Bhagavadgita Pages, Chapters 1 to 18
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A story of wealth and power dashed by providence.
Source: Skanda Purana
Parvati was performing penance; Devas came in huffing and puffing because they were driven out of earth by Demon Mahisa; they fell at the feet of Gauri, seeking refuge. Gauri: the Golden One who has the color of conch, jasmine and moon. Parvati opened her eyes and beheld a bevy of gods led by Indra. They were standing with their palms joined in reverential pose, trembling, stumbling, and stuttering. Parvati sensed at once a sense of urgency and terror in their demeanor. She is Devi, Siddhesvari ( Mistress of the universe--Feminine form of Esvara) daughter of the mountain.
Parvati, in a maternal tone, enquired, "What is the matter, Devas?" In modern parlance, it would have sounded like, "What is the matter, boys?"
The Devas in a chorus said that Mahisasura stole whatever he could lay his hands on. He took over the Nandana park and herded all the celestial damsels for play, pastime, and pleasure. He stole the king of elephants, Airavata, and all the elephants of the quarters. He herded all the horses and Uccaihsravas, the white horse that came from churning of Milk Ocean. There were millions of horses in his stables. He was getting ready to lay his hand on the Ram, the vehicle of Fire-god for his son. Thus, the whole transport system of Devas were stolen by Mahisasura. Yama's fulgurous cracking of his whip and his menacing minions could not stop Mahisasura from yoking Yama's mount, the buffalo.
Siddhas were in meditation, minding their own business; but Mahisasura corralled them, brought them to his palace, and put them to menial work. What an atrocious act! If he had a whiff of news of anything valuable, he sent his warrant officers to seize the property without due process of law and order. The Devas were at his beck and call to run his errands. He called them Errand Boys, though they were Devas and he was a Daitya. Everything was turned upside down and inside out; the in-thing was out and the out-thing was in.
This Daitya was very powerful; there was no enemy in the three worlds who could challenge him. Devas, the most powerful of all beings, were no match to his valor. He had received boons of strength, wealth and health from Siva. Even the oceans, the source of immense wealth, could not resist from yielding gems and jewels from their depths. They were beaten by his horn; in pain they heaved, rolled, roiled, and foamed; they found it less painful to give their boundless wealth and seek favors from him. Horn: The Daitya was cursed by sages to become a buffalo with horns, because he acted like a reckless buffalo. The Daitya was capable of metamorphosis.
His horns had the strength to ram anything in three worlds. He lifted mountains by his horns and flung them far and wide; he enjoyed smearing himself with the falling dust and debris.
Pleading for help
Laying the trap
Devas instigated Parvati by saying that inflicting her power and prowess would bring home an understanding of his strength, because Sambhu was his protector. Only Parvati knew Sambhu, her Consort, and only a Mother Goddess of her valor could bring down a Titan of such prowess. Sambhu was the consort of mother Goddess.
Parvati understood their fright and reassured them that help was forthcoming from her in the form of Time (Kaala), which would make him feeble. She said that she was not disposed to kill a Daitya who had not committed any crime. She would devise clever means by which she would entrap and kill him. Here is a blooming looming conflict between doing a right thing and hurting a devotee of Siva-Sambhu, her own consort. Nothing is straight in the affairs of men, gods, goddesses, and demons.
Wheel of Time
His fate was sealed and it was a question of Time; the wheel of time started turning and the Daitya was fated to be crushed by the grinding wheel. Devas having been reassured by Parvati left by the way they came. They knew in their hearts the enchantress she was and the splendor she effused.
Wheel in motion
The Daughter of the Mountain (Parvati) sent four Batukas (youths) to four mountains around Arunachala (Red Mountain). She brought four trusted Mothers from Kailas, Dundubhi, Satyavati, Anavami, and Sundari and instructed them to let in to Arunachala region only a guest, who was hungry. All others were turned back. Parvati started to perform penance near the hermitage of Gautama. Her penance was bringing some propitious happenings like periodic rains, abundant fruits in barren trees, and friendliness between predatory animals and their customary victims. The Batukas protected a circumferential area of two Yojanas (24 kms) around the Red Mountain (Arunachala). The protected area enjoyed peace, and freedom from fear, sickness, enmity, lust, greed, and anger. The sages were pleased, and eulogized Parvati for peace and quiet, essential for their meditation. By sheer dint of her penance, she was able to offer protection to the area of Sonacala.
Mahisasura had plans of his own. There was this luscious forest around Arunachala good for hunting. He was roaming in the forest around Sona Mountain. He, with his army in tow, hunted animals and ate them; some deer, upon the sight of the Daityas, fled and entered the hermitage. The Daityas came chasing them but were prevented from violating the perimeter around the protected sanctuary by the brave Batukas. They were told in unmistakable terms that they were about to enter a prohibited area where the Goddess and sages were performing penance and that those who sought refuge in the hermitage were fully protected from any threat.
Looming blooming gloom and extraordinary threat
The Danavas (Daityas) retreated and planned their next move. They metamorphosed into birds and entered the hermitage, perched themselves on tree branches and surveyed the protected area. They marveled looking at the trees full of blossoms and fruits of all seasons. They saw a beautiful lady of celestial stature and grace performing penance without paying any attention to distractions of the sylvan sights, sounds, and smells. They returned to Mahisasura and informed him of the lady in penance.
Bitten by Love
Mahisasura was bitten by love; he could not wait any longer before he could see the lady in person. He took the form of an old man, and set his foot in the hermitage. He discreetly enquired about the lady and her purpose for the penance. The sages replied as follows: Her prospective husband is not easy to please; she is performing this penance for a long time to find ways and means to please him. He wants all his wishes come true in real time. He demands new things, each one special and one of a kind. When all his demands are met, he agrees to officiate and celebrate his marriage.
Flaunting his wealth and power
Mahisa, on hearing this, said laughingly to the sages that he could meet all her demands without any problem and he would be the object of her penance. He met Parvati, not knowing that she was the Mother of the Universe and told her, "O young lady of penance. I am the answer to your penance and prayers. I am Mahisa the most powerful Lord of Daityas, Suras, and all the wealth in the three worlds. My power and prowess are unrivalled; gods and sages are at my beck and call. I can metamorphose to any form I like at any time and place. Any pleasure that is worth enjoyable is enjoyed by me and I can confer the same to anyone I wish. I brought with me Kalpa-taru (Wish-tree), which will fulfill all your desires instantly. By my penance, I can bring forth Visvakarman (Divine creative architect of the universe). I can create instantly millions of Kamadhenus (Wish-cow). I have on my side nine Nidhis (Treasures usurped from Kubera) which yield any desire instantly."
Towering inferno of anger
On hearing this wanton flaunting of his power, pride, prowess and riches, Parvati ended her penance and silence and laughingly said to him, " I am determined to become the wife of the strongest person in the three worlds. I perceive that you feel that you are the most suitable person in answer to my prayer and penance. If you are really what you say you are, show it to me." Mahisa felt slight in the laughter and irreverent challenge that spoke of disbelief. Mahisa's anger rose like a towering inferno; he tried to grab her and said to her, "You, silly girl. Do you know who I am?"
Mahisa meets his match
Mahisa falls into the trap
Mahisha is seen here emerging out of his buffalo form and immediately caught by Durga by his hair. Using the spear and the trident, she slays him. Her mount, the lion standing beside her, feeds on the demon's blood, even as the chopped head of the animal lies down. Insert and text: Exoticindia.com
Parvati, sensing his evil intent, became a towering wall of fire by Maya power. That instant she changed into Durga, the warrior Goddess. Upon seeing Mahamaya throwing flames of contempt, anger, power and invincibility, Mahisa buffalo (Buffalo demon) grew to the size of Mount Meru; he was poking his horns into the nearby mountains. Mahisa summoned his army by his side. How was he going to fight the Divine Fire? All gods assembled in front of Fire Goddess; they remained invisible by their maya power; they offered their lethal weapons systems to Durga, who is no more the benign Parvati. Brahma gave her four missiles, Vishnu five missiles and Sadasiva ten missiles. Gods, guardians of quarters, mountains, and oceans gave her gifts and weapons. Durga accepted all the weapons, took them all in her innumerable hands, put on her coat of mail, and mounted on her lion. Mahisa could not stand the heat and light and was scared stiff by the fearful appearance of Durga in her warrior stance. Durga would not give up; she had to destroy the demon by creative means. It was like the hunter who had to entice the deer back into his target range (in today's parlance, cross hairs). She wanted to induce anger in him, draw him into a fight and destroy him. She commanded the preceptor of gods into her presence, asked him to assume a monkey face and act as her messenger to Mahisa. The monkey-faced sage went to Mahisa and delivered the message word for word. It was a denunciation of his evil acts, arrogance of power, his terror tactics against the Suras, usurpation of wealth from gods and others. The message infuriated him and in a scoop, he picked up the sage and devoured him; before he could complete his deglutition, the sage disgorged himself effectively by his Maya power, and scooted out of there in a trice. Mahisa's pride was hurt to hear humiliating charges from a monkey-faced sage; that was the exact reaction Durga wanted to induce in Mahisa. The messenger's looks were as obnoxious as the charges leveled against Mahisa. Unthinking Mahisa fell for it, though he was a sturdy devotee of Siva. He assembled all his soldiers and the elite soldiers attacked Sonadri, the Red Mountain, where the sages lived.
Mothers in arms
Gauri-Durga did not have a standing army; she created goblins to fight Mahisa's soldiers. She created fighting men and women from her womb of fertile imagination: one-eyed ones, single-footed ones, soldiers with pendulous ears, some with pendulous breasts, some who carried their faces in their hands and feet, and some who had their heads appended to their abdomen. The Daitya soldiers in a show of bravado, spewed venomous words, flexed their muscles and hoisted their weapons. The goblins were no less belligerent. Durga blew her conch and all hell broke loose. The Daityas sent showers of arrows from all direction to Durga; it was pouring arrows; from her bow with endless supply of arrows, arrows shot back and caught every one of the enemies' arrows. The goblins and vampires of Durga had millions of chariots, horses and elephants. Durga also created mothers with phantasmal but real features of grotesque nature. The Daityas were fodder to the hungry goblins, who swallowed them in blazing speed. Once they finished consuming the Daityas to fill their appetite, they began dancing in mild postprandial stupor. There were four Mothers from Kailasa protecting Durga from all around. Four Mothers: Unddubhi, Satyavati, Antavati, and Sundari.
Metamorphosis of Demon Mahisa
Camunda of fierce fangs, created by Durga, was one of the most effective, destructive and crapulous glutton who guttled Daitya's flesh, suety fat, and tough hides and guzzled pails of blood. She was happy and moved about with reckless abandon. She danced her way around the battle field, grabbed a Daitya-Asura and took him along on her dancing spree. The buffalo demon was breathing fire; opening of his eyes were wide and reached his ears; the globes were rolling in all directions; his whip-like fiery tongue was reaching for the skies and licking the peaks of the mountains; his horns were scattering the clouds; his hoof dug long and deep furrows in the ground; his roar was thunderous and shook the earth and the mountains; his straight ramrod tail was high up in the sky like an endless pole. When he moved his tail on the ground, the fallen weapons rose like exploding earth and fell on him in a rain. Nothing deterred him and he rushed towards Bhavani (Durga) in a self-destructive fervor like a moth's suicidal headlong flight into infernal flame.
Durga was seated on her lion mount; her weapons were shining like a thousand rays of the sun. The buffalo Demon dashed the mountain tops with his horn and sent the crags down on her. She shot the rocks into smithereens and struck him with different kinds of weapons. He was moving around like a gigantic porcupine with weapons and arrows projecting from his body; he did not seem to mind all the gashes and slashes on his body; he became more fierce than before. His body was a moving museum of hanging swords, and deeply embedded discuses, daggers, spears and other miscellaneous weapons. He suddenly disappeared from the battle scene, but reappeared as a ferocious lion with fierce paws, piercing claws, and razor-sharp dagger-like teeth. He moved around roaring like thunder to scare the lion mount of Durga. Durga's mount in a casual manner struck the Demon-lion with the paw and tore open his chest. The demon-lion once again disappeared in the mist of the battle field and appeared again as a tiger with hungry gaping mouth and a lolling tongue that looked like a tongue of flame. The Demon-tiger pounced headlong at Durga who sent a Bhalla arrow into the gaping mouth of the tiger. The powerful arrow with the refulgence of a thousand moons passed through the body, exited and went into the sky. The Daitya metamorphosed into an elephant and came towards Durga as if he was offering the wounded animals as sacrifice to her. The lion of Durga attacked the elephant. The wounded elephant metamorphosed into a warrior with a sword and shield and rose from the battlefield.
Tricks of metamorphosis fails and Demon dies
Durga with many hands and as many weapons struck him on his head and broke it. The demon-warrior turned into a buffalo-demon, using his power of Maya and began fighting Durga. Devas, sages and Gautama joined together and pleaded with her to kill him for good. They added that while she had the power to destroy the whole universe during Pralaya, it should not be too difficult for her to draw the breath out of him for good. Upon hearing these words, Durga lunged and drove a trident into his body and sat on him mightily like many mountains; he squirmed, squealed, wriggled and writhed under the weight of Durga. Oceans of blood poured out him on to the battlefield and Durga cut off his head in one strike of the sword and danced on his head. The Daitya-Titan was at last dead. The Siddhas, Gandharvas and sages eulogized Durga with joined hands and poured mountains of flowers on her. The assembled celestials saw an imprint of her foot on the body of dead demon and so that body was rendered sacred and became worthy of worship by devotees. Such is the greatness of her foot and its print.
Durga becomes benign Gauri-Parvati
Durga transformed into her Sattvic form of Parvati-Gauri, completely pure and benign. She gathered all the mothers who came to her aid and took them to the scene of death of Mahisa. They looked at his gaping mouth and throat and saw a blood-stained Linga which Gauri grabbed by her hands and which somehow became attached to her palm. She tried her best to lay it aside for future worship. It would not break off from her palm, because Mahisa was a devotee of Siva, Gauri's consort and Gauri killed a devotee of Siva.
She went to Sage Gautama and poured her heart out saying that she killed a devotee of Siva and she was carrying the blood-stained Linga on her palm as evidence of her murderous act. They who take refuge in Siva are beyond mundane justice and Siva honors them absolutely. The demons who wore the Lingams were immune from defeat, but they who gave up their lingams were killed by the enemies.
Gauri said to Sage Gautama that she would visit Tirthas and worship Siva-Sambhu until he was pleased with her and offered redemption. Gauri Parvati seems to get into trouble with her consort. Once she covered his eyes in a playful mood and sank the whole universe into darkness and death for which she paid by a long and severe penance and now she was in trouble again with the killing of a Siva devotee, Mahisa, for which she had to go on a redemptive pilgrimage. The sages said the Gauri-Parvati that Mahisa was released from their curse of being a buffalo. Sage Gautama suggested to invoke all Tirthas and build a lake and take a bath three times a day along with the Lingam and chant Aghamarsana mantra (Apo hi stha mayobhavah--water as the cause of delight and refreshment).
Reunion of Parvati with Siva
Parvati changed her mind about committing a sin by killing Mahisa. Then came a voice pleasant to the ears that said, "O daughter of the Mountain, do not go on pilgrimage to Tirthas. The water that springs from the cut you will make in the rock will have the waters of all nine holy rivers. Take dips three times a day in the lake of holy waters for a month and you will wash away all your sins. Worship me and I will show you my fiery form."
Nine holy rivers: Waters of Ganga, Yamuna, Sindhu, Godavari, Sarasvati, Narmada, Kaveri, Sona, and Sonanadi.
Having heard that, she cut the rock open with her sword and the holy waters sprang from the rock and formed a lake with waters from nine holy rivers. She remained immersed in the lake for thirty days and paid obeisance to Siva, and sang his glories. He manifested himself with the effulgence of millions of suns, moons and fires. He rose from that splendor as a Purusa of golden complexion and a sweet voice. Siva-Linga spoke to Parvati thus: Mahisa wore his Linga without proper initiation and that is why he died at your hands. Siva suddenly disappeared. Parvati made a circumambulation of the Sonadri, accompanied by Brahma, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Sarasvati and other devas. The City of Aruna (Tiruvannamalai) was built by Visvakarma. She met Siva there seated on a bull; Siva picked her up and placed her on his lap. Today Thiruvannamalai is the real temple town in South India.
Siva confers boon to Parvati.
Parvati requested Siva, " I do not want to be separated from you anymore, though I may be guilty of offence." Siva said, "So be it." As Parvati came to Sonacala from Kailasa for redemptive penance and obtained it and in like manner all those who visit Sonacala will be free of sins.