Banasur – demon with a thousand arms
Other names: Banasura
Bali was an eminent demon; he had a hundred sons of which Banasur was the eldest. With his valour he had made Shonitpur (present day Tezpur, Assam) his capital. He was a devotee of Shiva and a firm-minded person. He had a thousand hands, so Banasur is called Sahashtra-Baahu (person with thousand hands).
While Lord Shiva performed his famous ‘Tandav Nritya’, he used to play the ‘Mridanga’ with his thousand hands. He worshiped Shiva for thousand years. With this, Lord Shiva was pleased and gave him a desired boon. He asked for a boon like a true devotee. “You reside near my town.” Lord Shiva resided at a place named Kedar, which then became famous as Kedarnath. With his irresistible desire for war, he further asked Shiva’s permission, that he can fight with everyone except Shiva.
Lord Shiva said whenever his flag on his chariot falls he will be defeated, since that day he was waiting for his flag to fall. This flag fell during the war with Aniruddha.
Banasur had strength; knowledge and wealth in excess and that is why he had become egoistic, but Shiva could not bear pride in his devotees.
Banasur always looked for someone as strong as him on this earth as he kept defeating great warriors in war. That is why, wherever he used to go, deities, public and great people used to get scared of him and run away. He even defeated Lord Indra. He had a long life. He took birth at the beginning of Treta age (there are four ages according to Hinduism- Krita (Sat), Treta, Dwapar and Kali) and was alive till the Dwapar age.
Banasur had a daughter named Usha. She was very beautiful and once she saw Aniruddha (grandson of Shri Krishna) in her dreams and was fascinated by him. She confided in her friend Chitralekha who was an expert in drawing sketches. Chitralekha knew a form of Yoga with the help of which she could fly.
She flew and picked up Aniruddha and brought him to Usha’s Palace. When Banasur came to know about this, he was very angry and he locked Aniruddha in prison. Narad gave this news to Krishna, so Krishna left with his army to fight with Banasur. When Banasur was getting defeated, he remembered Lord Shiva. Shiva came down and there was a fight between Shiva and Krishna.
In the end Shiva told Krishna. “Almighty, who can win over you? Banasur is my devotee, please forgive him.”
Krishna said, “As it is, I will not kill him because firstly he is your devotee and secondly he is the great grandson of Bhakta Prahlad and I had vowed not to kill any of Prahlad’s descendants. Since today, he will be your chief courtier and would become immortal.”
On saying this, Krishna cut all his thousand hands leaving only four hands. Banasur bowed down to Vasudev (Krishna).