The Markandeya Purana

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

This page relates “the slaying of the asura mahisa concluded” which forms the 84th 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 84 is included the section known as “the devi-mahatmya”.

Canto LXXXIV - The Devī-Māhātmya: The Slaying of the Asura Mahiṣa concluded

The gods poured forth their praises to G'aṇḍikā on her victory—And she gave them the boon that she would always befriend them, if they recalled her to mind in calamities.

The ṛṣi spoke:[1]:

When that most valiant evil-souled army of the gods’ foes was vanquished by the goddess, Śakra and the hosts of other gods poured forth their praises to her with their voices, reverently bending down their necks[2] and shoulder’s, while their bodies looked handsome because their hair stood erect with exultation.

The goddess, who stretched out this world by her power,
Whose body comprises the entire powers of all the hosts of gods,
Her, Ambikā, worthy of worship by all gods and great ṛṣis,
We bow before[3] in faith; may she ordain blessings for us!
May she, whose peerless majesty and power Ananta
Adorable, Brahmā and Hara cannot in sooth declare,
May she, Caṇḍikā, to protect the entire world
And to destroy the fear of evil turn her mind!
Her, who is Good-Fortune herself in the dwellings of men of good deeds, Ill-Fortune
In those of men of sinful souls; who is Intelligence in the hearts of the prudent,
Who is Faith in those of the good, and Modesty in that of the high-born man;[4]
Her, even thee, we bow before; protect the universe, O goddess!
Can we describe[5] this thy thought-transcending form?
Or thy abundant surpassing valour that destroyed the Asuras?
Or thy surpassing[6] feats which were displayed in battles
Among all the hosts of Asuras, gods and others, O goddess?
Thou art the cause of all the worlds! Though characterized by the three qualities, by faults[7]
Thou art not known! Even by Hari, Hara and the other gods thou art incomprehensible!
Thou art the resort of all; thou art this entire world which is composed of parts!
Thou verily art sublime original Nature[8] untransformed!
Thou, whose complete divinity by means of utterance
Finds satisfaction in all sacrifices, O goddess,[9]
Art verily Svāhā, and givest satisfaction to the Pitṛ-hosts!
Hence thou art in truth declared by men to be Svadhā also.
Thou art she, who effects final emancipation, and performs great thought-transcending penances!
Thou studiest[10] with thy organs, which are the essence of strength,[11] well-restrained!
With munis, who seek final emancipation and who have shed all their faults,
Thou art The Knowledge, adorable, sublime in sooth, O goddess!
Sound is thy soul! thou art the repository of the most spotless ṛc and yajus hymns,
And of the sāmans, which have the charming-worded texts of the Ud-gītha!
Thou as goddess art the triple Veda, the adorable, and for the existence and production
Of all the worlds art active; thou art the supreme destroyer of their pains![12]
Thou art Mental Vigour,[13] O goddess! thou hast comprehended the essence of all the Scriptures!
Thou art Durgā; the boat to cross the difficult ocean of existence; devoid of attachments!
Thou art Śrī, who has planted her dominion alone in the heart of Kaiṭabha’s foe!
Thou indeed art Gaurī, who has fixed her dweling in the moon-crested god!
Slightly-smiling, spotless, resembling the full moon’s
Orb, beautiful as the choicest gold, and lovely was thy face!
Yet’t was very marvellous that, being swayed by anger,
The Asura Mahiṣa suddenly smote thy face when he saw it.
But after seeing thy wrathful face, O goddess, terrible with its frowns,
And sheeny in hue like the rising moon, that Mahiṣa
Did not forthwith yield up his life,’t was passing wonderful!
For who can live after beholding the King of Death enraged?
Be gracious, O goddess, as supreme lady, to life!
When enraged thou dost forthwith destroy whole families!
Known at this very moment is this, that here is brought to its end
The Asura Mahiṣa’s most extensive might!
Esteemed are they among the nations, theirs are riches,
Theirs are glories, and their sum of righteousness[14] perishes not,
Happy are they indeed, and they possess devoted children, servants and wives,
On whom thou, well-pleased, dost always bestow prosperity, O lady!
All righteous actions ever indeed, O goddess,
With utmost respect the man of good deeds daily performs,
And gains heaven thereafter by thy favour, O lady.
Dost thou not by him[15] bestow rewards even on the three worlds, O goddess?
Thou, O Durgā, when called to mind, dost remove terror from every creature!
Thou, when called to mind by those in health, dost bestow a mind extremely bright!
What goddess but thou, O dispeller of poverty, pain and fear,
Has ever benevolent thoughts in order to work benefits to all ?
By these slain foes the world attains[16] to happiness; thus let these
Forsooth practise sin so as to descend to hell for long![17]
‘Meeting death in battle let them proceed to heaven’—
Thinking thus, thou dost assuredly destroy the enemies, O goddess!
Having indeed seen them, why dost thou not, O lady, reduce to ashes
All the Asuras, since thou directest thy weapons against the foes?
‘Let even enemies, purified by dying in arms, attain in sooth to the bright worlds’—
Such is thy most kindly intention towards even them.
And though, neither by the sharp flashes[18] of abundant light from thy scymitar,
Nor by the copious lustre of thy spear-point, the eyes of the Asuras
Were destroyed; yet, as they gazed upon thy countenance
Which bore a portion of the radiant moon, this very thing happened.
Thy disposition, O goddess, subdues the conduct of men of evil conduct;
And this thy form surpasses thought and rivalry by others;
And thy valour vanquishes those who have robbed the gods of their prowess;
Thou hast as it were[19] manifested pity thus even on enemies!
To what may this thy prowess be compared?
And whereto thy form most charming, which strikes fear among foes?
Compassion in mind and relentlessness in battle are seen
In thee, O goddess, who bestowest boons even on the three worlds!
Through the destruction of the foes, these three worlds entire
Have been saved by thee. Having slain them in the battle-front
Thou hast led even those hosts of foes to heaven, and dispelled the fear
Which beset us from the frenzied foes of the gods. Reverence to thee!
With thy spear protect us, O goddess!
Protect us with thy sword also, O Ambikā!
By the clanging of thy bell protect us,
And by the twanging of the thong of thy bow!
In the east guard us, and in the west;
O Caṇḍikā, guard us in the south
By the brandishing of thy spear,
And also in the north, O goddess!
Whatever gentle forms of thee wander about in the three worlds,
And whatever exceedingly terrible forms wander, by means of them guard us and the earth!
Thy sword and spear and club, and whatever other weapons, O Ambikā,
Rest in thy pliant hand, with them guard us on every side!

The ṛṣi spoke:

Thus was she, the Upholder of the worlds, hymned by the gods, and they paid honour to her with celestial flowers that blossomed in Nandana, and with perfumes and unguents.

Moreover all the thirty gods in faith censed her with heavenly incenses. Benignly sweet in countenance she spoke to all the prostrate gods.

The goddess spoke:

Choose, ye thirty all! whatever ye desire of me, for I grant it with pleasure, being highly honoured by these hymns.[20]

The gods spoke:

Thou, O adorable lady, hast accomplished all, nought remains undone, in that this Asura Mahiṣa, our foe has been slain. Yet if thou must grant us a boon, O goddess great! whenever we call thee, call thee to mind, do thou away with our direst calamities! And whatever mortal shall praise thee with these hymns, O lady of spotless countenance, to prosper him in wealth and wife and other blessings by means of riches, success and power do thou incline always, O Ambikā, who art propitious to us!

The ṛṣi spoke:

Being thus propitiated by the gods for the good of the world and on their own behalf, “Be it so!” said she, Bhadrakālī; and vanished from their sight, O king.

Thus I have narrated this, O king, how the goddess came into being of yore from out of the gods’ bodies, she who desires the good of all the three worlds. And again she came into existence having the body of Gaurī, just as she did before, in order to slay the wicked Daityas and Śumbha and Niśumbha, and to preserve the worlds, as benefactress of the gods. Hearken then to what I have declared to thee. I have truly told it thee.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

The Bombay edition inserts a preliminary verse here—

“Then all the hosts of gods with Indra at their head began to sing the praise of the goddess, when the Asura Mahiṣa was slain.”

This is tautological and superfluous.

[2]:

For -śiro-’dharāmsā read -śirodharāṃsā as in the Bombay edition.

[3]:

Natāḥ sma; so again in verse 4. This seems a peculiar use of the particle sma. Similarly pra-ṇatāḥ sma in canto lxxxv, verse 7.

[4]:

For kula-jana-prahhasya read kula-jana-prabhavasya, with the Bombay edition.

[5]:

Kim varṇayāma.

[6]:

For tavāti yāni the Bombay edition reads tavādbhutāni, which is equivalent.

[7]:

For doṣair the Bombay edition reads devair, which is inferior.

[8]:

Prakṛti.

[9]:

The Bombay edition reads plurals.

[10]:

Abhy-asyase; ātmane-pada, which seems rare.

[11]:

Sattva-sāraiḥ of the Bombay edition is preferable to tattva-sāraiḥ.

[12]:

This half verse admits of more than one translation. I have adopted from the commentary what seems the most natural meaning. Vārttā seems obscure; the commentary explains it as vṛttānta-rūpā, “having the form of events” or “having the form of history;” or as kṛṣi-go-rakṣādi-vṛttir, “following the occupations of cultivation, cattle-rearing and such like.”

[13]:

Medhā.

[14]:

Or bandhu-vargah, “whole body of kinsfolk,” according to the Bombay edition.

[15]:

Tena, or “therefore.”

[16]:

Or upaitu, “may it attain,” according to the Bombay edition.

[17]:

This appears to be one meaning given in the commentary; another, which seems to be preferred, is to read nāma narakāya as na āma-narakāya “let these not practice sin so as to descend to the Hell of Disease for long!”

[18]:

Visphuraṇa; not in the dictionary.

[19]:

Or prakatitaiva, “thou hast indeed manifested,” as in the Bombay edition.

[20]:

The Bombay edition inserts another verse here — “‘And whatever else must be done, I do not deem it difficult.’ Hearing this speech from the goddess, those heaven-dwellers made answer.”

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