Lalitopakhyana (Lalita Mahatmya)

by G.V. Tagare | 1958 | 103,924 words | ISBN-10: 8120838246 | ISBN-13: 9788120838246

This page describes the exploits of gananatha which is Chapter 27 of the Lalitopakhyana (or Lalita-Mahatmya), an important scripture within Shaktism embedded as the final part in the Brahmanda-Purana. It is presented in the form of a dialogue between sage Agastya and Hayagriva, which is incarnation of Vishnu and also includes the Lalita Sahasranama.

Chapter 27 - The exploits of Gaṇanātha

Note: This chapter shows that the belief in the elephant-headed god Gaṇeśa as the destroyer of difficulties or impediments in an undertaking was current at the time of the author of this Māhātmya and people used to worship god Gaṇeśa first even in formal worship of other deities. This super-position or priority of Gaṇeśa worship is attributed to the boon of Lalitā as a reward of his exploits in the campaign against Bhaṇḍāsura (V. 104).

Hayagrīva narrated:

1. When the sons were killed, that leader of the Daityas thought that the ruin of the whole family had set in. He was over-whelmed with the fire of grief and lamented.

2. “Alas my sons, of liberal qualities. O my sons devoted solely to me. O my sons instilling nectar into my eyes. Alas! my sons, the cause of my flourishing family.

3. You were eager to break the pride of all excellent Suras, O my sons! You were like the god of love enchanting the minds of all damsels of Suras.

4. Do reply unto me! Do bounce into and dance in my lap. Why have you forsaken this your father now? Why have you gone in search of happiness (elsewhere)?

5. O my sons, without you, my kingdoms do not appear splendid. My abodes are empty and void! My royal council-chamber is void without you;

6. O dejected ones (?), how were you all wholly killed? How did that wicked woman abruptly kill in the battle all of you, the prowess of whose mighty arms could not be challenged and who are, as it were, the sprouts of my family?

7-9. All my happiness is ruined! Hereafter, as the family has decayed, adventuresome nature and happiness too have decayed. It was through the merits of my previous births that I obtained you all. But today you all have been destroyed. So I too am ruined. Alas! my sons, I am doomed. I am caught in adversity! I am unfortunate, O my sons!”

Thus he lamented, shedding profuse tears out of grief. With his tresses left dishevelled, he began to grumble and babble. With a broken heart, he fell into a swoon and dropped down from his royal seat.

10. Viśukra, Viṣaṅga and Kuṭilākṣa consoled Bhaṇḍa, in the assembly chamber (by emphasizing) on the crooked workings of fate.

Viśukra said:

11. “O lord, have you become a victim of sorrow like an ordinary uncultured fellow? You are lamenting over your sons who have courted death in the great battle.

12. This is the righteous and eternal path laid down in the case of heroes; if they meet with deserved death, their death in the battle should not be bewailed.

13. But it is this alone that torments the mind like a painful dart for destruction, that a woman comes suddenly and kills excellent soldiers in the battle”.

14. When this was addressed by that Daitya, the sorrow for his sons was eschewed by Bhaṇḍa and an anger like the fierce fire of Death was assumed by him.

15. He suddenly drew his Yama-like fierce sword from its scabbard. Keeping his pair of eyes distended, he shone brilliantly with his splendour.

16-17. “Now itself I shall hack down that wicked woman to pieces with this sword and shall strenuously leap into the battle along with my kinsmen”—saying thus in faltering words due to anger, he began to hiss like a serpent.

He stood up, shook his sword and moved on like a person excessively intoxicated.

18. All the leading Dānavas became bewildered. They restrained him and uttered these scathing words against Lalitā, due to great anger.

19. “For that purpose, O lord, this flurried agitation need not be evinced by you. We shall carry on war enthusiastically along with our army.

20. At your slightest behest we are capable of subjugating and suppressing the entire universe violently. What then, with regard to that stupid woman?

21. Shall we quaff of the seven oceans? Or shall we smash the mountains to smithereens? Or shall we twin the three worlds upside down?

22. Shall we massacre all Suras? Shall we split their abodes? Shall we crush and pound the guardians of quarters? Give us permission and command us, O highly intelligent one”.

23. After hearing this utterance full of haughtiness and pride, the furious Daitya spoke these words with his eyes turned red due to wrath.

24. “O Viśukra, you go to the camp of the enemy with your body concealed by means of Māyā and operate the great Yantra (mystical diagram) Jayavighna[1].

25. On hearing his words Viśukra went towards the army of Lalitā in great fury, with his body concealed by means of Māyā.

26. Even as he was getting ready to go, the sun set making the faces of cardinal points red by the collection of rays diffused in all directions.

27. Sandhyā (Dusk) was full of Anurāga (Love, red colour). She followed the sun as he went away (i.e. set). She appeared to be eager to indulge in sexual dalliance in the bowers of the nether world.

28. As the sun dropped into the western ocean with great rapidity, water rose up in a great splash due to the contact with his body. The drops of water so raised shone as stars in the sky.

29. Then a dense darkness as black as collyrium set in. It appeared to make his Savarṇa (a man of the same caste, having the same colour) the evil-minded sword meaningful (i.e. purposeful).

30. Seated in his magical chariot and concealed and enveloped in thick gloom, the rogue reached the camp of Lalitā in an invisible form.

31. After going there, the evil-minded Daitya sāw the circular fiery enclosure extending to a hundred Yojanas and blazing brilliantly.

32. He went round the enclosure and obtaining an opportunity came near the southern door. The haughty fellow thought for a moment.

33. There, at the entrance, he saw guards who had great inherent strength, who were cautious and alert, who held weapons in their hands, who were seated in their respective vehicles and who had put on coats of mail.

34-35. They were Śaktis, the chief of whom was Stambhinī and who were equipped with twenty Akṣauhiṇīs. They had been engaged by Daṇḍanāthā for guarding the entrance always.

On seeing them, Viśukra was very much surprised. After pondering for a long time, he stood outside the enclosure and prepared the mystical diagram in an amulate.

36-39. He wrote (inscribed) the excellent Tantra in a huge rocky slab a Gavyūti (i.e. 3 kilometres) in length and the same in width. In the eight directions he drew the figures of eight tridents with the Saṃhārākṣara, (syllables signifying Death or killing) on the top. The Yantra (amulet) had eight presiding deities namely Alasā, Kṛpaṇā, Dinā, Nitandrā, Pramīlikā, Klībā, Gītā and Ahaṃkārā. He joined these eight deities over the eight tridents. Viśukra who was an expert in Māyā, infused the Yantra with a Mantra.

40. He performed the worship of Yantra and offered goats etc. as oblation. In the course of battle, (?) that Asura hurled the Yantra into the enemy camp.

41. In ṭhe course of the battle (that Yantra) hurled by that wicked-souled Daitya who was standing outside the rampart-wall crossed the rampart and fell into the camp.

42. As an adverse effect of that Yantra, the Śaktis stationed within the camp became dejected in their minds. They set aside weapons and adopted the attitude of renouncing everything.

43-52. “What is to be done by killing Asuras? Enough of this clash of weapons with other weapons. What is the benefit achieved by victory? Injury to living beings yields sin.

Is this for the sake of Devas? What shall befall us then? It is futile to make a tumultuous sound. Excepting this there is no other benefit from warlike activities. Who is our mistress and great queen? And who is this Daṇḍanāyikā? Who is that Mantriṇī of dark complexion (Śyāmā)? Whence is our state of being servants and only one lady is the Mistress? What, then is the great benefit that is enjoyed? No purpose is served by weapons that pierce through the vital parts of the enemy. Let this war that brings about wounds in the body and loss of weapons to us come to a close. It is sure that death will befall us in the course of battle. Our lives then become fruitless. There will surely be death in battle. What a true perception is this? There is no benefit to be obtained through enthusiasm. Sleep alone is conducive to pleasure. Nothing else yields mental rest so much as Ālasya (Idleness). Even if the queen knows us to be like this, what will that queen do? Her very status as a queen has been collectively conceded to her by us. That being so, if she is abandoned by us, her strength becomes destroyed. If she is without power, what punishment can she mete?”

In this manner, Śahtis left off all their preparations for war and cast away their weapons. Overwhelmed by sleep, they appeared to be reeling and moving unsteadily at the entrance.

53. There was dullness and apathy everywhere. There was great laziness (and delay) in their activities. The whole of the great camp of Śaktis became slack.

54-56. That Dānava was desirous of harassing and tormenting the whole of that camp after making Śaktis dejected in mind as a result of the great Yantra called Jayavighna. When it had passed midnight on the second day of war, he went out of the city once again surrounded by thirty Akṣauhiṇīs of soldiers. Viśukra, the Daitya, came to the camp of the enemy once again.

57. Then the sounds of his war drum were heard. Still those Śaktis were devoid of any activity in the camp.

58. In view of their exalted glorious state Mantriṇī and Daṇḍanāthā were not adversely affected by the Vighnayantra. They became worried about the effect on the Śaktis.

59-60. “Alas! A great danger and calamity has befallen us. What is that the adverse effect of which has made our soldiers devoid of alertness and exertions? They have set aside their weapons. They have lost their turbulence. Sleep and lethargy have made them reel and heave. They do not mind our exhortations. They do not worship the supreme goddess. Indifference is extensively practised by them. These Śaktis have become disinterested.”

61. Thus Mantriṇī and Daṇḍanāthā in their great anxiety climbed up the Cakrasyandana chariot and spoke to the great queen.

Mantriṇī said:

62. “O goddess, what is this aberration due to? The Śaktis have ceased to be active. O great queen, they do not pay heed to your commands which the entire universe abides by.

63-66. They are detached from one another. They have turned their faces from all activities. They keep grim aspect in their sleepy drowsiness and lethargy. They make vulgar statements—“Who is this Daṇḍinī? Who is Mantriṇī? Who is the great queen? Of what avail is war? Of what nature is it?” These are the numerous taunting remarks they make. In the meantime the exceedingly powerful enemy has come piercṃg earth and Heaven with the terrific sounds of war-drums. What is relevent in this context, O great queen, may kindly be taken up”.

After saying this, Mantriṇī bowed down along with Daṇḍinī.

67. Thereupon, goddess Lalitā glanced at the face of Kāmeśvara, she then laughed displaying a row of extremely red teeth.

68. In the mass of lustre of her smile, a certain god became visible. His face had the features of an elephant. Ichor was oozing from the middle of his temple.[2]

69-71. The mass of matted hair of his head appeared like a mass of Pāṭalā (the tree bearing trumpet) flowers. He held the crescent moon (on his head). In his ten hands he held citron fruit, mace, sugarcane-bow, trident (that had a fine form), lotus, noose, (a blue lotus), bunch of (rice) grain that grants boons, the goad, and a jewelset pot. He had a pot-belly. He was moon-crested. He had a pleasant rumbling sound. He was embraced by Siddhilakṣmī. He bowed down to Maheśvarī.

72. After being blessed by her, the great elephant-faced lord of the Gaṇas quickly set off from there to shatter the great Yantra called Jayavighna.

73. The elephant-faced lord moving about within enclosure saw Jayavighna the amulet secretly fixed somewhere.

74. By hitting with his tusks that produced dreadful noise very difficult to bear, that lord reduced the huge slab of Jayavighna to powder instantaneously.

75. Along with the wicked deities posted there, he reduced that Yantra to powder and cast it off in air.

76. Thereupon, Śaktis got rid of their lethargy. Making a tumultuous uproar, they prepared themselves for carrying on fight with weapons in their arms.

77-82. The elephant-faced lord, with unimpeded vigorous roar issuing forth from his throat, had in the night destroyed the Jayayantra created by him. On hearing this news, Bhaṇḍa became greatly agitated.

That elephant-faced lord created numerous other elephant-faced heroes similar to himself in features. From the middle of their temples ichor was oozing out. The fragrance thereof caused the fluttering movements of big black bees. Their humming sound appeared to be the song of praise of those heroes. When they threw the filaments of pomegrante flowers here and there, the splendour of their hands increased. They were ever ready to drink up playfully, all the oceans. They were served by the Śaktis, the chief of whom was Ṛddhi. Āmoda was their leader. The six Vighnanāyakas were Āmoda, Pramoda, Sumukha, Durmukha, Arighna and Vighnakartā. They were the presiding deities of Herambas numbering seven, crores.

83. Coming out of the enclosure of fiery rampart-wall those elephant-faced heroes moved ahead for assisting Mahāgaṇapati in the battle.

84-86. They made uproarious sounds through their wrathful huṃkāras and clashed with the Dānavas. With their hissing Phūtkāra sound they deafened the worlds.

The group of armies of all the Gaṇas rushed at the armies of Daityas. The leader of Gaṇas split Dānavas by means of sharp arrows. Then Gaṇanātha fought with Viśukra of great prowess, when haughty huṃkāras intercepted the twanging sounds of bows.

87-93a. Knitting his brows, Viśukra bit his own excessively red lips and then fought with him. The quarters and their inter-spaces became agitated by means of various sounds such as the sounds produced when weapons came into clash with one another, the huṃkāras of the Daityas, the sounds of hoofs of horses of Daityas, that resembled the sounds produced by a number of spades operated together, the trumpeting sounds of leading elephants, the cries of agony due to fear, the neighing sound of a number of horses, the creaking sounds of the wheels of chariots, the twanging sounds of bows, the chattering sounds of troops, the loud sounds of the hissing arrows, numerous heroic utterances of the soldiers, boisterous laughs of great kings, lion-like roars etc. Thus the intensified battle went on increasing.

The evil-souled Viśukra had thirty Akṣauhiṇīs of soldiers. The Gaṇanāthas of great heroism fought with each one of them.

93b-97. Thousands of elephant-faced heroes who had issued from the mouth of Gaṇanātha, frightened the army of Daityas. They encircled them by means of their trunks and pierced their vital parts with the tusks. They enraged them by the fanning movements of their ears comparable to the clouds Puṣkarāvartakas at the end of a Kalpa. They scattered flags and banners through the deep breaths of their nostrils. They pounded them with their chests as lustrous as hard as the rocky declivity of mountains. They crushed and pressed them by hitting and stamping them with their feet. They struck them with their stout bellies. They pierced them with tridents. They chopped them by hitting with discuses. They frightened the armies with the loud sounds of conches. With great enterprises they reduced the entire array to powder.

98. Then (Viśukra) became highly furious. Standing in front of his army, he sent a Gajāsura (An Asura in the form of an elephant) against the lord.

99. Gaṇeśvara fought with the Gajadaitya (Demon in the form of an elephant) of wicked nature who roared like a ferocious lion and who was accompanied by seven Akṣauhiṇīs of soldiers.

100. On observing the power of Gajāsura decreasing and that of (Gaṇeśvara) increasing, Viśukra fled from the battle-field.

101. Alone and single-handed that leader of heroes with a mouse for his vehicle moved about (in the battle-field) and smashed Gajāsura along with his seven Akṣauhiṇīs of soldiers.

102. After Gajāsura had been killed and Viśukra had fled, Mahāgaṇapati went to the presence of Lalitā from the battlefield,

103. That night which was a Kālarātri (night of nightmare) for the Daityas, came to a dose. Lalitā became delighted at his exploits.

104. Highly pleased the great queen granted the following boon to Gaṇeśvara viz.: the right of being worshipped before the worship of all other deities.

Footnotes and references:


The eight deities presiding over the Yantra which brings or creates difficulties in getting success (Jaya-vighna) are the personifications of tendencies which create disaffection among people and demoralise the army (vide VV. 36-39). The adverse effects of the Yantra are described in VV. 43-52- The Yantra may be symbolic of the fifth-columnists or the enemy-agents of the ancient period. The belief in such destructive black magic dates from the days of Atharvaveda.


The birth of Gaṇeśa from the laugh of Lalitā (as against from Pārvatī) is an attempt to enhance the greatness of Lalitā. The six forms of Gaṇanāthas or Vighnanāyakas (the ‘masters’ of vighnas impediments) given, in VV. 77-82 emphasize the auspicious powers of these deities.

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