Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

The Destruction of Tripura

Tales of Shiva

This tale is from Ms.P..

Maya, the Danava, was the architect of the Asuras. As he saw the Asuras repeatedly wage war on the Devas and suffer one defeat after the other, he became thoughtful. At last, he perceived the Devas are successful because of their ascetic power and merit. He then resolved to perform a very difficult penance to accumulate ascetic merit and defeat the Gods.

He expounded his plan to the other Asuras. Two powerful Asuras, named Vidyunmali and Taraka offered to join him in his meditations. All three retired to a remote place and performed a tough penance for many thousand years.

At last, Lord Brahma was pleased and appeared before them and offered them boons. Naturally, all three wanted immortality. Upon being told that it was impossible, Maya said, "We Asuras live in constant fear of the Devas. Our cities are not safe from the assaults of the Gods. I shall construct three forts, one each of steel, silver and gold. Let them be impregnable against all Gods."

Brahma said, "Just as mortals may not obtain immortality, inanimate objects also cannot be impregnable. You must chose the mode of these forts' destruction also. You can make it as difficult as you wish, making them practically impregnable."

Maya said, "Let them not be destroyed unless Lord Shiva himself destroys all three with a single flaming arrow." Now, Maya was a great devotee of Shiva and was confident of his protection, so he proposed this method of destruction.

Lord Brahma said, "So be it." and disappeared.

Maya put forth all his skills and constructed three great forts, of steel (for Taraka), of silver (for Vidyunmali) and of gold (for himself). These forts were also well stocked with all sorts of advanced weapons to fend off invaders. When word got out of their safety, all the Asuras flocked to them. Soon, you could not find an Asura who lived outside these forts. The three forts were known as Tripura (Tri=three, pura=city). Usually they floated separately in the sky, but their orbits were such that, whenever the start Pushya was ascendant, they became a single fort.

Thanks to the benevolent nature of Maya, the Asuras were no longer evil. They were all great devotees of Lord Shiva. Regular worship was offered to him. Of course, this tame state of affairs could not last long. Slowly, the demons became intoxicated with a sense of their own importance. They let loose a reign of oppression on all creatures. Maya repeatedly warned them against their evil acts, but they would not listen.

Indra and the Devas were alarmed at this development. They went to the abode of Brahma and said to him, "Sire, Please save us from the ravages of these demons. They are threatening to turn the whole world upside down! Because of your boon, we cannot defeat these Asuras as long as they are safe in their forts."

Brahma said, "Only Lord Shiva can help us now. Let us all pray to him."

Accordingly, all of them prayed to Lord Shiva. He appeared before them and consented to destroy the cities. A special chariot was built for Shiva. Brahma became his charioteer. The entire army of Devas was arrayed behind him. The battle began. The Ganas also fought alongside the Devas. Nandi slew Vidyunmali after a fierce battle. But, Maya brought the Asura back to life with the help of a herbal bath.

Seeing Vidyunmali come back to life, the Asuras cheered loudly and fought with renewed vigor. At this point Shiva entered the battlefield and the Asuras were scattered, unable to bear the onslaught of the Lord. Maya sought to rally the demons, reminding them that the forts were impregnable as long as Shiva did not destroy them with a single arrow.

Nandi killed Taraka in battle. He then engaged Vidyunmali in combat and slew that demon for a second time. At this time, the start Pushya became ascendant. The three cities became the single city of Tripura. This was the moment Shiva was waiting for. He affixed a flaming arrow to his bow Pinaka and let it fly. The arrow burned Tripura and all the demons within. The only survivor was Maya, who was saved because of his good deeds and unswerving devotion to Shiva. However, from that day, he began living underwater, afraid to live in a city.

Last Modified At: Sat Oct 23 23:31:52 2004