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Ashvakranta -  in Assam
Temples of North Eastern India


The Ashvakranta temple in Guwahati in Assam is an ancient one and is associated with the legend of Krishna slaying the demon Narakasura.It is believed that Ashvakranta is the site at which Krishna camped with his horses and army before he killed the demon Narakasura, hence the name Ashvakranta.

The temple enshrines an image of Krishna (Vishnu) in the Anantasayana or the reclining posture, where Vishnu is shown reclining on the serpent Adi Sesha, with Bhrahma seated on a lotus emanating from his navel. The four armed Vishnu is flanked by Mahalakshmi (or Mahamaaya) and the demons Madhu and Kaitabha.  Two rows of Naaga Kanyas are portrayed as worshipping Vishnu. (See also Indalur in Tamilnadu, portraying Anantasaayee associated with the legend of restoring the Vedas from the demons Madhu and Kaitabha).

Legend has it that Naraka, the son of Krishna was appointed ruler of Assam. He fell into bad ways and began tormenting mortals and the Gods, especially under the influence of another demon Bana.

The sage Vashishta visited Kamarupa Desa with the intention of worshipping Kamakhya Devi. Naraka stopped him from doing so and hence the sage cursed him that he would be killed by his own father Vishnu.

As Narakasura's attrocities increased, Vishnu (Krishna) invaded Kamarupa (Pragjyotishapura) and vanquished the demon. Upon being slain, the remorseful demon pleaded with Krishna, that his death would be celebrated with fanfare by humanity, in the wee hours of the new moon morning in the month of Libra. This legend forms the basis of the grandest festival in India Deepavali - the festival of Lights. This legend is a popular one in South India.

Also located near Guwahati is Vasishtashrama or the hermitage of Vasishta, where he is believed to have carried out penances meditating upon Shiva. Legend has it that Indra along with heavenly damsels, rendered the nearby streams impure, and incurred the wrath of Vasishta. As a result of which he was born on earth as a mortal, who later on rose to be the founder of the Ahom dynasty of Assam.