The greatest saint-poet Kalidas has composed Kumara Sambhava, considered to be the best classical epic in Sanskrit and Vedic literatures. All the gods and saints prayed to Lord Brahma, the creator, to protect them against the atrocities of Taraka, the demon. Brahma cajoled them saying that a son named Kumara, born of the divine couple Shiva and Parvati alone would be able to kill her. The Devas tried many ways to put the nuptial knot on Parvati, formerly Sati, and Shiva’s wife. They succeeded in the mission after long and penurious trials and ordeals. Shiva and Parvati got married.
The seer-poet stopped the story there. Kumara’s birth and his consequent appointment as the Generalissimo, the Commander-in-Chief, of the Devas and Taraka’s death at the hands of Sri Ram were not mentioned in that magnum opus. The poet’s statement was sublime. The sensible reader, he thought, would take it that by the wedding, the son was already born and the demon’s end was natural.
Sage Marichi, son of Lord Brahma, was a saint among the saints. He had a virtuous son, Kasyapa Prajapati who wedded twice. His first wife, Aditi, gave birth to the Devas. His second wife, Diti delivered the Asuras (the demons). Of the Asuras Vairanga was very powerful who had two sons: Soorapadma, and Simhamukha and a daughter: Ajamukhi. Varanga’s sister Varangi gave birth to Taraka.
The collective nature of the Asura clan was horrible and injurious to others. Most of them were masters of occult arts and witchcraft. They could, some of them could, assume any form they like. Hence they were known as Kaamarupis. They generally had abhorrent look with canine tooth, big red eyes and foul smell. Horrible looking, they were masters in the war-front with dexterity to use all weapons including bow and arrow, spear, mace, iron-clubs, javelins, swords etc. They tortured the Devas, the Gandharvas, the Saints and the Yogis. They were fond of flesh and hunted animals and birds. But they found more pleasure in eating human flesh.
Of the entire Asura race, Taraka became the mightiest, irresistible and irrepressible. At her birth, terrible omens were seen everywhere. The whole earth quaked when she was born. There was tempestuous rain followed by fire rain from the sky. Wild beasts howled together. Huge waves from the seas rolled up and arose unto the sky. That was message from the providence that she would cause troubles to the entire worlds. She was pitiless and arrogant a tyrant. She gave battle to the Devas several times and defeated them and killed many of them. She wanted to conquer the whole worlds and to become the sole proprietor of the universe even defeating Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
Taraka took to penance on Lord Brahma with this intent. Even after hard meditation for a very long time, the Lord didn’t got pleased by her and Taraka intensified her contemplation. It became so rigorous that out of her Yogic power, the heat of the atmosphere enhanced substantially and the animals, birds and human beings used to burn to death. The whole space became thick with fumes. Finally Lord Brahma had to appear before Taraka.
“ Tharaka, I am pleased with your penance. What shall I do for you? Take any boon that will please you.”“O Lord of the Universe and the Creator of all beings”, said Taraka very humbly after a salute, “I should never die and should be made the superior ruler of all the worlds.”“This boon is very difficult to grant, my daughter.” “Why? I am your grand-daughter.” “Yes, but all living creatures should die one day. So ask for any other boon.”
“Then give me the boon that no adolescent or youth among the human beings, Gandharvas, Kinnaras and Devas should be able to defeat me or kill me.”
“Let that be so,” said Lord Brahma and disappeared.
n KK Shanmukhan
( To be concluded )