"Full many a ray of purest ray serene the dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness to the desert air."
from "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lalitasahasranama - 003 - Lalita kills Bhandasura

There are many levels of understanding – each name of Lalita can be discussed at various levels for hours, I have limited myself to the literal meaning here.
The emergence of Lalita Devi is described in great detail in the 6th chapter of Lalitopakhyana in the Brahmandapurana.

Lalita came out of the cidāgni kuṇḍa, seated on a chariot called the cakra rāja ratha which is so described in the Lalitopakhyana : made of tejas (light), a form of Meru (Mount Kailash), the seat at the top being the bindu pitha (the central seat), a width of 4 yojana (1 yojana = about 9 miles), a height of 10 yojana, 9 landings or support columns, 4 wheels, 4 horses, and a flag.

The manifested Lalita Parameshwari created a male from Herself, Kameshwara. With her icchāśakti (willpower), she created four weapons and held them in her hands - ikşu dhanuşa (sugarcane bow) in the upper right arm, five puşpa bāna (five flower arrows) in her lower right arm, pāśa (noose) in her lower left hand, and ankuşa (hook, as used by an elephant driver) in her lower right hand. She shone with crimson color, like a thousand morning suns. Her beauty was complete in all aspects. She looked like she was sixteen years old, and she would always appear so.

She extended herself in male and female forms and continued the process of creation. From her left eye that was of the nature of the moon, came Brahma and Lakshmi. And from the right eye that was of the nature of the sun, came Vishnu and Parvati. From the third eye that was of the nature of fire, came Rudra and Sarasvati. Lalita devi directed the couples: Shiva-Parvati, Vishnu-Lakshmi and Brahma-Saraswati to continue with the process of creation.
Lalita continued the creation process herself: darkness from her hair, sun/moon/fire from her eyes, stars from the ornament on her forehead, nine planets from the chain above her forehead, the penal code from her eyebrows, the Vedas from her breath, poetry and plays from her speech, Vedanga from her chin, various scriptures from the three lines on her neck, mountains from her breasts, bliss from her mind, the ten incarnations of Vishnu from her fingernails, the Sandhyas from her palms, and then as narrated in the Purusha Suktam, she created other things. Baladevi from her heart, Shyamaladevi from her intellect, Varahidevi from her ego, Vighneshwara from her smile, Sampatkaridevi from her elephant hook, Ashwarudhadevi from her noose, Nakuleshwaridevi from her cheeks, Gayatridevi from her kundalini shakti, 8 devata or demigods from the eight wheels of her chariot, and in the 9th landing she was seated in the bindu pitha.

Then she requested her consort, Kameshwara to create the Shiva chakra. He made a humming sound from which 23 Shiva Chakra devata were manifest. Lalitadevi gave Shyamaladevi her finger ring, declaring her the prime minister which is why she is also known as Mantrinidevi. Next she made Varahidevi the chief of the army which is why Varahidevi is also known as Dandanathadevi. Lalitadevi created two chariots from her chariot and gave each devi a chariot. Mantrinidevi’s chariot known as geyacakraratha made musical sounds whenever it moved. And Dandanathadevi’s chariot is called kiricakraratha.

Then humming with rage, Lalitadevi created 64 million yogini, 64 million bhairav and innumerable saktisena (armies), and then she proceeded to wage battle with Bhandasura.  

From Lalitadevi’s spear, Sampatkaridevi, seated on an elephant called ranakolahalam (battle uproar) emerged with millions upon millions of elephants. From Lalitadevi’s pasam arose Ashwarudhadevi seated on a horse aparajitam (unconquered) along with a big army of horses that moved in front of Lalitadevi. The army commander Dandanathadevi descended from her chariot and sat on a lion named vajraghosham (clap of thunder), playing the drums to start marching. All her soldiers started singing her praises. Later, Mantrinidevi played the marching drums, with sensuous soldiers who played the veena and sang. Mantrinidevi was in her chariot the geyacakraratha. From the bird in her hands, the demigod Dhanurveda emerged and offered her a bow and an inexhaustible quiver of arrow.

Meanwhile Bhandasura called his brothers Vishukra and Vishanga to discuss matters. Vishukra maintained that most celestials had burned themselves in the firepit, and now an army of women was marching towards them. They should immediately fight this army. Vishanga said that they must first estimate the might of the army, and also find out more about the lady who led this army – who she was and what did she want from them. But Bhandasura, in his arrogance, ignored this advice and asked his army commander to protect the fort. He ordered the priests to perform abhicara homa (dark powers), and ordered that Lalita be dragged by the hair and brought to him. His asura army played the war drums, and send their first batch with Durmata as the commander, seated on a camel. Samptakaridevi faced him. Durmata was able to destroy one gem from her crown. Enraged, Sampatkaridevi shot arrows piercing his heart.

Now Durmata’s elder brother Kurunda, filled with vengeance, led the army and attacked Sampatkaridevi. Kurunda was expert in māyā. Ashwarudhadevi requested Sampatkaridevi to allow her to face him, and killed him with her spear.

Bhandasura became furious and sent a much larger army  with 5 commanders who materialized into the serpent Ranashambari who became millions of serpents that attacked the armies of Lalita. As the serpents were killed, they were born again, and attacked the shakti sena again. Nakulidevi mounted on an eagle came to the battlefield and 320 million mongoose emerged from her who ate the newborn serpents. And her eagle killed Ranashambari. Now the five commanders faced her, while she made aerial strikes on their army, and chopped off the heads of the five commanders.

Bhandasura now sent a large army with seven commanders who were the demoness Kikasa’s sons, all of whom had been blessed that in times of war, the sun would reside in their eyes. Their appearance on the battlefield blinded the armies of Lalita. Dandanathadevi’s bodyguard Tiraskarinikadevi mounted a plane named Tamoliptam, and at Dandanathadevi’s orders, she shot a weapon called Andhanastra that forced the seven commanders to close their eyes. From behind Tiraskarinikadevi, the celestials killed the seven commanders.

Now, Bhandasura conferred with his brothers again. They decided that Vishaga would attack from the rear like a coward, and attack Lalitadevi directly. So noiselessly, without drums, Vishanga approached the army from the rear and got so close that he could see the Shrichakraratha. He attacked Lalita, and the fan from her hand fell to the ground. Some of the celestials asked Lalita’s permission to help her. Vahinivasini and Jwalamalini devis glowed like fireballs that made visible the demons hiding behind the shaktisena. The enraged 16 nityadevi attacked the army and all of Bhandasura’s commanders died. Lalitadevi was pleased by the valor of the nityadevi but Mantrinidevi and Dandanathadevi regretted the incident, and that their security arrangements had been breached. Lalitadevi asked Jwalamalinidevi to build a wall of fire around her army.

At dawn, the daughter of Lalitadevi, who appears to be eternally 9 years old, requested her mother’s permission to go to fight. She fought the whole day, and killed the 30 sons of Bhandasura who had led his armies that day. Lalita was very happy with her child’s achievements.

Bhandasura sent his brother Vishukra to the warfront. He drew a mystic symbol and threw it forcefully on the wall around Lalita’s armies. It fell in the firewall at some point and impacted the minds of Lalita’s armies, creating ignorance. People wondered if the war was required, why they were fighting for Lailta, etc till the news of this was brought to Lalita. She smiled and produced
Ganapati from her smile. He saw the mystic symbol – the vigna yantra sila, and smashed it with his tusk.

On the third day, Vishukra came back with his brother Vishanga and his son-in-law. Dandanathadevi, seated on her kiricakraratha, swirled her halayuddha rapidly. Behind her, Mantrinidevi, seated on her geyacakraratha, armed with bow and arrows, attacked Vishanga. Ashwarudhadevi and Sampatkaridevi attacked the son-in-law of Vishukra.

Vishukra noticed that Bhandasura’s armies were slackening, and he discharged the trusastram (weapon that produces thirst). In response, Dandanathadevi invited the celestial Madyasamudra  to shower rains of liquor on Devi’s army to quench their thirst. Rejuvenated, Lalitadevi’s armies vanquished their enemies. Mantrinidevi killed Vishukra with the weapon brahmashironamakastra, while Dandanathadevi killed Vishunga with the halayudha. The Lalitopakhyana differs here from the Lalitasahasranaam that says Varahidevi killed Vishukra and Mantrini killed Vishanga.
Now, Bhandasura came to battle, his chariot Abhilamu (dreadful) driven by 1000 lions, and armed with his sword Yatana (torture). Lalitadevi moved her sricakrarajaratha towards the front, and behind her, came Mantrinidevi in the geyacakraratha followed by Dandanathadevi in kiricakraratha.

Bhandasura used his powers to regenerate the demons from the past – Raktabeeja (who would multiply if a drop of his blood fell on the ground), Madhukaitabha  and others. Lalitadevi laughed in violent frenzy and generated Durga and other deities to slay these demons. She discharged the Narayanastra and Pashupatastra to annihilate the armies of Bhandasura and discharged the Mahakamesvarastra to kill Bhandasura and burn his town Shunyaka.

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