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Durga Saptashati

The Devisukta of the Rig Veda
Explanations based upon the writings of
Shree Devadatta Kali

Devisukta is a hymn of eight verses found in the most ancient
Hindu sacred text, the Rig Veda (in the 10th mandala).

The Devisukta (RV 10.125) declares that the Goddess is the power expressed through all the gods, that they are united in her who shines with consciousness, that her presence is all-pervading, that she supports all of creation, that she is the source of righteousness and the revealer of truth, that she is the source of all worlds, yet that she shines transcendent beyond them. Among Shaktas this Vedic hymn is held in high esteem and is considered to be the source from which the entire Chandi sprang. Later, the Chandi itself was elaborated upon in the Puranas and Tantras.

The Chandi goes by two other names. The most common and widely recognized is Devimahatmya [The Glory of the Goddess]. The other is Sri Durga Saptashati [Seven Hundred Verses to Sri Durga].

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Durga Saptashati Katha
Explanations from other sources

Abridged and paraphrased in a few places

This Katha can be divided into three sections:

  1. The demons Madhu and Kaitabha destroyed by Lord Vishnu
  2. Demon Mahishasur destroyed by Mahamaya (Mother Durga– the united light or combined power of the gods.)
  3. The destructions of demons Shumbha and Nishumbha.

The demons Madhu and Kaitabha destroyed by Lord Vishnu

Section one

Chapter 1 The Slaying of Madhu and Kaitabha

Markandeya said (to his disciple Krasustuki Bhaguri):

There was a king by the name of Suratha who ruled the kingdom of Kola. He was a good king who protected his people and treated them as his sons. Some ministers of Kola plotted against king Suratha and deposed him. Deprived of his kingdom, king Suratha rode alone on horseback into a dense forest. There he came to the hermitage of sage Medhas, where the sage’s disciples enhanced the atmosphere of the place and the wild animals looked mild as if influenced by the tranquil vibrations that emanated from the hermitage.

The sage received king Suratha with due hospitality. While on a walkabout near the hermitage, king Suratha reflected in his own mind. Overcome with attachment, he thought:

‘I do not know whether the capital (which was) well guarded by my ancestors and recently deserted by me is being guarded righteously or not by my servants of evil conduct. I do not know what enjoyments (care) my chief elephant, heroic and always elated, and now fallen into the hands of my foes, will get. Those who were my constant followers and received favour, riches and food from me, now certainly pay homage to other kings. The treasures which I gathered with great care will be squandered by those constant spendthrifts, who are addicted to improper expenditures.’

The king was continually thinking of these and other things.

Near the hermitage of the sage the king saw a merchant, and asked him:

Who are you? What is the reason for your coming here? Wherefore do you appear as if afflicted with grief and depressed in mind?’

Hearing this speech of the king, uttered in a friendly spirit, the merchant bowed respectfully and replied to the king.

The merchant said: ‘I am a merchant named Samadhi, born in a wealthy family. I have been cast out by my sons and wife, who are wicked through greed of wealth. My wife and sons have misappropriated my riches, and made me devoid of wealth. Cast out by my trusted kinsmen, I have come to the forest grief-stricken. Dwelling here, I do not know anything about the welfare of my sons, kinsmen and wife. How are they? Are my sons living good or evil lives?’

The king said: ‘Why is your mind affectionately attached to those covetous folks, your sons, wife and others, who have deprived you of your wealth?’

The merchant said: ‘This very thought has occurred to me, just as you have uttered it. What can I do? My mind does not leave attachment; it bears deep affection to those very persons who have driven me out in their greed for wealth, abandoning love for a father and attachment to one’s master and kinsmen. I do not comprehend although, I know it. O noble hearted king, how is it that the mind is prone to love even towards worthless kinsmen? On account of them I heave heavy sighs and feel dejected. What can I do since my mind does not become hard towards those unloving ones?’

Markandeya said: . Then the merchant Samadhi and the noble king Suratha together approached the sage (Medhas); and after observing the etiquette worthy of him and as was proper, they sat down and conversed (with him).

The king said: ‘Sir, I wish to ask you one thing. Be pleased to reply to it. Without the control of my intellect, my mind is afflicted with sorrow. Though I have lost the kingdom, like an ignorant man- though I know it- I have an attachment to all the paraphernalia of my kingdom. How is this, O best of sages? And this merchant has been disowned by his children, wife and servants, and forsaken by his own people; still he is inordinately affectionate towards them. Thus both he and I, drawn by attachment towards objects whose defects we do know, are exceedingly unhappy. How does this happen, then, sir, that though we are aware of it, this delusion persists? This delusion besets me as well as him, blinded as we are in respect of discrimination?’

The Rishi said: ‘Sir, every being has the knowledge of objects perceivable by the senses. And object of sense reaches it in various ways. Some beings are blind by day, and others are blind by night; some beings have equal sight both by day and night. Human beings are certainly endowed with knowledge, but they are not the only beings (to be so endowed), for cattle, birds, animals and other creatures also cognise (objects of senses).

The knowledge that men have, birds and beasts too have; and what they have men also possess; and the rest (like eating and sleeping) is common to both of them. Look at these birds, which though they possess knowledge, and are themselves distressed by hunger are yet, because of the delusion, engaged in feeding grains into the beaks of their young ones. See with what devotion they put the food grains into the beaks of their young ones?  Men, O king, are full of desires. Human beings are, O tiger among men, attached to their children because of greed, expecting rewards in return.

Do you not see this? Even so men are hurled into the whirlpool of attachment, the pit of delusion, through the power of Mahamaya (the Great deusion), who makes the existence of the world possible. Marvel not at this. This Mahamaya is the Yoganidra, of Vishnu, the Lord of the world. It is by her the world is deluded. Verily she, the Bhagavati, the Mahamaya forcibly drawing the minds of even the wise, entangles them into delusion. She creates this entire universe, both moving and unmoving. It is she who, when propitious, becomes a boon-giver to human beings for their final liberation. She is the supreme knowledge, the cause of final liberation, and eternal; she is the cause of the bondage of transmigration and the sovereign over all lords.’

The king said: . ‘Venerable sir, who is that Devi whom you call Mahamaya? How did she come into being, and what is her sphere of action, O sage? What constitutes her nature? What is her form? Wherefrom did she originate? All that I wish to hear from you, O you supreme among the knowers of Brahman.’

The Rishi said:

She is eternal, embodied as the universe. By her all this is pervaded. Nevertheless she incarnates in manifold ways; hear it from me. When she manifests herself in order to accomplish the purposes of the devas, she is said to be born in the world, though she is eternal. At the end of a kalpa when the universe was one ocean ( with the waters of the deluge) and the adorable Lord Vishnu stretched out on Sesa and took the mystic slumber, the terrible asuras (demons) the well-known Madhu and Kaitabha, sprung into being from the dirt of Vishnu’s ears, and sought to slay Brahma.

Brahma, the father of beings, was sitting in the lotus (that came out) from Vishnu’s navel. Seeing these two fierce asuras and Janardhana (Vishnu) asleep, and with a view to awakening Hari (Vishnu), Brahma with concentrated mind extolled Yoganidra, dwelling in Hari’s eyes (appeared as Sleep in the eyes of Vishnu). The resplendent Lord Brahma extolled the incomparable Goddess of Vishnu, Yoganidra, the queen of cosmos, the supporter of the worlds, the cause of the sustenance and dissolution alike (of the universe).

Brahma said: ‘O great Mother! ‘You are Svaha (the energy of Devas). You are Svadha (the energy of Pitris). You are verily the Vasat (the emblem of sacrifice). You are the embodiment of Svara (Vedic accent). You are Sudha (the nectar). O eternal and imperishable One, you are the embodiment of the threefold mantra. You are Savitri and the supreme Mother of the devas. You are the goddess of good fortune, the ruler, modesty, intelligence characterized by knowledge, bashfulness, nourishment, contentment, tranquillity and forbearance. Armed with sword, spear, club, discus, conch, bow, arrows, slings and iron mace, you are terrible (and at the same time) you are pleasing, yea more pleasing than all the pleasing things and exceedingly beautiful. You are indeed the supreme Isvari, beyond the high and low. O Devi, bewitch these two unassailable asuras Madhu and Kaitabha with your superior powers. Let Vishnu, the Master of the world, be quickly awakened from sleep and rouse up his nature to slay these two great asuras.’

The Rishi said: There, the Devi of delusion extolled thus by Brahma, the creator, in order to awaken Vishnu for the destruction of Madhu and Kaitabha, drew herself out from every part of Vishnu’s body, and appeared before Brahma. Janardana (Vishnu), Lord of the universe, rose up from His couch on the universal ocean, and saw those two evil (asuras), Madhu and Kaitabha, of exceeding heroism and power, with eyes red in anger, endeavouring to devour Brahma. Thereupon the all-pervading Lord Vishnu got up and fought with the asuras for five thousand years, using his own arms as weapons. And they, frenzied with their exceeding power, and deluded by Mahamaya, exclaimed to Vishnu, ‘ Ask a boon from us.’

Lord Vishnu said: ‘If you are satisfied with me, you must both be slain by me now. What need is there of any other boon here? My choice is this much indeed.’

The Rishi said: Those two (asuras), thus bewitched (by Mahamaya), gazing then at the entire world turned into water, told Lord Vishnu the lotus eyed One, ‘Slay us at the spot where the earth is not flooded with water.’ The Rishi said: Saying ‘Be it so’, Lord Vishnu, the great wielder of conch, discus and mace, took them on His loins and there severed their heads with His discus. Thus she (Mahamaya) herself appeared when praised by Brahma. Now listen again the glory of this Devi that I will tell you. Here ends the first chapter called ‘The slaying of Madhu and Kaitabha’ of Devi Mahatmya Sri Durga Saptashati in Markandeya Purana, during the period of Savarni, the Manu.

Section TwoDemon Mahishasur destroyed by Mahamaya
(Mother Durga– the united light or combined power of the gods.)

Chapter 2
Slaughter of the Armies of Mahishasura

Of yore when Mahishasura was the lord of asuras and Indra the lord of devas, there was a war between the devas and asuras for a full hundred years. In that the army of the devas was vanquished by the valorous asuras. After conquering all the devas, Mahisasura became the lord of heaven (Indra).

Then the vanquished devas headed by Brahma, the lord of beings, went to the place where Siva and Vishnu were. The devas described to them in detail, as it had happened, the story of their defeat wrought by Mahishasura.

He (Mahishasura) himself has assumed the jurisdictions of Surya, Indra, Agni, Vayu, Chandra, Yama and Varuna and other (devas). Thrown out from heaven by that evil-natured Mahisha, the hosts of devas wander on the earth like mortals. All that has been done by the enemy of the devas, has been related to you both, and we have sought shelter under you both. May both of you be pleased to think out the means of his destruction.’

Having thus heard the words of the devas, Vishnu was angry and also Siva, and their faces became fierce with frowns. There issued forth a great light from the face of Vishnu who was full of intense anger, and from that of Brahma and Siva too. From the bodies of Indra and other devas also sprang forth a very great light. And (all) this light united together. The devas saw there a concentration of light like a mountain blazing excessively, pervading all the quarters with its flames. Then that unique light, produced from the bodies of all the devas, pervading the three worlds with its lustre, combined into one and became a female form; the manifestation of the lights of other devas too (contributed to the being of the) auspicious Devi. Then looking at her, who had come into being from the assembled lights of all the devas, the immortals who were oppressed by Mahishasura experienced joy.

The bearer of Pinaka (Siva) drawing forth a trident from his own trident presented it to her; and Vishnu bringing forth a discus out of his own discus gave her. Varuna gave her a conch, Agni a spear; and Maruta gave a bow as well as two quivers full of arrows.

Indra, lord of devas, bringing forth a thunderbolt out of (his own) thunderbolt and a bell from that of his elephant Airavata, gave her. Yama gave a staff from his own staff of Death and Varuna, the lord of waters, a noose; and Brahma, the lord of beings, gave a string of beads and a water-pot.

The earth quaked and all the mountains rocked. ‘Victory to you,’ exclaimed the devas in joy to her, the lion-rider. The sages, who bowed their bodies in devotion, extolled her. Seeing the three worlds agitated the foes of devas, mobilized all their armies and rose up together with uplifted weapons. Mahishasura, exclaiming in wrath, ‘Ha! What is this?’ rushed towards that roar, surrounded by innumerable asuras. Then he saw the Devi pervading the three worlds with her lustre. Making the earth bend with her footstep, scraping the sky with her diadem, shaking the nether worlds with the twang of the bowstring, and standing there pervading all the quarters around with her thousand arms. Then began a battle between that Devi and the enemies of the devas, in which the quarters of the sky were illumined by the weapons and arms hurled diversely. The profuse blood from the asuras, elephants and horses flowed immediately like large rivers amidst that army of the asuras. As fire consumes a huge heap of straw and wood, so did Ambika destroy that vast army of asuras in no time.

Here ends the second chapter called ‘Slaughter of the armies of Mahisasura’ of Devi-Mahatmya in Markandeya-Purana, during the period of Savarni, the Manu.


Chapter 3
The Slaying of Mahishasura

Seeing the great asura swollen with rage and advancing towards her, Chandika displayed her wrath in order to slay him.

She flung her noose over him and bound the great asura. Thus bound in the great battle, he quitted his buffalo form. Then suddenly he became a lion. While Ambika cut off the head (of his lion form), he took the appearance of a man with sword in hand. Immediately then the Devi with her arrows chopped off the man together with his sword and shield. Then he became a big elephant. (The elephant) tugged at her great lion with his trunk and roared loudly, but as he was dragging, the Devi cut off his trunk with her sword. The great asura then resumed his buffalo shape and shook the three worlds with their movable and immovable objects.

And she with showers of arrows pulverized (those mountains) hurled at her, and spoke to him in flurried words, the colour of her face accentuated with the intoxication of the divine drink. The Devi said: ‘Roar, roar, O fool, for a moment while I drink this wine. When you will be slain by me, the devas will soon roar in this very place.’

The Rishi said: Having exclaimed thus, she jumped and landed herself on that great asura, pressed him on the neck with her foot and struck him with her spear and thereupon, caught him under her foot. Mahishasura half issued forth (in his real form) from his own (buffalo) mouth, being completely overcome by the valour of the Devi. Fighting thus with his half-revealed form, the great asura was overpowered by the Devi who struck off his head with her great sword. Then, crying in consternation, the whole asura army perished; and all the hosts of deva were in exultation. With the great sages of heaven, the devas praised the Devi. The Gandharva chiefs sang and the bevies of apsaras danced.
Here ends the third chapter called ‘The Slaying of Mahishasura’ of Devi-Mahatmya in Markandeya Purana during the period of Savarni, the Manu.

Chapter 4
The Devi Stuti

The Rishi said: When that most valiant but evil-natured Mahishasura and the army of that foe of the devas were destroyed by the Devi, Indra and the hosts of devas uttered their words of praise, their necks and shoulders reverently bent, and bodies rendered beautiful with horripilation and exultation.

To that Ambika who is worthy of worship by all devas and sages and pervades this world by her power and who is the embodiment of the entire powers of all the hosts of devas, we bow in devotion. May she grant us auspicious things!

‘May Chandika, whose incomparable greatness and power Bhagavan Vishnu, Brahma and Hara are unable to describe, bestow her mind on protecting the entire world and on destroying the fear of evil.

‘O Devi, we bow before you, who are yourself good fortune in the dwellings of the virtuous, and ill-fortune in those of the vicious, intelligence in the hearts of the learned, faith in the hearts of the good, and modesty in the hearts of the high-born. May you protect the universe!

‘You who are always bounteous, with whom you are well pleased, those (fortunate ones) are indeed the object of esteem in the country, theirs are riches, theirs are glories, and their acts of righteousness perish not; they are indeed blessed and possessed of devoted children, servants and wives.

‘By your grace, O Devi, the blessed individual does daily all righteous deeds with utmost care and thereby attains to heaven. Are you not, therefore O Devi, the bestower of reward in all the three worlds?

‘When called to mind in a difficult pass, you remove fear from every person. When called to mind by those in happiness, you bestow a mind still further pious. Which goddess but you, O dispeller of poverty, pain and fear, has an ever sympathetic heart for helping everyone?’

Thus the supporter of the worlds was praised by the devas, worshipped with celestial flowers that blossomed in Nandana and with perfumes and unguents; and with devotion all of them offered her – heavenly incense. Benignly serene in countenance she spoke to all obeisant devas.

The Devi said: ‘Choose all of you, O devas, whatever you desire of me. (Gratified immensely with these hymns, I grant it with great pleasure)’ The devas said: ‘Since our enemy, this Mahishasura, has been slain by Bhagavati (i.e you) everything has been accomplished, and nothing remains to be done. And if a boon is to be granted to us by you, O Maheshvari, whenever we think of you again, destroy our direct calamities. O Mother of spotless countenance, and whatever mortal (human) shall praise you with these hymns, may you, who have become gracious towards us, also be gracious for him and increase his wealth, and other fortunes together with riches, prosperity and life, and good wife, O Ambika!’

The Rishi said: O King, being thus propitiated by the devas for the sake of the world and for their own sake, Bhadrakali said, ‘Be it so’ and vanished from their sight. Thus have I narrated, O King, how the Devi who desires the good of all the three worlds made her appearance of yore out of the bodies of the devas.

And again how, as a benefactress of the devas, she appeared in the form of Gauri for the slaying of wicked asuras as well as Shumbha and Nishumbha, and for the protection of worlds, listen as I relate it. I shall tell it to you as it happened. Here ends the fourth chapter called ‘The Devi Stuti ‘ of the Devi-Mahatmya in Markandeya-Purana during the period of Savarni, the Manu.

Section Three
The destruction of demons Shumbha and Nishumbha.

Chapter 5
Shumbha and Nishumbha

The Rishi said: Of yore Indra’s (sovereignty) over the three worlds and his portions of the sacrifices were taken away by the asuras, Shumbha and Nishumbha, by force of their pride and strength. The two, themselves, took over likewise, the offices of the sun, the moon, Kubera, Yama, and Varuna.

They themselves exercised Vayu’s authority and Agni’s duty. Deprived of their lordships and sovereignties, the devas were defeated. Deprived of their functions and expelled by these two great asuras, all the devas thought of the invincible Devi. She had granted us the boon, “Whenever in calamities you think of me, that very moment I will put an end to all your worst calamities.”

Resolving thus, the devas went to Himavat, lord of the mountains, and there extolled the Devi, who is the illusive power of Vishnu. The devas said: ‘Salutations to the Devi, to the Mahadevi. Salutations always to her who is ever auspicious. Salutation to her who is the primordial cause and the sustaining power. With attention, we have made obeisance to her. We bow to her who is welfare; we make salutations to her who is prosperity and success. Salutation to the consort of Shiva who is herself the good fortune as well as misfortune of kings. Salutations always to Durga who takes one across in difficulties, who is essence, who is the authority of everything; who is the knowledge of discrimination.’

O Prince, while the devas were thus engaged in praises and (other acts of adoration), Parvati came there to bathe in the waters of the Ganga. She, the lovely-browed, said to those devas, ‘Who is praised by you here?’ An auspicious goddess, sprung forth from her physical sheath, gave the reply: ‘This hymn is addressed to me by the assembled devas set at naught by the asura Shumbha and routed in battle by Nishumbha.’

Because that Ambika came out of Parvati’s physical sheath (Kosa), she is glorified as Kaushiki in all the worlds. After she had issued forth, Parvati became dark and was called Kalika and stationed on mount Himalaya.

Then, Chanda, and Munda, two servants of Shumbha and Nishumbha, saw that Ambika (Kausiki) bearing a surpassingly charming form. They both told Shumbha: ‘O King, a certain woman, most surpassingly beautiful, dwells there shedding lustre on mount Himalaya. Such supreme beauty was never seen by any one anywhere. Ascertain who that Goddess is and take possession of her, O Lord of the asuras! Nishumbha has every kind of gem produced in the sea. Fire also gave you two garments, which are purified by fire. Thus, O Lord of asuras, all gems have been brought by you. Why this beautiful lady-jewel is not seized by you?’

The Rishi said: On hearing these words of Chanda and Munda, Shumbha sent the great asura Sugriva as messenger to the Devi.

He said: Go and tell her thus in my words and do the thing in such a manner that she may quickly come to me in love. He went there where the Devi was staying in a very beautiful spot on the mountain and spoke to her in fine and sweet words.

The messenger said: O Devi, Shumbha, lord of asuras, is the supreme sovereign of three worlds. Sent by him as messenger, I have come here to your presence. Hearken to what has been said by him whose command is never resisted among the devas and who has vanquished all the foes of the asuras: (He says), “All the three worlds are mine and the devas are obedient to me. We look upon you, O Devi, as the jewel of womankind in the world. You who are such, come to me, since we are the enjoyers of the best objects. Take to me or to my younger brother Nishumbha of great prowess, O unsteady-eyed lady, for you are in truth a jewel.Wealth, great and beyond compare, you will get by marrying me. Think over this in your mind, and become my wife.”‘

The Rishi said: Thus told, Durga the adorable and auspicious, by whom this universe is supported, then became serene.

The Devi said: You have spoken truth; nothing false has been uttered by you in this matter. Shumbha is indeed the sovereign of the three worlds and likewise is also Nishumbha. But in this matter, how can that which has been promised be made false? Hear what promise I had made already out of foolishness. “He who conquers me in battle, removes my pride and is my match in strength in the world shall be my husband.” So let Shumbha come here then, or Nishumbha the great asura. Vanquishing me here let him soon take my hand in marriage. Why delay?

The messenger said: O Devi, you are haughty. Talk not so before me. Which man in the three worlds will stand before Shumbha and Nishumbha? All the devas verily cannot stand face to face with even the other asuras in battle. Why mention you, O Devi, a single woman?

Indra and all other devas could not stand in battle against Shumbha and other demons, how will you, a woman, face them? On my word itself, you go to Shumbha and Nishumbha. Let it not be that you go to them with your dignity lost by being dragged by your hair.

The Devi said: Yes, it is; Shumbha is strong and so is Nishumbha exceedingly heroic! What can I do since there stands my ill-considered vow taken long ago? Go back, and tell the lord of asuras carefully all this that I have said; let him do whatever he considers proper.

Here ends the fifth chapter called ‘Devi’s conversation with the messenger’ of the Devi-Mahatmya in Markandeya-Purana during the period of Savarni, the Manu.

Chapter 6
The Slaying of Dhumralochana

The Rishi said: The messenger, filled with indignation on hearing the words of the Devi, returned and related them in detail to the king of the daityas. Then the asura monarch, enraged on hearing that report from his messenger, told Dhumralochana, a chieftain of the daityas: ‘O Dhumralochana, hasten together with your army and fetch here by force that shrew, distressed when dragged by her hair. Or if any one else stands up as her saviour, let him be slain, be he a god, a yaksa or a gandharva.’

The Rishi said: Then the asura Dhumralochana, commanded thus by Shumbha, went forth quickly, accompanied by sixty thousand asuras. On seeing the Devi stationed on the snowy mountain, he asked her aloud, ‘Come to the presence of Shumbha and Nishumbha.’ When Sheba, the lord of asuras, heard that asura Dhumralochana was slain by the Devi and all his army was destroyed by the lion of the Devi, he was infuriated, his lip quivered and he commanded the two mighty asuras Chanda and Munda: ‘O Chanda, O Munda, go there with large forces, and bring her here speedily, dragging her by her hair or binding her. But if you have any doubt about doing that, then let the asuras strike (her) in the fight with all their weapons. When that shrew is wounded and her lion stricken down, seize that Ambika, bind and bring her quickly.’ Here ends the sixth chapter called ‘The Slaying of Dhumralochana’ of Devi-Mahatmya in Markandeya Purana during the period of Savarni, the Manu.

Chapter 7
The Slaying of Chanda and Munda

The Rishi said:

Then at his command the asuras, fully armed, and with Chanda and Munda at their head, marched in fourfold array. They saw the Devi, smiling gently, seated upon the lion on a huge golden peak of the great mountain.

On seeing her, some of them excited themselves and made an effort to capture her, and others approached her, with their bows bent and swords drawn.

Thereupon Ambika became terribly angry with those foes, and in her anger her countenance then became dark as ink. Out from the surface of her forehead, fierce with frown, suddenly issued Kali of terrible countenance, armed with a sword and noose. Bearing the strange skull-topped staff, decorated with a garland of skulls, clad in a tiger’s skin, very appalling owing to her emaciated flesh, with gaping mouth, fearful with her tongue lolling out, having deep-sunk reddish eyes and filling the regions of the sky with her roars, and falling upon impetuously and slaughtering the great asuras in that army, she devoured those hosts of the foes of the devas.

Then the Devi, mounting upon her great lion, rushed at Chanda, and seizing him by his hair, severed his head with her sword. Seeing Chanda being slain, Munda also rushed at her. She felled him also to the ground, striking him with her sword in her fury.

Seeing the most valiant Chanda and Munda laid low, the remaining army there became panicky and fled in all directions. And Kali, holding the heads of Chanda and Munda in her hands, approached Chandika and said, ‘Here have I brought you the heads of Chanda and Munda as two great animal offerings in this sacrifice of battle; Shumbha and Nishumbha, you shall yourself slay.’

The Rishi said: Thereupon seeing those asuras, Chanda and Munda brought to her, the auspicious Chandika said to Kali these playful words: ‘Because you have brought me both Chanda and Munda, you O Devi, shall be famed in the world by the name Chamunda. Here ends the seventh chapter called ‘The slaying of Chanda and Munda’ of Devi-Mahatmya in Markandeya Purana, during the period of Savarni, the Manu.


Chapter 8
The Slaying of Raktabija

Seeing the asuras harassed by the band of Matrs and fleeing, the great asura Raktabija strode forward to fight in wrath.Whenever from his body there fell to the ground a drop of blood, at that moment rose up from the earth asura of his stature.

The great asura fought with Indra’s shakti with club in his hand; then Aindri also struck Ranktabija with her thunderbolt. Blood flowed quickly and profusely from him who was wounded by the thunderbolt. From the blood rose up (fresh) combatants of his form and valour. As many drops of blood fell from his body, so many persons came into being, with his courage, strength and valour. And those persons also, sprung up from his blood, fought there with the Matrs in a more dreadful manner hurling the very formidable weapons. And again when his head was wounded by the fall of her thunderbolt, his blood flowed and therefrom were born persons in thousands. Vaisnavi struck him with her discus in the battle; Aindri beat that lord of asuras with her club. The world was pervaded by thousands of great asuras who were of his stature and who rose up from the blood that flowed from him when cloven by the discus of Vaisnavi. Kaumari struck the great asura Raktabija with her spear, Varahi with her sword, and Maheshvari with her trident. And Raktabija, that great asura also, filled with wrath, struck everyone of the Matrs severally with his club.

From the stream of blood that fell on earth from him when he received multiple wounds by the spears, darts and other weapons, hundreds of asuras came into being. And those asuras that were born from the blood of Raktabija pervaded the whole world; the devas got intensely alarmed at this. Seeing the devas dejected, Chandika laughed and said to Kali, ‘O Chamunda, open out your mouth wide; with this mouth quickly take in the drops of blood generated by the blow of my weapon and (also) the great asuras born of the drops of blood of Raktabija. Roam about in the battlefield, devouring the great asuras that spring from him. So shall this daitya, with his blood emptied, perish. As you go on devouring these, other fierce (asuras) will not be born.’

Having enjoined her thus, the Devi next smote him (Raktabija) with her dart. Then Kali drank Raktabija’s blood with her mouth. Then and there he struck Chandika with his club. The blow of his club caused her not even the slightest pain. And from his stricken body wherever blood flowed copiously, there Chamunda swallowed it with her mouth. Then Chamunda devoured those great asuras who sprang up from the flow of blood in her mouth, and drank his (Raktabija’s) blood. The Devi (Kausiki) smote Raktabija with her dart, thunderbolt, arrows, swords, and spears, when Chamunda went on drinking his blood. Stricken with a multitude of weapons and bloodless, the great asura (Raktabija) fell on the ground, O King. Thereupon the devas attained great joy, O King. The band of Matrs who sprang from them danced, being intoxicated with blood.

Here ends the eighth chapter called ‘The Slaying of Raktabija’ of Devi-Mahatmya in Markandeya-Purana, during the period of Savarni, the Manu.


Chapter 9
The Slaying of Nishumbha

The king (Suratha) said: ‘Wonderful is this that you, adorable sir, have related to me about the greatness of the Devi’s act in slaying Raktabija. I wish to hear further what the very irate Shumbha and Nishumbha did after Raktabija was killed.’ The Rishi said: After Raktabija was slain and other asuras were killed in the fight, the asura Shumbha and Nishumbha gave way to unbounded wrath. Enraged on seeing his great army slaughtered, Nishumbha then rushed forward with the chief forces of the asuras. In front of him behind him and on both sides of him, great asuras, enraged and biting their lips, advanced to slay the Devi. Shumbha also, mighty in valour, went forward, surrounded, with his own troops to slay Chandika in this rage, after fighting with the Matrs. Then commenced severe combat between the Devi on one side and on the other, Shumbha and Nishumbha who, like two thunderclouds, rained a most tempestuous shower of arrows on her. Chandika with numerous arrows quickly split the arrows shot by the two asuras and smote the two lords of asuras on their limbs with her mass of weapons.

As Nishumbha, the afflicter of the devas, was advancing with the dart in hand, Chandika pierced him in the heart with a swiftly hurled dart. From his (Nishumbha’s) heart that was pierced by the dart, issued forth another person of great strength and valour, exclaiming (at the Devi) ‘Stop.’ Then the Devi, laughing aloud, severed the head of him, who issued forth, with her sword. Thereupon he fell to the ground. The lion then devoured those asuras whose necks he had crushed with his fierce teeth, and Kali and Sivaduti devoured others.

Here ends the ninth chapter called ‘the Slaying of Nishumbha’ of Devi Mahatmya in Markandeya-Purana during the period of Savarni, the Manu.


Chapter 10
The Slaying of Shumba

The Rishi said: Seeing his brother Nishumbha slain, who was dear to him as his life, and his army being slaughtered, Shumbha angrily said. ‘O Durga who are puffed up with pride of strength, don’t show your pride (here). Though you are exceedingly haughty, you, resorting to the strength of others, fight.’ The Devi said: ‘I am all alone in the world here. Who else is there besides me? See, O vile one, these Goddesses, who are but my own powers, entering into my own self!’ Then all those, Brahmani and the rest, were absorbed in the body of the Devi. Ambika alone then remained. The Devi said: ‘The numerous forms, which I projected by my power here – those have been withdrawn by me, and (now) I stand alone. Be steadfast in combat.’ The Rishi said: Then began a dreadful battle between them both, the Devi and Shumbha, while all the devas and asuras looked on. With showers of arrows, with sharp weapons and frightful missiles, both engaged again in a combat that frightened all the worlds.

The daitya-king, wounded by the blow of her palm fell on the earth, but immediately he rose up again. Seizing the Devi, he sprang up and mounted on high into the sky. There also Chandika, without any support, fought with him. Then the daitya (Shumbha) and Chandika fought as never before, with each other in the sky in a close contact, which wrought surprise to the Siddhas and sages. Ambika then, after carrying on a close fight for a very long time with him, lifted him up, whirled him around and flung him down to earth. Flung thus, the evil-natured (Shumbha) reaching the earth and raising his fist, hastily rushed forward desiring to kill Chandika. Seeing that lord of all the daitya-folk approaching, the Devi, piercing him on the chest with a dart, threw him down to earth. Pierced by the pointed dart of the Devi he fell lifeless on the ground, shaking the entire earth with its seas, islands and mountains.

When that evil-natured (asura) was slain, the universe became happy and regained perfect peace, and the sky grew clear. Flaming portent-clouds that were in evidence before became tranquil, and the rivers kept within their courses when (Shumbha) was stricken down there. When he had been slain, the minds of all the bands of devas became overjoyed, and the Gandharvas sang sweetly. Others sounded (their instruments), and the bands of nymphs danced; likewise favourable winds blew; the sun became very brilliant; the sacred fires blazed peacefully and tranquil became the strange sounds that had risen in different quarters.

Here ends the tenth chapter called ‘The Slaying of Shumbha’ of Devi- Mahatmya in Markandeya-Purana, during the period of Savarni, the Manu.

Chapter 11
Hymn to Narayani

The Rishi said: When the great lord of asuras was slain there by the Devi, Indra and other devas led by Agni, with their object fulfilled and their cheerful faces illumining the quarters, praised her, (Katyayani). The devas said: ‘O Devi, you who remove the sufferings of your suppliants, be gracious. Be propitious, O Mother of the whole world. Be gracious, O Mother of the universe. Protect the universe. You are, O Devi, the ruler of all that is moving and unmoving. You are the sole substratum of the world, because you subsist in the form of the earth. By you, who exist in the shape of water, all this (universe) is gratified, O Devi of inviolable valour! You are the power of Vishnu, and have endless valour. You are the primeval maya, which is the source of the universe; by you all this (universe) has been thrown into an illusion. O Devi. If you become gracious, you become the cause of final emancipation in this world.

Salutation be to you, O Devi Narayani, O you who abide as intelligence in the hearts of all creatures, and bestow enjoyment and liberation. Salutation be to you, O Narayani, O you who, in the form of minutes, moments and other divisions of time, bring about change in things, and have (thus) the power to destroy the universe. Salutation be to you O Narayani, O you who are the good of all good, O auspicious Devi, who accomplish every object, the giver of refuge, O three eyed Gauri! Salutation be to you, O Narayani, you who have the power of creation, sustenance and destruction and are eternal. You are the substratum and embodiment of the three gunas. Salutation be to you, O Narayani, O you who are intent on saving the dejected and distressed that take refuge under you O you, Devi, who removes the sufferings of all!

Salutation be to you, O Narayani, O you who are good fortune, modesty, great wisdom, faith, nourishment and Svadha, O you who are immovable O you, great Night and great Illusion. Salutation be to you, O Narayani, O you who are intelligence and Sarasvati, O best one, prosperity, consort of Vishnu, dark one, the great nature, be propitious. O Queen of all, you who exist in the form of all, and possess every might, save us from error, O Devi. Salutation be to you, Devi Durga! May this benign countenance of yours adorned with three eyes, protect us from all fears.

When satisfied, you destroy all illness but when wrathful you (frustrate) all the longed-for desires. No calamity befalls men who have sought you. Those who have sought you become verily a refuge of others. Who is there except you in the sciences, in the scriptures, and in the Vedic sayings to light the lamp of discrimination? (Still) you cause this universe to whirl about again and again within the dense darkness of the depths of attachment. Where raksasas and snakes of virulent poison (are), where foes and hosts of robbers (exist), where forest conflagrations (occur), there and in the mid-sea, you stand and save the world. O Queen of the universe, you protect the universe. As the self of the universe, you support the universe. You are the (goddess) worthy to be adored by the Lord of the universe. Those who bow in devotion to you themselves become the refuge of the universe. O Devi, be pleased and protect us always from fear of foes, as you have done just now by the slaughter of asuras. And destroy quickly the sins of all worlds and the great calamities, which have sprung from the maturing of evil portents. O Devi you who remove the afflictions of the universe, be gracious to us who have bowed to you. O you worthy of adoration by the dwellers of the three worlds, be boon-giver to the worlds.

The Devi said: O Devas, I am prepared to bestow a boon. Choose whatever boon you desire in your mind, for the welfare of the world. I shall grant it. The devas said: ‘ O Queen of all, in this same manner, you must destroy all our enemies and all the afflictions of three worlds.’ The Devi said: ‘When the twenty-eighth age has arrived during the period of Avaisvsvata Manu, two other great asuras, Shumbha and Nishumbha will be born. Then born from the womb of Yashoda, in the home of cowherd Nanda, and dwelling on the Vindhya mountains, I will destroy them both. Thus whenever trouble arises due to the advent of the danavas, I shall incarnate and destroy the foes.’

Here ends the eleventh chapter called ‘Hymn to Narayani’ of Devi-Mahatmyam in Markandeya Ppurana, during the period of Savarni, the Manu.

Chapter 12
Eulogy of the Merits

The Devi said: ‘And whoever with a concentrated mind shall pray to me constantly with these hymns, I shall without doubt put down every trouble of his. ‘And those who shall laud (the story of) the destruction of Madhu and Kaitabha, the slaughter of Nishumbha likewise and those also who shall listen with devotion to this sublime poem on my greatness on the eighth, the fourte

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