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PADMA PURANA

Padma

Birth of Tarakasura, Shivas wedding with Parvati and Kartikeya kills Tarakasura

Sage Kashyap blessed his wife Diti to give birth to a great warrior ‘Vajranga’ who like a diamond was unbreakable and indestructible. Diti desired to avenge the killing of several Asuras in the past by Indra and asked Vajranga to defeat and bring down Indra imprisoned in person; on doing so, Diti put Indra to shame and released him saying that his subduing was worse than his death.

Meanwhile, Vajranga did severe Tapasya to Brahma and the latter created Varangi as the wife of Vajranga. Brahma gave a boon to the pair that a Maha Shaktivaan called Tarakasura would be born after being retained for thousand years in confinement. There were harsh earthquakes and sea-uprisings when the Asura was born and the parents were filled with wild joy and excitement. As the boy attained youth, he turned out to be a frightening demon and developed friendship with other Asuras like Kujambha and Mahisha. Eventually, he reached a Pariyatra Mountain to perform Tapasya without food for hundred years, for another hundred years by consuming only dried leaves and for additional years by drinking water only. Brahma was pleased and gave a boon of invincibility except for a child of seven days of age, to be born of Shiva. After securing the boon from Brahma, Tarakasura raised a huge army of ten crore well-versed and trained soldiers along with the armies of renowned Asuras like Mahisha, Kunjara, Megha, Kaalanemi, Nimi, Manthana, Jambhaka and Sumbha. As Tarakaura declared war with Indra and Devas, Indra commissioned Vayu Deva as an emissary as per the advice of Deva Guru Brishaspati, but the mission failed and so did the proverbial Four ways of ‘Rajaniti’ or the Art of Politics viz. Sama (War-Counselling), Daana (luring by gifts), Bheda or by using the dividing politics of the opponents and Associates and finlally ‘danda’ or actual war. Yamaraja was the Senapati, the Commander sitting over his Vahana Buffalo; Indra sat on his Durjayta ratha (chariot) with Malini as his driver; and all other Devas like Agni, Vayu, Varuna, Kubera, Chandra and Aditya, besides Ashvini Kumars, Marudganas, Sandhyaganas, Yakshas, Gandharvas etc. But Tarakasura was too powerful to Devas whose soldiers were badly bruised and ran without direction. Indra and Devas approached Brahma and he replied that none excepting a seven day son of Shiva and Devi Parvati, called ‘Kartikeya’ could kill Tarakasura and none else in the world.

At this juncture, Indra prayed to Sage Narada to advise further plan in the context of the birth of Kartikerya. The Sage designed a route-map of action, first to approach Himavanta and his wife Mena as also Parvati to prepare them to wed Mahadeva; to secure access to Mahadeva for his consent to let Parvati assist the former in his daily Pujas and approach Kama Deva and Rati Devi to stealthly despatch ‘Pushpa Baanas’ or Amorous Arrows of Love in favour of Parvati while she was in service to Mahadeva. But the Plan did not quite succeed as Mahadeva’s eyes searched for Kama Deva and burnt him off with his third eye. As Devi Rati prayed to Maha Deva, the latter assured that Kama Deva would soon be created again as ‘Ananga’ or devoid of Physique. As Devi Parvati was shaken by the news of Kama Deva’s turning into ashes, she decided to take to Tapasya; her father Himavan addressed the daughter to say: ‘U’ ‘Ma’ meaning ‘Don’t do so’! But still she left to such a Place to perform rigorous Tapasya where even Devas did not desire to visit and was so inaccessible at the heights of Himalayas. As the Plan as scripted by Narada Muni was not yet in place, Indra prayed to ‘Sapta Rishis’ to intervene. The Rishis tested her unambiguous decision to perform the severe Tapasya by arguing with her that she was bent on marrying Maha Deva and none else; in fact she became angry with the Rishis that she reacted sharply against them and even condemned them to suggest any other name as her spouse excepting Shiva Deva. Sapta Rishis approached Maha Deva, underlined Parvati’s strong mental make up to wed only Maha Deva and emphasised the angle of ‘Loka Kalyan’ or the Universal Cause of destroying Tarakasura which could be accomplished only through the wedding with Parvati.Taking the consent of Maha Deva, Saptarishis negotiated the transaction of the holy wedding of Shiva and Parvati successfully and smoothly. At the appointed Muhurtha, the Greatest, the Most Auspicious and Most Unique Wedding of Shiva Parvati was celebrated in which Vishnu and Brahma along with Lakshmi and Vani took active part and so did Indra, Devas, Dikpalakas, the Planets along with their spouses; Yakshas, Danavas, Kimpurushas, Pramathaganas and Piscachas were all thrilled; Gandharvas sang tuneful songs, Apsaras danced away to their glories and Maharshis and Muniganas chanted Vedas and Hymns.  Such an event was neither commemorated in the Yugas that preceded nor followed.

As Devi Parvati and Shiva were enjoying their post-wedding life in beautiful gardens and Sarovars, one fine morning Parvati desired to take her bath and sought to clean up her body dirt after applying scented oils and made an idol of a handsome boy whose head resembled that of an elephant. Shiva played with that idol of a boy for a while and threw it in Ganga who was Parvati’s companion. Ganga brought the idol back from the flow and interestingly the boy became real with life and Devas called him as Gajanana and worshipped him; Brahma gave Gajanana the authority to head Ganas and was called as Ganapati or Ganadhyaksha eversince.Equally fascinating was the incident of Devi Parvati having planted an Ashoka Tree out of sport with Shiva. In a light moment, Indra, Brihaspati, Devas and Maharshis asked Parvati as to what kind of fruit would emerge from the tree and Parvati was extremely delighted with the query. She replied that if any thoughtful human being where there was inadequate water supply at a Place would dig up a Well, then that person would attain Swarga for as many years as the drops of that Well! She further said that if ten such wells were dug up, the ‘Punya’ would be ten times more; if ten bigger water bodies were dug up the ‘Punya’ would be tenfolded more; if ten Sarovars were dug up the resultant fruits would be tenfold more; ten Sarovars would equal the donation of a Kanya (virgin) and such ten donations would equalise one Vriksha (Tree)! Brihaspati, Devas and Rishis were stunned with the reply that Parvati gave and returned to their respective places thinking deep about what Devi Parvati stated!

For a number of years, Shiva and Parvati were in a joyful mood after their marriage and there was little news for Indras and Devas about the possible arrival of Kartikeya who alone could terminate Tatakasura. Agni Deva took the form of a parrot and entered the Palace of Shiva and Parvati who found that Parvati was enjoying a bath in a Sarovar playing with lotus flowers and Lord Shiva was resting in his bed. She found six Krittikas in the Sarovar and told them that she was desirous of seeing the water drops inside the lotus bulbs; the Kritthikas replied in fun that they would show the water drops provided they allow them also to share the joy of a child in her ‘garbha’! The Krittikas further said that they should allow them too to own the child as their own as much as that of Devi Parvati and she agreed to the mutual deal; Krittikas showed the water drops inside the lotus bulb and drank them. As soon as she drank the water drops, there emerged a handsome and healthy boy from Devi Parvati’s right abdomen with Sun-like luster and a powerful Physique wearing a ‘Shula’ and ‘Ankush’ in both of his hands. He was called ‘Kumar’ as many entities claimed parentage maily of course by Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati but also the Krittikas and even Agni. The boy had six brilliant faces and was popularly called by several names viz.Vishakha, Shanmukha, Skanda, Shadaanana and Kartikeya. Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and various Devas gifted the Child several valuable souvenirs like Chandan, Malas, Dhup, Toys, Umbrellas, and Bhushans and instantly appointed him as the Senapati or the Commander-in-Chief of Devas. Lord Vishnu presented several ‘Ayudhas’ or Arms; Kubera provided ten lakh of Yaksha Sena; Agni gave his Tej (Radiance) and Vayu provided speed as his ‘Vahan’ (Chariot). Kumar desired to ascertain as to what he could do for them and in one voice they wanted the demon Tarakasura to be killed and Kumar assured saying: So be it! Inspired by what Skanda Deva guaranteed, Indra sent an emissary to Tarakasura saying that soon Indra and Devas would arrive to destroy the demon and his followers. Danavas wondered that an additional Shakti must have joined the Deva Sena as otherwise they would not dare send a messenger alerting them to come prapared for a battle! Tarakasura remembered Brahma’s boon to him with the qualification of the risk of his death in the hands of a boy! Even Kalanemi and other Daityas had creepy feelings about the might of the stranger who joined the Deva Sena. As Tarakasura saw finally saw the so-called additional Shakti, he laughed away and made fun of the baby boy; he said that Devas did great injustice in projecting him ahead of them so that they could conveniently run away if need be! Kumar replied that there was no need to make fun of us since in a battle of ‘Shastras’, there was the brain power that was important but not the brute force; moreso, one did not require a huge serpent to kill an opponent but even a tiny snake could finish off the enemy by a small bite of poison! Bala Surya was always difficult to look at and never under-estimate a boy! Even as Kumar’s reply was over, the Asura threw a musala but the reply by way of a mighty Chakra from Kumar was instantaneous. The Daitya threw a metallic Bhindipal which Kumar stopped merely by one of his hands. Kartikeya targetted a ferocious mace which made ear-blowing sound and the demon was hardly able to escape its impact. The demon then realised that this boy was not an ordinary kid and one had to be tough with him; he used a very powerful Shastra which was undone by Kartikeya instantly. Then Kartikeya came into his form and massacred thousands of demons and the so-called mighty demons like Kalanemi could hardly defend themselves and ran away to save their skins. As a last resort, Tarakasura hit Kumar’s vahana of Peacock and going wild with this act, Kumara finally used the ‘Nirmal Shakti’ in his hands and threw it with force and speed and the Shakti dazzled the demon’s vision; he tried his best but  could not evade it since it flew behind wherever he went and ultimately pierced into his heart as the mountain-like Tarakasura fell making a thud, like a cloud-burst and the handful soldiers of the huge army of Davanas left behind alive ran for their lives. Devas went into a state of ecstacy with loud shouts and battle-cries of relief showering fragrant flowers all around, Gandharvas sang earsplitting songs of victory, Apsaras danced with gay abandon and the whole Universe wore a memorable look of unprecedented carnival.Vishnu and Brahma were highly satisfied that finally Dharma an Nyaya were vindicated by Kumara. Maha Deva and Devi Parvati seated on Nandi with Ganesha and Kartikeya flew across to Kailasa Mountain witnessing festivities all along the route!

Devas affirmed that whosoever read, or heard or analysed the Story of Kartikeya would be blessed; his life-span would increase, would become healthy, popular, and contented in life without unfufilled desires and at the end of Life would qualify for Salvation. 
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