Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati lived happily with their two sons, Ganesha and Subramanya on Mount Kailash. But things were not quiet for long. As always, devas (gods) and asuras (demons) were engaged in a battle. The gods, fearing their annihilation, began to wonder if Subramanya would ever leave his abode to come and help them overpower the demons. So they decided to seek help from Narada Muni, who devised a smart plan. Taking a strange but exotic fruit in his hand, he approached Lord Shiva and said, “I have been travelling all over the earth. On my way, I found this exotic fruit of knowledge and decided to give it to one of your sons.”
Shiva somehow became suspicious of Narada and replied, “Why are you giving this fruit to me? Give it directly to one of my sons.”
Not to be deterred, Narada replied, “Since I have only one fruit, I do not know to whom I should give it. Only one person can eat it and become wise. Do help me by giving this fruit to whoever you consider worthy of receiving it.” So saying, Narada left.
Lord Shiva’s children meanwhile entered and on seeing this exotic fruit wanted to have it. Both began to clamour for it. Lord Shiva was caught in a fix as he could not decide to whom to give the fruit. Suddenly he said, “I want you to circle the world once and whosoever comes first will get the fruit.”
Subramanya immediately climbed his vehicle, the peacock, as he knew that none could defeat the peacock in speed. He rushed across the world and soon returned to his parents. He however saw to his dismay Ganesha already standing in front of Lord Shiva. So he asked his brother, “How could you have circled the earth before me?”
Ganesha replied, “My world is my parents, so I took a circle around them.”
Shiva and Parvati were pleased with Ganesha and gave him the fruit. Subramanya was so angry that he walked away out in a huff. On his way, he bumped into Taraka, the asura (demon). Taraka saw Subramanya with the peacock and wanted to add it to his menagerie which already comprised Airavata, the white elephant, Kamdhenu, the cow and many others. Taraka asked Subramanya for the peacock but so angry was Subramanya that he replied, “Who do you think you are that I should give you the peacock?” Burning with anger, he hit out at Taraka and a fight ensued. Both battled for days till Taraka was killed.
In this way Brahma’s boon that only Shiva’s son could destroy Taraka came to be fulfilled.