First, my comment on Bhagvata Purana.
It is a great devotional Purana but it’s chain of custody is very suspect AND It is the most adulterated of the Puranas. It is also most easily available and is popular and was popular for some two thousand plus years.
Many copies are in existence from long time back and so many recessions are also available. I am not sure a critical edition was ever created. I myself had access to more than ten versions in my grandparents’s collection alone. There are portions of text which are objectionable, obscene and obviously added as an insult to Hinduism. The chain of custody of manuscripts and texts is very very fuzzy.
Varaha is a major Vishnu Avatar. Varaha was symbol and god of the great Gupta dynasty. The Golden age of Hinduism and great administration that death penalty was unheard of , only such occasion in the long history of India. When the later dynasties turned into Buddhism, role of Varaha in religion was sought to be destroyed and removed by later non-hindu editors. All Avatars of Vishnu went through rough handling at hands of non-vaishnava editors in many texts. That is the reason why many different scholars and groups have come together and are putting the critical editions out on all texts and samhitas.
The story of Varaha avatar in briefest encapsulation is that Vishnu took form as Varaha and saved Earth. He also killed Hiranyaksha in the process, the eldest son of Kasyapa. Hiranyaksha’s eldest son is Andhaka, son of Siva and Parvati and adopted by him.
In Bhagwada Purana, that story is altered.
Bhagwada Purana version
Once the Asura Hiranyaksa was wading through the ocean and beating at the waves with his club. Varuna, the god of water, was alarmed at this and ran to Vishnu and asked for his help. Hearing this Vishnu got up to kill Hiranyaksa (for simple water sports, see the legend here has no proper basis). Hiranyaksa then assumed the form of a Boar and carried the earth on his tusks and ran to Patala. As the goddess earth .had come into contact with the tusks of Hiranyaksa she became pregnant and gave birth to an asura infant of immense might and power. That infant was Narakasura. Taking the infant born from impurity the sad goddess Earth went to Vishnu and requested him to save the child. Vishnu pitied him and gave him Narayanastra (Narayana’s weapon) and said: Naraka, So long as this weapon is with you, nobody but me could kill you. (Bhagavata, Skandha 10).
In Mahabharata, this tale has Vishnu become the Varaha but in Bhagwada to minimize the Varaha Avatar the symbol of ruling dynasty, Hiranyaksha the Asura is made the Varaha.
Anyway, Narakasura made Pragjyotisha his capital and ruled over the Asuras as their emperor for a long time, all the while terrifying the Devas. Once, Narakasura raped Kaseru the daughter of Tvashta and sister of Sangya, wife of Sun god Vivasvata. He also supposedly brought sixteen thousand & one hundred maidens from all the three lokas.
He imprisoned them at Audaka on top of Mt Manparvata. The four chief Asuras became his allies, Hayagriva, Nishunda, Panchanada and Mura. The ten sons of Narakasura became the guardians. Tamra, Antariksa, Sravana, Vasu, Vibhavasu, Nabhasvan and Aruna were the seven prominent sons of Narakasura. There were three minor ones, none named Bhagadatta.
Or in other versions, Six ministers and 7-8 sons.
At the boundary of the country, Murasura had tied six thousand ropes with a sword at the end of each. So enemies dared not come near the boundary. (Krishna broke these 6000 rope pashas). When Sugriva gave instructions to the Vanaras who were sent in search of Sita, he had mentioned about the city of Pragjyotisha. Mention is made in Valmiki Ramayana, Kiskindha Kanda, Sarga 42 that Sugriva had given them special instructions to search for Sita in Pragjyotisha. (Mahabharata and Vishnu Purana, Chapter 53).
A king had cursed the women his daughters actually, another version of this story says that the damsels had requested Brahma for liberation from the curse according to the advice of the hermit Narada, and that Brahma had given them liberation from the curse. In some versions it is stated that Narada himself gave them liberation from the curse. Long story short, these women were reborn as prisoners of Naraksura.
Narakasura attacked Swarga and took earrings of Aditi and royal umbrella of Indra. Indra asked Krishna to intervene and he did bringing with him not only Satyabhama but according to Skanda Purana, also Ghatotkacha and sons of Draupadi. Eventually, Krishna killed Narakasura, married Kaseru and gave refuge to all kidnapped women. He also killed Mura while Mura’s daughter Morvi was won by Ghatotkacha. The five daughters of Panchanada were won by Draupdeyas. So on and so forth.
Many asuras like Mura, Tamra, Antariksa, Sravana, Vasu, Vibhavasu, Nabhasvan, Aruna were killed along side Narakasura. These spirits of these asuras found shelter in weak willed bodies of Kaurava officers whose dharma was being corrupted by serving Duryodhana aka Kali.
Narakasura was born to Prajapati Kasyapa by his wife Danu, in Mahabharata, Adi Parva, Chapter 65. He through austerities became powerful and challenged Indra. Indra defeated this Narakasura who became a Parshada of Varuna. It is seen in Mahabharata, Sabha Parva, Chapter 9 that this Asura after his death, stayed in the palace of Varuna worshipping him.
Bhagadatta the king of Pragjyotisha belonged to family that ruled region of underworld also and were called Narakasura as consequences. Bhagdatta was thus, son of a Narakasura who also ruled over the part of Patala called Naraka, and being the ruler of Naraka, Bhagadatta seems to have been known by the name of Naraka also. Naraka becomes a family name. In Ashramavasika Parva, Chapter 20, we will hear the story of Shailalaya, the paternal grandfather of Bhagadatta. That basically confirms that father of Bhagdatta was not son of Vishnu but descendant of same.
This is also reflected in the Gurushishya parampara, where one best disciple takes the name of Guru and continues the Guru’s office. Thus, these names become Offices rather than individuals. Kalidasa and Vikramaditya are two other examples where many individuals graced those names and created continuity of legends around as if a single individual.
As shown, the story of Naraka being a family name and is inherited by any one who defeats Narakasura becomes the next Narakasura. Similarly there was a Bhaumasura. (and where we are at, Banasura also). Whoever defeats Bhaumasura becomes new Bhaumasura. Once, the Bhaumasura challenged Narakasura and was defeated and thus the Narakasura became Naraksura Bhaumasura. But, the ministers of Bhaumasura who now become ministers of Narakasura plotted against him.
Kshitija was born as son of Krishna and an avatar of Bhoodevi or Earth. He defeated the new Narakasura Bhaumasura. Thus Kshitija became the new Narakasura Bhuamasura and tried to reform the Asuras. The ministers of Narakasura and Bhaumasura corrupted the pure soul of Kshitija, the son of Krishna and made him adharmik. He took on the name and sort of absorbed the persona of the Narakasura and kidnapped wife of Samba (Drumi) and Krishna intervened. He did not want brother to kill brother and thus, he intervened, challenged, defeated and killed his own son Kshitija, the Narakasura. Krishna broke the cycle of Narakasura and Bhaumasura. He gave some of these lands to friend of Indra, Bhagadatta. The six ministers of Narakasura joined Karna’s service. They were killed by Abhimanyu on 13th day.
Narantaka a narakasura clone
Son of Rudraketu, an asura. This asura terrorized the three worlds by his wicked and cruel deeds and at certain point, he completed his allowed demerits. Then, Ganapati incarnated in the house of Kasyapa to protect the three worlds (just like Vamana or Upendra) and Narantaka tried to kill the child as he grew by various means, all failing. Finally he was killed by Ganapati. (Ganesa Purana). Here we see the merger of Vamana and Krishna at Gokula legends in a nice Ganapati set of legends.
by Pranshu B Saxena