In the ancient
times, there lived an asura named naraka who obtained a boon from the great god Brahma,
granting him power over males of all classes- asura, deva, and manusha (man).
Fortified by this boon, Naraka unleashed a reign of terror on the world, plundering
and looting all the three realms, even conquering Devaloka and expelling its ruler,
Lord Indra, the King of Devas.
by his defeat, Indra rushed to Vishnu to appeal for help. He was accompanied by
At that time, Vishnu was
living on earth as Krishna-the King of Dwarka. He was reclining on his throne
with Satyabhama, his queen, when Indra burst into the palatial hall.
is it?" cried Krishna, rising in alarm when he saw Indra's anxious face.
"Has some disaster befallen you?"
great Protector," Indra began breathlessly. "Naraka has conquered my
kingdom and has expelled all the devas. What's more, he destroys and plunders
at will and harasses everyone. No one can stop him. He is invincible. You must
narrowed in displeasure. "Yes," he agreed, "Naraka must be stopped.
But it will be difficult. Nevertheless, I will try."
called for his chariot, then, turning to his queen, who was trained in warfare,
said, "Dear Queen, you are skilled in combat. Why don't you, therefore, accompany
me and drive my chariot?"
at the recognition of her skills, the queen willingly agreed to accompany Krishna. Gathering
up his weapons, and with Queen Satyabhama holding the reigns of the chariot that
was pulled by five fine horses, Krishna set off to Naraka's kingdom.
was the fourteenth day of Kartika, the night of the new moon. Surya, the sun,
was at his lowest point on the horizon, and Chandra, the moon, was but a silver
sphere in the sky. The night loomed dark and long and the wind howled menacingly
as the queen skilfully steered the chariot on its course.
they arrived at a valley that lay between two tall mountains. The queen steered
the chariot through the narrow pass, when suddenly, from out of nowhere emerged
a giant boulder that fell with a thud, right in the middle of their path! The
five fine horses neighed uneasily as they swerved to avoid it.
is Naraka's trickery!" said Krishna, with a deep frown. Raising his mighty
club high above his shoulders, he dealt a crushing blow and the boulder was
reduced to dust! The way was now cleared and they resumed their journey. The queen
skilfully drove the chariot towards Naraka's kingdom.
Naraka's fortress loomed in the darkness like a murky shadow. They approached
it cautiously, but as they neared, suddenly, from out of the blue, a barrage of
weapons came hurtling towards them! Clubs, swords, spears, arrows, and all kinds
of sharp missiles! The five fine horses neighed uneasily as they darted to avoid
"More of Naraka's magic!"
declared Krishna impatiently. Picking up his bow, he sent forth a succession of
arrows, each with a mighty twang. They flew through the air with lightening speed
and split every single weapon, into a thousand pieces!
way was now clear and the queen skilfully drove the chariot on. In no time they
arrived at the gates of the fortress. As they came near, suddenly, the mighty
gates burst open and an army of asuras-each more fierce and gruesome than the
next -came storming out.
flung their spears and set upon the chariot. The five fine horses darted, and
dashed, here and there, to avoid their weapons.
army of asuras!" scoffed Krishna. Fearlessly he warded their blows with his
sword until they ran away in a thousand directions!
chariot then reached the massive doors of Naraka's fortress, which still loomed
like a murky shadow in the darkness.
roared Krishna. "Enough of your trickery. Come out and face me!"
huge doors of the dreary fortress creaked open and out rode Naraka, atop his elephant.
He was angry and arrogant.
he yelled out. "Don't you know that I have power over all males?"
an evil laugh, eyes spitting hate, he flung his spear at Krishna with all his
might. It struck his shoulder and Krishna, the King of Dwarka, slumped on the
"Ha, ha, ha!"
laughed Naraka fiendishly. "That was too easy."
Queen Satyabhama, who was skilled in warfare, took up Krishna's bow and called
out, "Naraka, your boon grants you power over all males. But dare you
fight a woman?"
Taken aback by
the challenge, Naraka turned to face the queen. He retorted arrogantly. "You!
What can you do? I'll squash you like a bug!"
brave queen stood her ground and with careful aim begun to shoot her arrows.
Like lightening, they sped through the air, finding their mark before Naraka could
even string his bow!
out in pain and fell to the ground with a thud. Naraka was defeated, for asuras lose
their powers when they fall to the ground.
who was, of course, none other than the great god Vishnu and only pretending to
be wounded, sat up and cheered the queen's bravery.
mighty Naraka is felled at last!" Lord Indra and the devas said in chorus.
Flowers fell from the sky, as Indra and the devas, and all the creatures of the
world, came out to celebrate the end of Naraka's oppression. They distributed
sweets, set off fireworks, and lit lamps to brighten the path for Krishna and
the brave queen as they set off to return through the dark night.
this day, Hindus in southern India remember Queen Satyabhama's victory over the
wicked Naraka by joyfully lighting lamps to brighten the darkest night of the