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In The Yuddha Khanda of The Ramayana, Trishiras says the following:

shambaro deva raajena narako viSNunaa yathaa

Some think this is NarakAsura who was slain by Lord Sri Krishna in later times (dwApara yugA).

But some interpretations like for example:

Valmiki Ramayana - Yuddha Kanda in Prose Sarga 69

say it was a different Naraka.

My question is, who was this Narakasura killed by Lord Vishnu before the Rama avatara, and which Purana describes this story?

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Elimination of Naraka by Vishnu was narrated in the Vana Parva of Mahabharata. However, this Naraka appears to be different Naraka than the Naraka of Pragjyothispura and eliminated by Sri Krishna.

And knowing that Pandu's sons were intent upon asking (him), Lomasa versed in speech said, 'Hear, O sons of Pandu! O best of men, what ye see before you, of vast proportions like unto a mountain and beautiful as the Kailasa cliff, is a collection of the bones of the mighty Daitya Naraka, Being placed on a mountain, it looketh like one.

The Daitya was slain by that Supreme Soul, the eternal God Vishnu, for the good of the lord of celestials. Aiming at the possession of Indra's place, by the force of austere and Vedic lore, that mighty-minded (demon) had practised austere penances for ten thousand years. And on account of his asceticism, as also of the force and might of his arms he had grown invincible and always harassed (Indra).

And O sinless one, knowing his strength and austerities and observance of religious vows, Indra became agitated and was overwhelmed with fear. And mentally he thought of the eternal deity, Vishnu. And thereat the graceful lord of the universe, who is present everywhere, appeared and stood before him manifest. And the sages and celestials began to propitiate Vishnu with prayers. And in his presence even Agni of the six attributes and of blazing beauty being overpowered by his effulgence, became shorn of radiance and seeing before him the God Vishnu, the chief of the celestials who wields the thunder-bolt, bowing with head down readily apprised Vishnu of the source of his fear.

Thereupon Vishnu said, 'I know, O Sakra, that thy fear proceedeth from Naraka, that lord of the Daityas. By the merit of his successful ascetic acts he aimeth at Indra's position. Therefore, for pleasing thee, I shall certainly sever his soul from his body, although he hath achieved success in asceticism. Do thou, lord of celestials, wait for a moment.'

Then the exceedingly powerful Vishnu deprived (Naraka) of his senses (by striking him) with his hand. And he fell down on the earth even like the monarch of mountains struck by (thunder). He was thus slain by a miracle and his bones lie gathered at this spot.

  • Thank you @srimannarayana-k-v That seems like a good reference, and probably what was indicated in the Ramayana. I accept your answer. – Vidyarthi Jan 24 at 7:08

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