Saturday, March 28, 2020

Devi Mahatmya - 2

Devi Mahatmya - Markandeya Purana, tr. by Bibek Debroy

Ch 1 << Chapter 2 (Ch 79 in the book) >> Ch 3

aving told both Suratha and Samadhi how Mahamaya was praised by Brahma, how Vishnu was awakenied, who then proceeded to kill the asuras, Madhu and Kaitabha, Sumedha now proceeds to tell the two the powers of the goddess.

Once upon a time Mahishasura was the leader of the asuras. He defeated Indra and took his place, driving him and the gods out. A dejected Indra went to Shiva and Vishnu for help. Hearing Indra's tale of woe, both Shambhu and Madhusudana were filled with rage. From that rage and from the energy of the other gods assembled there emanated a great mass of energy. This energy coalesced into the form of a woman.

The Markandeya Purana tells us that different parts of her body were formed from the energies of different gods - of Shiva, Yama, Vishnu, Soma, Varuna, Brahma, Arka (Surya), Vasus, Kubera, Prajapati, Pavaka, Sandhya, Anila, and so on.

Next, the gods gave her weapons fashioned from their respective weapons - Pinaka his trident, Krishna his chakra, Varuna a conch shell, Hutashana (Agni) a spear, Indra a vajra and a bell from Airavata, Yama a rod, Varuna a noose, Surya his rays, Kala a sword, Vishwakarma a jewel, earrings, bracelets, and other ornaments along with an axe, Himalayas a lion as her mount, Shesha a necklace made out of serpents (nagahara), and so on.

Thus armed, the goddess let out a great roar that made the mountains tremble and oceans quiver. The tremors alarmed Mahishasura also, who rushed towards the goddess along with his asuras. Among those who fought against her were Chikshura, Chamara, Ugra, Mahahanu, Asiloma, Bashkala, Ugradarshana, Bidala, and they fought with a huge number of asuras and weapons. Ishvari destroyed all of them, cutting down their astras with her own astras. With a great breath, Ambika created countless ganas, who joined in the battle against the asuras. In that terrible battle that ensued, countless asuras were struck down, even the great roar of her lion causing a great number to die out of fear.

Reference: Markandeya Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy. Published by Penguin, 2019.

© 2020, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved.