Monday, July 16, 2012

The death of Narakasura - the origins of Diwali

Hiranyaksha was a very bad demon. He terrorized all the people in earth and heavens alike. Unable to tolerate him anymore, the people went to Lord Vishnu to protect him from Hiranyaksha. Lord Vishnu promised to help them.

When Hiranyaksha came to know of this, he got about thinking…To protect the earth and its people, Lord Vishnu has to first find the earth…I am going to hide the earth itself so that Lord Vishnu would not be able to find it…Thinking thus, Hiranyaksha using his powers and might pushed the earth itself off its axis!

When Hiranyaksha touched the earth to push her, an asura was created out of the contact between Bhumadevi, the Mother Earth and Hiranyaksha….

The earth plummeted deep inside space. Lord Vishnu incarnated as a boar and held the earth in its horns and pushed her back in her axis. Lord Vishnu fought Hiranyaksha and defeated and killed him.

After he had won against Hirayaksha, Bhumadevi told Lord Vishnu about the asura who was created. Lord Vishnu got about thinking. He told Bhumadevi, ‘He is your son, Bhumadevi! He will be very powerful and strong just like Hiranyaksha.’

Bhumadevi looked at Lord Vishnu and said apprehensively, ‘Would he also be a terrible demon like Hiranyaksha?’

Lord Vishnu sadly nodded his head, ‘There is every chance that he may be like Hiranyaksha….In fact he may be even more powerful than Hiranyaksha. I think you may be the only person who may be able to defeat him…’

Bhumadevi looked at Lord Vishnu without understanding…Lord Vishnu shook his head. ‘Let us not bother about it now. We will worry about it when the time comes.’ Still not satisfied Bhumadevi reluctantly nodded her head, as Lord Vishnu returned to Vaikunta.

Meanwhile the asura who was created, grew up to be strong and powerful. The asura was named Narakasura. Banasura who was a powerful asura saw Narakasura’s strength and decided to use him. Banasura spoke to Naraksura, ‘Naraka! You are already very strong. I think if you meditate on Lord Brahma, he will make you more powerful and then, you can rule the three worlds…not just the earth.’

Narakasura thought that through and decided that he would worship Lord Brahma. He performed severe penance and driven by the power of his penance, Lord Brahma appeared before him.

Lord Brahma spoke, ‘Narakasura! Your powers of meditation are great! For that you can ask me any boon…’ Lord Brahma was not very optimistic about granting Narakasura any boon. He knew that Narakasura was becoming evil and any boon he asked might result on great havoc on the earth…But still Lord Brahma could not turn away from any person who had performed such rigorous penance. He had to grant whatever it is that Narakasura asked for…

Narakasura bowed before Lord Brahma and said, ‘My Lord! I will not ask the boon of immortality, I know you do not grant that boon to anybody…’ Lord Brahma nodded as Narakasura continued, ‘My Lord! I have come to know that Mother Earth – Bhumadevi herself is my mother. So this is my wish. If I have to die it has to be in the hands of my mother and no one else….’

Lord Brahma smiled inwardly. But he looked at Narakasura and spoke, ‘So be it! And try to use your powers for good!’ Lord Brahma vanished from there.

Narakasura burst out laughing as Lord Brahma vanished. Lord Brahma was a fool…No mother would kill her own son…no matter who it is…He had granted me the boon of immortality…Why should he try to use his powers for good…He could literally rule the worlds…People everywhere would bow to him and pray to him…He would make sure of that…

Meanwhile in Gokul, a beautiful, black child grew up among the cowherds there as the son of their chief – Nanda and Yashoda…The child was Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

Narakasura returned to his kingdom – Pragjyotishyapur and made preparations for war. Armed with the boon, Narakasura attacked all the kingdoms on earth. He was so ferocious in his strength and power that the other kings did not even have a chance. All of them went under the rule of Narakasura. Soon Narakasura was the ruler of all the kingdoms on earth.

Narakasura soon eyed the heavens. Indra, the Lord of the Devas was no match for Narakasura. Narakasura fell upon the heavens and Indra and the other Devas crumbled and fled from there. Narakasura became more and more wicked. He became arrogant….He captured 16,000 women in the heavens and imprisoned them in his palace.

Narakasura was so arrogant that he did not even let Aditi, the mother of the Devas alone. Aditi, had some heavenly earrings made for her. The earrings were so precious that they even glowed in the dark. Narakasura without a moment’s hesitation tore the earrings from Aditi, not giving a care in the world….

Narakasura ruled like a despot and people everywhere were afraid of him. They were afraid to stand up against him, because he punished people who stood up against him, very severely…They began to pray for someone to come and protect them from the Asura.

Meanwhile Krishna as he grew up among the cowherds, realized about his own self. He came to know that he was the son of Devaki and Vasudeva. Devaki was the sister of Kamsa, the wicked ruler of Mathura. After Devaki and Vasudeva had got married, there was a heavenly voice, which proclaimed that the eighth child of Devaki would kill Kamsa.

Terrified Kamsa imprisoned Devaki and Vasudeva. Despite all his measures and protections, Krishna was born as the eighth child of Vasudeva and Devaki. Krishna was smuggled to Gokul where he grew up among the cowherds there.

When Krishna came to know about Kamsa and what he had done to his parents, Krishna was furious. He along with his elder brother Balarama killed Kamsa, thereby fulfilling the prophecy. Krishna crowned his grandfather Ugrasena as the king of Mathura and himself ruled Dwaraka.

The story of Narakasura ends with Krishna and his third wife – Satyabama.

As Satyabama was alone in the royal palace gardens, thinking of Krishna she was visited by Aditi, the mother of the Devas. She broke down in tears on seeing Satyabama. Satyabama looked at Aditi and calmed her down, ‘What has happened? What is wrong?...’

Aditi burst out into tears and showed Satyabama her ears which were dripping blood. Satyabama gasped as Aditi continued, ‘Narakasura… He came to the palace…he defeated my son and imprisoned….imprisoned all the women there and he grabbed the earrings from my ears….I…’

Satyabama calmed down Aditi, ‘Don’t worry! Please…please don’t cry…’ Satyabama looked at Aditi and was angrily thinking of Narakasura, ‘That man is becoming a menace…I will deal with it myself…’

Satyabama made sure Aditi was comfortable in her palace and ran to see Krishna. ‘Krishna!’ She called as Krishna appeared before her. Krishna looked at her and did not say anything. It was very rare for Satyabama to come to him yelling in the palace. Obviously something very bad had happened. He looked at her waiting for her to continue.

Satyabama spoke with barely concealed fury, ‘Krishna! Aditi has come here…’

Krishna looked at her and asked, ‘Aditi! The mother of the Devas…What does she want…’

Satyabama continued angrily, ‘Narakasura! That asura…look what he has done…’ Satyabama told him everything that Aditi had told him. Krishna became more and more serious as Satyabama continued speaking. He finally held up his hands, ‘Satyabama! I am going to fight with the Narakasura…He has crossed his limits…It is high time he is taught a lesson…’

Satyabama spoke up ‘Krishna! I want to come with you…’ Krishna looked surprised as Satyabama continued, ‘I am going to definitely help you defeat that evil demon…’ She said angrily looking at Krishna. Krishna nodded his head and looked at her. ‘Get your weapons ready! We are going to war! We will go on Garuda! He can take us to Narakasura’s capital in no time…’ Garuda was the vehicle of Lord Krishna and could fly very fast…

Satyabama nodded her head and got ready for battle.

Both of them sat on Garuda. Garuda flew into the kingdom of Pragjyotishyapur. Looking at Garuda approaching his kingdom, Narakasura’s heart missed a beat…The Dark Lord had come for him…But then he slowly shook his head…He had a boon that he could be killed only by his mother…Even Krishna himself could not do anything to him. Narakasura then ordered the division of his army to attack Garuda and Krishna.

The battle between the army of Narakasura and Krishna was ridiculously short. Krishna and Garuda helped with Satyabama destroyed the army in no time at all. Narakasura saw all this from inside his palace and was furious. He called his general Mura. ‘Mura! Take your battalion…Destroy that man…’

Mura attacked the dark Lord with his huge army. But he was also destroyed the same way as the others…[As Lord Krishna had defeated Mura, Krishna is sometimes called as ‘Murari’]

When Narakasura saw Mura die in the battlefield, he yelled and ran out and threw his sataghini [a thunderbolt] at Krishna. Garuda dived and the weapon missed Krishna altogether.

Krishna hurled many of his weapons at Narakasura but he was surprised. Narakasura was easily able to neutralize the weapons which Krishna threw at him! Satyabama on seeing Narakasura, twanged her bow and let the arrows fly fast and furiously.

Looking at the double attack Narakasura furiously pulled out ‘Shakti’ a powerful weapon and hurled it at Krishna.

Satyabama watched in horror as the weapon hit Krishna in the chest. The Dark Lord swooned and fell down!

Satyabama furiously pulled out a powerful weapon of her own and hurled it at Narakasura. Her shock at seeing her Krishna fall gave her the strength to hurl the weapon exactly at Narakasura’s chest, with a speed which was unmatched. Narakasura blinked for a full minute when he saw a weapon in his chest…How could he be defeated…he….He saw Satyabama go towards Krishna, not even bothering to see whether her weapon had hit Narakasura or not…

Narakasura swayed on the spot and looked as the Dark Lord woke up without a single scratch on his body! Satyabama also looked surprised. Krishna smiled as they both got down from Garuda and came towards Narakasura.

Narakasura looked at the two of them. What they had for each other was love…Krishna had so many wives…he loved each one of them fully and respected each one of them…Satyabama loved her husband and was willing to stand up against anybody for him…Narakasura realized suddenly that this was what was missing in his life…He had been powerful…very powerful…but he had never loved anybody…ever…that is what had made him empty…purposeless…Narakasura felt waves of guilt wash over him…He had been so powerful…he could have used the power for good…but he used it for bad purposes…and now …he could not even properly apologize to the people he had wronged…

He lay on the battlefield and looked at the Dark Lord and held his hands together bowing his head, ‘My Lord!’ He breathed sadly, ‘I am sorry…I truly am…It is today that I have seen light…I have lived a life of ignorance…a life of hate…and darkness…I have spread nothing but fear among people…People who go on to terrify others would come to this end only…I have seen the error in my ways…’

Krishna smiled, ‘Narakasura! I am glad you have repented for your actions..’

Narakasura looked around as he saw the body of Dark Lord and Satyabama glowing in the evening light. ‘I have seen light today, my Lord…I wish that people would celebrate this day as the day of victory of light over darkness…’

Satyabama came forward and touched Narakasura. She nodded her head as she looked at his pain filled eyes.

Krishna said. ‘Narakasura! This is Satyabama…She is actually an incarnation of Bhumadevi…’ Both Satyabama and Narakasura looked at Krishna with surprise as Krishna continued, ‘She incarnated with the special purpose of defeating you…I could never have defeated you…Only Satyabama could…so I pretended to fall unconscious and the rest was done by her…’ Krishna said looking at Satyabama with pride.

Satyabama felt a deep understanding within herself. She realized the truth in Krishna’s words. She took Narakasura’s head in her lap and cried out, ‘My son! Why? Why did you have to follow such a dark path…Why did you…’

Narakasura stopped Satyabama, ‘No mother! You are not responsible for my choices…I chose wrongly and you fought me for what you believed as right…You have done the right thing…I am glad to call you my mother…’ Narakasura breathed his last….

Even to this day, Narakasura’s death is celebrated as the victory of light over darkness…It comes on the second day of Diwali as ‘Naraka chaturdasi’. Diwali which is a festival of lights actually celebrates the triumph of right over the wrong…

Satyabama took Aditi’s earrings and handed them over to Aditi…

-From the Bhagawat Purana


  1. Very well narrated

    Thank You

    I used it for my storytelling session

  2. Got to know of the the matter. This Naraka later born as Karna. If possible add something about it.

  3. I am so interested to read the stories on this blog.. Very well expalined..Thank You

  4. I appreciate your tremendous efforts. My kids enjoyed the story. I have a small suggestion -the names can be in Tamil, like Narakasuran, Krishnan. Or as in Sanskrit/Hindi - Narkasur, Krishn. This, I find missing in many narrations in the internet. My humble opinion is that - when an 'a' is added the names dont become appropriate English and when given the exact Indian name, no damage is done to English grammar. keep it up, good work.

    1. The correct name is 'Natakasura' and 'Krishna' irrespective of whether it is Tamil, English or Sanskrit

  5. Devaki and vasudeva were incarnations of Kashyapa brahma and adhiti due to curses. This is what you have told in Dark Lord part 1. Now adhiti also exists and Devaki also exists. This is little confusing. Please resolve this confusion.

    1. Sir,
      Firstly, there is something in Hinduism called as a Partial incarnation and a full incarnation. Rukmini is supposed to be the partial incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. So in a partial incarnation it is not necessary that the original person and the person who has incarnated cannot exist mutually.
      Secondly these stories were taken from different Puranas. Different Puranas were written by different sages and rishis or Gods for different reasons. It is definitely possible for some stories to overlap and certain others to be contradictory.

    2. Dear sir,
      While we are on the subject of partial and complete incarnation, I should also tell you that one of the Puranas mention the story of Krishna meeting Lord Narayana. Though Krishna was the complete incarnation of Lord Narayana, they still met each other.
      This should also tell us that incarnation does not prevent either person to exist at the same time, place or plane of existence.

  6. This is awesome! I was browsing randomly to narrate this Diwali tale to my 2 yr ols daughter... I think I learnt more than what I knew! - Keets

  7. Today Know the story of Narkasur.

  8. quite gud...really liked it :)but needs little improvements-_-

  9. Good work .naration is simple and understandable ....keep it up

  10. Very well narrated..Thanks for uploading this..God bless you..

  11. Thanks foe taking so much effort my kids are hooked to these stories

  12. Very Good Narration Keep up the Good Work......

  13. Realy enlightning the unkown part of my knowlendge.

  14. Very nice ,great job. Keep the good work.

  15. Firstly, Shubha Deepavali to all! The narrative is faultless and superb. Eternal stories that will go on till time goes on......! Sanatana Dharma Jayate!

  16. hare krishna plz read shrimadbhagwatam

  17. Very Nice... really you did good job.....keep it up


  18. Thanks for this wonderful opportunity to know the story of narakasur and why we celebrate Diwali. It is told nicely and I am glad to dictate to my children my mother and my maid. I am telling to everyone who is meeting me.God bless you and happy Diwali to one and all. May there be victory of light over darkness. If we celebrate every festival with knowledge and understanding Iam sure wecan feel God and be happy always.....

  19. It was Narakasuran himself who asked Lord Vishnu to grant his last wish that the day of his death to be celebrated as Deepavali/Diwali.

  20. Thanks for the info narrated. God bless you

  21. Beautifully narrated and explained very succinctly.

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