by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 1,344,335 words
This page describes Battle Between the Goddess and Mahishasura which is chapter 6 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the sixth chapter of the Setu-mahatmya of the Brahma-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
The sages said:
I- 4. O Sūta, O disciple of Dvaipāyana, O most excellent one among those conversant with the Purāṇas, previously you told us that the excellent Cakratīrtha extends up to Devīpaṭṭaṇa. Therefore we ask you something. Indeed where is that Devīpaṭṭaṇa itself up to which Cakratīrtha extends. How did it get the name Devīpaṭṭaṇa? Of what sort is the merit of those sinners who take their holy bath at Rāmasetumūla as well as Cakratīrtha? O most excellent one among those conversant with the Purāṇas, describe this as well as other details.
Śrī Sūta said:
5. I shall describe everything. O leading sages, listen. This narrative is destructive of all the sins of those who read and listen.
6-8.The Lord of Sītā, the scion of the family of Raghu, built the first (part) of the bridge by placing nine boulders in the sea. That spot is called Devīpura up to which Cakratīrtha extends. How it came to be known by the name Devīpaṭṭaṇa, O excellent sages, I shall tell you. Listen with attention. Formerly all the sons of Diti were slain by Devas in a battle between Devas and Asuras. So she was deeply grief-stricken and bewildered. She spoke these words to her daughter:
9-10. Dear daughter, go to an excellent penance grove in order to perform penance, so that you can bear sons. O lady of excellent buttocks, observe all restraints and vows. Curb your sense-organs. Desire to get such a son as Indra and others among the Suras will not survive (his attack).
11-12. On being told by her mother thus, she bowed down to her. Adopting the form of a buffalo she went to the forest and performed a penance in the midst of five fires. She performed a very severe penance and on account of that, all the worlds trembled. While she was performing the penances, the three worlds became badly frightened.
14-16. O lady with excellent buttocks, I am pleased. You will have a son with the face of a buffalo and the bodily form of a man. This son of yours named Mahiṣa will be extremely vigorous and mighty. He will harass heaven and Devendra along with his army.
After saying this and persuading her, Supārśva made her desist from the penance. Then he went back to his own world.
17-19. As had been predicted by the Brāhmaṇa, the son Mahiṣa was born to her. Like the ocean during Parvan days, he grew up with a great vigour and prowess. Thereafter Vidyunmālī, the leader of Asuras and the son of Vipracitti, and all those great Asuras who were on the earth, O Brāhmaṇas, heard about the boons granted to Mahiṣa. They joyously approached him, O excellent sages, and spoke thus to Mahiṣāsura:
20-22. “O highly intelligent one, formerly we were ruling heaven. By resorting to Viṣṇu, our kingdom was forcibly seized by Devas. O Mahiṣāsura, regain our lost kingdom with your power. Exhibit all your vigour and prowess now. You have unparalleled strength and vigour. You are (justifiably) proud of the boons granted by the Brāhmaṇa. Slay Indra along with the hosts of Devas in the battle.”
24. Then the battle between Devas and Asuras lasted for a hundred years. O leading Brāhmaṇas, it was very tumultuous and it caused horripilation.
25. The army of Devas fled due to fear, O Brāhmaṇas. Keeping Indra ahead of them, Devas went to god Brahmā.
27. After going there, bowing to them and eulogizing them by means of various kinds of prayers, Brahmā reported to them the misdeeds of Mahiṣāsura.
28-31. He intimated the trouble inflicted on Suras by Asuras, to the Lords Śaṃbhu and Kṛṣṇa (i.e. Viṣṇu). (Then he said,) “He has dismissed Indra, Agni, Yama, the Sun-god, the Moon-god, Kubera, Varuṇa and others and has occupied their posts himself. He has usurped the powers of the other Devas too. The dismissed group of Devas has left the heavenly world on being harassed by Mahiṣāsura. They are now wandering over the earth like human beings. It is to intimate this to you two, my Lords, that I have come here along with the same groups of Devas. Do protect them who have come down here.”
33-35. Then, O Brāhmaṇas, from the highly enraged blazing faces of Viṣṇu, Śaṃbhu and Brahmā, a great refulgence issued forth. From the bodies of Indra and other Devas too a dreadful splendour came forth. All these units of splendour joined together and formed a single mass. This mass of splendour resembled a blazing mountain. It was seen by the groups of the Devas as spreading its flames and enveloping every direction.
36. This mass of fiery refulgence took the shape of a woman. The refulgence of Śiva became her face; that of Viṣṇu her arms, O Brāhmaṇas.
37. The splendour of Brahmā became the feet; the splendour of Indra became the waistline. The tresses were formed with the refulgence of Yama and the breasts with the brilliance of the Moon.
38. The shanks and the thighs were evolved out of the refulgence of Varuṇa, O Brāhmaṇas. The refulgence of the Earth became the hips and the loins, and that of the Sun became the toes of the feet.
41-43. The two Sandhyās (dawn and dusk) became her eyebrows. The refulgence of the Wind-god became her ears. The other limbs of the lady were evolved from the dreadful refulgence of the other Devas. Thus Durgā of excessively brilliant form took birth. She appeared invincible to all—both Suras and the Asuras. Thus she was born of the amalgamation of the refulgences of the army of all the Devas. Seeing her, all those Devas who had been harassed by Mahiṣa became delighted.
44. Then, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, Devas headed by Rudra extracted spears and other weapons of their own and handed them over to her.
45-49. They gave her ornaments, garments, garlands and sandal-paste. Adorned and equipped with the ornaments, garments, flowers, weapons, garlands, sandal-paste, etc. that goddess, the dreadful goddess of frightening voice, laughed boistrously. She roared out loudly as if to shake heaven and earth. She was attended upon by gods. Due to terrific roar of the goddess the entire universe got agitated.
Due to the extremely terrible shouts of the Devī the three worlds became agitated. On seeing it, Daityas, the enemies of the Devas, rose up with arms raised.
50. Mahiṣa was excessively infuriated. He lifted up his great weapons and surrounded by Asuras proceeded in the direction of that sound.
51-53. He saw the Devī pervading the three worlds by means of her refulgence. She had innumerable hands equipped with weapons. She shook the entire earth with her shouts. She made great serpents including Śeṣa excited thereby. On seeing the Devī, Asuras stood ready with their weapons lifted up.
Then a fight between the Asuras and the Devī ensued with missiles, weapons, arrows, discuses, iron clubs and big threshing rods.
54. Then the excessively powerful Mahiṣa, the suppressor of enemies, fought with the goddess along with (his) innumerable elephants, horses (i.e. horsemen), chariots and foot-soldiers.
55. The important group-commanders of the Asuras were thousands, hundred thousands and crores; and there is no limit to the army of each of them.
56-58. All of them simultaneously encircled her using all weapons hitting her violently. The terrible goddess sportingly cut off the volley of missiles discharged by the Daityas by means of the arrows discharged from her bow. She showered the bodies of the Daityas with numerous arrows. Gaining more strength, due to the support of the Devī, the Devas became fearless. They fought with the leading commanders of the Daityas by means of weapons, missiles, etc.
59. The Devas became proud on account of their strength. They were rendered stronger by the Śakti of Devī. With their weapons they annihilated all the Asuras without leaving any trace.
60-63. When his army perished, Mahiṣāsura became furious. He seized his bow and drew it violently producing a loud report. He fitted arrows, O Brāhmaṇas, and discharged them at the armies of Devas. He discharged ten thousand arrows on Indra, five thousand on Yama, eight thousand on Varuṇa, six thousand on Kubera and ten thousand arrows on each of the Sun, the Moon, the Fire-god, the Wind-god, Vasus, Aśvins and other Devas.
Mahiṣa, the lord of Dānavas, the most excellent one among powerful persons, discharged the arrows thus.
64. Then on being crushed by Mahiṣāsura, Devas fled. They sought refuge in the Devī crying out, “Save us, save us”.
65-66. Thereupon, the Devī commanded her own Gaṇas, viz. Bhūtas (Evil Spirits), Vetālas (Vampires) and others: “You annihilate the Asura armies quickly. I shall fight with Mahiṣa in the battle. He is very haughty on account of his strength.” Then the entire Asura host was killed by the Gaṇas of Devī quickly.
67. When the army was destroyed by the Gaṇas ordered by Devī, Mahiṣa wanted to fight with the Gaṇas. He stood ready to meet them.
68-70. In the meantime Mahānāda, Sucakṣus, Mahāhanu, Mahācaṇḍa, Mahābhakṣa, Mahodara, Mahotkaṭa, Pañcāsya, Pādacūḍa, Bahunetra, Prabāhuka, Ekākṣa, Ekapāda, Bahupāda and Apādaka and many other ministers of Mahiṣāsura became desirous of fighting with Devī in the battle. They stood in front of Devī.
71-73. Then Devī rode on her vehicle, the lion, of the velocity of the mind. She seized her dreadful bow of loud report like that of the cloud at the time of the world destruction. She made a twanging sound and discharged many arrows of adamantine strength and of the velocity of the wind. Daitya Mahāhanu equipped with a million elephants, ten million horses, ten million chariots and a thousand million foot-soldiers was killed by Devī in the battle.
74. In his army, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, thousands, hundred thousands and crores of the commanders of the principal units were killed by Devī with her arrows.
75. Mahiṣa had very powerful Asura leaders numbering thousands, hundred thousands and crores. Each of these leaders too had an army of four divisions.
76-77. Just as, O Brāhmaṇas, Mahāhanu had a great army, so others too had a vast army. The entire army was killed by Devī by means of arrows with golden feathers fixed to their tails. That was something of a miracle, O eminent Brāhmaṇas, that this was done within a (short) period of a Yāma (3 hours) only.
Footnotes and references:
As explained below in vv 6-8, the place is near the spot where Rāma laid the first nine boulders for the Setu. It is also called Navapāṣāṇam now for this reason.
The birth of Mahiṣa is attributed to Sage Suparśva here, but to God Agni in Devi Bhāgavata.