A Summary written by my Guest-writer Kissoon Behari continues from last week’s post. In today’s post he deals with Section Two of the Devi Mahatmyam. Chapters 2 to 4 fall under this Section which are dedicated to Mahalakshmi. The final part will appear in this blog on 7th November, 2012.
Mahisasura was a powerful demon who conquered the devas and occupied the throne of Indra, the king of the heavens. The gods, headed by Lord Brahma, complained to Lord Visnu and Lord Shiva who were outraged. From their faces as well as from the bodies of the gods there issued forth great masses of light which combined and formed into the Devi. The gods gave Her weapons identical to their own, as well as jewels and ornaments, insignia, and a lion to ride on.
The Devi pervaded the three worlds. Her terrible roar filled the whole universe. It consoled the devas but agitated the asuras. Her sighs became Her battalions and fought the demon hosts. Although Mahisasura had many valiant generals in his army, the Devi destroyed them all.
As his army was being destroyed, Mahisasura assumed his buffalo form. The Devi bound the demon with Her noose, but he quitted his buffalo form and became a lion. As soon as She cut off his head, he appeared as a man armed with a sword. When She struck him with Her arrows, he changed into an elephant. As he tugged at Her lion, She cut off his trunk, and the demon resumed his buffalo form.
The Mother then quaffed a divine drink, leapt upon the demon, pressed his neck with Her foot and struck him with Her spear. Mahisasura half issued forth in his real form from the buffalo mouth. The Devi struck off his head with Her great sword. The demon army perished and the gods rejoiced.
Lord Indra and all the devas, with concentrated minds, sang praises to the Devi. This hymn is known as the “Sakradi Stutih”. The Divine Mother was greatly pleased and granted them a boon: Whenever they would think of Her, She would destroy their calamities. And if mortals praised Her with these hymns, She would be gracious towards them and grant them all prosperity.
SECTION TWO – CHAPTERS 2 – 4
On the evolution ladder, we human beings stand the highest. But having evolved from the animal world, we quite evidently still possess some animalistic tendencies and qualities. Evolution may have stopped at the physical/physiological level, but continues at the psycho-social and spiritual levels. This is essentially a struggle between the lower man in whom animal tendencies are predominant and higher man wanting to express his divinity. This conflict is represented to us in the drama of Mahisaura.
“Mahisa” means a buffalo, an animal which loves filth and mud, and enjoys being dirty. He thus represents the warped mind in the pursuit of shameless pleasures, one whose life is unregulated and wild, and is characterised by indiscrimination, indolence, frivolity, and delusion.
The Devi is expressed through the combined light that emanates from the devas themselves. It is the power of the Devi Herself that is in them. Thus it is not that the devas ‘created’ the Devi; rather, it is that the Devi who is the sum total of the powers of the Devas (and much more!) revealed Herself.
The implication is that to control or overcome our lower nature, one has to use the combined positive resources that lie within one – else each one will be conquered just as the devas were expelled from their heavens one by one. We should remember that while the devas occupy their own heavens, they are also resident in our bodies. Thus Lord Surya is in the eyes, Indra in the hands, etc. (See here an informative article well tabulated)
During the battle with the Devi, Mahisasura changes from one form to another. It is a dramatic portrayal of the evolution process and tendencies that accompany it. Thus, the elephant represents lust, the lion anger. Finally, a man half emerges from the buffalo body. This is the emergence of the higher man. The Devi cuts off his head, that is, She cuts off the head of the ignorant man and by Her grace bestows higher knowledge.