Katha Sagara

Slaying of Taraka

The Asura Taraka was the son of Vajranaga and Varangi. He had been born as a result of a boon obtained by his father from Lord Brahma, to avenge the torments suffered by his mother Varangi at the hands of Indra, the chief of the Devas. After his father's death, Taraka was crowned the king of the Asuras.

Taraka performed many tough penances in a cave in the Pariparta Mountains. Pleased with his devotion, Lord Brahma appeared before him and offered him a boon. Denied the boon of immortality, the asura chose that he be slain only by a young boy.

With the help of this boon, he amassed a large army and invaded the heavens. The Devas marched to battle, but the Asuras quickly gained the upper hand. Scared by their losses, the Devas sought the help of Vishnu. Although the Devas started gaining victory, Taraka was invincible. Thanks to the boon from Brahma, none of the Devas were able to defeat him. They were left with no choice but to flee the battlefield.

The Devas then went to see Lord Brahma. They said, "You have created a monster! Where can we find a young child who can slay the mighty Taraka? We are doomed!"

Brahma said, "Fear not. The child of Rudra shall be the slayer of this evil demon.” That was how Skanda was born to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. When the child Skanda reached the age of seven, the Devas decided that it was time he was appointed their leader. Accordingly, Lord Brahma commissioned a grand ceremony, in which the child would be anointed as the commander of the Devas. The spot chosen was on the banks of the River Saraswati. Brihaspati was the master of ceremonies for this ritual. All the deities were present, and they brought many costly gifts to the child-warrior. The boy was invested with the command of the army and equipped with divine weapons.

Kartikeya, as the young boy was also called, thanked all the Gods for their support and assured them that he shall lead them to victory over their foes. An auspicious time was chosen to begin the march on the Asura cities. When Taraka heard from his spies that the forces of the Devas was getting ready to invade, he rallied his forces and marched them for battle. In a short while, seeing his army scatter in all directions, Taraka sought out Kartikeya in the battlefield and engaged him in combat. He taunted the boy about his tender age, but was quickly forced to concentrate his energies in battle, for he saw that his opponent was a warrior of great merit. At last, the demon fell down dead, pierced by the spear of Kartikeya.

The victorious army of the Devas returned to the heavens to reside and lead their lives in peace. From that day, Skanda continued to be the commander-in-chief of the army of the Devas.

To Reflect Upon

bulletWhy does the Indian tradition repeatedly tell us stories about the victory of good over evil?