Friday, April 3, 2020

Devi Mahatmya - 8


Devi Mahatmya - Markandeya Purana, tr. by Bibek Debroy

Ch 7 << Chapter 8 (Ch 85 in the book) >> Ch 9

With both Chanda and Munda killed by Kali, Shumbha was filled with rage and ordered the most fearsome of warriors to assemble and march to battle. 
Who were some of the warriors? Eighty-six daityas with upraised weapons (Udayudha), eight-four Kambus (daityas), fifty lineages of Kotivirya asuras, one hundred from the Dhumra lineage, the Kalaka, Dourhrida, Mourya, and Kalakaya asuras, with Shumbha leading them at the front. Seeing them advance, Chandika twanged her bow, sounded her bell, and her lion let out a roar. The sound pervaded the directions. Similarly, Kali's roar sounded in all directions. Thus the battle began. To aid the goddesses in their battle against the asura armies, great energies from the emanated from the bodies of the gods and merged with Chandika. Brahmani emerged from Brahma, Maheshvari from Shiva, Koumari from Kumara, Vaishnavi from Vishnu, Varahi from Hari (Vishnu in his Varaha avatar), Narasimhi from Narasimha, Aindri from Indra. Shiva then asked Chandika to slay all the asuras. Chandika asked Ishana to go to Shumbha and Nishumbha and tell them that Indra would soon regain his throne when these asuras were killed. But they had a choice. They could flee to Patala. If they wished to fight, they would be killed, and her jackals would feast on their flesh! Shiva agreed, and thus Chandika also came to be known as Shivaduti.

The asuras obviously disregarded her message and descended on Katyayani. In this battle, all the goddesses fought the asuras. Kali rained blows from her trident and khatvanga, Brahmani sapped their strength with sprinklings of holy water, Maheshvari killed them with trident, Vaishnavi with he chakra, Koumari with her spear, Aindri with her vajra, Varahi with her snout and tusks, Narasimhi with her nails. As the asuras fell down and were crushed, Shivaduti and the Matris ate them. Seeing this carnage, many daityas started to flee. 

It was the turn of the fearsome Raktabija to fight. However, as soon as a drop of his blood fell on the ground, another asura, identical in appearance, appeared. Aindri struck Raktabija with her vajra. Blood oozed from the asura, but as soon as the blood touched the ground, innumerable asuras, identical to him in form and strength, took form. Whether Aindri struck him with a club, or Vaishnavi with a chakra, or Varahi with a sword, each drop of blood created another Raktabija, till the entire universe seemed to be filled with the daitya. 

Seeing this dreadful turn of events, the gods became even more fearful. Chadika told Kali to take up all the blood that flowed from the Raktabijas. As the goddess struck Raktabija, Kali and Chamunda received the blood in their mouths. Whatever asuras sprang up from the blood that fell in the devi's mouth were devoured by her. Raktabija, devoid of all blood, finally died. The matris danced with joy, intoxicated.

Reference: Markandeya Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy. Published by Penguin, 2019. The Devi Mahatmya is covered in chapters 78-90 of the Markandeya Purana.

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