Durga’s Battle with Shumbha
- March 6, 2023
Durga’s Battle with Shumbha
- March 6, 2023
By Srinidhi Murthy
According to the Devi Bhagavata, the Universe is the manifestation of Goddess Durga. Durga is worshipped all over India in sixty-four forms, including as Ambika, Kali, Chandika and Chamundi. Read the story of how these incarnations of Durga killed Asura king Shumbha and his commanders in a fierce battle and how Kali came to be known as Chamundi.
A long time ago, the Devas were defeated and were forced to flee heaven by Shumbha, the king of the Asuras. Chanda and Munda, the commanders of Shumbha, decided to follow the Devas to find out their whereabouts. The Devas reached Mount Himavat and prayed to Goddess Durga. Just then, Goddess Ambika, an incarnation of Durga, emerged from the body of Parvati, Shiva’s consort. Chanda and Munda, who witnessed this event, rushed immediately to Shumbha to inform him of Ambika. Shumbha was impressed when he heard about Ambika’s beauty and grace from his commanders and decided to marry her.
Chanda and Munda returned to Ambika and informed her about their master’s wish to marry her. Ambika told them that she had taken a vow to marry the man who would defeat her in battle. When Shumbha learnt about the vow, he sent Dhumralochana, a commander, to bring Ambika to him. Dhumralochana took an army with him to Mount Himavat and confronted Ambika. When Ambika refused to break her vow, Dhumralochana rushed towards her. With contempt, Ambika uttered a single syllable – ‘hum’. In a moment, the mighty commander was burned to ashes. Seeing this, the army began to flee from the battlefield. However, Chanda and Munda stopped the retreating soldiers and encouraged them to capture Ambika.
As the asuras returned, another incarnation of Durga, named Kali, emerged from Ambika. Kali battled fiercely with the Asuras and crushed them to death. When Chanda and Munda rushed towards Kali, she seized them by their hair and beheaded them. Ambika, with a smile, said that since Kali had killed Chanda and Munda, she would also be known as ‘Chamundi’.
When Shumbha learned about his commanders’ fate, he rushed to the battlefield with a huge army. The Shaktis, the feminine elements of various gods, emerged on the battlefield. Brahmani emerged from Brahma, Vaishnavi emerged from Vishnu and Maheshwari from Shiva. Finally, Chandika emerged from Ambika. The sky was filled with the various Shaktis. In the great battle that followed, the Asuras fled, unable to match the powers of these Shaktis, which infuriated Raktabeeja, a terrible asura who had the power to create replicas of himself from his blood that touched the ground. Kali, upon Chandika’s request, prevented Raktabeeja’s blood from falling to the ground, leading to hundreds and thousands of Raktabeejas that had arisen, to be wiped out. Furious with the turn of events, Raktabeeja rushed towards Chandika and a battle ensued between them. Chandika killed Raktabeeja in the end. Nishumbha, Shumbha’s brother, vowed to kill Chandika, following the death of Raktabeeja. But he too, was no match for Chandika, and met his end at her hands.
Angered by his brother’s death, Shumbha mocked Durga for getting help to destroy his men rather than fighting alone. Durga replied that she was alone all along the battle and what Shumbha witnessed was only her different forms. Then, all the Shaktis merged into Durga much to Shumbha’s amazement. A fierce battle ensued between Durga and Shumbha, in which Durga finally killed Shumbha with her spear, much to the joy of the Devas.
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Goddess Durga is as widely worshipped as Vishnu and Shiva. She is the fierce form of Devi who, as Shakti, is considered the personification of universal energy. According to the Devi Bhagavata the Universe is but Her manifestation - and even Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva worship Her. Durga is worshipped in sixty-four forms as Ambika, Kali, Chamundi, Devi, Uma, etc. The worship of Durga is supposed to be more than 4,000 years old in India. The names of Uma and Parvati occur in the Taittiriya Aranyaka and the Kena Upanishad. Some Indologists are of the opinion that the figure seated on a lion in the coins of Azes I, the Shaka ruler (c. 5 B.C. to A.D. 30), represents Ambika or Durga. Durga is worshipped in one form or another in almost every Indian village. This Amar Chitra Katha is based on the Durga-Saptashati of the Markandeya Purana.