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.