The Shiva Purana (English translation)

by J. L. Shastri | 1970 | 616,585 words

This page relates “incarnation of mahakalika” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Chapter 45 - The incarnation of Mahākālikā

Note: For the close similarity of the form and contents of the present and succeeding chapters ending with Umāsaṃhitā compare Mārkaṇḍeya-purāṇa: the narrative of Durgā.

The sages said:—

1. The beautiful episode of Śiva with various incidental anecdotes and narratives of various incarnations, is heard. It yields both worldly pleasures and salvation to men.

2. O foremost among those who know Brahman, we wish to hear from you the beautiful story of the mother of the universe, the goddess.

3. The first primordial Śakti of Śiva the great Brahman, who is called Umā, is the great mother of the three worlds.

4. Her two incarnations—Satī and Haimavatī, have been heard, O intelligent Sūta. Please mention her other incarnations too.

5. Which intelligent man will be reluctant to hear the good attributes of the glorious mother? Wise men never abandon them.

Sūta said:—

6. You are all blessed and contented noble souls in as much as you inquire about the great story of Umā, the great mother.

7. Sages consider the dust-particles of the feet of those who listen, narrate and inquire about it, on a par with holy centres.

8. Blessed and contented are they, their parents and their family, whose mind is merged in the goddess, the great Knowledge.

9. Those who do not eulogise the goddess of the gods, the cause of all causes are deluded by the attributes of Māyā. They are unfortunate. There is no doubt in this.

10. Those who do not worship the great goddess, the ocean of the juice of mercy, fall in the blind well in the form of the cruel worldly existence.

11. Abandoning the goddess and resorting to another deity is as bad as abandoning the Gaṅgā and resorting to water in the desert for the sake of satisfaction.

12. Which excellent man will abandon her whose very remembrance bestows all the four aims of life without any strain?

13. This same question was put to Medhas by the noble Suratha. Please listen. I shall narrate what was mentioned by Medhas.

14. Formerly in the Svārociṣa Manvantara there was a king Viratha. Suratha his son was of great strength and exploit.

15. He was very munificent, truthful, efficient in duties, a devotee of the goddess, an ocean of kindness and the protector of his subjects.

16. While he was thus ruling over the earth, with the brilliance of Indra, nine other kings became desirous of seizing his land.

17. They laid siege to his capital Kolā.[1] The king had a terrible war with them.

18. That king was defeated by his powerful enemies in the war. His kingdom was seized and he was banished from his city Kolā.

19. The king went to another city of his along with his ministers. There too he was defeated by his enemies who had a large following.

20. His ministers and officers became inimical to him due to adverse fate. They took away all the wealth from the treasury.

21. The king left his city pretending to go out for hunting. Alone he got up on a horse and went to the dense forest.

22-23. Going about here and there, the king saw the hermitage of a great sage. It was shining all round with flower gardens. Everywhere the sound of Vedic hymns was heard. All the animals there were quiet and peaceful. The disciples and the disciples of their disciples moved here and there.

24. O intelligent one, tigers and other ferocious and powerful animals did not harass the animals of less strength in that hermitage, thanks to the power of the leading brahmin.

25. The king who was very kind and learned was welcomed and honoured by the leading sage with pleasing words, accommodation and food and stayed there.

26-27. Once the king began to think anxiously—“Alas, my kingdom has been seized by my haughty enemies. I am unfortunate. My intellect is confounded. I have lost my splendour. The kingdom which had been well guarded by my ancestors is now enjoyed by my enemies.

28. There was no king in this family as weak as I. What shall I do? Where shall I go? How shall I get the kingdom back?

29. My hereditary ministers and counsellors have left me. I do not know which king they serve now.

30-32. I do not know what plight they are in, after the ruination of the kingdom. My heroic soldiers, very enthusiastic in the battle, slayers of enemies, now serve another king. Huge elephants like mountains, horses fast as wind have gone away. Is the traditional treasury accumulated by my ancestors well guarded or not? Thus the very virtuous king became much deluded.

33-35. In the meantime a certain Vaiśya came there. The king asked him—“Sir, who are you? Why have you come here? Why do you appear to be very morose and dejected? Please tell me this, now.”

On hearing the sweet words of the king, the leading Vaiśya Samādhi shed tears. He spoke to the king in words full of humility and friendship.

The Vaiśya said:—

36-38. “O king, I am a Vaiśya Samādhi, born of a rich family. Out of greed for my wealth I have been abandoned by my wife, sons and others. I am depressed by my past Karman. O king, I have come here to the forest. I am worried about my sons, grandsons, wife, brothers, their sons and friends. O lord, ocean of mercy, I am in dark about their welfare.

The king said:—

39. How is it that you love, even as senseless animals do, those sons and others who are of evil conduct and covetous for wealth and by whom you have been ousted?

The Vaiśya said:—

40. O king, words pregnant with substantial sense have been uttered by you. Still my mind is deluded by the tie of love.

41. O excellent sage, the king and the Vaiśya, both of them equally deluded then approached the sage Medhas.

42. The valorous king accompanied by the chief of the Vaiśyas bowed his head to the leading Yogin.

43. With palms joined in reverence the king spoke to the sage:—“O holy lord, it behoves you now to dispel our delusion.

44. Abandoned by the royal glory I have resorted to this dense forest. Still I am not content and happy since my kingdom has been taken away.

45. This Vaiśya has been expelled from his house by his people, wife and others. Still his sense of affinity and kinship with them does not go off.


46. What is the reason hereof? Please say. Wise though we are, our minds are afflicted and agitated by delusion. This is great foolishness.

The sage said:—

47. The great Māyā in the form of the eternal Śakti is the material cause of the universe. It is this that drags the minds of all and makes them deluded.

48. O lord, Brahmā and other gods deluded by this Māyā do not realise the truth. What then is the story of men?

49. That alone, Parameśvarī of three attributes, creates the universe; she alone sustains it and she alone destroys it at the proper time.

50. O excellent king, only he surmounts this delusion on whom the favourite goddess who assumes forms as she pleases becomes delighted.

The king said:—

51. O sage, who is that Goddess? Who is that great Māyā who fascinates all? How was that goddess born? Please tell me.

The sage said:—

52-53. When the whole universe had been one great expanse of water,[2] a vast sea, when Keśava, the king of Yogins, resorted to Yogic slumber and was sleeping on Śeṣa, two Asuras were born of the dirt in the ears of Viṣṇu. They became notorious on the surface of the world in the names of Madhu and Kaiṭabha.

54. They were terrible with huge bodies. They had the dazzling brilliance of the sun at the time of dissolution They had huge jaw bones. Their faces were hideous with curved fangs. They seemed to devour all the worlds.

55. On seeing the lotus-seated deity in the umbilical lotus[3] of the lord, the two Asuras[4] shouted “Hey, who are you?” and attempted to kill him.

56. On seeing the two Daityas and observing that Viṣṇu was still lying in the vast milky ocean, [5] Brahmā eulogised Parameśvarī.

Brahmā said:—

57. O Mahāmāyā, save me, save me, O goddess favourably disposed to those who seek refuge in you, O mother of the universe, save me from these Daityas of hideous features.

58-59. I bow to the great Māyā, the Yogic slumber, Umā, Satī, Kālarātri, Mahārātri, Moharātri, greater than the greatest, the mother of the three deities, the eternal, the bestower of the fruits of the cherished desires of the devotees, the protectress of the gods and the ocean of mercy.

60. It is by your power that Brahmā creates the world, Viṣṇu protects it and Śiva destroys it at the opportune time.

61. O Mother, you are Svāhā, Svadhā, Hrī, the unalloyed intellect, Tuṣṭi (satisfaction), Puṣṭi (nourishment), Śānti (peace), Kṣānti (forbearance), Kṣudhā (hunger) and mercy itself.

62. O mother, you are the Māyā of Viṣṇu, the very consciousness, the great Śakti, Lajjā (bashfulness) and Tṛṣṇā (thirst).

63. You are Bhrānti (Illusion). You appear in the form of Smṛti (Memory): you stay assuming the form of mother. You are Lakṣmī in the house of those who engage themselves in meritorious activities.

64. You are Jāti (Birth), Vṛtti (cause of activity) and Vyāpti (pervasiveness.) You pervade everything in the form of intelligence.

65. O Mother, please delude these unthwartable Asuras. O origin of the universe, please waken Viṣṇu the unborn lord.”

The sage said:—

66-67. O king, on being requested by Brahmā for the destruction of Madhu and Kaiṭabha, the mother of the universe, the great Vidyā, the presiding deity of all Vidyās, Śakti the enchantress of the three worlds manifested herself as Mahākālī on the twelfth Tithi of the bright half of the month of Phālguna.

68. Then a celestial voice arose:—“O lotus-seated one, do not be afraid. I shall remove the thorn after killing Madhu and Kaiṭabha in the battle.”

69. After saying this and coming out of the eyes, mouth etc. of Viṣṇu, the great Māyā stood before Brahmā of unmanifested birth.

70. Viṣṇu, the lord of gods stood up and saw in front of him the Daityas Madhu and Kaiṭabha.

71. A battle ensued between Viṣṇu of unequalled splendour and the two Daityas lasting for five thousand years. Then there ensued a hand-to-hand fight.

72. Deluded by the powerful great Māyā, the excellent Dānava spoke to the lord Viṣṇu—“Ask for whatever boon you desire to choose.”

Nārāyaṇa said:—

73. If you are pleased with me grant me this boon that I may kill you. I do not request for any other boon.

The sage said:—

74. On seeing the earth covered by a great expanse of ocean they spoke to Keśava:—“Kill us in a spot where the earth is not covered with water.”

75. After giving his consent the lord lifted up his dazzling discus, placed their heads on his loins and cut them off.

76. O king, thus I have told you about the origin of Kālikā. O intelligent one, listen to the origin of Mahālakṣmī now.

77. Although free from aberrations, and devoid of forms and features, goddess Umā manifested herself in different Yugas for the destruction of the distress of the gods, after assuming different forms and features.

78. Thus I have described to you her manifestation in bodily form whose wish alone manifests as everything efficaciously. Thus she conducts her sports in that way and thereby gives chance to her devotees to describe her attributes.

Footnotes and references:


Kolā is identical with the modem Kolhapur in the Mahārāṣṭra State.


P. 1071 note. For details see Agrawal. MP—A Study PP. g. 266, 321. We find a rock-cut image of Ekāruava at Udayagiri (400 A.D.)

The idea is often repeated in the Purāṇas Cf. Viṣṇu P. 1.3.24.

kārṇave tu trailokye brahmā nārāyaṇātmakaḥ |
bhogiśayyāgataḥ śete trailokyagrāsabṛṃhitaḥ ||


The idea is often repeated in the Purāṇas. Cp M. 168. 15.

padmaṃ nābhyudbhavaṃ caikaṃ samutpāditavāṃstadā |
sahasraparṇaṃ virajaṃ bhāskarābhaṃ hiraṇmayam ||


Sprung from the ears of Viṣṇu while he was, asleep at the end of a Kalpa, Madhu and Kaiṭabha were about to kill Brahmā but were killed by Viṣṇu. Prof. Agrawal however offers a symbolical interpretation of Madhu and Kaiṭabha as Rajas and Tamas.


See? 224 note.