Nepal in the Mahabharata Period, Part 6


BY: SUN STAFF - 9.10 2018

Banasura accompanying Shiva on stringed instrument 
Lord Sundareshwar Temple

Sri Krsna's liberation of Banasura, the Yadava dynasty's presence in Nepal, and the events that preceded and followed.

Thus far in our series, we have sketched a basic outline of some of the events taking place in the region of Nepal and where they fit in the context the Mahabharata era. We began with Sri Krsna's liberation of the asura king Bana and the Lord's installation of the Yadava dynasty there. We described the subsequent wedding of Krsna's grandson Aniruddha and Banasura's daughter, Usa; a brief history of the Kirat people, their territory and their leaders; Arjuna's pastimes in the Kirat Himalaya region; and some references in Mahabharata to the Kirat warriors.

We are about to move on to an exploration of some of the tirthas and temples located in and near Nepal that are connected to Mahabharata and Vedic culture. As mentioned previously, many temples were destroyed during the 2015 Earthquake, and we will attempt to identify them as we proceed.

The first will be the Himalayan temple dedicated to Banasura at his headquarters at Rudra-prayag. In the first segment, we offered Srila Prabhupada's narration of Sri Krsna's defeat of Banasura, from Chapter 63 of Krsna Book, which is a summary narration of the story as told in Srimad Bhagavatam 10th Canto. In the following verses, Lord Shiva is discussing the situation with Sri Krsna.

Srimad Bhagavatam 10.63.45-53:

"This Banasura is my dear and faithful follower, and I have awarded him freedom from fear. Therefore, my Lord, please grant him Your mercy, just as You showed mercy to Prahlada, the lord of the demons.

The Supreme Lord said: My dear lord, for your pleasure We must certainly do what you have requested of Us. I fully agree with your conclusion.

I will not kill this demonic son of Vairocani, for I gave Prahlada Maharaja the benediction that I would not kill any of his descendants.

It was to subdue Banasura's false pride that I severed his arms. And I slew his mighty army because it had become a burden upon the earth.

This demon, who still has four arms, will be immune to old age and death, and he will serve as one of your principal attendants. Thus he will have nothing to fear on any account.

Thus attaining freedom from fear, Banasura offered obeisances to Lord Krishna by touching his head to the ground. Bana then seated Aniruddha and His bride on their chariot and brought them before the Lord.

At the front of the party Lord Krishna then placed Aniruddha and His bride, both beautifully adorned with fine clothes and ornaments, and surrounded them with a full military division. Thus Lord Krishna took His leave of Lord Siva and departed.

The Lord then entered His capital. The city was lavishly decorated with flags and victory arches, and its avenues and crossways were all sprinkled with water. As conchshells, anakas and dundubhi drums resounded, the Lord's relatives, the brahmanas and the general populace all came forward to greet Him respectfully.

Whoever rises early in the morning and remembers Lord Krishna's victory in His battle with Lord Siva will never experience defeat."


Lord Siva feels inclined to help Banasura because the demon showed great devotion to Lord Siva when he provided musical accompaniment for Siva's tandava dance. Another reason Bana is an object of Lord Siva's favor is that he is a descendant of the great devotees Prahlada and Bali.

We should not think it strange that the Supreme Lord, Krishna, here addresses Lord Siva as bhagavan, "lord." All living beings are part and parcel of the Lord, qualitatively one with Him, and Lord Siva is an especially powerful, pure entity who possesses many of the Supreme Lord's qualities. Just as a father is happy to share his riches with a beloved son, so the Supreme Lord happily invests pure living beings with some of His potency and opulence. And just as a father proudly and happily observes the good qualities of his children, the Lord is most happy to glorify the pure living beings who are powerful in Krishna consciousness. Thus the Supreme Lord is pleased to glorify Lord Siva by addressing him as bhagavan.

Banasura's Penance: Worshipping Shiva and Parvati on Mount Kailash 
Nikka, Chamba, Himachal Pradesh, c. 1775 
Metropolitan Museum of Art


As an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva, before Sri Krsna subdued him and cut off all but four of his arms, Banasura used his thousand arms to play the mridanga for Shiva while he was performing the Tandava dance. Banasura's drum is mentioned in the Shiva Tandava-stotram composed by Ravana:

"Lord Shiva, whose dance of Tandava is in tune with the series of loud sounds of drum making Dhimid Dhimid sounds, who has the fire on the great forehead, the fire that is spreading out because of the breath of the snake wandering in whirling motion in the glorious sky. "

The tandava-nrtya, or Tandava dance performed by Shiva is a vigorous dance conducted as part of the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution. While the Rudra-tandava depicts Shiva's violent nature as the destroyer, the Ananda-tandava depicts him in an enjoying mood.

The Tandava is said to be named for Tandu, the attendant of Shiva who instructed Bharata (the author of the Natya Shastra) in the use of angaharas and karanas, modes of the Tandava. The Tandava Dance is not only accompanied by Banasura's drum, but also by stringed instrument. As shown in the image above, the thousand-armed Banasura is playing a veena.

Altogether, there are seven types of Tandava, and perhaps as many as nine other forms of the dance, including the version performed by Parvati Devi. Parvathi is said to have taught the dance to Banasura's daughter Usa, who then taught it to some of the Gopikas at Dwaraka, thus giving birth to the divine dance form Bharatanatyam.