The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes Exploits of Durga which is chapter 71 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 seventy-first chapter of the Uttarardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 71 - Exploits of Durgā

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Agastya said:

1. O son of Umā, how did the goddess get the name Durgā? How should she be worshipped in Kāśī? Narrate this to me.

Skanda said:

2. O highly intelligent Pot-born One, I shall tell you how the goddess got the name Durgā and how she should be worshipped by the aspirants.

3. There was a great Daitya named Durga born of Daitya Ruru. After performing an intensively fierce penance, he got the boon of invincibility by human beings.

4. Thereupon, all the worlds beginning with Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ, and Svaḥ were brought under his control after conquering them in battle with the prowess of his arms.

5. That powerful demon himself became (assumed the powers of) Indra, Vāyu, Candra, Yama, Agni, Varuṇa and Kubera.

6. He himself took up the position of Īśāna, Rudra, Arka (the Sun-god) and Vasus. Fearing him even the great sages gave up penance.

7. Agitated through fear for him, Brāhmaṇas ceased to study the Vedas. Enclosed sites for the performance of Yajñas were destroyed by his soldiers of unendurable (ferocity).

8-9. Many chaste women were outraged by them (as they, i.e. the demons were) determined to follow evil path. After carrying away others’ possessions by force, they enjoyed them because they were unconquerable. They were evil in their conduct and ruthless in every activity they took up. Rivers became diverted from their regular course. Fires ceased to blaze.

10. The luminaries ceased to be brilliant due to the fear for him. The faces of the maidens in the form of the quarters became lustreless all-round.

11. All pious rites ceased (to be performed). Impious ones prevailed. They alone transformed themselves into clouds and showered sportingly.

12. In great fear for him, the earth put forth plants even though the seeds had not been sown. Even barren, non-fruit-bearing trees bore fruits.

13. The wives of gods and sages were imprisoned by that excessively arrogant demon. All the heaven-dwellers were made forest-dwellers by him.

14. Extremely terrified, men did not honour gods who visited their houses even with a polite conversation, because they would in that case face difficulties and disasters.

Skanda said:

15. Neither nobility of birth nor good habit and conduct contribute to greatness. High position alone is conducive to welfare. A fall from high position is thought to be meanness.

16. Only they are blessed who, even in adversity, forced by wretchedness, do not step into the courtyard of persons with mind defiled by affluence.

17. Death is better in the world because there is no indignity therein. Even immortality is not conducive to welfare if there is meanness.

18. Only they live truly, only they are meritorious, they whose mind like the ocean does not give up its dignified majesty even in adversity.

19. At times there is rise in prosperity. At times there comes adversity. A wise man of fortitude should not give up courage on either of these chance occasions.

20. The rise and fall of the meritorious should be kept in mind by wise men. Equanimity should never be abandoned. Happiness and sorrow are impermanent.

21. He who becomes depressed at the times of adversity is ruined. Both the worlds are lost in regard to him. Hence one shall avoid dejection.

22. If people remain courageous even in disaster in this world and in the other one, no misery and disaster, being slighted and driven away by their courage, will touch them again.

23. The Devas who had lost their kingdom sought refuge in Maheśa. Thereupon the Goddess was directed to suppress the demon by the omniscient one (Śiva).

24. On receiving the great Lord’s behest joyously, Bhavānī assured freedom from fear to the immortal ones and set about for the war.

25. She summoned Kālarātri, the most beautiful one in all the three worlds by her radiance. Rudrāṇī sent her to challenge the demon.

26-30. After coming to that Daitya of evil conduct, Kālarātri said: “O Lord of Daityas, give up the wealth of the three worlds. May Indra get back the three worlds. You go to Rasātala. May all the sacred rites enjoined in the Vedas and binding on the expounders of the Vedas be performed. If at all there is a vestige of pride (in you), come on for a fight; otherwise, if you wish to live, seek refuge in Indra. I have been sent by the goddess of great auspicious features to you to convey this message. If you are indifferent to it, your death is certain. Hence, O great Asura, do what is proper. If you care to hear what is beneficial to you, go unto her to retain your life (and save your life).”

31-38. On hearing these words of Goddess Mahākālī that king of Daityas blazed with fury: “Catch her; seize her. This enchantress of the three worlds has come here due to my good luck. This is the great fruit of the creeper in the form of affluence born of the reign of the three worlds. It is for this woman alone that Devas, sages and men were imprisoned by me. Without any strain on my part and due to the rise of auspiciousness, she has come to my own abode. Due to the power of good luck, what one deserves shall certainly come to one whether staying in forest or in own residence. May the attendants take her to the great Ladies’ Apartment. My kingdom has become adorned with this lady of excellent embellishment. Highly intelligent that I am, I have had this great rise in my fortune today. The fortune is not mine alone but of the entire race of the Daityas. Let the ancestors dance; let the kinsmen rejoice in the happiness. Let Mṛtyu, Kāla, Antaka, rather all the Devas, feel the terrific impact of fear.” When he said thus and the attendants came near her to carry her away, the leader of the Daityas was replied to by Kālarātri.

Kālarātri said:

39-40. O king of Daityas of great wisdom, this is not proper on the part of people like you. We are only messengers. We are extremely dependent on others, O most excellent one among statesmen. Even the most insignificant one should never harass a messenger. What then in the case of great and powerful lords like you?

41-42. O great king, why this favour on mean ones like she-messengers! On her arrival, when the goddess comes, we too shall come without giving you any trouble. O Lord of Daityas, defeat my mistress in battle and enjoy as you please thousands of women like me.

43-49. Today itself you will have the great happiness on seeing her. Along with your ancestors all your kinsmen shall be happy. All your long-cherished desires will become fulfilled today. There is no one to protect her. She is a weak woman.

She possesses all exquisite features. It behoves you to see her. I shall show you where she, the great mine (of gems) in the whole universe, is. If only one (like me) [?]s held what fulfilment shall there be to your love? Till the end of this day, I shall not leave your vicinity. So restrain these attendants who desire to seize me.

On hearing her utterance thus, that Asura, deluded by lust and anger, preferred that she-messenger alone (though) she was his own death.

He commanded the eunuchs thus, O sage: “Let the attendants take her to the Antaḥpura quickly.” Those powerful eunuchs tried to seize her with force.

50-52. With the fire issuing from her grunting sound of HUM [HUṂ], she quickly reduced them to ash. On seeing them reduced to ash in a moment by that she-messenger, the Lord of Daityas became furious. With a motion of his eyes he created thirty thousand Daityas such as Durdhara, Durmukha, Khara, Sīrapāṇi, Pāśapāṇi, Surendradamana, Hanu, Yajñāri, Khaḍgaloman, Ugrāsya, Devakaṃpana etc.

53. “Let the Dānavas bring this wicked woman quickly tying her with ropes, making her tresses dishevelled and making her robes and ornaments loosened.”

54. At this behest of the Lord of Daityas, the demons with Durdhara as their leader endeavoured to seize her holding ropes, swords and mallets in their hands.

55. All those demons with bodies huge and heavy like big mountains, keeping their hands raised, holding weapons and missiles were forcibly struck by her exhaled breath and hurled to the ends of the quarters.

56. As those Daityas numbering hundreds of crores were blown away, Goddess Kālarātri set off by the aerial path.

57-60. Crores and crores of thousands of great Asuras filled the space between heaven and earth and followed her as she moved on. The great Daitya named Durga set off angrily accompanied by a hundred crores of chariots, two hundred Arbudas (i.e. 2000 crores) of elephants and a crore of Arbudas of horses having the velocity of wind. The foot soldiers were innumerable. They reduced huge rocks into powder under their feet. They were very huge and terrible. They struck terror into all the three worlds and they kept their arms and weapons lifted up.

61-66. After her arrival, she reported the Daitya’s misdemeanour. On seeing Mahādevī (‘great goddess’) camping on the Vindhya mountain, the leader of the Daityas felt his heart pierced through by the arrows of the god of Love. She had a thousand huge arms. She was excessively radiant with various terrible weapons (in the hands). She was eager to fight. Her splendid face appeared to be washed clean by the innumerable rays of the rising moon. She appeared like the unusual moonshine of a peculiar moon moving up from the ocean of beauty. Her person was pervaded by the lustre of a collection of great rubies. She was the very luminary illuminating the beautiful cities of the three worlds. She was like the great herbal creeper enlivening the god of Love burnt down by the fire of the eye of Śiva. She resembled the great medicinal plant enchanting the universe with all the components of gracefully shining beauty. The demon of fierce tyrannical power commanded the chiefs of his great army thus:

67-73. O Jaṃbha, Mahājaṃbha, Kujaṃbha, Vikaṭānana, Laṃbodara, Mahākāya, Mahādaṃṣṭra, Mahāhanu, Piṅgākṣa, Mahiṣagrīva, Mahogra, Atyugravigraha, Krūrākṣa, Krodhanākranda, Saṃkrandana, Mahābhaya, Jitāntaka, Mahābāhu, Mahāvaktra, Mahīdhara, Dundubhi, Dundubhirava, Mahādundubhi, Nāsika, Ugrāsya, Dīrghadaśana, Meghakeśa, Vṛkānana, Siṃhāsya, Sūkaramukha, Śivārāva, Mahotkaṭa, Śukatuṇḍa, Pracaṇḍāsya, Bhīmākṣa, Kṣudramānasa, Ulūkanetra, Kaṅkāsya, Kākatuṇḍa, Karālavāk, Dīrghagrīva, Mahājaṅgha, Kramelaka-Śirodhara, Raktabindu, Japānetra, Vidyujjihva, Agnitāpana, Dhūmrākṣa, Dhūmaniḥśvāsa, Caṇḍa, Caṇḍāṃśutāpana and others with Mahābhīṣaṇa as your leader, listen attentively to my command.

74-75. If anyone among you or others can bring this Vindhyavāsinī boldly and intelligently, with force or through deceit, I shall undoubtedly grant him the position of Indra today. On seeing this beautiful woman my mind has become agitated.

76. Let all of you go immediately, lest my mind already afflicted by the arrows of Kāma, should become further perturbed due to the want of the attainment thereof.”

77. On hearing this utterance of Durga, the lord of Daityas, all the Daitya attendants joined their palms in reverence and said:

78-85. “Listen attentively, O great king. Is this assignment difficult at all, being particularly that of a helpless, feeble woman? O lord, what great effort is needed in bringing her? Who can dare to face us in all the three worlds? We are inherently very powerful beings on a par with the masses of flames of the fire appearing at the time of the annihilation of all beings. Moreover we are active in this endeavour through your grace. If only your majesty give us this command, immediately we will bring Indra along with his women and the entire hosts of Maruts and throw him down in front of your feet. The worlds of Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ and Svaḥ have come under your command. The worlds of Mahaḥ, Jana, Tapaḥ and Satya are those where you exercise your authority. O great Asura, there too there is nothing which we cannot achieve through your command and direction. The Lord of Vaikuṇṭha always obeys your behests by joyously sending all the beautiful gems. The Lord of Kailāsa has already been left off (ignored) by us because he swallows poison and adorns himself with ash, hide and serpents due to excessive poverty. Due to his fear for us, a woman has been concealed by him in half of his body. In his entire village, there is no other quadruped.

86-95. He has only one old bull. That too does not depend upon anyone else. In his entire city, the attendants of this sort live. All of them are habitual residents of cremation grounds and clad only in their loin cloths. They appear white with the ash. they have single matted tress of hairs.

O Lord, what are we to do with those Gaṇas gripped with poverty? Indeed the oceans regularly send collections of gems everyday. The pitiable serpents cause illumination for our sake every evening through the gems on their hoods, O Lord. The wish-yielding celestial tree, the divine cow, the groups of Cintāmaṇi jewels—all these are present even in our houses, due to your favour. Wind-god does the work of a fan for assiduously serving you. Varuṇa supplies pure water everyday. Fire-god washes the clothes. The Moon himself is your umbrella-bearer.

The Sun causes the full-bloom of the lotuses in your pleasure-ponds. Who is it among human beings, Devas and Serpents who does not look up to your benign favour. All living beings beginning with Suras, Asuras, birds and Sky-walkers etc. depend upon you. O king, see (for yourself) our manliness. We shall forcibly bring her.” After saying thus all of them became simultaneously agitated like the oceans at the time of Saṃvarta (ultimate dissolution of the world) to flood the entire universe. The sound of martial instruments rose all-round.

96-100. On hearing that cowards experienced horripilation. Though the Devas are not cowards usually, yet they became frightened. The earth quaked. All the oceans became agitated. The garlands of stars fell down. The tumultuous sound of the war-drums pervaded heaven and earth.

Thereupon the goddess created out of her body hundreds and thousands of Śaktis. The extensive army of these powerful Daityas that resembled the ocean crossing the limits of the shores, was checked all-round by those Śaktis (surrounding each one). The weapons and missiles discharged by the Daityas in the course of the war were very fierce. Yet they were treated contemptuously like blades of grass by the Śaktis and destroyed.

101-103. The demons, the chief of whom was Jaṃbha, became excessively furious and they showered arrows, missiles etc. like clouds showering water. They discharged and wielded swords, discus, Bhuśuṇḍīs, maces, mallets, iron rods, tridents, axes, javelins, spikes, spears, crescent-shaped sharp weapons, razor-edged arrows of various sorts that pierced through the vulnerable parts of the bodies. They hurled huge trees and big boulders too.

104-108. The great goddess camping on Vindhyas, equipped with Māyā power, lifted a big bow fitted with arrows having a missile presided over by Wind-god. With it she sportingly scattered far away the multitudes of weapons and missiles of the Daityas.

On seeing his army stripped of all their weapons, Durga, the great Asura, seized a burning Śakti (Spear) and hurled it towards the goddess. As the spear approached her rapidly in the course of the battle, the goddess reduced it to powder with the arrows discharged from her bow. On perceiving the Śakti split up, Durga the great demon discharged a discus that delighted the circle of the Daityas very much. That too was reduced to minute particles with hundreds of arrows by the goddess.

109. Thereupon the tormentor of the immortal ones seized a bow evolved out of horn which resembled the bow of Indra and hit the heart of the goddess with an arrow.

110-111. Though that arrow was obstructed by the goddess through her arrows of great velocity, O sage, it rapidly rushed towards the goddess. Thereupon, she struck at it with the frame of her bow moving it rapidly and warded it off—a veritable shaft of the god of Death himself, it was.

112-115. When the arrow became ineffective, the infuriated unassailable demon seized, a trident that had the brilliant lustre of the fire appearing at the time of the great ultimate annihilation of the world, and hurled it at the goddess. As the trident approached her, Caṇḍikā cut it off by means of her own trident along with the hope of victory in the demon. When that great trident was rendered ineffective by the trident of the goddess, the great lord of the Daityas seized a huge club and rushed suddenly at the goddess. The powerful demon struck her on the shoulder.

116. Hitting the shoulder of the goddess, the club resembling the peak of a big mountain split into a hundred and thousand bits.

117. Then, with the left foot, the goddess kicked the leader of the Daityas who was afflicted in the heart and fell on the ground.

118. After the fall, the leader of the Daityas got up immediately and vanished in a trice like a lamp extinguished by the wind.

119. Thereupon the Śaktis urged by the mother of the universe moved about in the hosts of the Daityas like the army of the god of Death at Saṃvarta time.

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