by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 1,763,776 words
This page describes Taraka is Slain which is chapter 32 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 thirty-second chapter of the Kaumarika-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
2. On hearing it all his limbs became wet (with sweat). The king then spoke to the gatekeeper, “I wish to see the Ministers. Bring them quickly. Do not delay.”
3-4. Then, at the instance of the king, those (Ministers), the chief of whom was Kālanemi, came.
Tāraka, the Daitya, said: “What is it that you have done? You have never given me any news regarding the enemies. You are intoxicated with wine and lecherous pursuits. Hence you are not worthy of being Ministers (Advisers). One who gives advice to the king conducive to his welfare is called a Mantrī.
The Ministers replied:
6. Do not be anxious, O great king. We will defeat the Suras. What fear can we have from an infant? This anxious thought itself is shameful.
7-11. All this can be easily managed. Let the Bherī (drum) be sounded firmly and loudly.
Thereupon at the instance of the Lord of Daityas Bherī (drum) was beaten intensely and repeatedly which made (the Daitya soldiers) equip themselves suitably and get ready for war. It shook the entire universe.
On being remembered by the king of the Daityas crores and thousands of crores and tens of hundreds of Parārdhas of great Asuras came there immediately from the mountains, rivers, oceans, nether worlds and firmament. They had the lustre of the fire at the close of the yugas. The commander Kālanemi immediately advanced against Devas. Tāraka was seated in a chariot that extended to four Yojanas and had many wonderful features. He appeared to be somewhat dejected and miserable.
13. Then the goddess Earth along with parks and forests quaked. The sky was ablaze with the stars. The universe became extremely confused.
14-17. The entire universe was plunged in darkness. The sky was pervaded by vultures. Thereupon, the great army, the chief of which was Kālanemi, was seen there, O son of Pṛthā. It was equipped with many weapons. It resembled the clouds at the time of deluge. It was terrible and unlimited in number. It roared and uttered different kinds of words. The army rushed against the Devas in battle. It attacked Lord Śaṅkara. By means of mountains, Śataghnīs (‘Hundred-killers’) and iron bolts the army of the Devas was driven away by the Daityas who had great weapons and were roaring. Within a moment the army became averse to fighting.
18. When they were being struck and hit by the Asuras like a forest by fires (the army of the Devas) fell down like great forests of trees at the site of forest fires.
19. The heaven-dwellers fled here and there with their bones, heads and bodies shattered. On being killed by the great Asuras, they did not find any leader, help or guide.
21-22. “O heroes, welfare unto you. Give up your fear. Take up your weapons. Turn your attention to fighting. Entertain no pain or fear at all. This Mahāsena who has the brilliance of deadly fire and is seated on his peacock is your protector. Why are you afraid in spite of this?”
23. On hearing the words of Śakra the heaven-dwellers were pacified and cheered up. Taking Śakra as their resort they fought with the Dānavas.
After fighting in various ways, O son of Pṛthā, Kālanemi jumped up suddenly on to the head of Airāvaṇa. He hit the elephant with a kick and Śakra with his fist roaring loudly. Both of them fell on the ground. Thereupon Kālanemi lifted up the unconscious Śakra, put him in the chariot and went towards Tāraka. Then the Devas beginning with Antaka began to cry loudly:
30-31. “The king is being taken away. He is being removed. There is no one to protect him.”
In the meantime by means of arrows discharged from the Pināka bow Śarva had slain Jaṃbhaka along with his army and given great delight to vultures (by offering a feast of dead bodies). He approached Kālanemi and seated in the chariot spoke to him these words:
32-34. “Of what avail is Mahendra? Fight with me, O Dānava of extremely vicious intellect professing to be a hero. Thereupon you will know what is heroism.”
Who will fight with a naked man? Even if he is killed and the same were to be mentioned in the assemblies of Daitya warriors, there will be a general laughter. O wicked-minded one, look for someone like you.
On hearing those contemptuous words Śarva was surprised.
Then Hari said to Skanda: “Of what avail is this sinful base Daitya to you, O Lord? See my prowess for a short while.”
39. The Daitya laughingly and playfully restrained and curbed every arrow and miraculous missile of divine power that Hari discharged.
41. Then the demon jumped down from the chariot and opened his great mouth widely. He seized Garuḍa by his beak along with Viṣṇu and put them both into his mouth.
42. Then all the Devas and all the worlds fainted. The earth quaked. The seven mountains and the seven oceans trembled.
43-51. In that great battle Kālanemi roared and danced. When the time for hurrying up approached, Viṣṇu became steady and composed. With his discus he tore open the belly (of the Daitya). Coming out he shone like the rising sun. By means of his Māyā power Hari deluded him and thereafter took him to the nether worlds. There he lay like a log of wood. Afterwards ten crores of Daityas were killed with the discus.
The delighted Devas became free from stupefaction instantly. Then Śarva embraced him and said:
“O Janārdana, well done! well done! There is no one else to do what has been done by you. This Daitya is stronger and far more powerful than the demons, very difficult to be conquered, beginning with Mahiṣa and others—those demons who were struck down by the Goddess. He has been defeated by you. O Janārdana, this demon ought to have been killed by you in the Tārakāmaya battle. Again in the form of Kaṃsa he should be killed by you in your eighth incarnation.”
Thus Devas praised Vāsudeva, the sire of the universe. When the army of Daityas regained consciousness, they killed and destroyed them by means of volleys of arrows. Shattered by the great weapons those bodies of Daityas fell on the ground, O son of Pṛthā, like the scattered clouds falling all round. Thereupon the army became leaderless and helpless.
52. By means of their weapons they were turned away by Devas who followed Skanda. Thereupon, all the joyous and delighted Devas shouted loudly in glee.
53-57. They played on all the musical instruments jointly. On seeing his army broken and shattered with all the heroes killed in the great battle and on observing the great joy of Devas, Tāraka said to his charioteer:
“O charioteer, see my armies routed by Suras. They had been looked upon by us like blades of grass! See the wonderful way in which Kāla (works). Hence, take my chariot quickly to Devas. Let the base Suras see the power of my arms and run away.”
Saying this to the charioteer and shaking his very huge bow the king whose eyes became red with anger entered the army of Devas. On seeing the demon coming Hari spoke to Skanda:
58-61. “O Kumāra, see the Lord of Daityas, who is like Kāla (god of Death) at the close of a Yuga. This is that same (demon) by whom Śiva had been propitiated by means of terrible penance. It is he by whom Śakra and others had been transformed into monkeys for one hundred million years. It is he who could not be defeated by us despite our pile of all (superior) weapons in the course of the battle. This great Asura should not be viewed with contemptuous disregard. He is Tāraka. This is your seventh day. Now it is mid-day. Slay him before sunset. Otherwise he cannot be killed.”
After saying thus Keśava hurriedly spoke to Śakra and others:
62-63. “Make the leading Daitya get exhausted so that he can be easily slain.”
Thereupon at the instance of Viṣṇu the dwellers of heaven roared and approached (i.e. attacked) him (i.e. Tāraka) with great joy and showered him with volleys of arrows. Laughingly Tāraka routed all the Devas.
64-67. He routed Devas like an atheist of evil conduct who drives away (i.e. disregards) the instructors in different scriptures. They were unable to bear that hero who was occupying the great chariot like a person overpowered by epileptic fits and uttering displeasing words. Driving away all the Devas within a moment Tāraka came towards Kumāra shaking his great bow. On seeing him coming Skanda proceeded against him; Bhava guarded his left side and Hari the right one. The attendants who were thousands of millions in number guarded him from the rear.
69-71. Then approaching Kumāra playfully Tāraka spoke: “O boy, you are indeed a very small infant. Why do you, at the instance of Devas, come to me for fighting like a moth falling into fire? What do I gain by killing you? O boy, you have been released by me. Go and drink milk. Take this ball. Play with it.” On being told thus, the preceptor of the Yogins laughed and said to Tārāka:
72-74. “Do not disregard contemptuously the state of being a small infant. Even an infant serpent causes distress and strain. Even the young (rising) sun is very difficult to look at directly. Even a small fire is very difficult to be touched. A Mantra consists of very few letters. But is it not found effective and fruitful, O Daitya?”
After saying this he seized the ball hurled by the Daitya. He charged it with the Śakti missile and discharged it against the Daitya. On being hit with it his chariot was reduced to powder.
75-76. It was a chariot four Yojanas in extent and was equipped with many wonderful features. When the excellent chariot was shattered, the sons of Garuḍa became free. They flew up with great difficulty and entered another ocean. Thereupon the infuriated Tāraka hurled a mallet at Guha.
77-79. It appeared like the Vindhya mountain. Skanda caught hold of it and struck it against his broad chest. The mallet was then smashed to a hundred pieces. The Daitya thought that the Six-faced Lord was invincible in battle. He then recollected the words of Brahmā. On seeing him as though frightened, crores of Daitya heroes roared loudly and showered Mahāsena with various kinds of weapons.
80-85. Then infuriated Skanda hurled the terrible Śakti on them. When the miraculous Śakti missile was thrown by Skanda of unmeasured splendour, excessively terrible clusters of meteors fell on the earth. The extremely terrible Śakti was hurled by the son of Bhava. A crore of Śaktis fell out from it, O leader of the descendants of Bharata.
Then the powerful Lord struck with the Śakti missile held in his hand. Eight thousand billions and a thousand crores of the Daityas were struck down. Thousand million and a crore of vehicles were struck down. He made the leading Daitya (so deformed that) his belly appeared like a deep eddy. The Daitya had been surrounded by ten nikharvas (‘billions’) (of his soldiers).
When the enemies were being killed, O son of Pṛthā, the followers of Kumāra made a tumultuous sound filling all the ten quarters. Some were killed by the Śaktis that had come out from the sparks of the Śakti missile.
86. Thousands of Daityas were tossed, shaken and killed by the flag. Some were frightened by the sounds of bells. They fell down with broken hearts.
87. Some were killed by the wings of the peacock. Some by his feet. Crores of them were pierced by the cock and swallowed.
88-90. Others numbering thousands of billions were killed by the attendants (of Skanda) and the Mothers. Thus, when the Dānavas were being killed by Guha and others, Tāraka came to Skanda along with the misfortunes of the worlds as it were. He took up his shining iron club having a hundred thousand bells. It was unthwartable too. With it he struck the peacock and the peacock turned his face. On seeing Skanda with his face averted (from fighting) Vāsudeva spoke in a hurry:
91. “O Lord of Devasenā (‘the army of Devas’), discharge the Śakti quickly against the great Asura. Keep your own promise. Look the sun is about to set.”
93. One who is not Rudra himself will not worship Rudra. Hara himself (appears) in the form of the devotee. What will be the nature of our life after killing this (Daitya) who is of the form of Rudra?
94. If they are insulted and abused, reviled, neglected and disregarded, pained and tormented, the devotees of Rudra burn down the entire family. What then, if they are killed?
95. If he were to kill me in the battle, let him kill me. That would be better. But, O Viṣṇu, I am not prepared to take up arms against a devotee of Rudra.
Śrī Bhagavān (Viṣṇu) said:
96-97. This is not befitting you, O Skanda. Listen as to who is a genuine devotee of Rudra. Sages conversant with the Vedas know that there are two bodies of Śiva, the Lord of the daughter of the Mountain. One is that consisting of the beings. The other is the visible one. One who hates and harasses all living beings is not said to be a genuine devotee of Rudra.
98-100. A person who is devoted to Rudra must be merciful towards all living creatures. Hence slay this (false devotee) of the Pināka-bearing Lord, because he is the hater and harasser of all living beings, especially of human beings. O Lord, in this matter I do not, find any fault for you.
Even after hearing these words of truthful meaning from Govinda, O descendant of Bharata, (Kumāra) was not inclined to kill him because he remembered him as a devotee of Rudra. Thereupon the infuriated Tāraka rushed at Keśava.
101. He said thus, “O extremely wicked-minded one, I will kill you. See my power. I shall destroy the root of all Devas, pious rites and intelligent ones. After killing you today I shall chop off all of them. See my power.”
102-107. O Lord of Daityas, why should there be (a fight) between you and me? Listen to the truth. Here is Śarva in his chariot. If he is killed, everything is killed.
On hearing this, the infuriated Tāraka immediately proceeded towards the chariot of Rudra.
Approaching the chariot of Rudra he caught hold of its pole. When the infuriated Tāraka caught hold of the pole suddenly the heaven and the earth cried loudly and the great sages fainted. The Daityas of very huge size resembling (large) clouds roared. They were sure that they would conquer.
Surmising the idea and intention of Tāraka, Lord Śaṅkara abandoned the chariot along with Umā and mounted his bull. Repeating the Mantra “Oṃ” Brahmā resorted to the sky suddenly.
108. Then Tāraka lifted up the chariot that had been made by Rudra and had a hundred lions (yoked to it), dashed it against the ground and smashed it to powder.
109-110. The trident, the Pāśupata and other weapons approached suddenly. But Bhava, Giriśa, stopped them saying, “He can be managed.” Thereupon realizing his self-deception as well as that by Rudra, the Daitya maliciously roared and rushed suddenly against Maheśvara who was riding his bull.
111-115a. Thereupon various Devas rushed (against the Daitya) in the following manner: Janārdana lifted up his discus and rushed speedily. Indra lifted up his thunderbolt. Yama raised his staff roaring loudly. The infuriated Dhaneśvara roared raising his iron club. Varuṇa roared with his noose held aloft. Vayu raised his terrible great goad. The Fire-god (Vahni) lifted up his Śakti of great refulgence. Nirṛti raised his sharp sword. The infuriated Rudras lifted up their tridents. Sādhya-devas raised their bows. Vasus lifted up iron bolts. Viśvedevas raised pestles and thrashing rods. The Moon and the Sun their refulgence, the Aśvinīdevas the medicinal herbs, the serpents the blazing poison and Himādri and other important ones lifted up the mountains.
115b-1 17. On seeing the Devas roaring and rushing (against him), O son of Pṛthā, Tāraka turned suddenly trumpeting like a great elephant. With his adamantine fist he hit Śakra in his arm and made him fall down. He seized the staff from Yama, struck him with it on his head and made him fall down. With his (owṇ) chest he hit Dhanada and his iron club and made him fall on the ground.
118. He seized the noose from Varuṇa and bound him with it and toppled him down. With his great goad he went on striking Vāyu for a long time on his head.
119. With Phūtkāras (‘blowing out wind from his mouth’) Tāraka subdued the blazing fire. He seized Nirṛti’s sword, struck him with it and made him fall down.
120. Rudras were tortured with (their own) tridents, Sādhyas with their bows, Vasus with their own iron bolts and Viśvedevas with their own pestles.
121-122. He covered the Moon and the Sun with dust particles. They appeared as though they were stationed in an anthill. He smashed the terrible and great medicinal herbs of Aśvinī-devas by means of palms. By trampling and treading on them he made the poisonous serpents rid of their poisons. The mountains were choked and suffocated much by means of (other) mountains.
123. Thus within a muhūrta he made the army of Devas unconscious. It cried out “Hā, Hā” (Alas!) in distress. Then he rushed at the Discus-wielding Lord (i.e. Viṣṇu) roaring.
125. Not being able to see Viṣṇu, the infuriated Daitya Tāraka rushed against the Bull-vehicled Lord with great speed lifting up his closed fist.
126. Like a streak of lightning, Lord Hari became (partly) visible and invisible. Lifting up his arm he loudly proclaimed to Devas:
127. “Alas, O Devas, run away, if you have sufficient strength to flee. All of us who came here at the instance of an infant have been deluded.
128. Has this verse not been heard—the verse that was formerly sung by the son of the Self-born Lord? ‘Whatever is deposited and placed on trust in infants, women, bad scholars, and epileptic patients (or forgetful persons) is no better than fallen in peril (or being lost).’
129-130. All that is (i.e. the truth of that is) borne out by direct experience now. If we had previously known that he would not kill a devotee of Rudra, if he had not taken that vow also, we would not have had this great sorrowful plight and destruction.
131. Or, if this evil-minded one does not kill the Lord of Daityas, do not be afraid, O highly fortunate ones. I shall kill your enemies.
132. See now, O Devas, the unlimited power of my arms. Look (now), with a single (blow of my) fist I shall destroy the base Daitya.
133. My right arm is permanently offered to you by me. I shall kill your enemies, I shall keep up this promise.
134. Just as a violent gust of wind dispels clouds, I shall in a moment destroy ail those great Asuras who are in the sky, on the earth and in the nether worlds.”
136. While Govinda was running, all the three worlds shook. The entire universe swooned. Devas became excessively afraid.
138. Thereupon Siddhas in the firmament directly spoke these words: “O Vāsudeva, eschew your anger. If you are furious, where will be the universe?”
139. He did not pay heed to that statement. He said, “I shall not do anything else.” The infuriated Had called and challenged the great Daitya and rushed at him.
140. He spoke these words:
“Let me acquire that merit which those who strenuously protect good men acquire. Let me acquire that merit which those who kill the vicious ones get.”
141. Then Mahāsena saw Tāraka proceeding towards Rudra and also Hari the ancient Puruṣa (Being) pursuing Tāraka.
142-144. He saw the universe extremely agitated. He recollected his own promise made earlier. He noticed the red disc of the sun suspended in the western horizon. He heard an ethereal voice as follows: “O Skanda, why are you exhausted and dispirited? If after killing a Brāhmaṇa you repent and install a Liṅga of Īśa, you will be liberated from the sins of hundreds of slaughters.” On hearing this (ethereal speech) Skanda became extremely infuriated so much so that he appeared desirous of burning the earth.
145. Then the son of Bhava jumped down from his peacock, laughingly embraced Keśava with his arms and spoke:
146. “I know you, O Viṣṇu, as one endowed with great intellect and exploit. You can kill all the Daityas of the past, present and future by means of Huṃkāras (i.e. humming and hissing sound in anger).
147. You alone are the slayer of Daityas, the protector of Devas. You are the person who establishes Dharma (virtue and piety). Here I have joined my palms in reverence to you.
148. Within half a moment, see my prowess. The sun is becoming ruddier and ruddier.”
Thus Vāsudeva was pleased and delighted by Skanda who (duly) bowed down to him.
149. Keśava became rid of anger. He embraced Skanda and spoke these words: “Now Dharma has acquired a patron in you. Suras have a leader in you, O Guha.
150. Recollect yourself what for you have been born from Maheśvara. It is for the sake of protecting good men and annihilating the vicious ones. The birth and the whole life of noble-souled persons is for the sake of Suras and Brāhmaṇas.
151-152. You are born from the splendour of Rudra, the goddess (Pārvatī), Gaṅgā, Kṛttikās, Svāhā and Vahni. Make that splendour fruitful (effective). If one makes use of one’s wealth, vigour and assets for the sake of good people, all those things are really fruitful. Not otherwise, O son of Rudra.
153. Let virtue, Devas, cows, Sādhyas and Brāhmaṇas become delighted today by your vigour and prowess. Exhibit your power and potentiality.”
154-155. If I do not kill Tāraka immediately, let me get the same state (of life) as one gets if one abandons you and Śiva, O Keśava. Let me get that state that one gets by abandoning Śrutis (Vedas), by tormenting and harassing one’s own chaste wife, by keeping aloof from good people, by leading the life aimlessly and fruitlessly and by being ruthless. Let me get that state, O Keśava.
156. When this was averred (by Skanda) a loud sound (of applause) arose from the ranks of Heaven-dwellers. Some of them praised Guha and some praised Lord Nārāyaṇa.
157. Then, in the course of that great battle, Hari mounted on his Tārkṣya and Mahāsena on his cock and both of them rushed at Tāraka.
158-159. Lord Mahāsena was clad in red clothes. His garland and ornaments were red. He was red-eyed with large powerful arms. He had golden armour. He lifted the Śakti with his arm and made all the living beings tremble. Approaching Tāraka he said to him laughingly:
160. “Stop, stop. O excessively wicked one. Your life is held by me (within my power), Let the world be made well pleased and yielder of all rare Siddhis.
161. I am striking at your ruthlessness towards Dharma, Devas and cows. Remember the weapon in which you have had sound training.”
162-163. When this was spoken by Guha and when Tāraka turned a certain woman came out of his head. With her refulgence, she illuminated him, up and down and all the quarters. On seeing the woman Guha said: “Who are you? Why have you come out?”
The woman replied:
164. I am called Śakti, O Guha. I am always stationed on the earth. I have been acquired by this king of Daityas by means of great penance.
165. I stay in all Suras. I stay in Brāhmaṇas devoted to the subjects mentioned in scriptural texts. I stay in chaste women. But I never stay in a place devoid of good qualities.
166. O Guha, the collection (balance) of the meritorious deeds of this (Daitya) got exhausted now. Therefore, I am going away forsaking him. Kill him for the good of the universe.
167. When she went away, the head of the Daitya shivered. His body also quivered and trembled. Then it lost all its vigour and prowess within a moment.
168-170. In the meantime the son of the daughter of the Mountain hurled the Śakti which emitted meteor-like sparks, and surpassed the sun and fire by its lustre. It made a loud terrible sound like the roaring of the ocean at the time of the close of the Kalpa. It seemed to be desirous of burning the universe. It appeared to be the special unfortunate position of Planets marking the time of death of the unfortunate Tāraka. It (the Śakti) could tear up mountains and surpassed all beings in its strength. The infuriated Guha lifted it up, roared loudly and discharged it.
171. While discharging it he proclaimed thus: “If Dharma prevails in the world, if Dharma is ever victorious, then let this Daitya be destroyed by virtue of this truth.”
172. Discharged by the arms of Kumāra that unassailable Śakti which could not be curbed, pierced his (i.e. Tāraka’s) heart. After piercing it, it fell on the earth.
173. With a wavelike movement of water it came back to Skanda. The Asura had been struck with the Śakti. His heart had been split and he made the entire earth vibrate by his loud roar. Then he fell down with his face down and died.
174. Thus, O son of Pṛthā, Tāraka who had scorched the three worlds and who had defeated Suras many times, was killed by Kumāra in the great battle.
175-176. When this Daitya was killed, the entire universe became delighted. Pleasant gentle breezes blew. The sun shone with good lustre. Fires blazed quietly. The (terrific) sounds produced in various quarters quietened down.
177-178. Then the delighted Keśava, the slayer of enemies, said to Skanda once again: “O Skanda, O Skanda of powerful arms, the son of Bala named Bāṇa, is harassing Devas by wielding the Krauñca mountain. O hero, since he is afraid of you now, he has fled to the mountain. Kill with the force of your śakti that demon of evil design who is stationed on the Krauñca mountain.”
119. The Lord of great refulgence pierced with his śakti the mountain Krauñca where many tigers roamed about roaring, and which was full of many trees and animals.
180. The śakti of loud sound pierced the mountain and burned thousands of tigers and ten thousand crores of Daityas and Bāṇa as well.
181-182. Even today, O son of Pṛthā, that hole through the Krauñca exists. It is through it that swans and Krauñca (crane) birds go to the Mānasa lake. After killing Bāṇa, the great śakti came back to Skanda in the same manner as the mind of a good man directed elsewhere is brought back to the original state.
183. Then Hari, Indra and others eulogized; Raṃbhā and other excellent women danced. They played on various musical instruments. The Immortals exclaimed loudly, “Well done! Well done!”.
Footnotes and references:
A war that was waged between Devas and Asuras fighting on behalf of Bṛhaspati and Soma (Candra) respectively, the cause being Tārā, Bṛhaspati’s adulterous wife living with Soma who refused to return her to her lawful spouse.
This shows Skanda’s reluctance to kill a devotee of Śiva (Tāraka) despite his having brought about a havoc and being a terror to the universe. He was persuaded by the Ethereal Voice to kill Tāraka and establish a Liṅga as an act of expiation (vv. 142-144).
It will be seen that Tāraka was deeply demoralized after the desertion of Lakṣmī. He was too nervous to put up a fight. He fell down dead at the stroke of Kumāra’s Śakti.
Now called the Nīti Pass, Kumaun Division, Uttar a Pradesha. It is a passage between Tibet and India (De 104).