Shiva Purana: Uma Samhita - 7

As I Know: The Lord of the Mountains – Shiv Purana: 119

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Materialisation of Saraswati from the divine body of Uma even as the entire universe witnesses an eternal struggle between the good and the evil – the gods and the daityas. Malevolent forces appear lofty and virtuous in the beginning and love to enjoy pleasure of life but soon hatred, enmity, ego and pride overwhelm

Legendary tale of Shumbha and Nisumbha is relevant to contemporary man. If wealth and supremacy turn a man mad, love for woman and beauty equally drives to loss of prudence and understanding.

Shumbha and Nisumbha, are courageous daityas, who make lives of created beings, gods and goddesses wretched and therefore, righteous souls seek refuge at the feet of goddess Uma-Shiva, the creator, the preserver and the destroyer and so, they speak of the atrocities of daityas.

Once, the attendants talk of the divine beauty living on the top of the mountain and therefore, daityas’s eager wish to possess the beautiful woman increases. The messengers are also mighty warriors of great fame. They try to overwhelm the goddess but she kills all. The situation grows tense. The mighty daityas march to the battleground with a huge army to defeat Durga whom devotees also call Ambika, Kalika, Mahakali, Uma or Shiva. She the goddess kills the two ferocious demons and brings peace in the three worlds.

If one talks of ancient times, one learns that many upright souls underwent penance for years and sought blessings of immortality from Supreme Brahma but had to confront death. If a man goes beyond the borders of wisdom and intellect of the Creator, he forgets mortals’ limitations. Mystifying is the scheme of god, who defines role, time, space and location of every man, which even intensity of devotion to the Supreme cannot change in spite of the blessings, and therefore, death is unconquerable, and so the tale begins.

In ancient times, mighty daityas Shumbha and Nisumbha lived in a great city and governed a vast country. Known for the courage and valour, many warriors avoided confrontation with the powerful brothers. With the passage of time, the influence and power of the demons increased and therefore, they decided to usurp other worlds. They deliberated for long and thereafter, attacked the kingdoms of the three worlds and created terror among the created beings of the universe. The gods of heavens, celestial beings, semi-celestial beings, sages and holy men felt the heat of slaughter and violence, and every day agonies and sufferings of created and celestial beings, and gods increased steadily as the mighty demons continued to perpetrate injustice. The gods were much terrified, took shelter in the mountains of Himalaya, and felt protected. They prayed and worshipped goddess Uma, the mother of the created beings.

Gods of heavens prayed before the goddess, “O Maheshwari Durgei, we salute you. You are the benefactor of devotees. We salute you again. You are goddess Shiva the guardian of the three worlds, O goddess, we salute you. You bestow moksa on living beings. You are the creator, the preserver and the destroyer of the entire world. You disguise as Kaalika and Tara. You are an embodiment of knowledge and divine wisdom. In the image of goddess Bhairavi, you destroy sufferings. You are the beauty of the three worlds and the image of mother.”

They continued to extol her virtues and paid tributes eloquently, “O goddess, you bear the names of Ajita, Vijaya, Jaya, Mangla and Vilasani and impart meaning to names and thus, stay invincible. You defeat the wicked and the sinners, and are victorious, and therefore, people and devotees forever praise. You bring fortunes to all and then, you are the storehouse of pleasures and joys. You are a treasure of virtues, powers and divine light. O goddess, we bow before you and salute. You are the origin of knowledge and vidyas. Avidyas (nescience) are meaningless. You look after people, who seek refuge at the holy feet and at times, you appear before the devotees as an image of goddess Rudrani, for you protect faithful disciples from sufferings and destroy evil forces.”

They continued, “We salute you O goddess. Through Vedanta – the Upanishads and Arayankas – you give knowledge of ‘the soul, the supreme lord, the world, the essence of life, philosophy or spiritualism etc’ and we learn of your benign and generous image. We offer salutations and greetings. You are the Supreme lord. In truth, you safeguard and maintain the eternal and infinite Cosmos, the world of Brahma.”

The great goddess and the patron of the wellbeing of created beings, who bestows boons on devotees was adequately delighted to hear hymns of praise from gods.

She said, “O gods, who do you eulogise? Let me know the objective you wish to attain and want me to …” When the gods looked up, they witnessed a startling scenario.

At that time, from the body of goddess Gauri (Uma), a virgin emerged. As the gods continued to behold the birth of a girl, the holy virgin stood up and spoke to the power of lord Shiva, Shivashakti.

Divine energy in the figure of hallowed virgin said, “O mother, the cruel daityas Shumbha and Nisumbha torture and trouble the created beings, the gods and the goddesses of heavens and therefore, they appear before you to seek protection at the sanctified feet and praise you.”

Holy girl born of the limb of goddess Parvati is Kaushiki. Kaushiki is the image of Sarswati, who later on, destroys demon Shumbha. She is also a symbol of terrific energy and ferocious power of devastation. Because she is born out of the body of goddess Uma, so she is Matangi, the limb of mother, whose other name as told earlier, is Kaushiki

Virgin Matangi said to gods, “Be fearless. I am free. Therefore, without support of anyone, I shall accomplish the sacred work.” She assured the gods and celestial beings, and disappeared from the scene. Kaushiki was an image of Sarswati, who took birth from the body of goddess with the objective to eliminate daityas, who had made lives of gods and goddesses, celestial and created beings wretched

Interestingly, one day, the attendants of demons Chunda and Munda noticed the fascinating virgin goddess and felt extremely delighted. They failed to withstand the divine beauty of the girl and therefore, fell unconscious. After a few moments, regained consciousness, appeared before the king, and narrated each incident from the beginning.

One daitya said, “O great king, we enjoyed glimpses of an amazingly beautiful woman, never seen earlier. She lives on the top of Himalaya and rides a lion.” After daitya Shumbha heard Chunda and Munda, he thought deep and decided to dispatch an emissary Sugreeva to the divine girl with a message.

He asked Sugreeva, “O courier, a beautiful woman lives on one of the peaks of Himalaya. You go and convey a message, make efforts and then, bring the girl.”

Instructions of the demon were clear. Envoy Sugreeva went to Himalaya, appeared before Jagadamba Maheshwari and said, “O holy woman, mighty demon Shumbha of immense authority and valour in the three worlds has sent a letter. Nisumbha is also equally strong and colossal. Therefore, I came with a message. Please listen.”

He told, “O goddess, the lord had said, ‘I defeated lord Indra and various gods in the battleground, took possession of jewels and precious things. O virgin, I enjoy share of oblations and sacrificial offerings of yajnas devotees set apart for gods. Now, the gods do not get offerings meant for the gods of heavens. I agree you are a jewel among the beautiful women. Situated on the top seat of fantastic women you appear magnificent and gorgeous. Therefore, O noblewoman, you accept (us) – Shumbha and Nishumbha – as husbands, with feelings of adoring passion and charm.”

She heard the envoy of daityas. The most beloved queen goddess of Bhutanatha lord Shiva, the great Mahamaya said to Sugreeva, “O envoy, you speak a great truth. I do not find an iota of untruth in what you say but I took a vow. Please listen. You hear what I say. He, who destroys ego and pride, and defeats me in a war, will become my companion and lord. None other can hope to make me his wife. Your lord must bear in mind. I took an irrevocable pledge. Therefore, go and reveal desires and vows before Shumbha and Nishumbha. Then, whatever they feel appropriate they are free to do.” The goddess made intents apparent.

The goddess made clear in terse words but did not cause offence. Sugreeva heard, returned to the lord and related everything. Envoy’s words hurt ego and pride of powerful daityas. The violent and livid demons loved to govern with callous fortitude and nursed ferocious intents. When they heard the message, they looked very angry. Goddess had put up certain conditions, which appeared quite infuriating and embarrassing for daityas. The proposal of Shumbha and Nishumbha and the very suggestions of goddess Mahamaya were the cause of unrestrained fury and anger, and so, the daityas were ready to hit back

Shumbha called a general and said, “O Dhoomraksa, a fine-looking woman lives on the top of Himalaya. You go instantly, bring the woman and if she refuses, use means you think suitable or in whatever way she likes to volunteer so that she comes. O learned asura, do not fear when you bring the girl to the capital. If forced to fight a war then, fight and defeat her and then, bring the woman.”

He issued clear instructions and thus, drew battle lines. Dhoomraksa with an army of sixty thousand asuras journeyed to the peak of Himalaya where she lived alone. Arriving at the mountain, he said, “O woman, come with me because lord Shumbha wants. If you refuse, I shall get you killed. You know I have come with a force of sixty thousand soldiers.

The holy woman said, “O brave asura, the king of daityas sent you. If you kill, then, what I shall do? You will defeat the purpose. It is difficult to go without a war.”

The goddess uttered mild words firmly and soon after, the general of demons Dhoomraksa rushed to catch hold of the goddess. However, the mighty goddess simply whispered a grunt ‘hoon, hoon’ and in a moment, she reduced the general of demons to ashes. The act conferred the sobriquet of Dhoomvati on goddess. She destroyed the enemies of the devotees. After the death and destruction of Dhoomraksa, the angry vehicle of goddess, the mighty lion killed and chewed many asuras. A few escaped death from the paws of lion and ran away. Similarly, the goddess killed another demon Dhoomralochana.

King Shumbha heard about the destruction of generals and the army. He was upset and furious. He gnashed teeth but appeared vulnerable. He decided to send mighty warriors Chunda, Munda and Raktabeej in perfect steadiness. The warriors of demons were unrivalled in strength and aptitude. King Shumbha issued orders and at once, the three generals of daitya saluted, collected fearless and many fully armoured soldiers as was possible, and marched ahead furiously with huge armies and arrived at the top of mountain. They witnessed the goddess ready to fight, whom many powerful soldiers and generals strengthened and followed, and who had attained siddhis in respective fields. The great goddess simply irradiated all directions and regions with the divine light.

Mighty demons said, “O goddess, please come directly to the palace of Shumbha and Nishumbha. Otherwise, we kill you right away and destroy all your vehicles and ganas. Please do not stay back but move ahead quickly. O woman, accept Shumbha as a husband. Even guardians of heavens praise the lord. If you agree to accept Shumbha as husband, you get supreme delight, joys and pleasures of life, not easily available even to gods.”

Goddess Amba smiled and said mildly, “Incomparable Maheshwara is the Supreme lord and he is present everywhere. He is beyond Brahma. He is Sadasiva. Even the Vedas do not know Shiva’s essence (tattva), and then, what to speak of lord Vishnu. I am subtle image of the lord’s nature – prakriti of Sadasiva. How can I accept anyone else as a husband? Passion and love may overcome a lioness and she may crave for union with a lion but she can never make jackal a husband. Similarly, it happens with a she-elephant and a tigress. Do you think they agree to make love to a donkey and…? No, it is not possible. O demons, you are liars. Caught up in the noose of a snake as if death, you feel provoked and therefore, utter impudent and undignified words. It is better you go back to the underworld or if you have strength, then you should fight.”

Daityas heard infuriating threat, thought for some time, and said furiously, “We thought you a weak woman and thus, did not think proper to kill you. However, if you desire a war, then, sit steady and properly on the vehicle and rush…to attack.”

They continued to argue and later on, a bitter war erupted. A dreadful fight began but it was difficult for the asuras to stand before the all-powerful goddess, a storehouse of delusory powers. Goddess Amba killed Chunda, Munda, Raktabeej and many demons but the blessings of divinity, granted demons glorious lokas and thereafter, became devotees of goddess Amba (Parvati).

As expected, the fierce war left many generals of mighty daityas dead and it appeared difficult to believe that they were mere heaps of ashes and that Amba (Parvati) had killed all the generals. It not only looked disturbing but insulting to the mighty daityas Shumbha, the great monk continued to narrate the legendary tale.

Mighty daitya Shumbha learnt about the defeat of the great warriors Chunda, Munda and many more. He was distressed but a vicious thought instigated. He wanted to possess the holy virgin living on the top of Himalaya. Envoys told about the beauty and power of the divine girl but he did not understand the ingress of providence. He deliberated for a long time and then, dispatched mighty ganas to the battleground. Powerful daityas were extremely happy after they heard the directives of lord Shumbha. All soldiers of daityas gathered in a disciplined manner before the mighty daitya. He threw a cautious glance at the armed forces. Satisfaction filled him and he was happy and thereafter, he inspired all the soldiers spiritedly, “I direct Kaalaka, Kalkeya, Maurya, Daurhrada and other asuras to collect soldiers, organise forces properly, and march to the battleground with strong hopes of victory.”

As forces of daityas advanced to the battlefield, Nishumbha and Shumbha ascended the chariots and moved swiftly out of the capital. Strong forces of the courageous and powerful daityas began the journey to the battlefield ready and excited to plunge into the fire of lethal war. The asuras sounded dreadful alertness in the camp of the enemy with loud drum beatings, and rapid and vigorous play on various musical instruments instilled courage, confidence and inspiration.  

Though the soldiers were ready to fight against the enemy, yet they loved life and wished to live peacefully. Those who loved relations and human bonds ran away from the field. The warriors were fully armoured and carried various weapons so that the reserve remained inexhaustible. Armoured with astras-sastras, the intrepid and determined warriors arrived at the battlefield. Many fearsome soldiers and the generals mounted horses and elephants and rushed to the battlefield while many drove chariots with sufficient stock of weapons and war material so that soldiers face no dearth of anything.

Now, the bold soldiers with psyche of fairness and justice were ready to sacrifice in the battlefield. As soon as the kings of daityas reached battlefield, the war began. Very soon, a terrific scenario emerged and the sounds of guns instilled fears in the hearts of gods. Dust and smoke filled the sky and nothing was visible. Total darkness swallowed up as fighting grew in ferocity. Crores of warriors arrived on the scene as fierce fighting erupted and continued unabated, and one saw no sign of early termination of war. Hopes of victory filled every soldier with buoyancy and therefore, the intensity of excitement and the spirit of sacrifice increased every minute, and the war gained momentum. As a result, many soldiers lost lives in the violent war.

The forces of the daityas attacked various battalions of gods with awesome viciousness. Asuras knew to delude the enemy. During the daring combat, many asuras put feet on the heads of the elephants and quickly flew away toward the sky and caused worries and excitement in the army of gods. The goddess observed the army of the enemy attacking gods violently and so, she picked up bow and arrows. Then, a terrific sound of a huge bell filled hearts of enemy with fears. When the terrible vehicle of goddess Jagadamba, a dreadful looking lion saw promptness of the goddess, it shook head and neck with force and thereafter, it roared deafeningly. Loud shrill roars caused panic and dread in the hearts of the already shaky and diffident asuras.

At that time, goddess Shiva stood on the peak of Himalaya adorned with wonderful ornaments and various divine weapons. She appeared dazzling and the aura of celestial beauty spread around. The self-illumined goddess surprised the king of daityas. Nishumba was intelligent and knew the art of comprehending the inner feelings of women, for he was a man, who loved to enjoy intimate alliance with women.

He looked at the divine warrior in the figure of the goddess, who appeared a woman of devastating beauty. He thought, demurred and then, said gently, “O goddess Maheshwari, if a tiny bunch of flowers of malti (sweet smelling white flowers) decorates bodies of beautiful women it stirs hearts, and creates excruciating pain as passions rise high. With such a fascinating body, how you can fight a dreadful war? How do you wish to continue as it assumes hazardous magnitude? Beautiful women should not fight wars.”

Again, after a long-drawn-out thought, he said, “O goddess, listen…and do not fight.” He was imprudent, irrational and indecent in utterances and soon, Nishumbha was silent.

The great goddess listened to the stupid daitya and said angrily, “O foolish asura, why do you talk trash? You fight or go underground.”

In divine glory, self-illumined goddess Shiva listened to the overconfident and impudent provoking and frustrating utterances of daitya, who tried to prevail upon goddess not to indulge in lethal combat and offered eloquent reasons that it was not appropriate if a woman, however brave decided to enter the battleground, the wise sage told.

After he heard challenging goddess, the mighty daitya was furious and therefore, released arrows from the bow in terrific ferocity as if it were raining heavily with no break. The arrows targeted at the goddess overcast the sky and it was nearly dark. It appeared as if rainy season had arrived. Fury and violence excited him and he fought with intensity. He looked mad and extremely desperate. He made use of lethal weapons alternately. The most dreaded weapons of daityashool, pharasa, bhindipal, parigh, bow, bhushusindi, prasa, and ksarpra destroyed everyone, who dared to confront and thus, he continued to rush toward the goddess, the chief enemy. Then, he took up a huge sword in hand and fought.

In terrific rage, Ambika destroyed weapons and chariots, killed horses, elephants, and the battleground presented a disgusting picture as blood flowed down and limbs, heads, torsos, and broken weapons scattered around and finally, a poison dipped arrow killed Nishumbha, he told.

Huge elephants appeared like mountains but the great daitya severely injured the animals and therefore, the powerful creatures ran about in the battleground, as physical agonies appeared to give troubles to the war-elephants. It was not different with war-horses. All flags and flagstaffs decorating the warhorses and elephants began falling on the ground in several fragments. The effect was devastating and did not portend well for the forces of the daityas. Daityas fought bravely but could not stand before the fury of goddess and awesome strong forces. The bodies of the demons looked badly mutilated as limbs and various organs scattered around disfigured, and it was difficult to recognise while wounded bodies with blood flowing out, fell on the ground crying painfully. The horses with severed heads presented a horrible scenario immensely dismaying and grisly.

Mighty goddess Kalika killed many daityas and the terrible vehicle lion gobbled up several asuras. The blood of the fighting and dead soldiers of the armies flowed as if these were little rivers and so everyone was appalled at the ethereal picture. The shocking war continued as many raksasas lost lives, and thus, sent shock waves around. It became difficult for asuras to continue war and still the determination in many infused spirit of fortitude and courage. In terrific rage, Ambika destroyed weapons and chariots, killed horses, elephants, and the battleground presented a disgusting picture as blood flowed down and limbs, heads, torsos, and broken weapons scattered around. She was furious, killed countless daityas, destroyed remaining chariots and weapons, and after the terrific war, Ambika picked up poison-dipped arrows and instantly targeted daitya Nishumbha, cut off his head and at once, he collapsed on the battlefield.

It caused unbearable loss to Shumbha. He witnessed unfortunate deaths of thousands of powerful warriors, who attained martyrdom in the war. Many friends and relations including younger brothers died who boldly stood and fought on the front. Rage and fury originating out of defeat and failure filled Shumbha with antipathy and disgust. A great challenge to him it was, as certainty of defeat loomed large. None was able to kill brave asuras so far and now, of course, all were lying dead. Shumbha with eighty arms, mounted a well decorated, ornamented and largely bejeweled chariot with deadly weapons and rushed to goddess Ambika. He blew terrific conch loudly and then, picked up a bow. He pulled up the string, which sent piercing and deadly sounds around. It was a signal to the enemy that death was certain. Goddess’s lion roared and instilled hair-raising fears in the mind of the enemy.

Deadly and heartbreaking sounds renting the air shuddered and skewered confidence of the forces. For a long time, the sky continued to echo and re-echo fear-instilling sounds. Later on, goddess ridiculed and mocked at the attitude of daityas, who put up strong defiance while inside they trembled and out of fear felt nervous and done up.

After a moment, goddess said to Shumbha, “O daitya, you stay firm in the battleground.”

After he heard defiant and deadly admonition of goddess, the gods cried with one voice, “Glory to the goddess. We salute you O goddess.”

The war cry filled the air. Shumbha stood like a rock when gods raised slogans of praise. Shumbha fumed and fretted and therefore, he hit back, released a massive and mortal energy-filled weapon with many pointed offshoots and from each of the branch an overshadowing fire appeared to burn everything. However, the goddess released a huge missile ulka – a bunch of dazzling light, and so daitya fell on the ground. A rain of sharp and deadly arrows from all sides filled the sky and the battlefield. The goddess cut off the arrows of the daitya into many pieces, and when she released arrows on Shumbha, he split the poisonous missiles into little fragments. Wild ferocity increased with more thunder, noise and violent deaths. Unexpected death of Nishumbha had disheartened a warrior of eighty arms but when he entered the battlefield with the awe-inspiring talent and fortitude to fight, he surprised enemy but it was temporary as slowly he lost everything he had.

Later on, goddess Chandika (Ambika) picked up trident and hit. The blow was deadly and strong and he fell unconscious on the ground with a huge sound that terrified everyone. Strikes of arrows grievously wounded a mountain among the daityas, who got up as the trembling of earth stopped. The wound was fresh and deep and therefore, in anger, the great daitya used magic powers, and was ready to fight with ten thousand arms. Shumbha, with one thousand arms appeared frightening and naturally, gods were scared for a while but it did not discourage the goddess, who knew the death of the daitya even before the preordained annihilation. The mighty daitya assaulted goddess Shiva (the goddess) with extreme ferocity. However, the fearsome discs the demon released were broken into several fragments. After furious and unyielding fighting, daitya appeared injured and exhausted. She did not relent and out of vehemence, she again, picked up deadly trident and attacked. The gigantic daitya collapsed on the ground and the war ended. However, the huge daityas attained a divine status after death, for they enjoyed blessings of Chandika.

After the death of the mighty daityas, all daityas ran away and hid somewhere underground. Goddess Kali killed all asuras who tried to resist but fought valiantly while the great, frightful and angry lion of the goddess devoured many injured and left out demons, for they did not surrender but resisted and made efforts to push back goddess’s forces. Still a few other raksasas ran away in search of shelter wherever possible in all the ten directions including the subterranean worlds. Now, the water of the rivers was clear and clean, and nature was calm as the blowing of cool breeze symbolised and it touched softly and caringly. The sky appeared clear and deep blue. No fears in the three worlds gave any trouble to anyone, and the saintly men and sages began to organise yajnas to propitiate gods and goddesses. Indra and the gods of heavens were happy.

No one howsoever strong may be, cannot escape death. Ancient history is full of instances where many underwent tapa and penance for thousands of years and sought blessings of immortality from Supreme Brahma but later on, encountered death. If one thinks to go beyond the borders of wisdom and intellect of the Creator, it is impossible. He cannot think of the mysterious ways of Supreme lord. Supreme Lord does not go beyond the ordained resolution. To avoid death at the hand of created beings or gods is possible but not forever. Death is predetermined. Therefore, the supreme Lord confers boons, which apparently appear to grant eternal life but when death comes, it arrives in a different way.

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