The Shiva Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1950 | 616,585 words

This page relates “manifestation of sarasvati” 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.

Disclaimer: These are translations of Sanskrit texts and are not necessarily approved by everyone associated with the traditions connected to these texts. Consult the source and original scripture in case of doubt.

Chapter 48 - The manifestation of Sarasvatī

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The king said:—

1-2. O holy lord, O brahmin, what did Śumbha, the suppressor of the gods, do on hearing that Dhūmrākṣa, Caṇḍa and Raktabīja were killed by the goddess? Please tell me this now. I desire to hear the purifying tale of the goddess, the cause of the universe.

The sage said:—

3. O king, on hearing that the leading Daityas had been killed, the great Asura of commendable valour ordered his invincible followers who were thrilled at the very mention of the war.

4. At my behest the Daityas born of the race of Kālaka[1] have all assembled here with their armies and along with Kālakeyas,[2] Mauryas,[3] Daurhṛdas[4] and others. Let them march on with hopes of victory.

5. After ordering the demons, Śumbha and Niśumbha mounted on their chariots and set out. Their armies too followed them like swarms of moths rising up from a mountain definitely for their destruction.

6. Mṛdaṅgas, Mardalas, Bherikās, Diṇḍimas, Jharjharas and Ānakas were sounded. The warmongers rejoiced in the battle-ground. Those who wore afraid fled away for their life.

7. Glad in their martial dress the soldiers came in their healthy spirits to the battleground. Holding various weapons and missiles they teased one another each eager for his victory.

8. Soldiers on elephants, looked at the enemy with indifference. In the company of the lord of Asuras they rejoiced in the battle.

9. The sound arising from the guns rose up repeatedly making the gods tremble. A great darkness enveloped the sky. Even the chariot of the sun was not visible.

10. Foot-soldiers set out in excessive numbers desirous of victory. Soldiers in chariots, on horsebacks, elephants and others set out joyously in crores and crores.

11. The rutting elephants like massive black mountains spread their trumpeting sound in the battle-field. Camels resembling small hills produced hoarse sounds from their throats.

12. Neighing horses hailing from exalted lands, with big ornaments round their necks, expert in the knowledge of their gaits planted their legs on the heads of elephants and flew like birds.

13. On seeing the army of the enemy advancing thus, Ambikā kept her bow well-strung. She sounded her bell that distressed the enemy. The lion too shook his manes and roared.

14. Seeing her bedecked in fine ornaments, holding weapons and stationed on the Himalaya mountain Niśumbha spoke words full of sentiments like a man clever in understanding the emotions of beautiful women.

15. “Even a petal of the Mālatī (Jasmine) flower thrown on the beautiful body of women like you may distress you. O goddess, how will you carry on a terrible war with the self-same handsome body of yours?”

16. After saying thus the great Asura became silent. Caṇḍikā spoke to him—“O foolish Asura, why do you prattle in vain? Either fight or else return to Pātāla.[5]

17. The heroic demon, becoming infuriated, made a wonderful shower of arrows on the battle-field just as masses of clouds shower water during rains.

18. Along with his arrogant followers the demon fought with sharp weapons as spears, axes, iron clubs, parighas, bows, Bhuśuṇḍikās, javelins, horseshoe-edged arrows and great swords.

19. In that war great elephants looking like black mountains with foreheads pierced ran here and there. The banners of Śumbha and Niśumbha white like flying cranes fluttered here and there.

20. The demons were shattered by Kālikā like fishes. The dreadful horses were beheaded and killed in the battle. The other demons were devoured by the lion.

21. In the battlefield streams of blood flowed. The dead soldiers floated. Their tresses of hair resembled the moss. Their upper cloths resembled the white foam.

22. A great fight ensued where soldiers of equal rank fought with one another. The cavalrymen fought their counterpart; the elephant-riders with those on elephants: the charioteers with those on chariots and the footsoldiers with footsoldiers.

23. Then Niśumbha thought to himself—“A terrible period has set in now. Even a poor man may become rich and rich man poor if the time is adverse.

24. A senseless fellow may become intelligent and an intelligent man dull. A wicked man may be praised by the noble. The great and the powerful may be vanquished. The weak may come out victorious in the war.

25. Victory or defeat come naturally at the stance of the lord. Neither Śiva nor Brahmā nor Viṣṇu has been able to transgress his law.

26. Heroes do not come to the battlefield for turning back. But how can I attain victory in a battle with this lady who has destroyed my entire host?

27. Indeed this lady is the ancient Prakṛti, the great Śivā come here to achieve the task of the gods and harass the army of the Daityas. She can never be an ordinary woman

28. It is inglorious to be killed by a woman or to kill a woman for those who desire to taste the pleasures of war. Still how shall we show our faces to the king of Asuras without fighting?

29. After thinking thus and sitting in a great chariot driven by a charioteer he hastened to the spot where the lady consort of Śiva was present; the goddess whose youth was sought after by the celestial damsels.

30. He addressed her thus—“O goddess, of what avail is it if the mercenary soldiers are killed? If you desire to fight, let both of us clad in martial dress fight with each other.

31. The goddess addressed Kālī then—“See the foolish ambition of the two Asuras. Time the instigator of good and bad actions renders the mind work in a different way when adversity is imminent.”

32. Then Niśumbha attacked Caṇḍikā as well as Kālī with thousands of arrows. With the volleys of her arrows Śivā split into a thousand pieces the arrows discharged by the Asura.

33. He then lifted up his lustrous sword along with the shield and struck the lion on its head. With her great sword she split it too as the woodcutters do to a tree with the axe.

34. When the sword was split he thrust an arrow into her chest. The arrow too was cut. He then hurled the trident which powdered it with her fist.

35. Prepared to die the heroic Asura seized a mace and rushed at her. She reduced the mace into powder with the edge of her trident. The demon shattered the trident with another mace.

36. Then she struck Niśumbha with her sharp, terrible serpentine poisonous arrows that were accustomed to drink the blood of Asuras and brought him down to the earth.

37. When his younger brother of great honour and strength fell Śumbha was furious. The eight-armed demon seated himself in a chariot and came to the place where Śivā was present.

38. She blew the conch Arindama, produced unbearable bow-twang; the lion shaking its manes roared. The whole sky reverberated with the threefold round.

39. Then the mother of the universe laughed boisterously making all the demons tremble with fear. The gods shouted cries of “Victory” when she challenged the Asuras in the battle.

40. The king of Daityas hurled a spear of shining flames which was struck down by a meteor. Śivā shattered the arrows discharged by Śumbha. He too split the arrows discharged by Śivā into a thousand pieces.

41. She lifted up her trident and struck the great Asura. He fell down unconscious shaking heaven and earth along with the ocean like a mountain whose wings had been chopped off by Indra.[6]

42. Suffering the pain arising from the trident, the powerful demon, the suppressor of the gods, created ten thousand hands and struck Kālī and Caṇḍikā along with the lion, by means of his discus.

43. Splitting sportively the discus hurled by him, she hurt and struck the Asura with the trident. Thus both of them met their death at the lotus-hands of Śivā that sanctify the universe and attained the great region.

44. When the powerful Niśumbha, and Śumbha of terrible exploit were killed the Daityas entered Pātāla.[7]

45. Others were devoured by Kālī’s lion. The remaining Asuras being excessively frightened fled in the quarters.

46. The rivers with clear water flowed along their paths; the winds blew very gentle to the touch; the sky became clear.

47. Sacrifices were revived by the gods and the sages, Lord Indra and the gods felt blissful again.

48-49. O lord, this story of Umā is holy and meritorious. It describes the destruction of the king of Daityas. He who regularly reads this with faith enjoys all worldly pleasures inaccessible even to the gods and attains the abode of Umā hereafter by the very grace of the goddess.

50. Thus was the goddess, slayer of Śumbha born. She is said to be Sarasvatī. O king, she has manifested herself as a part of Umā.

Footnotes and references:


In respect of this House no details are available either from the Mahābhārata or the Purāṇas.


Kālakeyas, decandants of Kālakā wife of Kaśyapa, are often mentioned as powerful demons in the Mahābhārata and the Purāṇas.


Mauryas are the descendants of the Asura Mura who is generally mentioned in connection with Prāgjyotiṣa


Daurhṛdas are the descendants of the Asura Durhṛda.


It is the lowermost of the nether regions where Vāsuki reigns over the Nāgas.


See P. 643 note.


Pātāla is called Balisadman—the abode of Bali. According to a legend God Viṣṇu in the form of a Brahmin dwarf craved from Bali the boon of three steps of ground and having obtained it stepped over heaven and earth in two strides but then out of respect to Bali’s devotion and his grandson Prahlāda’s virtues, he stopped short and left to him Pātāla, the nether region. See 955, note 271; P. 750 note 117.

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