Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Narakasuran - The Story of Deepavali

Naraka Chaturdasi is always associated with the Deepavali celebrations. It is celebrated to commemorate the killing of demon Naraka

Unlike in North India, where it is observed a day before, in South India, Naraka Chaturdasi is observed on the Deepavali day itself. Naraka Chaturdasi day celebrates the victory of Lord Krishna over Demon Naraka (Naraka Asuran or Narakasuran).

Legend has it that Demon Naraka, the son of Bhuma Devi and Vishnu's Varaha avatar, with the help of a boon from Brahma became very powerful. The boon was that he could only be killed by his mother Bhuma Devi (one of Lakshmi's avatar). With such immense power Naraka lost his self control and his ego took over him. He started harassing people and demi-gods. He also forcibly took away the earrings of Aditi, the mother of devas.

Artist impression of the demon King Naraka
Finally, the task of annihilating Naraka fell on Krishna. As he could not ask a mother to kill her own son, Lord Krishna asked his wife Satyabhama, (another avatar of Lakshmi), to accompany him to the battle against Naraka and to be his charioteer.

Before he can battle Narakasuran, Lord Krishna had to defeat Narakasuran's general, the 5 headed Mura with his Sudarshan Chakra. Then he continued his battle with Narakasuran.

The battle between Narakasuran and Krishna shook the entire world. During the battle, an arrow hits Krishna and he acts being unconscious. Seeing this, Satyabhama became furious and took the bow and arrow of Krishna and killed Demon Naraka.

It is said that before dying, Narakasuran realized his mistakes and requested for a festival in his name to remind people on what will happen if they are consumed by false ego.

Naraka Chaturdasi thus indicates that good and evil rises from the same root. It also suggests that personal relationships do not matter when it comes to the good of the society. Victory of good over evil always prevails.

According to the Srimad Bhagavatam, Narakasura or Naraka is the asura son of the earth goddess Bhuma Devi and Varaha (third avatar of Vishnu). He is said to have grown to be a demon through association with Banasura. He established the kingdom of Pragjyotisha after overthrowing the last of the Danava king, Ghatakasura.

After it was foretold that he would be destroyed by a later incarnation of Vishnu, his mother, Bhuma Devi, sought a boon from Vishnu. that her son should have a long life, and be all powerful and can only be killed if she wanted to. Vishnu granted these boons.

Narakasura is cited as the progenitor of many dynasties that ruled Kamarupa in historical times. Kamarupa is located in modern day Assam, a place in North East India.

The ruins of Pragjyotisha can still be found in Kamarupa, Assam, India
Even though Narakasuran was born to Lord Varaha, Himself, he became evil due to his association with another Asura known as Banasura. Since he knew he cannot be killed by anybody else, he was engulfed with ego and became very disrespectful to the devas. After conquering the Earth, he attacked the Heaven and Indra (the king of heaven). Unable to win, Indra pleaded to Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu agreed but as to fulfill his promise to Bhooma Devi, he must let Narakasuran live a very long time. Soon, Lord Vishnu took the avatar of Lord Krishna and His wife Lakshmi took the avatar of Satyabama. 

Since Indra left the heaven, Narakasuran went to Aditi (the heavenly mother goddess) and forcefully ripped her earring off her ear. He also kidnapped 16,100 women after that. Aditi is the cousin of Satyabama went to her and pleaded for help. Satyabama sees that Narakasuran has no respect for women and asked Lord Krishna to restore order by killing him.

When the time was right, Lord Krishna brought Satyabama and together killed Narakasuran and bestowed order to the worlds. Since the 16,100 women no longer have any place to go, he took them in as his wives by creating multiple personalities of himself for each of them.

Satyabama kills Narakasuran