerful among them could not stand there in the battle(field). Thereupon, Jaṃbha became a mountain extending to ten Yojanas for the curbing of the violent wind. The Commander of the army of Dānavas (in the form of a mountain) was covered with various kinds of trees and creepers and endowed with different kinds of miraculous features.

104. When the violent gusts of wind subsided with the great Daitya’s assumption of the form of a mountain, Śatakratu discharged the great Aśani (i.e. thunderbolt) of adamantive features.

105. When that Aśani fell upon it, the caves and the streams all round upon the Daitya in the form of a mountain became shattered and scattered.

106-107. Thereupon the magical power of transforming into a mountain, of the great Dānava receded. With the deceptive power of transforming into a mountain thus repulsed, the excessively proud Lord of Dānavas transformed himself into a terrible elephant of the huge size of a mountain. He trampled and crushed the army of Devas. With his tusks he killed Suras.

108-110. The Dānava seized some with his trunk and thrashed them on his back. While he was destroying the armies of Suras, the slayer of Vṛtra (Indra) discharged a Narasiṃha missile that was unassailable. Thereupon, thousands of lions came out, thanks to the power of the Mantra. They had claws resembling a saw. Out of delight they made loud sounds of boisterous laughter and displayed their curved teeth. When the body (of the Dānava) was split and torn by them, he gave up the deceptive Māyā of being an elephant.

111. Thereupon he became a terrible serpent with a number of hoods. The great warriors in the army of Suras were burned by his poisonous breath.

112. Striking (enemies) in the course of the battle, Śakra discharged a Garuḍa missūe. Thereupon thousands of Garuḍas emerged from it.

113. Those Garuḍas came upon Jaṃbha who had assumed the form of a serpent. The Daitya was split into pieces and his Māyā (‘magical power of deception’) was destroyed.

114. When his Māyā was frustrated, Jaṃbha, the great Asura, assumed a matchless form reaching up to the region of the Moon and the Sun.

115-117. Rolling his eyes, he wished to swallow the leading Suras. The army of Suras along with the elephants and the great warriors entered his mouth that was terrible and of which the palate was very formidable descending up to Pātāla. When, the armies were being swallowed by the powerful Dānava, Śakra became dejected and distressed, driving his vehicle (i.e. Airāvata) who had already become tired. He did not know what to do then. He spoke thus to Janārdana:

118-120. “Command what it is that has to be particularly done by us subsequently (in this situation). We shall do that unto this Dānava who is desirous of fighting.”

Thereupon the liberal-minded Hari spoke this to the Lord with the thunderbolt for his weapon (i.e. Indra):

“O cowardly one afraid of the enemies, the battle should not be abandoned now (though) it is terrible. Do not go. Do not be confused and deluded. O Lord, remember quickly the missile pertaining to Nārāyaṇa with great purity of mind.”

On hearing it he discharged it (i.e. the Nārāyaṇāstra).

121. In the meantime the Daitya with his open mouth had swallowed within a short while three hundred thousands each of the Kinnaras, Serpents, and Rākṣasas.

122. Thereupon, the Nārāyaṇa missile struck his chest. With his heart pierced by the great missile, he shed much blood.

123. Thereupon, along with his refulgence the form of that Daitya too was destroyed. Thereat, the Daitya vanished after making a laughter of a loud report.

124-128. Stationed in the firmament in an invisible form that leading Daitya discharged Śastrāśani (‘weapon of thunderbolt’) that was a great destroyer of the armies of Suras.

Similarly the Dānava showered axes, discuses, adamantine arrows, mallets, lances, swords, javelins (having iron-tipped ends), Guḍas (elephant armours) etc. out of anger. They were indestructible as well as inexhaustible. The ground was filled with those terrible missiles discharged by the Dānava on the armies of Devas. It was also filled with arms, heads with earrings, thighs resembling the trunks of elephants, lordly elephants comparable to mountains, chariots with their shafts, poles, rods, wheels and axles broken and the charioteers as well. The earth became impassable as ñesḥ and blood formed a massive bog.

129. The great army of Suras flowed like a stream where blood constituted eddies and whirlpools, the huge bodies of elephants formed rocky boulders and (wherein) headless trunks danced.

130-138a. It caused great delight to jackals, vultures and crows. After drinking the blood the flesh dripping blood was scattered (here and there) by Piśāca species (ghosts). They were dancing along with their wives who had no (undue) excitement. A certain haughty wife was infuriated when the Piśāca collected the hoofs of the horses along with the pearls found within the frontal globes of elephants. Some of them rejoice in their ear-rings. Others look at it with anger. Great experts in the matter (of ornaments) of the ears pacify them in many ways. Some say, “O Devas, O Daityas, we pray to you, you must fight like this till the end of the Kalpa for the sake of satisfying us.” Some said, “This is a Daitya (plump with flesh). This is Deva who has great quantity of flesh. If he were to die in the battle we shall give the Creator (many offerings) without being requested.” While the heroes were fighting some (Piśācas) began to lick the sides of their mouths.

Some said, “From this (frothy) water we know whether the fellow is wicked or good.” Some who had inclinations towards religion performed the Tarpaṇa rites (libations etc.) to the Pitṛs and the Devas, by means of the auspicious blood and flesh on the banks of the river of blood.

Some of them were seated on heaps of flesh, but seeing a piece of flesh in the hand of another, they began to shout loudly, “Give me, give me” in the same manner as miserly rich men.

138b-142a. Some of them were satiated themselves but when they saw others eating they angrily bit their lips and looked at them with extreme malice and jealousy. Some furiously struck their bellies and censured them because they wished for everything edible, like persons who are themselves satisfied (yet) wish for other’s wealth. Some said, “Only today has the creation of Brahmā become praiseworthy. Previously the good dawn and the excellent stars were futile”.

Thus here and there, in the midst of various gossips and dialogues of the meat-eating Piśācas in the course of the battle, Jaṃbha who was invisible reduced Devas to powder by means of his weapons.

142b-143. Then Śakra, Dhaneśa, Varuṇa, Pavana (the Wind-god), Anala (the Fire-god), Yama and Nirṛti, all of great power, collectively discharged divine missiles in the sky aiming at the Dānava.

144. The missiles of the Devas discharged towards the Dānava became futile like the hundred actions of excessively cruel-minded people done to harm a noble-minded person.

145-146. The tired Daityas and the Devas did not know where he had gone. (Devas) had all their limbs pierced and split by the missile of the Daitya. Like cows oppressed by chillness they got merged into one another expressing “Alas! what will be the future?”

On seeing that situation Hari spoke to Indra and the Devas:

147. “O king of Devas, remember the Aghora Mantra. The missile thereof has the power and potentiality of the Pāśupata. It had been granted to you by Rudra who was delighted. It has never been repulsed and it hits and strikes excellent heroes.”

148-150a. On being enlightened and urged by Hari thus, Śakra bowed down to the Bull-emblemed Lord Śiva. He then took up the arrow with crescent-shaped tip which is well-honoured in divine battle and was destructive of enemies. The intelligent (Lord Indra) fixed it to his invincible bow and charged it with Aghora Mantra. He then drew the bowstring as far as his ear (along with the arrow) whose rays were infallible and released it quickly for slaying him.

150b-153. On seeing the great missile coming on, the Asura shed his Māyā suddenly. His face began to tremble. His body became stiff. He became excited Then the arrow with crescentlike tip charged w ith the Mantra of the excellent missile and suddenly discharged from the bow of Purandara in the course of the great battle, emulated the mid-day Sun by means of its (dazzling) body. It caused the head of Jaṃbha to fall down along with the ear-rings—the head that had the lustre of a prominently projecting crown, that had been rendered fragrant by many sweet smelling flowers and the hair on which had the lustre of the fire that diffuses smoke all round.

154. When Jaṃbha was killed by Indra Suras praised him much. Lord Vāsudeva too said, “Well-done! Well-done!”

155. On seeing Jaṃbha slain, the leading Dānavas turned their faces back with their hopes and ambitions shattered; all of them fled to Tāraka.

156. On seeing them frightened and on hearing that four of them (leading Dānavas) had been slain, he urged the charioteer, “Rush quickly towards Indra for the battle.”

157-160a. He said, “So be it”, and when Tāraka was seated in the chariot, he proceeded ahead. The Lord of Dānavas went forth with haughtiness, anger, pride, exhibition of valour as well as disrespect and contempt (for others). He got into his chariot fitted with a thousand Garuḍas. All the weapons had been neatly arranged therein. It was well-guarded by means of all kinds of missiles. It was richly endowed with all the prosperity of the three worlds. It produced a rumbling sound like the roar of the Annihilates at the close of a Kalpa.

He was accompanied by a great army. He caused the cardinal points and the intervening directions to reverberate.

160b-164. On seeing him, the Thousand-eyed one (i.e. Indra) abandoned his vehicle, the elephant, and occupied the chariot got ready by Mātali, It was well-adorned with heated gold. It extended to four Yojanas. Groups of Siddhas rendered it beautiful. Gandharvas and Kinnaras sang songs therein. Celestial damsels made it tumultuous with their dances. It was capable of offering resistance (to others) by means of all kinds of weapons. It was well-studded with great gems and jewels.

The Guardians of the Quarters in their coats of mail surrounded that chariot from all sides. They stood all round the chariot along with Garuḍa-emblemed Lord. Thereat the earth quaked. A rough wind along with the groups of Maruts blew.

165-167. The seven oceans agitated and surged. The lustre of the sun was dimmed and destroyed. Then the missiles blazed and the vehicles shook. Then everything was raised and elevated. Then Tāraka was seen. On one side was Tāraka. On (the other) side were the groups of Suras.

The ruin of all the worlds was on one side, the uplift of the world was on the (other) side. All the living beings, mobile and immobile ones, became afraid and dismayed.

168-169. In that encounter, O son of Pṛthā,’ Suras praised thus: “The missiles, the refulgence, the wealth, the warriors, the glory, the strength, the heroic deeds, the inherent power, the puissance—all these are the result of our penance, the penance of Devas and Asuras.

170. With excellent arrows resembling fire and having bent joints Devas pierced Tāraka who was approaching them.

171. Without minding those wounds in his chest made by the arrows of Devas, the great Daitya filled the sky, the quarters and the earth with arrows.

172-176a. The Daitya pierced Nārāyaṇa with seventy arrows; Hutāśana (Fire-god) with ninety; Māruta (Wind-god) on the head with ten; Yama with ten; Dhanada with seventy; Varuṇa with eight and Nirṛti with twenty-eight arrows. The Daitya then hit and injured each of them with ten arrows that tore the vital points. The Daitya then pierced Mātali with three arrows. He hit Garuḍa with ten arrows and the buffalo with nine arrows. Thereafter the Daitya split the coats of mail of the Devas into small pieces like gingelly seeds with arrows having bent joints. He split their bows too.

176b-180. Thereafter, the Devas devoid of coats of mail and bows became afflicted much. By the time they could take up other bows and release arrows, (the Dānava) fitted an arrow having a lustre similar to that of deadly fire and hit Śakra in the chest. He too released arrows. Then (the Dānava) looked up in the sky and saw Garuḍa and Viṣṇu having the shapes and features, of a hundred Suns. He hit them with two arrows and they fell into a swoon.

With sharp arrows he made the bodies of Yama, Vahnī (the-Fire-god), Varuṇa and Nirṛti terror-stricken and unconscious. He gathered arrows together and made Vāyu breathless through them.

181. Hari regained consciousness and encouraged the Lords, of the Quarters. With an arrow he removed the head of the charioteer from his body along with the ear-rings.

182. Blazing with anger against that comet (i.e. harbinger of evil) Vāsava caused his banner to fall down after cutting his flagstaff. He split the crown of the king of Daityas.

183. Dhaneśa (Kubera) who was infuriated, split his bow into many pieces by means of his arrows.

Vāyu reduced his chariot with the Earth as the shaft (? ‘kṣoṇikūbaram’) to small pieces like gingelly seeds.

184-187. In the course of the battle, Nirṛti with his arrows, reduced his coat of mail to small pieces like gingelly seeds.

After performing this matchless deed, Devas beginning with Vāsudeva licking the sides of their mouths shouted “Stop! Stop!”

On seeing this activity of Devas, Tāraka of matchless valour, discharged a terrible mallet in the course of the battle towards the Thousand-eyed god.

On seeing the mallet approaching in the course of the battle, the mallet that could not be warded off, the Chastiser of Pāka jumped off from the chariot and came down to the earth. The mallet of very harsh sound fell in the interior part of the chariot.

188. It smashed the chariot to smithereens, but Mātali did not die.

The Daitya took up a sharp-edged spear and hit Keśava in his chest.

189-190. He hit Garuḍa in the shoulder, who sat down and became senseless. He split Rākṣasendra (i.e. Nirṛti) with a sword and made him fall on the ground.

He made Yama also fall to the ground after hitting his face. He struck Vahni with a javelin and made him unconscious.

191. With his foot he dragged Vāyu and made him fall on the ground. He knocked and hit Dhaneśa furiously with the tip of his bow.

192. Within a short while he killed each of the groups of Devas with their own respective weapons like a Guru dispelling the ignorance of boys with their own respective arguments(?)

193. Regaining consciousness, Viṣṇu seized his irresistible discus which was painted by the blood, suet and fat of leading Dānavas.

194. Keśava vehemently discharged it on the chest of the leading Dānava. That discus with the lustre of the sun fell on the Daitya.

195. Like a blue lotus (hurled) on a rock, it got shattered on his body.

Thereupon Mahendra too discharged his Vajra that was being adored for a long time.

196-198a. In his fight with the leading Dānava, it was on this that Śakra had pinned his hope of victory. Reaching the person of Tāraka who was heroic, it split into a hundred pieces and its rays were scattered.

Then Vāyu who was never dejected in his mind roared with great energy. He discharged his goad that had the splendour of blazing fire.

198b-200. On seeing it shattered on his body, Vāyu became extremely infuriated. He uprooted a prominently huge mountain with fully blossomed trees in its caves. He hurled the mountain extending to ten Yojanas at the leading Dānava.

Just as a boy plays with a ball, the leading Daitya caught with his left hand smilingly that mountain which was approaching him.

201-202. Striking with the same (mountain), he made Antaka (Yama) fall down.

Then, Kṛtānta (Yama) who was beside himself with fury, lifted up his invincible baton. He whirled it with all his might and hurled it at the head of the leading Daitya and it fell on the head of the Asura. The Daitya caught hold of it smilingly.

203. Fire-god who could burn up the worlds at the close of the Kalpa, blazed with anger and hurled a Śakti towards the leading Dānava in the course of the battle.

204-205. That shone on his chest like a garland of Śirīṣa flowers.

Thereafter, drawing from its scabbard the sword as pure as the sky, brightening the three worlds with its lustre, Nirṛti, the Guardian of a Quarter, hurled it at the leading Dānava. It fell on his head.

206-209. Even as it fell, the sword immediately broke into a hundred pieces.

Thereupon, the infuriated Lord of Waters (Varuṇa) who desired to bind the arms of the Lord of Daityas, discharged the noose that had an excessively terrible form. Reaching the arm of the Daitya, that noose suddenly broke up (in the form) of a lordly serpent with an awful row of teeth like a saw.

Thereupon, the Aśvins, Moon-god and Sun-god, Sādhyas, Vasus, Yakṣas, Rākṣasas, Gandharvas and Serpents—all these mighty ones, once again struck the Lord of Daityas severally with different kinds of missiles.

210-214. The missiles did not have any adverse effect on his body that was comparable to an adamantine mountain. Then, Tāraka, the Lord of Dānavas, jumped out furiously and killed crores of the Devas with his fists and kicks.

On seeing such a vigour of the Daitya, Lord Hari said, “Flee, O Devas” and saying thus he vanished. Devas beginning with Śakra became eager to flee but they were held back, being dragged by the hair, and with blows of fist and kicks struck by the excessively haughty Daityas, the chief of whom was Kālanemi. They joyously caught hold of their hair and dragged. They were taken across the dry river and bitten on the divine paths(?) Thus the Guardians of the Quarters were pulled and tossed in many ways by the great Asuras.

215. Then a tumultuous sound rose amidst the powerful Daityas, O descendant of Bharata, shaking the earth, heaven and the nether worlds.

216. The joyous Daityas then eulogized Tāraka, shouting “Be victorious”. They filled and blew loudly the conches having the lustre of jasmine and the moon.

217. They made terrible twanging sounds with the bows and the arrows and dapped their hands. The extremely delighted Daityas shouted and danced repeatedly.

218. Like a cowherd driving herds of cattle in front of him, the Lord of Daityas kept the Devas in front. Seated in his chariot he went ahead accompanied by Asuras.

219-221. The powerful Tāraka went to his city (Mod. Khambhat or Cambay) situated on the shore of the sea (near the confluence of the river) Mahī with the sea. It extended over twelve Yojanas. It was rendered beautiful by a rampart wall made of copper. It contained many palaces aṇd mansions. It was rendered splendid by many miraculous features. In that city throe (types of) sounds never died out—the sound of music, the twanging sound of the bowstring and the sound of “Let the worldly pleasures be enjoyed”. After entering the city the king went to his palace.

222-225. With great festivity and celebration, he was received and honoured by his sons and wives. There, the king went to his brilliant assembly-hall and occupied the throne. He was eulogized by the sons of Diti and gratified and amused by celestial damsels. The Lord was surrounded by leading Daityas seated on brilliant thrones, as if by lions.

In the meantime a divine lady appeared in that city. In beauty she was unequalled, O son of Pṛthā. She was adorned with different kinds of ornaments. On seeing her, king Tāraka was very much surprised. Surprised thus amidst those Daityas, he addressed them with these words smilingly:

226. “Who are you, gentle lady? Tell me, O lady fascinatingly beautiful in form, what have you to do with me? Formerly we have never seen a woman like you.”

The woman replied:

227-230. Know me, O excellent Daitya, who am the goddess of splendour and glory of the three worlds. O Lord, I have been acquired by you by means of your penance and heroism.

I adhere to and serve that man who has heroism, is never idle or lethargic, is endued with austerity and is never cowardly, who is a liberal donor and reasonable enjoyer.

I abandon at once, O delighter of Diti, a coward, a person who is extremely morose and dejected, one who harasses chaste ladies and one who fears and suspects everyone.

Mahendra had been almost abandoned by me when your mother had been insulted by him. Now he is under your control.

231. Tāraka then said to her, “Surely, so be it”. That gentle lady, Lakṣmī, honoured in the three worlds, permeated him.

232. Then the women who were very well adorned joyously received him with due honour, taking up the Vīrakāṃsya[2] (‘a bell-metal pot or plate used to wave lights before victorious, heroes on their return’) and felicitated him.

233. The Devas who had been bound by the Daityas were highly dejected. They stood at the gate, and were made the laughing stock of women, the Daitya and other citizens.

234. In the meantime, Viṣṇu, the intelligent one adopted the form of a Daitya. Standing in the midst of those who were laughing in derision, he recited these two verses:

235-236. “What is seen of them is very small and insignificant. What is it that the king will not do, recollecting the anger of his mother? There is no one who does not bow down after approaching a very powerful person. O Suras, stay here by adopting the way of white cranes like Markas (? monkeys).”

237. On hearing this advice directly from Hari, the advice which had been intended to be a sarcasm, the Devas stayed there in the form of monkeys.

238. They began to dance in many ways. The Daityas and the womenfolk of the Asuras urged and incited them and joyously fed them.

239. Thereupon Viṣṇu, the intelligent one, spoke to the gatekeeper of the Daitya, “Announce (to the king) these monkeys for the sake of amusement and diversion of the great king.”

240-242. The delighted gatekeeper entered the assembly. He knelt on the ground and joined his palms in reverence. Then he spoke clearly and concisely (lit. in a very few words) without any quibble whatsoever, “O Lord of Daityas, groups of monkeys are standing at the entrance. They are capable of amusing you very well. If you have a desire, it behoves you to see.”

On hearing this the king said, “Why do you then delay?”

243-244. On hearing these words the gatekeeper said to Kālanemi, “The great king wishes to see these monkeys immediately, O Chief of bodyguards. Along with these please entertain our Lord.”

Thereupon, Kālanemi took them to the king.

245. Among the Markas, the Viṣṇu Marka also went after abandoning the form of a Daitya. Then they danced well in front of Daitya Tāraka.

246-247. All the Markas were cheered and applauded by the Daityas. Being amused, they shouted with joy and delight. The king was excessively delighted by their dance. He said, “O Marka-devas, I am delighted and so am granting you freedom from fear. Be pleased to stay in my abode. No fear need be entertained iṇ the heart.”

248. On hearing this, Viṣṇumarka danced and spoke thus, “O king, we wish to know the limit and boundary of your abode.”

249. On being asked thus, Tāraka, the excellent Daitya laughed and said, “My abode is three-storeyed. This is the group-of the three worlds.”

250. Harimarka then said, “If it is so, remember your own words. O king, let these Markas roam about in all the three worlds without any sort of fear.

251. O king, adherence to truth is far superior even to a hundred horse-sacrifices. Remembering this virtue, O Lord of Daityas, make your words truthful.”

252. Then the Daitya who was excessively surprised, spoke these words, “Well, O monkey, you are highly enlightened. Tell me the truth. Who are you?”

The Lord replied:

253-254. If it has reached your ears, I am Nārāyaṇa by name. It is to protect the Devas that I have adopted the form of a Marka. If that is an honourable virtue, keep up your own words. Let these Suras roam about your abode.

255. O leading king, haughtiness should never find a place in your heart, thinking yourself to be a hero if you see the power of Kāla (Time or Death).

256. If people die successively, there is no slayer as such. It is sheer foolishness, if the hater thinks that he is the perpetrator also.

257. Who are they whom mishaps do not beset at due time? They (i.e. mishaps) afflict sages, Devas, great Asuras, people who are old and learned in the three Vidyās (or Vedas) and ascetics in the forest. It is the power of Kāla and not that of any doer or agent.

258. Neither by the power of Mantras nor by intelligence nor by manliness does one get what he is not destined to get. At the due time even one who is asleep does get it.

259. None of these is conducive to the happiness of a person: service rendered to parents, worship of deities or other good behaviour and conduct.

260. Neither learning nor penance, neither charitable gifts nor friends and kinsmen are competent to save a man afflicted by Kāla.

261. Without the power of Kāla, men cannot avert (the destiny). Hundreds of obstacles cannot prevent that which is bound to happen from happening and that which is bound to go from going.

262. Meritorious deeds are like the physical body. Kāla is like the individual soul. It is when these two join together that effects are achieved, O Daitya.

263. Alas! O Daitya, crores of Daityas far superior to you, have, in the days gone by, suffered miserable plights and have been tossed and wafted by the wind of Kāla like cotton from the silk-cotton tree.

264. After getting this position you are thinking too much of yourself. You consider yourself as eternal as Lord Brahmā, the source of all living beings.

265. This is not an unshakable position. Nor can it be said that it is an unending post of anyone in particular. On account of your childish intellect you think, ‘This is mine.’

266. You believe in what should not be believed. You consider the unstable, stable. Under the delusion of ‘This is mine’ you wish to possess and retain the glory of the three worlds.

267. This (position) cannot be a steady and permanent possession of yours, of ours or of others. It is after passing through many others that it has come to you and is stationed in you for the time being.

268. O Tāraka, she (i.e. Trailokya-lakṣmī) is fickle. She will stay with you for some time and like an extremely restless harlot she will pass on to others.

269. I do not see now those persons by whom the three worlds have been enjoyed richly endued with gems and jewels as well as medicinal herbs along with rivers, mountains and mines.

270-272. There have been many leading Dānavas of great might, viz. Hiraṇyakaśipu the hero, the invincible Hiraṇyākṣa, Prahlāda, Namuci the hero, Vipracitti, Virocana, Kīrti, Śūra, Vātāpi the warrior, Ilvala, Aśvagrīva, Śaṃbara, Puloman, Madhu, Kaiṭabha and the others, the chief of whom was Viśvajit. All of them have been killed by Kāla. Indeed Kāla is mightier than (all) others.

273. Austerity extending over ten thousand years has been performed by all of them. It is not correct that you alone have practised a great penance. All of them were engaged in holy and truthful rites. All of them possessed very great learning.

274. All of them were donors, giving plenty to the deserving. All of them were sons of the daughters of Dakṣa. Refulgent and victorious though they were, they were slain and annihilated by Kāla.

275. Give up your desire for sensual enjoyments and lustful experiences. Give up this pride arising from affluence and prosperity. When this affluence vanishes, grief will afflict you.

276. Do not grieve at the time of sorrow. Do not be excessively delighted at the time of happiness. Abandoning (i.e. ignoring) the past and the future, maintain your activity in the present.

277. Indra was always alert and engaged in Yogic practice. Still Kāla has beset him. Pardon me, O Daitya, ere long he will beset you too.

278. Who is competent to stand before me in battle if I am angry? But Kāla, the powerful factor, has intervened. Hence I stand waiting, O Tāraka.

279-281. You alone know me, O Daitya, who I am and of what nature is my prowess. In the different Kalpas, crores and thousand billions of great Daityas have been killed (by me). Of them, O Tāraka, you cannot equal even a thousand-millionth part. In every Kalpa, it is I who create the entire universe beginning with Brahmā. If I wish, I keep it (ever) alive. If I do not wish, I destroy it in a moment. It is not that I do not dare to kill you in the company of all the other Daityas.

282-285. But I do not violate Dharma even to the slightest extent with the tip of the finger. In spite of being the most prominent one, if I infringe upon Dharma which is of the nature of the excellent Brahman, in whom will Dharma seek refuge?

Do not think that I am the agent; the lord who is the permanent supreme authority is Kāla. It brings to perfection the universe as in the case when fruit appears in the tree. Misery as well as happiness arise from the same type of Karmans and Puruṣa (person) undergoes it, O Daitya. See the wonderful nature of Kāla. It should be noted by all intelligent men that everything happens due to the influence of Kāla.

286. Learned men know that when one’s own Karman becomes ripe, it yields the fruit. Hence one should perform auspicious rites which will be of a meritorious nature.

287. There shall be happiness, thanks to meritorious deeds. It is certain that misery will result from sins. Thinking about this, O leading Daitya keep your promise if you can honour my words wholly.

Tāraka replied:

288-289. On seeing me stationed here accompanied by Kālanemi and others, whose intellect will not become pained? Even that of Mṛtyu who is desirous of killing others (will become pained). But your intellect is steady. It is not pained. It visualizes the reality.

290-291. Whatever you say is true. There is no doubt about it. After seeing the universe leading (towards destruction) which embodied being will be eager to believe in the body or in riches in the world? I too know this world as non-eternal in this way.

292-295. The world is thrown into the fire of Kāla which is terrible and which goes on perpetually. It is a secret thing (known to a few alone). Even as a man says, “I shall do this today. I shall do this tomorrow”, Kāla dispels everything, like the flood in a river that sweeps away everything on its way. Only now have I seen this. It has not been forgotten. The prattle of men who are being taken away by Kāla is heard. But the people who are attached to jealousy, false prestige, covetousness, lust, anger, fear, desire, delusion and arguments do not understand it. O Keśava, they cannot discriminate between what is weighty (i.e. important) and what is not weighty, what should be done and what should not be done, O Keśava.

296. I know you, O Viṣṇu, as the Lord, the most excellent one among all living beings. What shall we do? On account of our powerful natural traits, we do not meditate on you.

297. Some worship you with devotion, some with enmity, some with frivolous sport. All of them are worthy of your compassion. You are the immanent soul of all embodied beings.

298. The ancient and eternal Dharma is the same unto all living beings. Let all the heaven-dwellers who, being seized depend on me, are released by me, now go away.

299. Again, in the form of monkeys, they must roam about in all the three worlds. They must not desire a share in the Yajñas. This is the stipulated condition.

300. When this was said by Tāraka, the Devas were delighted.

If a ram, even after being shorn, be released alive from a butcher, it is (definitely) a gain.

The Lord advised:

301-303. O Lord of Daityas, be a knower of reality. Be endowed with learning, wisdom and power of penance. You are able to see Kāla clearly like a myrobalan on the palm.

O highly intelligent devotee of Śiva, who are conversant with the behaviour of Kāla, O son of Vajrāṅga, you are blessed. You are one worthy of being loved by intelligent ones.

Enjoy the three worlds as long as the power (potency) of your penance lasts. These Suras will roam over the universe under this condition.

304. After saying this, lord Nārāyaṇa, surrounded by the herd of Markas, went away from that region and came to the mountain Meru.

305-307. After reaching Meru, Hari spoke these words, “All of you go to Brahmā. He will do what is conducive to your welfare. You must never violate the conditions. They should be maintained.” Saying this, lord Viṣṇu vanished there itself, after being bowed to and eulogized by the Devas. The Suras went to Brahmā.

308. The excellent ones from heaven who went there eulogized him. His brilliance shone in all the three worlds. Attaining great prosperity by the grace of Śiva, the heroic son of Vajrāṅga too rejoiced.

309-310. He himself became Indra: Nīmi was appointed in the place of Vahni; Kālanemi became Yama; Staṃbha was appointed in the place of Nirṛti. Mahiṣa officiated as Varuṇa; Meṣa took charge from the Wind-god; Kujaṃbha became the officer in the place of Dhanada. Tāraka gave the posts of others to other Daityas.

Footnotes and references:


In this posture, while shooting an arrow, the right knee is advanced and the left leg is retracted.


When warriors return home victoriously, it was the custom to welcome them by waving lights around their faces. The bell-metal or brass dish-like plate was used to keep the lights on it in the ceremony of light-waving. That plate being associated with reception of heroes is called Vīrakāṃsya.

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