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Shri Durga Navarathri Vrat Story Nav Durga The Devi Mahatmya
Nav Chandi Durga Saptashati Legendary festival of Dassera

The Devi Mahatmya
Chapter [ I  II  III  IV  V  VI  VII  VIII  IX  X  XI  XII  XIII ]

Madhu and Katabha

Once Lord Vishnu withdrew His power of Maya and went into a Yoga Nidra (sleep). The whole Universe at that time was dissolved in the causal waters. Brahma, the creative power of the Lord had also gone to sleep. The earth had been broken up and was floating around in the causal waters; these pieces of dirt lodged themselves in the ears of the Lord. He swept these out with His fingers. That dirt, because of the Lord's touch sprang into life and became enormous demons 'Asuras'. They were called Madhu and Kaitabh. They attacked Brahma. The latter invoked the Divine Mother to wake Vishnu. The Lord took the Asuras and placed them on His thighs and cut their heads off.

The Lord then created the earth with the fat (Medas) of the demons. That is the reason for the earth being called 'Medini' it is believed that the earth is situated in the thighs in the Cosmic Body of the Lord. It is interesting to note that the earth was created again from the fat of the same demons, Madhu and Kaitabh.

Thus ends the first chapter of Devi Mahatyma entitled the Tamasik Manifestation which reveals that even the position of Brahma is not free from fear and misery.


The second chapter of the Devi Mahatmya is entitled the extermination of the Mahisha's army and the third chapter deals with the slaying of the demon Mahisha.

Mahishaasura was a buffalo-headed demon. He was granted a boon whereby he would be protected from anyone. Intoxicated by the above gift, he set out to conquer the world. Mahishaasura defeated Indra, the king of the gods. Indra implored Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh to help him. The Divine Trio amalgamated their Shakti (power) and created Durga. Ma Durga fought Mahishaasura for 9 days and beheaded him on the 10th day. The 9 days are those of Navratri and the 10th victorious day is called Vijaydashami. A point to note is that as Mahishaasura was attacked, the latter would change its forms to elephant, bull, buffalo, until ultimately it is killed. The buffalo also represents the base animal instinct in a human being. Goddess Durga is powerful enough to control Evil that comes in disguise. She ends this tyranny and protects Her devotees.

These transformations of Maahishaasura also denote the fickle mind and different desires that manifest in some manner or another. The Trident that Mother uses to destroy the Impure is a 3-pronged weapon, which protects the mental, intellectual and physical aspects of life. Her sword cuts the evil of ignorance. Her bell drives away unholy thoughts and the twang of Her bow instills alertness in Her devotees.

The second chapter explains the Devi's Rajasic manifestation that even the position of the Devi, the immortals also is not above misery.

The fourth chapter deals with the hymns of Sakra and others. The sage Medha instructs Suratha the king, and Samadhi the Vaisya in the glories of the Goddess. The sage was narrating the Devi's Rajasic manifestation. Emerging from the splendour of the Gods, the Devi killed the mighty demon Mahisha. The grateful Devas then sang the praises of the Devi.

The fifth chapter is the Dialogue between Devi and the Messenger. Presently the sage is describing the Devi's Satvic manifestation. The two demons known as Sumbha and Nisumbha engaged themselves in severe penance without any food, while quite young, with the terrible intent of conquering the three worlds. They chose the sacred Pushkara, which purifies all the place of their penance and they performed penance for long ten thousand celestial years. Pleased with their penance, the Omnipotent Brahma then bestowed on them boons they had wished for. With the arrogance born of the strength of the boons there was none to check or resist their doings. They robbed Indra of his three worlds and his share of the sacrifices. They took over the power and privileges of the Sun, the Moon, of Kubera and Varuna.

The Devas unable to bear any more the oppression inflicted by Sumbha and Nisumbha took refuge at the Devi's feet and sang her praises. Pleased at their hymns, the Devi emerging out of Parvati's physical sheath and assuming a Satvic form, assured the Devas that she would kill the demons and protect them. And then the Devi spent a long time in the Himalayas awaiting the exhaustion of the good fortune of the Asuras. During that period, Chanda and Munda, followers of Sumbha and Nisumbha happened to see the Devi and were struck by her extraordinary beauty. They conveyed the news to their master. Sumbha became enamoured of her and sent Sugriva as his messenger to the Devi. He delivered his master's message to the Devi. She refused the offer. The messenger returned engraged and reported the failure of his mission.

Dhoomra-Lochana and Chanda Munda

The sixth and seventh chapter is the killing of Dhoomra-lochana and Chanda Munda.

Ma then proceeded to annihilate Dhoomra- Lochana. The latter was a powerful general of the terrible Asura, Sumbha. Mother uttered the sound 'Hum' and the demon turned to ashes by the powerful vibration of the sound.

The form of Ma Kali who emerged from the forehead of the angry face of the Mother killed the Asuras Chanda and Munda. Chanda means a person who is short-tempered and Munda means a shaven-headed man. Together they imply the anger of a champion fighter. Because of this victory over Chanda and Munda, Kali Mata is known as Chamunda.


The eight chapter is the killing of Raktabeeja.

Hearing the news of the death of Chanda and Munda, the infuriated King Sumbha mobilized the Asuric forces and surrounded the Mother from all sides. Then, from the Great Devas (Spiritual Beings) emerged Powers which entered the Form of the Mother.

  1. From Brahma, emerged the power called Brahmaani.
  2. From Lord Shiva, emerged Maheshwari and Veer Bhadra.
  3. From Lord Shiva's son Kartikeya, emerged the power of Kaumari.
  4. From Lord Vishnu emerged the power of Vaishnavi, Vaaraahi and Naarasimhi.
  5. From Indra emerged the power of Indraani.

Raktabeeja was the son of Krodhaavati, the sister of Sumbha and Nisumbha. Krodha means anger. Raktabeeja was an Asura who enjoyed a unique blessing. If a drop of blood were to drop from his body and touch the earth, then a demon of his might and form would spring from it. So if he were to get wounded during battle, the drops of blood would give rise to a thousand demons like himself. It is for the above reason that Kali spread her tongue so that she could suck Raktabeeja's blood before it touched the earth. Raktabeeja fell on the ground dead as his body was completely drained of blood.

Sumbha And Nisumbha

Chapter 9 deals with the killing of Nisumbha and chapter 10 deals with the killing of Sumbha.

Finally Sumbha and Nisumbha were slain by Mother Saraswati. Ma Saraswati stands for knowledge and Wisdom. Knowledge and Wisdom are forever victorious over Ignorance and delusion.

The first 3 days of 'Navratra' are dedicated to 'Ma Kali' to annihilate the enemies within The next 3 days are dedicated to 'Ma Laxmi' and the last 3 days are dedicated to Ma Saraswati. After 9 days of struggle, Ma Durga beheaded Mahishaasura on the 10th day. This victorious day is called Vijaydashmi. On this day Shri Ram killed the 10 headed Ravana. This day is known as Dassera.

On the 10th day a Bonfire is lit to burn the Self-arrogating Ego. So on this Vijaydashmi day or call it Dassera if you wish let us also sound the bugle of Victory over our struggle with our base nature tendencies.

But how do we do that? Lord Krishna advises the Spiritual seeker in the Geeta, "Verily this divine Maya of mine made up of the three gunas is difficult to cross over. Those who take refuge in Me, they alone cross over it". (VII-14)

Chapter 11 deals with the hymns to Narayani. When the great Demon Sumbha was killed, the Devas, having gained what they sought, were jubilant and they illumining the quarters with the beams of their blooming face, started to sing the glories of the Devi, who is the inspirer of all actions of all the creatures. The Devi granted the Devas the boon of removal of all the miseries of all the three worlds and destruction of their enemies. She also indicated about her future incarnations.

The Devi narrated that during the reign of Vaivaswata Manu, in the twenty-eight yuga-cycle she would destroy two terrible demons by name Sumbha and Nisumbha when she would be born in the family of Nanda as the daughter of Yasoda, residing in the Vindhya mountains.

In the form of Raktadantika- the red toothed one she would chew the terrible demons the sons of Viprichitti. Chewing the terrible demons, her teeth would then become red as the pomegranate flower.

Again in the form of Satakshi, the hundred-eyed Devi she would come. When beings become acutely afflicted for want of water due to the absence of rain for a hundred years, in response to the prayers of the sages, she would be born in a super-human manner. She would create Saka, herbs, capable of sustaining life, shall look after all the worlds till the rains fall will be known as Sakambhari.

At that time, during the drought she would kill the demon Durgama hence she is known as Durgadevi.

Again in order to protect the sages when the demon called Aruna oppresses the three worlds intolerably she would take the form of a Bhramara, a big black bee and accompanied by innumerable black bees would be called as Bhramari.

Chapter 12 deals with the glories of Devi story and the final chapter 13 deals with the granting of boons to Suratha and Vaisya.

The sage Markandeya said to the sage Kroushtuki: O sage Kroushtuki, hearing these words of wisdom from the Rishi Medha. The king Suratha, already deprived of his kingdom became relieved of his attachment to the kingdom, prostrated before the high-soul sage Sumedha and went to the Sahya mountains to engage himself in penance. The Vaisya Samadhi also being rid of his attachments on hearing the advice of the sage prostrated before the master and went away to Sahya to do tapas. Both of them performed severe penance repeating the Devi Sukta. The king was craving for worldly position repeated the Shodasakshari Mantra- the mantra with sixteen letters, by which he was initiated by the sage. The Vaisya who was totally disenchanted with the world repeated the Tryakshari Mantra, the mantra of three letters, which he had received from the sage.

The king and the Vaisya performed tapas with a reduced diet, later they stopped food completely. Their mind was firmly fixed on the Devi. They gave offerings soaked in blood drawn from their own bodies to Devi's attendants.

Chandika the mother of the Universe became pleased with them, who were worshipping her constantly with one pointed devotion for three years, appeared before them to grant whatever they want. The king prayed for undisturbed rulership and the Vaisya chose only wisdom because his mind had become detached from worldly enjoyments, he was also possessed of discrimination. He was endowed with detachment and discrimination. Attachment to his body and those of his kin i.e. the sense of I and Mine, he desired to be rid of. He prayed for supreme spiritual wisdom.

The boons were granted - the king would destroy his enemies and regain his kingdom, which will remain under him without any disturbances. Again in the next birth he would have unbroken kingship. He would take birth again as the son of the Sun God and would become Manu by the name of Savarnaka. By doing his duty as the patriarch of mankind he would in due course attain to salvation.

The Vaisya was granted wisdom, which would lead him to salvation.

After narrating the birth, reign and glories of the first seven Manus, the sage Markandeya narrated the history of the next, that is, of the eight Manu Savarnaka to the sage Kroushtuki as illustration of the glories of the Devi.

Thus ends the thirteenth chapter of the Devi Mahatmya entitled the granting of boons to Suratha and Vaisya, in the course of the narration of the history of the eight Manu Savarnaka, in the Markandeya Purana, by the sage Markandeya to the sage Kroushtuki.


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