The story of Narakasura
Narakasura, was the son of Bhumi devi. Bhumi devi ensured her son’s long life through a boon from Lord Vishnu.
The Boon from Brahma
He acquired immense power from a blessing given by Lord Brahma after a severe penance. Armed with the boon and with help of another demon named Banasura, Narakasura became very evil. He became mad with power as he ruled the earth. His was targeting Lord Indra’s kingdom, heaven or swarglok to stamp his authority.
Narakasura assaults everyone, Devas and Aditi
Sooner, the mighty Indra could not withstand the assault of Narakasura and had to flee. Narakasura thus became the lord of both the heavens and the earth. Addicted to power, he stole the earrings of Aditi, the heavenly mother goddess and kidnapped 16,000 women.
Naturally, all celestial beings, Aditi and Lord Indra sought help from Lord Vishnu to end the tyrannies of Narakasura. Vishnu wanted to help everyone, but there was a technical problem. The boon to Bhudevi ensured that he would face death only at the hands of his mother Bhumi devi.
Satyabhama and Lord Krishna – incarnations of Bhumi Devi and Lord Vishnu
In the incarnation of Lord Krishna, he had a wife Satyabhama who was an incarnation of Bhumi Devi. So, Lord Krishna asks his wife Satyabhama, the reincarnation of Bhumi devi, to be his charioteer in the battle with Narakasura.
As promised to the Devas and Aditi, Krishna attacked the great fortress of Narakasura, riding his mount Garuda with wife Satyabhama. The battle was furiously fought. Narakasura possessed 11 Akshauhini (a division of the army), that he unleashed on Krishna.
End of Narakasura
In the fight, Lord Krishna fell unconscious after being hit by an arrow of Naraka. Enraged, Satyabhama takes the bow and aims the arrow at Naraka, killing him instantly. Later Lord Krishna reminds her of the boon she had sought as Bhumi devi. The Narakasura vadh by Satyabhama could also be taken to interpret that parents should not hesitate to punish their children when they step in to the wrong path.
Relevance of Naraka Chaturdashi
The message of Naraka Chaturdashi festival is that the good of the society should always prevail over one’s own personal bonds. It is interesting to note that Bhumi devi, mother of the slain demon Naraka, declared that his death should not be a day of mourning but an occasion to celebrate and rejoice. It is said Lord Krishna had an oil bath to rid himself off the blood spattered on his body when Naraka was killed.
Before dying, the Asura requested a boon that his death anniversary should be celebrated by all people on earth. This day is celebrated as ‘Naraka Chaturdashi’ – the first day of Diwali.