IN THE LAST COLUMN, I spoke about the marriage of Kameshvara and Kameshvari. After some time passed, the sage Narada arrived and reminded Devi about Bhandasura.
Lalitaa Parameshvari got ready to march against Bhandasura. Heaps of water from the seven oceans were gathered together in the form of a mardala (a war-drum). The sky filled with the repeated sound from the mardala. From Lalitaa Parameshi’s goad, a devi named Sampatkari arose and she marched with the Shaktis. Sampatakari was as red as the rising sun and she was served by many crores of elephants, horses, chariots, arranged in arrays. She was astride an intoxicated elephant named Ranakolahala. It was fierce and crazy and loved to fight, resembling a mountain. A large army followed her, roaring in terrible voices. The fluttering garlands of flags seemed to etch out marks in the clouds. There was also the divinity named Sampannatha, her movements seemingly impeded by her heavy breasts. There was a radiant and thick breast-plate over her breasts. She held a shining and flickering sword in her hand. It was crooked and terrible, resembling the furrowed eyebrows of the god of death. Excellent elephants, numbering crores, followed her at the rear. They resembled mountains rendered mobile by gusty winds. The divinity Atitvaritavikranti originated from Shri Lalitaa Devi’s beautiful weapon, the noose. She moved astride a horse. An army followed her in waves, mostly consisting of neighing horses. As they moved, their hooves dug up the surface of the ground. The horses were of many types—from Vanayu, from Kamboja, from Parada, from the region of Sindhu, from Tankana, from mountainous regions, Parasikas, from Ghattadhara, from Darada, from Kalavandi, from Valmika, from the Yavana region and from the land of the gandharvas. There were some from the eastern regions, from the country of Kiratas and from the frontiers. They were obedient and trained, bearing the riders properly. They were swift and steady of heart. They specifically knew what their masters wanted and could tolerate large battles. They possessed many auspicious signs and had conquered anger and exhaustion. They were properly trained in the five kinds of movements. They were obedient and could jump. They possessed auspicious marks—lines indicating success, white lines, a divine lotus, a divine jewel, divine svastika, the mark of any svastika, humps and smooth necks. These auspicious signs indicated victory and obtaining a kingdom. These horses advanced, bearing the rider with the speed of the wind. (The five kinds of movement for a horse are trot, canter, gallop, move swiftly and leap. Texts described auspicious traits of horses [ashva lakshana].)
Mahadevi advanced astride a horse named Aparajita, which was extremely energetic. With a dazzling bridle in its mouth, it moved along an extremely lofty path. Clusters of shining manes descended along both the sides. It shook its thick and bushy tail and scattered the clouds. There was bejewelled armour along the flanks and bells tinkled on the legs. As it fiercely struck on the ground with its hooves, it was as if musical instruments were sounded. The earth was like a large musical instrument, being sounded for the sake of victory. It neighed and repeatedly exhibited many different kinds of gait. When the whisks on either side were tossed around, it seemed to possess wings. The harnesses were beautiful, ornamented with nets of bells. The sounds made by these seemed to emit a humkara sound against the asuras. (Humkara means to utter the sound “hum”, a sound believed to possess special powers.) She advanced on this horse. In her four hands, she held a noose, a goad, a cane and the reins of the horse, radiant in her many acts of valour. She resembled the rising sun, with rays being spread by her shining girdle. As she moved astride the horse, the horse seemed to dance. As they emerged, Shridandanathaa caused drums to be sounded. The sound was like that of the turbulent ocean and deafened the universe. Some Shaktis arose, their arms as firm as rocks. With firm arrows as hard as the vajra, they pierced the 10 directions. Some marshalled Shridandanathaa’s troops who were at the rear. Using swords and shields, these fierce Shaktis leapt around. So that the soldiers did not obstruct each other, they struck them hundreds of times with canes. Restraining them with canes, those Shaktis moved around. The Shaktis who were in front brandished shining standards and flags marked with horses, buffaloes, deer and lions. Thousands held aloft Shridandanathaa’s white umbrella. As the Shaktis moved, these flashed. (Shridandanathaa was the leader of the forces. She was also known as Potrini or Potrimukhi.)
From Lalitaa Parameshi’s goad, a devi named Sampatkari arose and she marched with the shaktis. Sampatakari was as red as the rising sun
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As Dandanathaa emerged, there were innumerable white umbrellas in the sky, resembling innumerable moons. As these white umbrellas rubbed against each other, there was darkness between them. But this was dispelled because of the many jewels fixed to the handles of the umbrellas. As Krodamukhi’s forces advanced, there were hundreds of fans made out of palm leaves and the sheen of diamonds embedded on the handles dispelled the shade in all the directions. Chanda, Danda and other fierce Bhairavas held tridents in their hands. Their mass of tawny hair blazed, illuminating the directions like flashes of lightning. The flames from their sharp arrows seemed to burn down the hordes of daityas. As Dandanathaa marched, her soldiers advanced ahead. Devi was Potrimukhi and their forms and ornaments were similar to hers. Their weapons were similar to hers. Their respective mounts were similar to hers. From between their sharp fangs, flames and smoke emerged, covering the sky. Their forms were as dark as tamala trees. Their eyes were tawny and cruel. They advanced astride thousands of buffaloes, with faces like boars. Shri Dandanathaa descended from the excellent chariot drawn by elephants. She got onto her own mount, the large lion. It was known as Vajraghosha and it shook its circular mane. It was hideous in form and its mouth gaped. It looked at everything with its tawny eyes. It gnashed its fangs and deafened the directions. Its nails were as hard as the shell of the primordial tortoise and it seemed to drink up the earth’s circle, all the way up to the sky, and drive it down to patala. It was three yojanas tall and it swiftly moved its tail from one side to another. Dandanathaa advanced astride her mount, the lion. She blazed in rage, as she engaged in the task of destroying the asuras. The three worlds, with their mobile and immobile entities, were filled with great anxiety. Large numbers of those who resided in heaven came and assembled in the sky. They arrived to see her, but because of their fright, remained in their vimanas, some distance away. They exclaimed, “In her rage, will Potrini destroy the universe now? With a blow from her club, will she split the earth into two? With blows from her plough, will she agitate the oceans?” Joining their hands in salutation, the devas worshipped her. Stationed in the firmament, they repeatedly chanted her 12 names.
Devi’s twelve names are Panchami, Dandanathaa, Samketaa, Samayeshvari, Samayasamketa, Varahi, Potrini, Vartali, Mahasenaa, Ajnaa, Chakreshvari and Arighni. As soon as she hears these names, she is pleased.
After this, Samketaa yogini touched the feet of Mantranathaa (the lord of mantras, also known as Mantrini). This signified the advance and trumpets were sounded in the firmament. The forces of all the Shaktis emerged. Generally, their ornaments expressed shringara. Their complexions were as dark as tigers. There were veenas in their hands. Some danced. Others sang, with tones like those of maddened cuckoos. They played on veenas, flutes, drums and other musical instruments. Their strides were enchanting. Delighting all the people in the universe, these dark Shaktis advanced. Some were mounted on peacocks. Others had swans as mounts. Some were astride mongooses, others were seated on cuckoos. All of them were dark in form and some were seated in palanquins. Some were astride horses from the Sindhu region and were intoxicated because of the honey from Kadamba flowers. They advanced, placing Mantranathaa in front. Mantranathaa was dark in complexion, like a dark cloud. She advanced on a gigantic chariot, with a lofty chariot and wheels. Her armour had the hue of the rising sun. Her eyes rolled in intoxication. There were slight beads of sweat on her face, which was like a lotus. As she cast sidelong glances, her eyebrows seemed to dance. Among that entire army of Shaktis, a triangular umbrella made out of peacock feathers was held aloft her head, proclaiming her greatness. Among all the other Shaktis, there was no one who was as resplendent as her. Those who resided in the vault of heaven used 16 names to praise her. They are Sangitayogini, Shyamaa, Shyamalaa, Mantranayikaa, Mantrini, Sachiveshi, Pradhaneshi, Shukapriyaa, Vinavati, Vainiki, Mudrini, Priyakapriyaa, Nipapriyaa, Kadambeshi, Kadamba-vana-vasini and Sadamadaa. There was a young parrot in Sangitayogini’s hand. Dhanurveda emerged from this, along with a bow that had already been strung. He (the personified form of Dhanurveda) possessed four arms. He possessed three heads and three eyes. He prostrated himself before Pradhaneshi and said, “O Devi! You have prepared yourself for the battle against Bhandasura. O Mantranayikaa! Therefore, it is my duty to assist you. This excellent and large bow is named Chitrajiva. O mother of the universe! For destroying the danavas, please accept it. These two inexhaustible quivers are embellished with gold. To show me a favour and to destroy the daityas, please accept it.”