The Markandeya Purana

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

This page relates “the slaying of raktavija” which forms the 88th 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 88 is included the section known as “the devi-mahatmya”.

Canto LXXXVIII - The Devī-Māhātmya: The slaying of Raktavīja

Śumbha sent forth all his armies against Caṇḍikā—To help her the Energies (Śaktis) of the gods took bodily shapeCaṇḍikā despatched Siva to offer terms of peace to Śumbha, but the Asura hosts attached her and the battle beganCaṇḍikā’s fight with the great Asura Raktavīja is described—He was killed.

The ṛṣi spoke:

After both the Daitya Caṇḍa was slain and Muṇḍa was laid low, and many soldiers were destroyed, the lord of the Asuras, majestic Śumbha, with mind overcome by wrath, gave command then to array all the Daitya hosts,—“Now let the eighty-six Daityas, upraising their weapons, march forth with all their forces; let the eighty-four Kambūs[1] march forth surrounded by their own forces; let the fifty Asura families who excel in valour go forth; let the hundred families of Dhaumri[2] go forth at my command. Let the Kālakas,[3] the Daurhṛtas,[4] the Mauryas,[5] and the Kālakeyas,[6]—let these Asuras, hastening at my command, march forth ready for battle.”

After issuing these commands Śumbha, the lord of the Asuras, who ruled with fear, went forth, attended by many thousands of great soldiers. Caṇḍikā, seeing that most terrible army at hand, filled the space between the earth and the firmament with the twanging of her bow-string. Thereon her lion roared exceedingly loud, O king; and Ambika augmented[7] those roars with the clanging of her bell. Kāli, filling the regions of the sky with the noise from her bowstring, from her lion and from her bell, and expanding her mouth wide with her terrific roars, had the predominance.[8] On hearing that roar which filled the four regions of the sky, the Daitya armies enraged[9] surrounded the goddess’ lion and Kāli.

At this moment, O king, in order to destroy the gods’ foes, and for the well-being of the lion-like Immortals, there issued forth endowed with excessive vigour and strength the Energies[10] from the bodies of Brahmā, Śiva, Guha and Viṣṇu and of Indra also, and went in the forms of those gods to Caṇḍikā. Whatever was the form of each god, and whatever his ornaments and vehicle, in that very appearance his Energy advanced to fight with the Asuras. In the front of a heavenly car drawn by swans advanced Brahmā’s Energy, bearing a rosary of seeds and an earthen water-pot; she is called Brahmāṇī. Maheśvara’s Energy, seated on a bull, grasping a fine trident, and wearing a girdle of large snakes, arrived, adorned with a digit of the moon. And Kumāra’s Energy, Ambikā, with spear in hand and riding on a choice peacock, advanced in Guha’s shape to attack the Daityas. Likewise Viṣṇu’s Energy, seated upon Garuḍa, advanced with conch, discus, club, bow and scymitar in hand. The Energy of Hari, who assumes the peerless form of a sacrificial boar, she also advanced assuming a hog-like form. Nṛsiṃha’s Energy assuming a body like Nṛsiṃha’s arrived there, adorned with a cluster of constellations hurled down by the tossing of his mane. Likewise Indra’s Energy, with thunder-bolt in hand, seated upon the lord of elephants and having a thousand eyes, arrived; as is Śakra, such indeed was she. Then those Energies of the gods surrounded Śiva. He said to Caṇḍikā, “Let the Asuras be slain forthwith through my good-will.”

Thereupon from the goddess’ body there came forth C aṇḍikā’s Energy, most terrific, exceedingly fierce, howling like a hundred jackals. And she the unconquered said to Śiva, who was smoke-coloured and had matted locks, “Be thou, my lord, a messenger to the presence of Śumbha and Niśumbha. Say unto the two overweening Dānavas, Śumbha and Niśumbha, and to whatever other Dānavas are assembled there to do battle—‘Let Indra obtain the three worlds, let the gods be the enjoyers of the oblations; go ye to Pātāla if ye wish to live. Yet if through pride in your strength ye are longing for battle, come ye on then! let my jackals be glutted with your flesh.’” Because the goddess appointed Śiva himself to be ambassador,[11] she has hence attained fame as Śivadūtī in this world.

Those great Asuras however, on hearing the goddess’speech fully announced, were filled with indignation and went where[12] Kātyāyanī[13] stood. Then, at the very first, the arrogant and indignant foes of the Immortals in front poured on the goddess showers of arrows, javelins and spears. And gracefully she clove those arrows, darts, discuses and axes, which were hurled,[14] with large arrows shot from her resounding bow.[15] And in front of her stalked Kālī then, tearing the foes asunder with the onset of her darts and crushing them with her skull-topped staff.[16] And Brahmāṇī caused the foes to lose their courage by casting water on them from her earthen pot, and weakened their vigour, by whatever way she ran. Maheśvara’s Energy slew Daityas with her trident, and Viṣṇu’s Energy with her discus, and Kumāra’s Energy, very wrathful, slew them with her javelin. Torn to pieces by the down-rush of the thunder-bolt hurled by Indra’s Energy, Daityas and Dānavas fell on the earth in hundreds, pouring out streams of blood. Shattered by the hog-embodied Energy with blows from her snout, wounded in their breasts by the points of her tushes, and tom by her discus, demons fell down. And Nṛsiṃha’s Energy roamed about in the battle, devouring other great Asuras who were torn by her claws, as she filled the intermediate region of the sky with her roaring.[17] Asuras, demoralized by Śivadūtī with her violent loud laughs, fell down on the earth; she then devoured those fallen ones. Seeing the enraged band of Mothers[18] crushing the great Asuras thus by various means, the troops of the gods’ foes perished.

Raktavīja, a great Asura, seeing the Daityas, who were hard-pressed by the band of Mothers, intent on fleeing, strode forward to fight in wrath. When from his body there falls to the ground a drop of blood, at that moment starts up from the earth an Asura of his stature. He, a great Asura, with club in hand fought with Indra’s Energy, and Indra’s Energy then struck Raktavīja with her thunder-bolt; blood flowed quickly from him when wounded by the thunder-bolt. Thereupon stood up together fresh combatants, like him in body, like him in valour; for as many blood-drops fell from his body, so many men came into being, like him in courage, strength and valour. And those men also who sprang from his blood fought there with the Mothers in a combat, dreadful because of the sweep of their very sharp weapons. And again when his head was wounded by the fall of her thunder-bolt, his blood poured forth; therefrom were born men by thousands. And Viṣṇu’s Energy struck at this foe with her discus in the battle. Indra’s Energy beat that lord of the Asuras with her club. The world was filled by the thousands of great Asuras, who were his equals, and who sprang from the blood that flowed from him when cloven by the discus of Viṣṇu’s Energy. Kumāra’s Energy struck the great Asura Raktavīja with her spear, and Varāha’s Energy also struck him with her sword, and Mabeśvara’s Energy with her trident. And the Daitya Raktavīja, that great Asura, filled full of wrath, struck every one of the Mothers in turn with his club. By the stream of blood, which fell on the earth from him when he received many wounds from the spears, darts and other weapons, Asuras came verily[19] into being in hundreds. And those Asuras who sprang from that Asura’s blood pervaded the whole world; thereat the gods fell into the utmost terror. Seeing the gods dejected, Caṇḍika spoke with haste; she said to Kālī, “O Cāmuṇḍā! stretch out thy mouth wide; with this mouth do thou quickly take in the great Asuras, which are the drops of blood, that have come into being out of Raktavīja[20] at the descent of my weapon on him. Roam about in the battle, devouring the great Asuras who sprang from him; so shall this Daitya with his blood ebbing away meet destruction. These fierce demons are being devoured by thee and at the same time no others will be produced.”

Having enjoined her thus, the goddess next smote him with her dart. Kālī swallowed Raktavīja’s blood with her mouth. Then he struck Caṇḍikā with his club there; and the blow of his club caused her no pain, even the slightest, but from his stricken body blood flowed copiously, and from whatever direction it came, Cāmuṇḍā takes it then with her mouth. The great Asuras, who sprang up from the flow of blood in her mouth, Cāmuṇḍā both devoured them and quaffed his blood. The goddess smote Raktavīja with her dart, her thunder-bolt, arrows, swords and spears, when Cāmuṇḍā drank up his blood. Stricken with that multitude of weapons, he fell on the earth’s surface, and the great Asura Raktavīja became blood-less, O king. Thereat the thirty gods gained joy unparalleled, O king. The band of Mothers which sprang from them broke into a dance, being intoxicated with blood.

Footnotes and references:


Kambū means a thief or plunderer. The commentary says Kambūs are a class of Daityas.


“The descendants of Dhūmra.” Dhūmras is the reading in the Bombay edition. They are a class of Daityas.


A group of Dānavas.


The Bombay edition reads Daurhṛdas, “the descendants of Durhṛd. ”


“The descendants of Mura.” Mura or Muru is referred to generally in connexion with Prāgjyotiṣa; e.g., MahāBhārata, Sabha-P., xiii. 578; Vana-P., xii. 488; and Udyoga-P., xlvii. 1887-92 : Harivaṃśa, cxxi. 6791-6801.


A group of Dānavas. They are mentioned in the MahāBhārata, Sabhā-P., iv. 118 ; Udyoga-P., clvii. 5379 : and Vana-P., c. 8691.


For copavṛṃhayat read cāpy avṛṃhayat as in the Bombay edition.


Jigye; ji is here used by itself in the Ātmanepada. The commentary gives “vanquished the enemies” as an alternative translation. It mentions jajñe as an alternative reading, which means then “expanded her mouth wide with her terrific roars.”


For sa-roṣair the Bombay edition reads śaraughair “with multitudes of arrows.”




For daityena read dūtyena as in the Bombay edition, or perhaps dautyena “with the rank of ambassador.”


Yatra as in the Bombay edition is better than yataḥ.


A name of Caṇḍikā.


For pratihān read prahitān.


Dhmāta-dhanur-muktair; the commentary explains dhmāta as maurvī-ṭaṃ-kāreṇa śabditam, “resonant with the twanging of the bow string.”


For khaṭṭāṅga read khaṭvāṇga.


Nādāpūrṇa-dig-antarā. The reading of the Calcutta edition nādāpūrṇa-dig-ambarā is hardly satisfactory.


Mātṛ-gaṇa; i.e., the Energies.


For yodhai read yo vai as in the Bombay edition.


For Rakta-vindoḥ read Rakta-vījāt, as in the Bombay edition.

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