The Markandeya Purana

by Frederick Eden Pargiter | 1904 | 247,181 words | ISBN-10: 8171102237

This page relates “slaughter of the army of the asura mahisa” which forms the 82nd chapter of the English translation of the Markandeya-purana: an ancient Sanskrit text dealing with Indian history, philosophy and traditions. It consists of 137 parts narrated by sage (rishi) Markandeya: a well-known character in the ancient Puranas. Chapter 82 is included the section known as “the devi-mahatmya”.

Canto LXXXII - The Devī-Māhātmya: Slaughter of the army of the Asura Mahiṣa

The gods were defeated in a great battle formerly by the Asuras and driven from heaven, and the Asura Mahiṣa became supreme.—All the gods gave forth their special energies, which combined and formed the goddess Caṇḍikā.—They gave her their weapons, and she fought with and destroyed the Asuras.

The ṛṣi spoke:

Of yore there was a fight for a full hundred years between the gods[1] and Asuras, when Mahiṣa was lord of the Asuras and Indra lord of the gods; in it the army of the gods was vanquished by the Asuras who excelled in valour, and the Asura Mahiṣa after conquering all the gods became the Indra. Then the vanquished gods, placing the Prajāpati Brahmā at their head, went where abode Śiva and Viṣṇu. The thirty gods described to them accurately what had happened, the full story of the gods’ discomfiture which had been wrought by the Asura Mahiṣa,—“He, Mahiṣa, in his own person domineers over the jurisdictions of the Sun, Indra, Agni, Vāyu and the Moon, of Yama and Varuṇa and of the other gods. Cast out by that evil-souled Mahiṣa from Svarga all the hosts of the gods wander on the earth like mortals. It has now been related to you both, all that has been wrought by the foe of the Immortals, and we have sought you both as a refuge; let his destruction be devised!”

Having thus heard the words of the gods, Viṣṇu was wroth and Śiva also; both their faces became furrowed with frowns. Then issued forth great energy[2] from the mouth of Viṣṇu who was full of intense anger, and from the mouths of Brahmā and Śiva; and from the bodies of Indra and the other gods went forth a very great energy; and it all amalgamated. The gods beheld the mass of intense energy there like a burning mountain, pervading the other regions of the sky with its blaze; and that unparalleled energy born of the bodies of all the gods, which pervaded the three worlds with its light, gathering into one became a female. By what was Śiva’s energy her face was developed, and by Tama’s energy grew her hair, and her arms by Viṣṇu’s energy, by the Moon’s her twin breasts; and her waist came into being by Indra’s energy, and by Varuṇa’s her legs and thighs, by the Earth’s energy her hips, by Brahmā’s energy her feet, her toes by the Sun’s energy, and by the Vasusenergy her hands and fingers, and by Kuvera’s her nose; and her teeth grew by the Prajāpati’s energy, and three eyes were developed by Agni’s energy; and her eyebrows were the energy of the two twilights, and her ears Vāyu’s energy; and the coming into being of the energies of the other gods became the auspicious goddess.

Then gazing at her, who had sprung from the combined energies of all the gods, the Immortals who were afflicted by Mahiṣa felt a keen joy.[3] The bearer of the low Pināka drawing a trident forth from his own trident gave it to her; and Kṛṣṇa gave a discus pulling it out of his own discus; and Varuṇa gave her a conch, Agni a spear, Māruta gave a bow and a quiver filled with arrows.[4] Indra lord of the Immortals gave a thunder-bolt pulling it out of his own thunder-bolt; the Thousand-eyed gave her a bell from his elephant Airāvata. Yama gave a rod from his own rod of Fate, and the lord of the waters a noose; and the Prajāpati gave her a necklace of beads, Brahmā an earthen water-pot; the Sun bestowed his own rays on all the pores of her skin, and Destiny[5] gave her a sword and a spotless shield; and the Ocean of milk a spotless necklace of pearls and also a pair of undecaying garments. And a celestial crest-jewel, a pair of ear-rings, and bracelets, and a brilliant half-moon ornament, and armlets over all her arms, and also a pair of bright anclets, a necklet, of the finest make, and rings and gems on all her fingers — these Viśvakarman gave to her, and also a brightly polished axe, weapons of many shapes and also armour that could not be pierced. And Ocean gave her a garland of fadeless lotus-flowers for her head and another for her breast, and a very brilliant lotus-flower besides. Himavat gave her a lion to ride on and gems of various kinds. Kuvera gave a drinking cup full of wine. And Śeṣa, the lord of all the serpents, who supports this earth, gave her a serpent-necklace adorned with large gems. Honoured by other gods also with gifts of ornaments[6] and weapons, the goddess uttered a loud roar blended with a horse-laugh again and again. The whole welkin was filled with her terrible roar. By that penetrating and exceedingly great roar a great echo arose, all the worlds shook and the seas trembled, the earth quaked and all the mountains moved. And “Conquer thou!” exclaimed the gods with joy to her who rode on the lion and the munis extolled her as they bowed their bodies in faith.

Seeing all the three worlds greatly agitated, the foes of the Immortals uniting all their armies rose up together, with uplifted weapons. “Ha! what is this?” exclaimed the Asura Mahiṣa in wrath, and rushed surrounded by all the Asuras towards that roar. Then he saw the goddess, pervading the three worlds[7] with her light, causing the earth to bow at the touch of her feet, grazing the firmament with her crest, shaking the whole of Pātāla with the twang of her bow-string, standing pervading the sky all around with her thousand arms. Then began a battle between the goddess and the enemies of the gods, in which every region of the sky was illumined with the weapons and arms hurled in abundance. And the Asura Mahiṣa’s general, the great Asura named Cikṣura, fought with her; and the Asura Cāmara attended by his cavalry fought along with others. The great Asura named Udagi'a with six myriads of chariots fought; and Mahāhanu with a thousand myriads gave battle; and the great Asura Asiloman with fifty millions; with six hundred myriads Yāskala fought in the battle; Ugradarśana[8] with many troops of thousands of elephants and horses, and surrounded with ten million chariots fought in that battle; and the Asura named Viḍāla fought in the battle there, surrounded with fifty myriads of myriads of chariots. And other great Asuras in myriads, surrounded with chariots, elephants and horses, fought with the goddess in that battle there. Now the Asura Mahiṣa was surrounded with thousands of ten million times ten millions of chariots and elephants and horses in the battle there. With iron maces and javelins, with spears and clubs, with swords, with axes and halberds they fought in the battle against the goddess. And some hurled spears, and others nooses, but they assailed the goddess with blows from their swords in order to slay her.

And then the goddess Caṇḍikā clove, as it were in merest play, those weapons and arms by raining forth her own weapons and arms. The goddess betrayed no exertion in her countenance, while the gods and ṛṣis were praising her. The queenly goddess hurled her weapons and arms at the Asuras’ bodies. The lion also that bore the goddess, enraged and with ruffled mane, stalked among the armies of Asuras, like fire through the forests. And the deep breaths, which Ambikā fighting in the battle breathed forth, came into real being at once as troops by hundreds and thousands. These fought with axes, with javelins, and swords and halberds, destroying the Asura bands, being invigorated by the goddess’ energy. And of these bands some raised a din with large drums, and others with conchs, and others besides with drums, in that great battle-festival. Then the goddess with her trident, her club, with showers of spears, and with her sword and other weapons slaughtered the great Asuras in hundreds, and laid others low who were bewitched with the ringing of her bell; and binding other Asuras with her noose dragged them on the ground. And others again, cloven in twain by sharp slashes of her sword and crushed[9] by blows with her mace, lie on the ground; and some grievously battered by her club vomited forth blood. Some were felled to the ground, pierced in the breast by her trident. Some being closely massed together were cut in pieces[10] by the torrent of her arrows in the battle-field. Following the manner of an army,[11] the afīlicters of the thirty gods gave up the ghost; some with their arms cut off, and others with severed necks; their heads fell from others, others were torn asunder in the middle; and other great Asuras fell to the earth with legs clean cut off; some were cloven by the goddess into two parts, with a single arm and eye and foot to each part; and others fell and rose again, although with head cut off. Headless corpses, still grasping the finest weapons, fought with the goddess; and others danced there in the battle, keeping time to the strains of the musical instruments. Corpses, with heads severed, still held swords and spears and lances[12] in their hands; and other great Asuras were shouting to the goddess, “Stand! stand!”[13] With the prostrate chariots, elephants and horses and Asuras the earth became impassable where that great battle took place. And large rivers formed of torrents of blood straightway flowed along there amidst the armies of Asuras, and among the elephants, Asuras and horses.

Thus Ambikā brought that great army of the Asuras to utter destruction in a moment, even as fire utterly consumes a huge pile of grass and timber. And the lion, with quivering mane, stalked on roaring aloud.[14] While he prowled[15] as it were for lives out of the bodies of the foes of the Immortals, the battle was fought there between those troops of the goddess and the Asuras, so that the gods in heaven sending down showers of flowers gratified[16] her.[17]

Footnotes and references:


For Davāsuram read Devāsuram.




The Bombay edition inserts a verse here. “Then the gods gave her also their own several weapons ; wishing for victory they shouted aloud to the victorious goddess ‘Conquer ! conquer!’”


For vāṇa-pūrṇe read vāṇa-pūrṇā ?


Or Time, Kāla.


For bhaṣaṇair read bhūṣaṇair.


For vyāpta-loka-trayam read vyāpta-loka-trayām, with the Bombay edition; otherwise this word, read as a neuter noun, separates devīm from the feminine adjectives which follow.


Instead of pari-vāritaḥ I take the reading of the Bombay edition Ugra-darśanaḥ as a proper name. The Calcutta text contains no name as a nominative in this line or the next.


Vi-pothita ; vi-puth is not in the dictionary.


For kṛtāḥ read kṛttāḥ ?


Senānukāriṇaḥ; but the commentator translates it, “fighting in the rear of the army.” The Bombay edition reads śailānukāriṇaḥ, “who resembled mountains.”


For uṣṭi read ṛṣṭi.


The Bombay edition adds a line to this verse, “while from their mangled limbs flowed streams of blood (rudhiraugha-viluptāṅgāḥ) in that appalling battle.”


The Bombay edition repeats here the second line of verse 50.


Vi-cinvati, the loc. case, with siṃhe understood.


Or “lauded,” according to another reading.


Bor eṣāṃ read enāṃ.

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