Tripura samharam Tarakasura was a powerful demon who had obtained incredible boons from Lord Brahma pleasing him with his intense contemplation. He thought of a clever plan and obtained a boon that he would perish only at the hands of a son of Lord Siva. Till then Lord Siva was a Yogi observing strict celibacy and contemplating on eternal truth in the Himalayas. Goddess Parvathy too was engaged in contemplation just like her consort. They never lead a life of a householder ! Emboldened by the boon Tarakasur was trampling the Devas and tormenting them, and made it almost impossible for Indra to conduct his affairs smoothly. Fearing more trouble the Devas approached Lord Sriman Narayana and he said that due the boon the demon had obtained it is difficult to vanquish him and only through a son born to Lord Siva and Parvathi this could be achieved. Lord Siva too had given a boon to Sanathkumara that through him he would be born, so this is the opportune time to resolve all this difficult boons. He advised Devas to go to Kamadeva and convince him to approach Lord Siva and use his prowess to make him give up contemplation and adopt family life with his consort Parvati, and if they could prod him to do that, Sanatkumara shall take birth as the son of Lord Siva. Accordingly Sanatkumara merged into Lord Siva and reappeared as his fierce power through his third eye and Lord Siva handed over this burning lustre to Lord Agni to hold and nurture, but due to its extreme intensity he could not hold it and went to the river Ganga and left it at a place where Kusa grass has grown as a grove and lotus flowers had blossomed. When he left the seed of burning fire there it spread on the six flowers and appeared as six babies, they were identical and charming, they were tended by celestial damsels called Krithikas, they later approached Goddess Parvathi and showed her the six beautiful babies who owe their origin to Lord Siva! Surprised Parvathi embraced all the six with her out streatched hands and Lo! They fused into a single form with six heads and twelve limbs! He was named Shanmukha! He was also known as Kumara, Karthikeya, Pavakathmaja,Subrahmanya and Gangeya! Later Lord Shanmukha was appointed as Deva Senapathi, the commander of armed forces of Devas and he lead an expedition against the dreaded Asura Tarakasur and vanquishes him in a fierce battle. Later the sons of Tarakasur known as Tarkaksha, Kamalaksha, and Vidyutmali, are furious that their father has met with an untimely death at the hands of Karthikeya the son of Lord Siva, and they decide to take revenge on all Devas for this! They did very severe penance and Lord Brahma appeared before them, and said that he is pleased with their efforts to contemplate and is ready to grant them boons! The three asked for unassailable forts made of three metals capable of flying to all the planes of existence and fully equipped with fortifications and defense. They also asked that they could not be defeated unless by one single weapon with a onetime use. Lord Brahma granted them and said they would face defeat at the hands of Lord Siva eventually. Their idea was this is a very remote possibility. Lord Brahma also told them to approach their celestial architect Maya to build them the castles and disappeared. They meditated upon Maya who pleased with their efforts agreed to build three fully equipped cities in gold Silver and Iron respectively. He also told them he would grant them protection of these forts by himself! Then he set out to create these magnificent city forts one in the heaven, another upon earth and the third in the nether worlds! All three asuras took their respective abodes and traveled at their will to all the Lokas and fought with Devas, and other inhabitants and overpowered them. Over a period of time their atrocities grew and the Devas approached Lord Brahma and complained. He thought over the problem and requested them to approach Lord Siva. Lord Siva agreed and decided to fight these dreaded demons with his huge army of ganas and Nadikeswara, but he could not subdue them as they were much stronger for his army! Then he deliberated with Devas and Brahma and decided to approach Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu listened to them patiently and said it is difficult to vanquish the asuras that easily due to their boon received from Brahma, and an elaborate plan has to be devised to defeat it. Accordingly he devised a plan. As a first step he said that their virtuosity should be dented that will render them weak and vulnerable. As they were ardent followers of Vedic rituals they must be distracted from performing these rites. He created a unique being from his powers of Maya, that being had no hair on his head was wearing dirty clothing smeared with dust, and had a bag hung upon his shoulders and the Lord taught him all that was not agreeable to Vedas, and prepared him to believe that Vedas are not purposeful and only Karma or the deeds are fruitful. He also instructed him to go around the worlds and spread this knowledge in a simple language so that people may understand and follow him. The lord told him that Heaven and hell do not have separate existence and they are the effect experienced upon this earth alone. He was named “Ari hant” or “Arhan” had a broomstick in his hands, his name literally means destroyer of his enemies. Lord also created the disciples for Arhant namely Rishi, Yati, Keerya and Upadyaya told them that they should follow Arhant and assist him spread the philosophy to all and start their work with Tripurasuras at the beginning of Kaliyuga! Arhan along with his disciples went to the abode Tripurasurs and started their preaching, gradually the people turned in great numbers and found the teaching attractive and became his disciples and the Vedic rites began to fade and even recitation of Vedas began to diminish. Promptly the Devas informed Lord Siva about the opportune time to strike tripurasuras and gave their weapons to Lord Siva, Viswakarma fashioned a chariot, Surya gave the horses, Brahma sat as a charioteer, and Lord Vishnu directed from the flag. Lord Siva approached the forts and entered it with ease, but on the way his axil broke, the Devas pondered over it and found the reason! It was because they did not pray to Lord Vigneswara the son of Lord Siva and obtained his blessings! Soon the Lord Siva lead the Devas in prayer to Lord Ganesh and he blessed the mission and they progressed after fixing the chariot. Then Lord Siva was not able to release the arrow from his bow, then Lord Vishnu took his abode on the tip of the missile and soon Lord Siva released and the missile released went blazing towards the target and destroyed the three forts all at once and killed the asuras too except Mayan the celestial architect of Asuras. Devas rejoiced the fall of the Tripurasuras and prayed to Lord Siva and Vishnu for their benevolence. Thus Tripurasuras were killed and Devas obtained peace! Arhant approached Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu and asked them about his mission ahead, Lord Vishnu told him that he may take his abode in the deserts and preach his faith and have his followers in peace. So he did and retired to the desert. An interesting fact to be noted here is that the faith that Lord Vishnu created to conquer Tripurasuras is today’s Jainism that is opposed to Vedic rituals headed by Arihant ! If you observe the Jain munis do not have hair upon their head, and are bald headed. They wear clothes in white that is found to be soiled due to their constant travel by walk, they also carry a broomstick made of peacock feathers to clean the road ahead of them so that small insects are not harmed but swept away. Do they worship Lord Siva ? Yes they worship Lord Siva in his incarnation as Nakoda Bhairava! Can we find any reference that connects Lord Vishnu to them ? Yes, In the Vishnu Sahasranama the nama “Sramana” refers to them, those who undergo physical torment in their religious faith. In fact they pluck the hair upon their head one by one and become bald!