Saturday, August 13, 2011

Shakambari Devi: Killing of Durgama

In the olden times there lived an asura called Durgama(son of Ruru). In order to defeat the devas he hatched an evil plan. He realized that the oblations of ghee given to Agni(fire) during a sacrifice along with the chanting of Vedic mantras energized the devas. He therefore came to the conclusion that in the absence of the Vedas the devas would no longer be continually energized and therefore would gradually grow weak with time . He performed severe austerities in order to please the creator Lord Brahma. Pleased with his sincerity and devotion Brahma deva offered to grant him a boon. The asura then asked for the boon that all the Vedas should come into his possession and the boon was granted by Brahma. 
Soon the Brahmins forgot all the Vedas and as foreseen by Durgama all the devas lost their powers and their divine lustre. Durgama then took over the heavens and drove out the celestials. It also stopped raining on earth as the homams which were responsible for ensuring regular rainfall were not being performed any longer. Chaos and anarchy reigned the earth as famines and droughts disrupted all forms of life. With drudgery and despondency reaching new heights with every passing day the sages, burdened by oppression, fear and suffering, took shelter in the caves of mount Sumeru. With no other recourse left the sages began to pray to the Highest Devi, the primal force(Adya Shakthi), the one who eternally remains in the company of the most powerful and supreme deity Maha Shambhunatha.
Upon hearing the desperate cries of her children, the divine mother, who responds at once to the call of her devotees, filled with compassion, gave the sages her darshan. She had a blue body with about hundred eyes all over her body(Satakshi). She had four hands. One of them was holding arrows while the other was holding a bow. The other hand was holding a lotus while in another one she was holding a lot of juicy fruits and vegetables(Shakambari). She distributed these fruits and vegetables to everyone and appeased their hunger. Then for nine consecutive days she cried ,with an endless stream of tears flowing down from all the hundred eyes over her body thereby replenishing all the dried up sources of water with the indispensable elixir of life. Thus all the lands became green again ,throbbing with life.
Upon hearing about the appearance of the Devi, the asura Durgama intending to launch an all out assault brought out his entire army of 1000 akshouhinis and marched ahead to meet the devi in combat, with a huge uproar. The Devas ,the Brahmins and the Devi confronted the asura army. The sky was covered with a flurry of arrows which seemed to cast a shadow on the sun. The devi then cast a protective circle around the devas and the Brahmins and stood outside the circle. Multiple forms then emerged from the devi. In an instant the battle field was filled with numerous devis:Kali,Tara,Dhumavati,Bagalamukhi,Chinnamasta,Bhairavi,Matangi,Kamala,Bhuvaneshwari,Tripura Sundari,Tujala Devi,Mohini,Kamakshi,Jambhini,Guhya Kalis and many others. 

Among these sakthis the first ten are prominently known as the Dasa Mahavidyas. With these innumerable number of devis combating the rakshasa army, they were soon obliterated. Then the devi faced the most powerful of them all, Durgama. In order to restore the state of order and peace back to the earth, the Devi unleashed a fatal array of arrows, charged with her divine energy, upon Durgama and thus put an end to the imbalance created by this fiend.
As the devi had killed Durgama she acquired the name Durga. All the devas including the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra, began to sing glorious hymns praising the Supreme Shakthi. The devi thus restored peace to the three realms and returned the Vedas to the Brahmins reminding them to always remember her, sing her praises and read her glorious deeds.
Reading about the glorious deeds of the Divine Mother gives the reader the benefit of performing several hundred Ashvamedha Yagyas. The one who reads this story or narrates it will be blessed with all kinds of prosperity and happiness in his life. Also the one who remembers and chants the names Satakshi and Durga will be able to unveil the Maya around him ,realize the ultimate truth and will attain Moksha . 
Prior to narrating the story of Sri Satakshi Devi Vyasa(the narrator) makes a specific mention of its ethereal and consecrating nature. This story is to be told only to those who are genuinely interested in knowing about the lilas of the Primeval Shakthi. Those who immerse themselves in the consecrating waters of this episode contained in the Puranic lore are indubitably the chosen ones.
In Devi Mahatmyam it is mentioned that these forms of the Devi viz. Shakambari and Satakshi are rare and therefore a secret fit to be disclosed only to a select few.
Salutations to the Divine Mother who has used my humble self as a tool to relay this great and holy episode, filled with divine nectar, to everyone using this platform.

Monday, May 9, 2011


 Previously we had spoken about the story behind Lalithasahasranama in which we saw the destruction of Bhandasura by the devi herself. The evil rakshasa called Mahishasura existed before Bhandasura who was also slain by the devi who took the form of Durga. There is a subtle difference between these two samharas. While Mahishasura symbolised raw evil Bhandasura symbolised a more metamorphosed form of evil. Bhandasura represented the evil that had evolved from its nascent callowness to its matured and more subtle form, masquerading under the name of ego. This additional characteristic of evil made it formidable and demanded of the devi a more powerful form. It is this  anava or the I factor which we must try to conquer in order to realise the Paramatman. It is one among the triple impurities present in humans that we must get rid of inorder to transcend to higher planes of spirituality.
 Thiruvadhigai Veerattanam is situated on the banks of the river Kedilam,23 km from Vizhupuram in a place called Panruti. The main deity of the temple is Lord Shiva known as Veeratteshwarar. He is a svyambhu lingam (natural formation) with 16 faces(konams).The presiding female deity is goddess Tripurasundari also known as Periyanaayaki.The sthala vriksha of this temple is the Konrai tree. There are separate shrines for Vinayaka,Tripurantakar,Bhairavar,Murugan,Dakshinamurthy,Tirunavukkarasar and Tilakavathi Ammayaar.
Legend has it that it was at this very place where Lord Shiva destroyed the three floating cities, an incident popularly known as the Tripura Samharam.Eons ago,there lived an asura named Tarakasura who had three sons Vidhyunmaali,Taarakkaksha and Kamalaaksha. By virtue of their rigorous penance they obtained a boon from Brahma the creator that they could not be conquered by anyone save somebody who could destroy their three impregnable fortresses of copper,silver and gold simultaneously. Though they were very peaceful by nature yet Indra was jealous of their prosperity and somehow wanted to destroy them. By propagating vicious lies of a new dharma which ruled out the existence of hell and heaven ,Indra tricked the Asuras into revealing their truly hideous nature and thus they created a state of anarchy in all the three worlds as they lost their fear of sanction and ceased to perform their regular worship of the Shiva Linga and the Saaligrama. There upon the devas approached Lord Shiva and sought refuge under him. The gods then embarked on a quest to vanquish the three sons of Tarakasura. Lord Shiva rode a chariot in which Brahma was the charioteer and the four vedas the steeds. The sun and moon were its wheels. Finally Lord Shiva created a bow from the Meru mountain with Vasuki as the bow string. Lord Vishnu became his arrow and Agni became the arrow's blazing tip. Finally in order to restore order and peace to the three worlds Lord Shiva destroyed all the three fortresses simultaneously by releasing the arrow which reduced the three cities to ashes instantaneously.Another account tells us that Lord Shiva destroyed the three fortresses by his smile thus incinerating the three asuras who are in reality symbolic of the triple impurities in human beings:ego,karma and maya. Only when we destroy these three malas/impurities i.e. Anava Mala,Karma Mala and Maya Mala in us we can become recipients of Lord Shiva's divine grace and compassion. Needless to say Thiruvadhigai Veerattanam is  the best place for us to go when we want to cleanse our soul and rid it of these imperfections.It is only at this very sacred spot the Lord himself mitigates these maladies that corrupt the human soul.
The temple is built like a ratha(chariot). This is to symbolize the chariot which Lord Shiva used for Tripura Samhara. 

The temple has been visited by Thirugnana Sambandhar Thirunavukkarasar  and Sundarar. Appar( better known as Tirunavukkarasar) was born in a Saivite family. He lost his parents when he was young and his only living relative was his sister Thilakavati Ammaiyar whose only aim was to take care of her brother.  Thilagavathi Ammaiyar was a staunch saivite while Appar turned to Jainism much to her discontent. Once Appar suffered from a severe stomach ache and the Jain monks were not able to cure him. No amount of mantras seemed to have any effect on him. Appar was taken to his sister in Thiruvadigai 

and he begged her to cure him. Thilagavathi 

Ammaiyar took her brother to the temple. 

Taking some holy ash, she rubbed it on his 

stomach and asked him to ingest some. He found 

immediate relief and he sang his first padigam in 

the Verattaneshwarar temple and Lord

 Shiva,pleased with his singing ,conferred upon 

him the title 'Navukku Arasar'(the king of the 

tongue) in recognition of his literary and 

linguistic prowess.

This temple is therefore said to be the sole 

recourse for people suffering from 

gastrointestinal ailments, ulcers, and jaundice.

Even today when people with such ailments sing 

the song 'Kutraiyina Varu..' with devotion in

 their hearts Lord Shiva immediately comes to 

their rescue. By the therapeutic gaze of the Lord 

these ailments are obliterated .

 Oh Maha Shambhu we seek your divine feet.

 May the aura of your infinite wisdom and your

 boundless grace engulf all of your creations

 conferring upon them prosperity and happiness.


(verses 1-10)

Thursday, January 20, 2011




Goddess Parashakthi then appeared before them holding a book in one hand and a rosary of beads in the other. Her  face was cool and radiant like the moon.When Maha Shambhunathar was beseech ed by relentless requests from  the Gods ,he told them the way to appease  Devi Parashakthi. He told the celestial beings that the Maha Yaga had to be performed and that he himself would conduct the Yagya  for the sake of restoring a state of order and peace in the Universe. Saying thus he asked the celestial beings to return to devaloka and assured them that the present state of anomie was just a temporary one ,thus assuaging their fears. Lord Shambhunatha then entered the Universe in the form of the seven layered Vayu. One of the seven cosmic oceans that  had dried up was used as the altar and after Vayu blew away the remaining water in it ,Chidagni was used to kindle the sacrificial flame.And thus the great Yagya was conducted with the six great comic oceans being offered as six  drops of ghee into the altar. The two pralaya meghas(clouds) were used ,as spoons,to give the aahuti(offering). The creations/shrishtis were classified into five types and all of these five types of creations were offered to the great sacrificial fire as sacrificial animals.The stars festooned the corners of the altar in place of flowers which are normally used  for such decorative purposes  in Yagyas. Finally Lord Shambhunatha asked all the gods to jump into the sacrificial fire.


After a moments hesitation, all the gods, including the trinity and their spouses, jumped into the fire.Then out of the fire emerged the Devi in the form of Lalitha Tripurasundari seated on a golden plate. She was in the form of a sixteen year old girl and the age sixteen has been chosen deliberately as the Devi is an amalgamation of the powers of the 16 nithya devis. The goddess was seated on a chariot called Chakra Raja Ratha. She was armed with multiple weapons. She then created a form of a Parabrahman from within herself called Kameshwara  and married him. Then step by step she created Brahma and Lakshmi from her left eye,Vishnu and Parvathi from her right eye and Shiva-Saraswathi from her third eye. Lakshmi,Saraswathi and Parvathi represent the Saatvik,Raajasik and Taamasik aspects of the Super Goddess’s power.She then started the process of creation all over again as the sanctity of her creations had been desecrated by Bhandasura’s evil. One by one, she created the Vedas,the Sun,the Moon,fire,darkness,the nine planets,the penal code,poetries,plays,shastras,mountains and so on and so forth.She then created Bala Devi from her heart,Goddess Matangi from her intellect and Goddess Varahi from her ego.She also created goddess Ashwarudha from her pasam and Devi Sampatkari from her ankusha. Later on she created the Goddess Nakuleshwari (Vaageshwari)from her cheeks and Goddess Gayatri from her Kundalini  Shakthi.



She made Mantrini Devi(Matangi) her prime minister and gave her a ring. With Ashwarooda Devi riding Aparijit(a horse)  , Sampatkari Devi seated on Ranakolahalam(an elephant),Goddess Varahi riding  her chariot Kirichakra and Mantrini Devi  riding her chariot Geyachakra, Goddess Lalithaparameshwari marched to battle with her innumerable number of Yoginis. Then from the bird in Mantrini Devi’s hand appeared Dhanurveda  who gave her a quiver called akshaya(unlimited).The deafening stentorian of Lalitha Devi made the evil forces tremble with fear. Her clarion call was in fact ringing a death knell to the asura clan.When the news of Lalitha Devi’s march to battle reached the capital of Bhandasura’s Kingdom(Shunyaka) Vishanga and Vishukra were contriving about a nefarious plot to surreptitiously assess the strength of  the Devi’s Army. However the conceited Bhandasura dismissed their well founded fears as meaningless and silly. Meanwhile he instructed Kutilaksha to lead the forces and asked his priests to perform abhichara homa(black magic). With Kutilaksha appointing Durmada to lead the army and he ,riding a camel ,was engaged in a fierce duel with Sampatkari Devi who finally killed him.

Later Ashwarudha Devi faced a deadly onslaught from his enraged elder brother Kurunda.Finally she delivered a fatal blow with her spear. Later they unleashed the lethal serpent army upon the Devi Sena and at that moment Goddess Nakuleshwari appeared riding an eagle and subdued  the serpent arsenal by creating a vast army of mongooses which gobbled up the new born serpents.She killed the Nagarakshasas by unleashing the deadly Garudastram.Then the devis were faced by a new kind of predicament. Rakshasas born to Kikasa  had the ability to blind their opponents in battle by virtue of a boon that they had received from the Sun god that he would reside in their eyes.In the face of this adversity Varahi’s attendant Tiraskarini Devi riding her aeroplane Tamoliptam blinded these asuras by deploying her Andhanastram.Then Bhandasura’s brother Vishanga with his predilection for vulpine thoughts decided to attack the Devi Sena from the rear. And simultaneously Kutilaksha attacked them at the front. Even though the Devis were taken aback by this stealthy attack they immediately recovered from the shock and began to attack the armies fiercely. By the light provided by Jvalamalini and Vahnivasini the Nithya devis were able to discern the asuras hiding in the dark and thus exterminated them.The devi was extremely pleased by their pugilistic skills and their pageantry. Jvalamalini then made a wall of fire around the Devi to protect her. The next day Bhandasura in desperation sent  his 30 sons to battle all of who were killed by Bala Devi. Ambal however was very disturbed by their sly warfare. Vishukra then planted Vighna yantras at strategic positions in the fire wall and as a result of the inebriating influence of his dark magic there was a sporadic outbreak of callousness,apathy and laxity among the devi’s attendants. Finally devi summoned her son Ganesha who destroyed these yantras and thus broke the influence of the evil imprecation. Later the asuras tried to create a feeling of intense thirst among the devi sena and to counter this cunning technique Varahi Devi summoned Mayasamudra who relieved the Devi Sena of their thirst by  showering  liquor rains. Finally Vishanga was killed by Varahi with her pestle and Vishukra was killed by Mantrini Devi.


At last Bhandasura faced Devi Lalitha Tripurasundari herself in combat. He then invoked the pent up dark energy inside him and from him emerged all the asuras like Hiranyakashipu,Hiranyaksha,Raavana,Kumbhakarna etc. The Ten incarnations of Vishnu then came out of the Devi’s fingernails to kill these rakshasas. Then sensing the swirling vortex of negative energy inside him she finally unleashed the Pasupatastra which annihilated  both Bhandasura and his capital Shunyaka. Though she obliterated the asura yet Mahishasura and Bhandasura are merely  representatives of our ego and our evil qualities. They are the figures of evil created by the coalescence of the dark energy inside  us all.
Thus even today the battle continues as the divine forces of the Devi fight against the malevolence that stains our minds and our hearts. As her children we must ensure our divine mother’s victory by fostering the sublime essence of divinity in our hearts and jettison away our garrison of bad thoughts thereby making it a suitable place where the Almighty can reside. Those who have immersed their heart and soul in the consecrating waters of our divine mother’s history will be rid of all the sins that they might have committed in the past and will be recipients of our divine mother’s boundless grace and compassion.

Monday, January 17, 2011


The asuras reduced their body size to an atomic level.Like air-borne viruses they entered the bodies of all the gods and goddesses and drained their body fluids.
All the heavenly beings began to loose their luster and also their ability to procreate. These air-borne rakshasas in minuscule form also began to affect other life forms in a similar way.
All the gods,even the trinity and their spouses, were not spared of this agony. Finally all of them decided to take refuge under Vishnu. When they approached him they found that he and Lakshmi too were afflicted by the foul play of Bhandasura. When Lord Vishnu was asked about how Bhandasura could be stopped he revealed the existence of a supreme being called Maha Shambhu who was all knowing and all powerful. He told them that Maha Shambhu and his spouse Parashakthi  were the only two beings in the entire universe who were not affected by Bhandasura's noxious influence. Maha Shambhu otherwise known as Adi Shiva was the highest among the highest. He was the embodiment of supreme consciousness. The immaculate sheen of his purity , his unparalleled intellect and his unfathomable power engulfed all his creations from the tiniest of microorganisms to the largest of living beings and bathed them in the divine light of his wisdom. Being present along with his consort Parashakthi in every atom he is a witness to all our deeds.Destiny ,that controls even  the life of Gods,bows its head down in submission in front of this Lord of the Universe.Lord Vishnu concluded that Maha Shambhunathar alone could provide a panacea to this predicament. Saying thus Vishnu along with all the other gods traveled to the edge of the universe to meet Lord Shambhunatha.

Having reached the place the gods along with their vast arsenal made an effort in making a small hole through the wall so that they could enter  Shambhunathar's fortress. After trying for almost a year they finally manged to gain entry into the fortress. Upon entering they prayed to Maha Shambhunathar to appear in front of them. Lord Maha Shambhunatha then gave them his darshan. His form resembled that of Lord Shiva i.e. he too had three eyes, a kapala (skull) in one hand and a shoola in the other. Upon seeing the gods he smiled and told them that though he used to be in the form of Chidaksha yet he appeared before them in a different form so as to appease the basal intellects of all those who needed a form for the perception of anyone/anything. Looking at the woebegone countenances of the gods he told them that they all had to learn an important lesson from the incident. It was that no one should ever interfere with the course of destiny lest their actions may trigger the chain reaction setting in motion a chain of events that would have horrendous manifestations just like the birth of Bhandasura in their case. He further elaborated that Lord Shiva had tampered with the very fabric of fate when he burnt Manmadhan  to ashes. It was destined that Manmadhan would cast his arrow of lust at Shiva and that as a result of it  Lord Muruga would be born to Lord Shiva and Devi Parvathi  who would slay Tarakasura in order to restore peace.

He explained to the Gods that pralaya or the deluge was of three kinds 
1.Kaama Pralaya
2.Aavantara Pralaya
3.Maha Pralaya
He explained to them that Lord Vishnu would save them from Aavantara Pralaya. He also told them that the present problem came under Kaama Pralaya and that Devi Parashakthi alone could save them in such a situation. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Story Behind Lalithasahasranama


In an age when there was a constant power struggle between the devas and asuras ,there lived an asura of the name Tarakasura.By virtue of his penance he obtained a boon from the creator,Brahma himself, that he could only be killed by a son born to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi. Having obtained this boon he began to harass the devas. The troubled devas decided to take matters into their own hands and appointed the God of Love Manmadhan to the task of disturbing Lord Shiva from his  tapas by arousing amorous feelings in him towards his consort  Parvathi so that the prophecy may come true and that they may beget a son who would slay Tarakasura. Despite the dire warnings issued by his wife, Rathi, Manmadhan proceeded to the spot where Shiva was meditating and aimed his arrow of lust at the Lord.

 Sensing Manmadhan's presence and enraged by the blasphemous outrage that he had perpetrated Lord Shiva reduced him to ashes. Meanwhile one of Lord Shiva's ganas of the name Chitrakarman modeled a human form of Manmadhan's ashes and brought it to the Lord. The moment Lord Shiva set his eyes upon it, it sprang to life and upon the advice given by Chitrakarman  he recited Rudram with great devotion in order to please Lord Shiva. . Indeed the ways of fate are mysterious and inconceivable.

Immensely pleased by his devotion Lord Shiva appeared before him and granted him two boons. The first one being that he would rule the earth for over 60,000 years and the second that at any instance of combat he would acquire half of his opponent's power .On witnessing the Lord conferring these boons upon  him Brahma screamed Bhand meaning shame in Sanskrit. Thus he  acquired the name Bhandasura.

   From the ashes of  Manmadhan came Bhandasura's 2 brothers Vishukra and Vishanga along with thousands of other demons. Having established his kingdom at Shunyaka he decided to torment the gods.

To be continued...