Glimpses of The Devi Bhagavatam: 02. VISHNU OUTWITS TWO DEMONS



2. Vishnu Outwits Two Demons

The sage Suta went on narrating the episodes of bygone times to the other sages. “The power of the Divine Mother is infinite. People worship many gods. But from where do the gods derive their strength? It is from the Divine Mother, the Supreme Shakti,” said Suta, and he went on to illustrate his point:

There was a time when even Vishnu, the great God who sustains the universe, was lying as an infant on a banyan leaf that floated in the Sea of Consciousness. In that condition he had no memory of his past, nor any knowledge of the future. He wondered and desired to know who he was. It was in her infinite campassion that the Divine Mother had manifested before him. At her sight, Knowledge flashed in the infant Vishnu’s mind. The Divine Mother is the repository of all knowledge, love and strength.

Once when everything was water, two demons, Madhu and Kaitav, had a glimpse of the Divine Mother. Inspired by the vision, they spent a thousand years in prayer to invoke Her Grace. At last the Divine Mother was pleased and appeared before them and offered them a boon.

“Grant that we would die only when we wish to die,” the demons begged of Her.

“Your wish is granted,” said the Divine Mother and disappeared.

The two demons grew so proud that they soon challenged Vishnu to a fight. When Madhu was tired, he took rest while Kaitav continued to fight. When Kaitav was tired, Madhu fought. But there was nobody to come to Vishnu’s help. Soon Vishnu was tired and proposed that they stopped fighting for a while.

The two demons agreed to the proposal. During the respite Vishnu concentrated on the mystery of the demons’ zeal. The knowledge then flashed in him how they had obtained a boon to die only when they wished.

Vishnu prayed to the Divine Mother to come to his rescue. The Mother was pleased. She withdrew that part of Her power which works as intelligence in all beings. As a result, the two demons began swelling with pride.

“I have fought many a demon, but never have I seen brave ones like you, Why don’t you ask me for a boon?” asked Vishnu.

The demons laughed. “Vishnu! You are the one who is about to be vanquished. How can we, the victors, pray for a boon from the vanquished? Better you ask for a boon from us! We shall grant it,” they promised.

“Very well. Grant that you will die in my hands!” said Vishnu.

The demons were outwitted. “Let it be so,” they said. Vishnu now killed the demons. It was out of their fat or Meda that the earth was made. That is why the earth is called Medini.

The sages asked Suta, “You had a friend in Shuka, the son of Vyasa. When and how was he born?”

Suta narrated the story: Once Vyasa, while gazing at a flame, thought, ‘I wonder if there is a woman who is capable of giving birth to a son as pure as this flame!’

Just then a beautiful nymph called Ghritachi was passing by, followed by Madan, the god of Love. Vyasa was charmed by her, but he tried to take his attention away from her, lest the nymph one day deserted him, as Urvasi had deserted Pururavas.

“Will you please tell us what really happened to Urvasi and Pururavas?” the listeners asked Suta.

Long ago, there was a king named Pururavas. He had such powers that he could pay visits to the heavenly abode of gods. One day, he saw Urvasi, the celebrated nymph, in the court of Indra. The mortal king and the immortal nymph were attracted towards each other.

As she showed weakness for a human, she forfeited her right to dwell in heaven. She came down to earth and lived as Pururavas’s wife. The joy of the lovers could hardly be described! The couple lived happily.

However, Indra could not tolerate the absence of the celestial danseuse from his court. He asked his courtiers to do all that was necessary to make her return to heaven.

Meanwhile, Pururavas had to comply with some conditions so that Urvasi would stay with him. He was never to be seen clumsily dressed like other mortals. Urvasi would not stand such a sight.

Urvasi had two pet lambs. One rainy night the gods came to steal them away. The lambs bleated in panic. Both Pururavas and Urvasi woke up. Pururavas jumped out of his bed in order to chase the thieves. He had no chance to wear his clothes properly. Just then there was a flash of lightning and Urvasi saw how clumsy Pururavas looked.

At once she had to return to heaven. The seperation from Urvasi made Pururavas go almost mad. He roamed about here and there looking for her. One day, he caught a glimpse of her near a lake. His voice charged with emotion, he said, “Come back to me, O Urvasi, for I cannot live without you. Haven’t I loved you more than mylife? Haven’t I done everything possible to please you?”

“You have, O dear King. But such is the fate that an immortal cannot live with a mortal forever. That is why we are bound by certain conditions. O King, forget me, and give all your attention to the affairs of your kingdom,” said Urvasi and, with a sigh, she disappeared.

Although Vyasa remembered this incident, he could not check his love for Ghritachi. It was this nymph who gave birth to Shukadeva.

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