SHRIMAD DEVI BHAGAVATAM | BOOK 9 CHAPTER 21

THE NINTH BOOK

Chapter XXI

On the meeting of Mahādeva and Śankhachūḍa for an encounter in conflict

1-33. Śrī Nārāyaṇa spoke:

Then the Dānava, the devotee of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, got up from his flower strewn bed, meditating on Śrī Kṛṣṇa, early in the morning time, at the Brahmā Mūhurta. Changing his night dress, he took his bath in pure water and put on fresh washed clothing.

He then put the bright Tilak mark on his forehead and, performing the daily necessary worship, he worshipped his Iṣṭa devatā (The Deity doing good to him).

He then saw the auspicious things such as curd, ghee, honey, fried rice, etc., and distributed as usual, to the Brāhmaṇas the best jewels, pearls, clothing and gold.

Then for his marching to turn out auspicious, he gave at the feet of his Guru Deva priceless gems, jewels, pearls, diamonds, etc., and finally he gave to the poor Brāhmins with great gladness, elephants, horses, wealth, thousands of stores, two lakhs of cities and one hundred Koṭis of villages.

He then gave over to his son, the charge of his kingdom and of his wife, and all the dominions, wealth, property, all the servants and maid servants, all the stores and conveyances.

He dressed himself for the war and took up bows and arrows and arrow cases. By the command of the King, the armies began to gather.

Three lakhs of horses, one lakh elephants, one ayuta chariots, three Koṭis of bowmen, three Koṭis armoured soldiers and three Koṭis of trident holders got themselves ready.

Then the King counted his forces and appointed one Commander-in- Chief, (Mahāratha), skilled in arts of warfare, over the whole army.

Thus the generals were appointed over the three lakh Akṣauhiṇī forces and their provisions were collected by three hundred Akṣauhiṇī men. Then He thinking of Śrī Hari, started for war, accompanied by his vast army.

(Note: One Akṣauhiṇī consists of a large army consisting of 21, 8700 chariots, as many elephants, 65,610 horses, and 109,350 foot).

He then mounted on a chariot built of excellent jewels and, headed by his Guru and all his other elders went to Śankara.

O Nārada! Bhagavān Mahādeva was at that time, staying on the banks of Puṣpabhadrā. That place was Sidhāśrama (the hermitage where the yogic successes had been obtained and can easily be acquired in future for the Siddhas as well as Siddha Kṣettra.) It was the place where the Muni Kapila practised Tapasyā, in the holy land of Bhārata.

It was bounded on the east by the western ocean, on the west by the Malaya mountain, on the south, by the Śrī Śaila mountain and on the north by the Gandhā Mādana Mountain. It was five yojanas wide and one hundred times as long.

This auspicious river in Bhārata yields great religious merits and is always full of clear, sparkling running water. She is the favourite wife of the Salt Ocean and She is very blessed.

Issuing from Śarāvatī Himalayas, She drops into the ocean. Keeping the river Gomatī by her left; She falls into the west ocean.

Śankhachūḍa, arriving there, saw Mahādeva under a Peepul tree near its root with a smiling countenance, like one Koṭi Suns seated in a yogic posture.

His colour was white like a pure crystal; as if the Fire of Brahmā was emitting from every pore of His body (burning with Brahmā-Tejas); He was wearing the tiger skin and, holding the trident and axe.

He dispels the fear of death of His Bhaktas; His face is quite calm. He, the Lord of Gaurī, is the Giver of the fruits of Tapasyā and of all sons of wealth and prosperity.

The smiling face of Āśutoṣa (one who is pleased quickly) is always thinking of the welfare of the Bhaktas; He is the Lord of the Universe, the Seed of the universe, the All-form (all-pervading), and the Progenitor of the universe.

He is omnipresent, All pervading, the Best in this universe, the Destroyer of this universe, the Cause of all causes, and the Saviour from the hells.

He is the Awakener and Bestower of Knowledge, the Seed of all knowledges, and He Himself is of the nature of Knowledge and Bliss.

Seeing that Eternal Puruṣa, the King of the Dānavas at once descended from his chariot and bowed down with devotion to Him and to Bhadrakālī on His left and to Kārtikeya on his right. The other attendants did the same.

Śankara, Bhadrakālī and Skanda all blessed him. Nandīśvara and others got up from their seats on seeing the Dānava King and began to talk with each other on that subject. The King addressed Śiva and sat by Him.

Bhagavān Mahādeva, the Tranquil Self, then, spoke to him, thus:

O King! Brahmā, the knower of Dharma and the Creator of the world, is the Father of Dharma, The religious Marīchi, a devotee of Viṣṇu, is the son of Brahmā.

The religious Prajāpati Kaśyapa is also the Brahmā’s son. Dakṣa gladly gave over to Kaśyapa in marriage, his thirteen daughters. Danu, fortunate and chaste, is also one of them.

34-64. Danu had forty sons, all spirited and known as Dānavas. The powerful Viprachitti was the prominent amongst them. Viprachitti’s son was Dambha, self-controlled and very much devoted to Viṣṇu.

So much so that for one lakh years he recited the Viṣṇu mantra at Puṣkara. His Guru (spiritual teacher) was Śukrāchārya; and, by his advice, he recited the mantra of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Highest Self.

He got you as his son, devoted to Kṛṣṇa. In your former birth, you were the chief attendant Gopa (cow-herd) of Kṛṣṇa. You were very religious.

Now, by Rādhikā’s curse, you are born in Bhārata, as the Lord of the Dānavas, powerful, heroic, valorous, and chivalrous.

All the things from Brahmā down to a blade of grass, the Vaiṣṇavas regard as very trifling; even if they get Sālokya, Sārṣṭi, Sāyujya and Sāmīpya of Hari, they do not care a straw for that.

Without serving Hari, they do not accept those things, even if those are thrust on them. Even Brahmāhood and immortality, the Vaiṣṇavas count for nothing. They want to serve Hari (Sevā bhāva). Indrahood, Manuhood, they do not care.

You, too, are a real Kṛṣṇa Bhakta. So what do you care for those things that belong to the Devas, that are something like false to you. Give back to the Devas their kingdoms thus and please Me.

Let the Devas remain in their own places and let you enjoy your kingdom happily. No need now for further quarrels. Think that you all belong to the same Kaśyapa’s family.

The sins that are incurred, for example, the murder of a Brāhmin, etc., are not even one-sixteenth of the sins incurred by hostilities amongst the relatives.

If, O King! You think that by giving away to the Devas their possessions, your property will be diminished, then think that no one’s days pass ever in one and the same condition.

Whenever Prakriti is dissolved, Brahmā also vanishes. Again He appears by the Will of God. This occurs always. True, that knowledge is increased by true Tapasyā; but memory fails then. This is certain.

He who is the creator of this world, does his work of creation gradually by the help of his Knowledge-power (Jñāna- Śaktī).

In the Satya Yuga, Dharma reigns in full; in the Trētā Yuga, one quarter is diminished; again in the Dvāpara only one-half remains. And in the Kālī Yuga, only one quarter remains.

Thus Dharma gets increase and decrease. At the end of the Kālī, the Dharma will be seen very feeble as the phase of the Moon is seen very thin on the Dark Moon night.

See, again, the Sun is very powerful in summer; not so in winter. At midday the Sun is very hot; it does not remain so in the morning and evening.

The Sun rises at one time; then he is considered as young at another time he becomes very powerful and at another time he goes down. Again in times of distress (i.e., during the cloudy days) the Sun gets entirely obscured.

When the Moon is devoured by Rāhu (in the Lunar Eclipse), the Moon quivers. Again when the Moon becomes liberated (i.e., when the eclipse passes away) She becomes bright again.

In the Full-Moon night She becomes full but She does not remain so always. In the Dark fortnight She wanes every day. In the bright fortnight She waxes every day.

In the bright fortnight, the Moon becomes healthy and prosperous and in the dark fortnight, the Moon becomes thinner and thinner as if attacked with consumption. In the time of eclipse She becomes pale and in the cloudy weather, She is obscured.

Thus the Moon also becomes powerful at one time and weak and pale at another time.

Vali now resides in Pātāla, having lost all his fortunes; but, at some other time, he will become Devendra (the Lord of the Devas).

This earth becomes at one time covered with grains and the resting-place of all beings; and, at another time, She becomes immersed under water. This universe appears at one time and disappears at another.

Everything, moving or non-moving, sometimes appears and again, at another time, disappears. Only Brahmā, the Highest Self, remains the same.

By His grace, I have got the name Mrityunjaya (the Conqueror of Death). I, too, am witnessing many Prākriti dissolutions, I witnessed repeatedly many dissolutions and will in future, witness many dissolutions.

The Paramātmān becomes of the nature of Prakriti. Again it is He that is the Puruṣa (male principle). He is the Self; He is the individual soul (Jīva). He thus assumes various forms. And, again, Lo! He is beyond all forms!

He who always repeats His Name and sings His Glory, can conquer, at some occasion, death. He is not to come under the sway of this birth, death, disease, old age and fear.

He has made Brahmā the Creator, Viṣṇu the Preserver and Me the Destroyer. By His Will, we are possessed of those influences and powers.

O King! Having deputed Kāla, Agni and Rudra, to do the destruction work, I Myself repeat only His name and sing His glory, day and night, incessantly. My name is, on that account, Mrityunjaya.

By His Knowledge Power, I am fearless. Death flies away fast from Me as serpents fly away at the sight of Garuda, the Vinatā’s son.

O Nārada! Thus saying, Śambhu, the Lord of all, the Progenitor of all, remained silent. Hearing the above words of Śambhu, the King thanked Mahādeva again and again and spoke in sweet humble words.

65-74. Śankhachūḍa said:

The words spoken by Thee are quite true. Still I am speaking a few words. Kindly hear.

Thou hast spoken just now that very great sins are incurred by kindred hostilities. How is it, then, that He robbed Vali of his whole possessions and sent him down into Pātāla?

Gadādhara Viṣṇu could not recover Vali’s glory. But I have done that. Why did the Devas kill Hiraṇyākṣa and Hiraṇya Kaśipu, Śumbha and the other Dānavas?

In by gone days, we laboured hard when the nectar was obtained out of the churning of the ocean; but the best fruit was reaped by the Devas only.

However, all these point that this universe is but the mere sporting ground of Paramātmān, Who has become of the nature of Prakriti (the polarities of the one and the same current to produce electric effects). Whomsoever He grants glory and fortune, he only gets that.

The quarrel of the Devas and the Dānavas is eternal. Victory and defeat come to both the parties alternately. So it is not proper for Thee to come here in this hostility. For Thou art the God, of the nature of the Highest Self. Before Thee, we both are equal.

So it is a matter of shame, no doubt, for Thee to stand up against us in favour of the gods. The glory and fame that will result to Thee, if Thou art victorious, will not be so much as it will be if we get the victory.

On the contrary the shame and infamy that will result to Thee if Thou dost get dire defeat will be inconceivably much more than what would come to us if we are defeated. (For we are low and Thou art Great.)

75-79. Mahādeva laughed very much when he heard the Dānava’s words and replied:

O King! You are descended from the Brāhmin family. So what shame shall I incur if I get defeat in this fighting against you?

In former days, the fight took place between Madhu and Kaiṭabha; again between Hiraṇya Kaśipu and Hiraṇyākṣa and Śrī Hari. I also fought with the Asura Tripura.

Again the serious fight took place also between Śumbha and the other Daityas and the Highest Prakriti Devī, the Ruler of all, and the Progenitrix of all and the Destructrix of all. And, then, you were the Pārisada attendant of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Highest Self.

80-82. So the Daityas, that were killed before, cannot be compared with you. Then why shall I feel shame in fighting against you? I am sent here by Śrī Hari for saving the Devas.

So either give back to the Devas their possessions, or fight with Me. No need in speaking thus quite useless talks.

O Nārada! Thus speaking, Bhagavān Śankara remained silent. Śankhachūḍa got up at once with his ministers.

Here ends the Twenty-first Chapter in the Ninth Book on the meeting of Mahādeva and Śankhachūḍa for an encounter in conflict in the Mahāpurāṇam Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam of 18,000 verses by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.