Though Kartik Poornima is not treated as a full-fledged festival, there are enough mythological stories which suggest that this is a very important day in hindu religion.
Both moon days of the month Kartik, (full moon and no moon) are auspicious. Many will not comprehend Kartik Amavasya, as it is better known as Diwali. Kartik Poornima has even more importance as it is called Dev Diwali ( the diwali of gods). This is the day when gods celebrate the victory of good over evil.
This festival underlines the importance of Lord Shiva. This festival is second only to Mahashivratri. Shiva relieved the earth by killing Tripurasuras.
Tripasura are the three sons of Tarakasura – Vidyunmali, Tarakaksha and Viryavana. Due to a boon from Lord Brahma, they were virtually immortal. They were living comfortably in the city of Tripura. Gods pleaded Shiva to destroy them which Shiva denied. Then they pleaded Vishnu and he found a solution to their problem. Vishnu created a person to propagate an alternate form of religion. This religion was slowly accepted by the three sons of Tarakasura. They stopped following the teachings of Veda and worshipping Shiva. Lord Shiva then destroyed the city of Tripura with Pashupata astra. The chariot was created by Vishwakarma.
For this reason, Lord Shiva is also called Tripurari.
Kartik Poornina is also associated with following important occasions:
1. Birth of Kartikeya, son of Lord Shiva.
2. Birth of Matasya (Matsya) avatar, an incarnation of Vishnu.
3. Birth of Vrinda, the personifield form of Tulsi.
The festival is more significant when this is in the Krittika nakshatra. It is then called Maha Kartik. If the nakshatra is Bharani, the results are stated to be special. In Rohini nakshatra, then the fruitful results are even much more.
A ritual bath at a tirtha (a sacred water body like a lake or river) at a pilgrimage centre is prescribed on Kartik Poornima. This holy bath is known as “Kartik snana”. An holy bath at Pushkar or in the Ganges river, especially at Varanasi is deemed as most auspicious. Kartik Poornima is the most popular day for bathing in the Ganges at Varanasi.
This auspicious day is also celebrated in others religions – Sikh (Guru Nanak Jayanti) and Jain (Shri Shantrunjay Teerth Yatra).
Tripurasura were three sons of Tarakasura. There names were Vidyunmali, Tarakaksha and Viryavana. Tarakasura was killed by Devtas and he instructed his family to ensure that his death was avenged.
The boon of Lord Brahma
With the advise of Shuracharya, the three sons started doing severe penance. Eventually, Lord Brahma got pleased of there penance and asked for a boon. Expectantly, they asked for immortality. Lord Brahma replied that this is against the rules of the nature. So ask me something else. They said – “Grant us the following: Let three forts be made. The first will be of gold, the second of silver and the third of iron. We will live in these forts for a thousand years. These forts built in different worlds shall align once in every 1000 years. This combined fort will be called Tripura. And if anyone can then destroy Tripura with only a single arrow that shall be the death destined for us”.
Three forts of Gold, Silver and Iron
Brahma granted this boon to them. There was a demon named Maya who was very entrusted to build the three forts. The golden fort was built in heaven, the silver one in the sky and the iron one on earth. Tarakaksha got the golden fort, Viryavana the silver and Vidyunmali the iron fort. All forts were as large as a city and had many palaces and vimanas (space vehicles) inside. The demons started living in the three forts and began to flourish. They were following the things written in scriptures. As usual, Devas did not like this. They went to Lord Shiva for help but returned empty handed as demons were doing nothing wrong. God then reached out to Lord Vishnu.
Lord Vishnu and Arihant
Lord Vishnu knew that the Tripurasuras could not be killed till they remain Virtuous and religious. He then created an entity from his body who had no hairs on his head. He had worn dirty clothes and a bag was hanging down his shoulder. He also had a broom in his head. The entity asked lord Vishnu about the purpose of his existence and his name. Lord Vishnu told him that his name was Arihan. He also instructed him to create a scripture which stresses upon the importance of action (Karmavad) and which is different from the rituals explained in the Vedas. Lord Vishnu specifically instructed him to keep the language of that scripture as simple and degenerated as possible. Lord Vishnu then preached Arihan on the science of illusion which stressed that the heaven or the hell does not exist anywhere else, but on this earth itself.
Sage Narada accepts new religion
Lord Vishnu instructed Arihan to get Tripurasuras initiated into with this philosophy so that the demon-brothers become irreligious. Vishnu ordered Arihan to make his residence in a desert with his disciples. The being did as he had been asked to. He and four of his disciples went to a forest that was near Tripura and began to preach. They were trained by Vishnu himself. Therefore, their teachings were convincing and they had many converts. Even the sage Narada got confused and was converted. In fact, it was Narada who carried news of this wonderful new religion to king Vidyunmati. King, he said, there is a wonderful new teacher with a wonderful new religion. I have never heard before. I have got converted.
Since the great sage Narada had been converted. Vidyunmati also accepted the new religiqon, and in due course, so did Tarakaksha and Viryavana. The demons gave up revering the Vedas, they stopped worshipping Shiva’s linga.
Lord Shiva and killing of Tripurasura
Now the time was ripe of killing of Tripurasura, since they have now deviated from the good path. Once again, devas requested Mahadev to kill these demons. Lord Shiva acceded to this request. Lord Shiva called Vishvakarma and asked him to make a suitable chariot, bow and arrow. The chariot was made entirely out of gold. Brahma himself became the charioteer and the chariot was speedly driven towards Tripura. The gods accompanied Shiva with diverse weapons.
Prithvi(Earth) was the chariot
Sun and Moon was the wheels
Bramha was the charioteer
Meru was the bow and
Vishnu was the arrow.
By then a thousand years had passed so that the three forts had become a single Tripura. Shiva installed a divine weapon known as pashupatastra (the arrow of pashupati- another name given to Lord Shiva ) into his arrow and shot it at Tripura. The arrow burnt up Tripura into ashes in a split second. So, all gods of the trinity were involved with Tripurasura. Lord Brahma gave a boon, Lord Vishnu thought of a way to neutralize them and finally, Lord Shiva destroyed them.