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Shumbha and Nishumbha executed by Maha Devi
The Sacred Birds described to Sage Jaimini the immortal Story of the killing of Shumbha Nishumbha Demon brothers as was told by Mahatma Markandeya to Brahmana Kroushtiki. The most infamous Danava brothers, from the notorious lineage of the Hiranyakasipu, attacked Indra the King of Devas; diverted the ‘havis’ or the uncooked offerings to Agni at Yagnas meant for Devas to themselves; performed the tasks of Surya, Chandra, Kubera, Varuna, Vayu and other Devatas and turned all the Devas from Swarga, who became wanderers and as refugees in forests.
They remembered the assurance given by Devi Vishnu Maya, when they celebrated Her victory at the devastation of Mahishasura and his followers; at that time She said: Tasmaakam varo dattho yathaptsu smrutaakhilah, bhavataam naashayashyaami tatshanah paramaapadaah (As and when You remember me when faced with a hardship, I will demolish your difficulties at once!). Thus Devas headed by Indra made a desperate appeal to Maha Devi as follows:
NAMO DEVYAI MAHA DEVYAI SHIVAAYAI SATATAM NAMAH
KALYANAI PRANATAAMRUDDHYAI SIDDHAYI KURMYAI NAMO NAMAH
YA DEVI SARVA BHUTESHU VISHNU MAYETI SHABDITA
INDRIYANAAMADHISHTHATHRI BHUTAANAAMAKHILESHU YA
(Devas said: Our Greetings to Devi, Maha Devi, Shiva, Praakriti, Bhadra, Roudra, Nithya, Gauri, Dhaatri, Jagatpratishtha, Kruthya, Prakasharupa, Chandrarupa, Paramaanandarupa, Kalyani, Buddhi rupa, Siddhirupa, Naikruti swarupa, Lakshmirupa, Sharvaani swarupa, Durga, Durgapaara, Saara, Sarvakaarini, Khyati, Krishna, Dhumraswarupa, Atyanta Sowmya, Atyanta Roudra and Karyarupini.
As Devas extolled Maha Devi, Devi Parvati was bathing in the pure water of Ganga and realizing that Devas were dislodged from the Swaraloka, appeared before them as Ambika whose popular name was Kaushiki or Kalika of dark skin but of unprecedented charm and beauty. Devas realised that Devi Kaushiki decided to reside at the top of Himalayas. Two Danavas named Chanda and Munda, the followers of their Masters Shumbha and Nishumbha of the lineage of Hiranyakasipu, happened to vision Kaushiki Devi on the Himalayas and were completely taken aback at her extraordinary magnificence.They hurried up to their Masters and conveyed to them of their greatest discovery of Devi Kausiki. They said that their Masters had no doubt achieved the most precious possessions of the Universe like the Iravata Elephant, Ucchaiswa Horse, Parijata Tree, Hamsa (Swan) Viman, Maha Padma Nidhi of Kubera, Kinjilkini called Kamal from Samudra Deva, Kanchanasraavi named Umbrella from Varuna Deva, the most valuable Ratha or Chariot from the Foremost Prajapati, Maranaprada Shakti of Lord Yama, the most potent ‘Pasha’ of Varuna Deva, all the richest ‘Ratnas’ or jewels of Samudra Deva and the ‘Uttariya and Vastra’ (clothes) sanctified by ‘Vahni’ (Flames) of Agni Deva; But without possessing the Rarest ‘Stree Rathna’ or the Most Invaluable Jewel of a Woman was visioned by Chanda and Munda would pale into insignificance before that prized possession! When Chanda and Munda described so much about the ‘Stree Ratna’, Shumbha and Nishumbha sent an able emissary called Sugreeva to Devi Kausiki to convince her about their unique qualities of proven bravery and capability. Devi replied: What ever had been said was indeed correct, since the two great brothers were the mightiest warriors in the Trilokas, but she had a ‘Pratigna’ or Vow viz. :
Yo mam jayati samgraame darpa vyapohati,
(Whosoever could win me over in a battle, crush my pride and equalise my Shakti would be my Master; now, let either Shumbh or Nishumbh try their luck and take on me in the duel and why delay further?). As the emissary told Devi in great anger that let alone Shumbha or Nishumbha but even he could take her by hair and present her before his Masters, as Devi replied coolly that it was not proper to harm an emissary and as such he would better convey what she had said to his Masters. Enraged by this arrogance of Devi, Shumbh instructed Dhumralochan to bring her by hook or crook. The latter ran up to Devi Ambika with a view to humble her, but by her mere ‘Hunkaar’ sound, the Demon got turned into ash; his huge army of soldiers came to action as they shot arrows, a variety of objects like Shulas and Shaktis and despatched horses, elephants and chariots. The Carrier of Ambika, named Kesari (Lion) got provoked with anger and with an earth-shaking roar, jumped out in lakhs of Forms and tore the bodies of soldiers apart into pieces. Shumbha went into white rage with biting lips as Dhumralochana was turned into ash and his large army of front ranking soldiers was destroyed; he ordered Chanda and Munda to march a huge army and drag ‘that woman’ tied up by her long hairs and present her before him. When Chanda Mundas led an ocean-like ‘Chaturanga Bala’ or the Four Divisioned army comprising Charioteers, Elephants, Horses and Foot Soldiers adept in offensive warfare with high skills of military power, they all witnessed a grand and lonely female figure sporting a mischievous smile on the mountain top.From the smile of Devi’s face, there was a sudden transformation of her skin to black, her eyes became red, her teeth got protrusive and her tongue was elongated. This appalling figure of Devi jumped from the mountain top along with the roaring Lion, creating lakhs of such figures all over, and playing one elephant against another, one horse against another and one chariot against another, breaking heads, and turning the battle field into streams of blood and disfigured bodies without heads of many, limbs of several and carcasses of lakhs of dead animals. As the ocean-like army of committed soldiers was massacred, both Mundasura and Chandasura rushed towards Ambika Devi, one raining away strings of ‘Astras’ and another flinging sharp weapons at mighty speed simultaneously, She threw around illusionary meshes which placed both of them into straight-jackets and with powerful blows smashed their heads; the ferocious Devi took the broken heads of the Asura brothers into her hands and laughed so violently that thundered the Earth and Sky, thus attaining the memorable epithet of Chamundi.
The desperate Shumbha and Nikumbha ordered that the entire reserve army be marched with Udhayudh leading eighty six core Group of Commanders, Kambu Daitya with eighty four, Kotiveerya with fifty, Dhumravamsajat with hundred Group Commanders, each of them being equal to the combined efforts of Devas who ran away once before as they could hardly defend Indra’s Chair. Noticing the desperate effort of the Danava brothers, Parama Devas including Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu, Kartikeya and Indra collected their respective Shaktis; Brahma flew by his Hamsa Vahana (Swan) along with his Brahmani Shakti, Vishnu by Garuda as also Varaha Shakti, Narasimha Shakti etc. Devi Chandika asked Shiva to warn the Shumbha and Nishumbha brothers to end up the war even at this stage and make a retreat to Patala and leaving Swarga. But the highly arrogant brothers heckled at Maheswara and there was no way but to return to the battle field. Brahma utilised Brahmani Shakti to pour forceful waterfalls from his Kamanadalu; Maheswari Shakti through Tri-Shulas, Vaishnavi Shakti through innumerable ‘Chakras’, Kaumari Shakti through Shulas, Indra by Vajra, Varahi Shakti by Damshras, Naarasimha Shakti by the help of sharp nails etc. The highly notorious core Group commanders were thus destroyed without trace.Raktabija, the sister’s son of Shubha and Nishumbha Brothers had the boon of creating as many Raktabija Danavas as the blood drops of each new body. Devi Ambika desired Chamundi to lap up the blood even before fresh Raktabijas were born. But there was a mismatch in the blood drops and the instant creation of further Danavas and hence Devi decided to extend her tongue so farther that finally blood drops dried up and Raktabija met his termination.Both Devas and Munis witnessed this strange happening and were mesmerised as to how Devi Ambika tackled the tricky situation!
When even the invincible Raktabija got killed despite his crafty tricks, Shumbha and Nishumbha came face to face against Devi. Both the brothers rained arrows on her while she poured heavy waterfall-like Astras from the clouds and kept the brothers at dismay. Suddenly, Nishumbh hit the head of Devi’s lion on his head. Devi retaliated like a lightning and used an ‘Astra’ named ‘Kshurapra’, and destroyed his sword; he used a Shakti while Devi despatched a double Shakti. He threw a ‘Shula’ against her but she shielded it with her ‘Mushtighaath’ (grasp of her grip). He threw at Devi his mace and she responded it with her Trishul. Losing further patience, Devi Ambika finally felled Nishumbha on the ground with a torrential knock of her arrows. As Nishumbh fell down, Shumbha expanded his body all over the sky assuming eight hands with a variety of potent arms and approached her like a flash. That was the time when Ambika sounded her conchshell as though the ultimate time had arrived to script the end of Shumbha. In the most ferocious form of Kaali, Devi Ambika jumped up sky high and as she came down with a thud and as Shumbhasura released his final Astra called ‘Ugradeepti’ emitting flames and heat which was controllled by her ‘Maholka’ Astra. Then Devi said: ‘you ‘Duratma’, you have still not realised my Power. This is all my Creation; I am the Cause, I am the Doer and I am the Act; you are a part of my scheme; never think high of you; your time of death is ticking!’ As she was saying this, Shumbhasura reached to her like a flash and tried to jump at her but she slapped him so hard that he tumbled down. She pierced her Shula right into his heart and he fell on to earth with a thud as there was a quake and Rivers and Oceans overflowed and mountains quivered momentarily. But soon there was a clear sky, good omens appeared, there were pleasant rains of flowers, Apsaras danced to their glory, Gandharvas sang melliflous hymns in praise of Devi, Trimurthis exclaimed that truth was vindicated, Devas led by Indra fell into raptures with joyful tears in their eyes and Maharshis and Yogis predicted the arrival of a propitious era here again. Out of immense gratitude, Devas commended Ambika Devi as follows:
DEVI PRAPANNARTI HARE PRASEEDA PRASEEDA MATARJAGATOKHILASYA,
(Devi! We are your refugees and we are thankful to have demolished our great grief; kindly cool down, Akhila Jagajjanani, Visveshwari, You grant us safety as you are the Eswari, the unique fulcrum of the Universe residing on Earth in the form of water but satisfying the totality of ‘Srishti’ as Your gallantry is irresistible. You are the unending and valiant Vaishnavi Shakti; You are the cause of creation and the great Illusion, You have got the entirety of the World mesmerised, You have the compassion to lead us to Salvation. You have the ‘Murthivisesh’ or Boundless Form; the Form of all females and in fact the entire Femineness, Mother! You are spread all over and how could anybody praise You, as You are beyond the bounds of commendation. As You are present among all of the Beings, and the final goal of life, we all tend to praise You, but You are a ‘Nirguna’ deviod of all features and impulses stated to be a ‘Brahma Swarupa’ and as such which kind of tribute could be paid to You! Devi, You reside in the hearts and souls of all the Beings as ‘Buddhi Rupa’ and Provider of Swarga Mukti, Devi Narayani! You are equally capable of Universal Devastation instantly; assuming evolving powers of ‘Kalaas’ signifying positive forms and ‘Kaashthas’ indicating negative impulses with equal ease).
SARVA MANGALA MAANGALYE SHIVE SARVAARTHA SAADHIKEY
HAMSAYUKTHA VIMAANASTHEY BRAAHMANI RUPADHAARINI
(Devi, You are the embodiment of alround propitiousness, Shiva Swarupa or the Form of auspiciousness, Fulfiller of all kinds of desires, I seek refuge from You Triambaka or of Three Forms of Shaktis viz. Lakshmi, Sarasvati and Parvati; Gauri, Narayani; My sincere Namastes or Greetings. Oh! Sanatani, Gunashraya, Gunamaya, Narayani, Shakti Bhuta,You are the Epitome of Srishti or Creation, Sthiti or Existence and Vinaasha or Demolition; You are the Saviour of those helpless victims of insecurity and sorrow; Being of Brahma Swarupa, You fly by a Swan-shaped aeroplane and sprinkle water with kushagrass along with powerful and Sacred ‘Mantras’ to save such sufferers. You ride over the bull in the form of Maheswari with half moon, sporting ornaments of Serpents and carrying Trishul;You don the Form of Kaumari Shakti along with Peacock and Rooster; Greetings to You as the Vaishnavi Shakti on the battle field duly adorned with Shankha, Chakra, Gada and Saranga; You as the Mahavarahi or the Great Boar lifting Earth from the deep waters of Patala loka by Your ‘damshtras’; You are the Saviour of Tri Lokas as Naarasimhi who slaughtered the Daitya Hiranya Kasipu; You have the bejewelled golden Kireeta or the headgear, a diamond like strong physique with a sparkling thousand eyes and exterminated the mighty Vritrasura. You are the Indrani and Narayani who with a Shivaduta Swarupa killed innumerable Danavas by Your mere sound reverberation.You are the assassinator of Chanda-Munda Rakshasas, my salutations. You are the personification of Lakshmi (Prosperity), Lazzza (modesty), Shraddha (fortitude), Swadha (Righteousness / oblations at Yagnas), Maharatri (the darkest night or the Great Delusion), Mahamoha Swarupa (the Form of Mighty Obsession), Dhruva (the Constant), Medha (the intellect), Sarasvati (personification of Knowledge), Vara (Shreshtha or the Noblest), Babhravi ( Fiery or the Fierce), Bhuti (Frightful) and Tamasi (Dark Night or of Tamasika nature). Devi! My humble obeisances to You, the representation of hands, feet, eyes, head, face, hearing power, nose or the totality of a Physique.)
SARVA SWARUPE SARVESHEY SARVA SHAKTI SAMANVITEY
YETATTEY VADANAM SOUMYAM LOCHANASTRAYA BHUSHITAM
(Devi! You are Sarva Swarupa, Sarveswari, Sarva Shakti Samanvita or the Possessor of Omni-Potence; Katyayani, kindly secure all the Beings from the Tranquillity of Your Three Eyes. Bhadra Kaali, Save us by using the blistering flames of Your frightening face and the powerful Trishul against the infamous and brutal Rakshasas. Let the deafening echo of the forceful ‘Ghanta’ (Bell) in Your possession which demoralises the reckless Danavas and demolishes their arrogance pardon our accumulated sins and provide us an amnesty. Devi Chandika! Let the sparkling sword of Your mighty hands slice open the body parts of the Asuras so that streams of blood and fat rush out and let the reflections of the sword’s radiance purify us and provide protection to us. Devi! If You are satisfied our ailments vanish away, but otherwise all our possessions and desires are destroyed at once; those who are dedicated to You never face any difficulties, however insurmountable they might be. Would it be possible to assume myriad forms to smash the highly immoral Danavas with all their viles and powers by any other woman? Could there be any other capability beyond Yours which excels with the expertise of forty Vidyas, Six Shastras, Vedas, and incomparable Gyan and mental acumen that keeps the equilibrium and stability to the Universe which is surfeit with dark desires and passions! Devi! By staying in the deep Waters of Oceans, You reach any and every spot of the Universe where there is a Rakshasa, a cruel serpent, an enemy, a thief, or a Davaanala (Huge Fire) to safety and well being. You are Vishweswari since You stand guard to us; You are Vishwatma since You are the Soul of the Vishwam or the Vishwaadhara, being saluted by Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara with reverence and admiration. Devi! Just as You have got rid of the World from the Rakshasas now, do sustain Your kindness in removing our enemies, natural calamities, diseases, disasters, dread and disorders of any description!)
Extremely gratified by the eulogies of Devas, Maha Devi assured unremitting support to Devas as and when there would be a need besides saving the virtuous and punishing the guilty as an integral part of Her scheme of activities. She stated that in the course of Vivaswata Manvantara, She would be born again as Vindhyachalavasini and kill Vaipachitta named Danavas; while She would eat the Rakshasas at that time, She would be known as ‘Raktadantika’ as Her teeth would look like blood-red ‘Dadimi Kusuma’. Some hundred years hence, Munis would make Group Prayers for her as there would be severe drought and famine of water and Munis could percieve her by her red eyes alone as ‘Shataakshi’ since She woud be ‘Ayoni janita’ or born on Her own. As there would be no rains for long time, She utilised Her own Physique and generated food grains and vegetables to sustain humanity to be acclaimed as ‘Shakambhari’ and assuming a frightful form at Himalayas killed a very treacherous Demon called Durgama. When Muniganas would pacify her with their prayers, She would be popular as Bhima Devi.When another ‘Mahasura’, called Aruna would torment Trilokas some time later, She would assume the form of Six-legged ‘Bhramaras’ (Bees) in countless numbers and annihilate the Asura and his companions.
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