Of battles and more…

The Devi smiled again. “Yes, it is true. They are very strong. But what can I do since I took that ill-considered vow, even though it was long ago? Go back and tell them what I said, and let them do what they think is proper in this situation.”

Hearing the words of the Devi, Sugriva rushed back to the palace and narrated the incident in detail to Śumba. Enraged, the asura king summoned Dhumralochana, the chief of his armies and said” O Dhumralochana, go right now and fetch that shrew here by force, if needed, by dragging her by her hair. Kill anyone who comes in the way, be it a deva, a yaksa, or a gandharva.”

“Come with me, else I will take you to Śumba by dragging you by your hair”, thundered Dhumralochana, as he stood in front of the Devi, with an army of sixty thousand asuras behind him.

“You have been sent here by the lord of the three worlds. You are strong, and you have a huge army. What can I do if you take me by force?”, said the Devi.

On hearing this, Dhumralochana rushed towards her. The Devi breathed hard, and reduced him to ashes. The asura army attacked, showering the Devi with arrows and spears. The lion, on whom the Devi was mounted, shook it’s mane in anger and with a terrifying roar, pounced on the asuras. In moments, the entire army was destroyed. All sixty thousand asuras, lay dead.

When he heard that his commander and army was slain by the Devi, Śumba cried out in anger. “Chanda, Munda, gather your armies, bind her, and bring her here. If you are unable to do this single-handedly, then let your armies attack her and that lion with all their might. Once that shrew is wounded, and that lion killed, drag her here to my court. Go now!”

Heeding his command, the asuras led by Chanda and Munda, launched an attack on the Devi. Some tried to bind her, others tried to wound her with their swords. The Devi cried out angrily, and in anger, her face turned as black as ink. Suddenly, the fearful Kāli, armed with a sword and a noose, emerged from the Devi’s forehead. Holding a strange skull- topped staff, decorated with a garland of skulls, clad in a tiger’s skin, looking menacing due to her emaciated body, with a gaping mouth and tongue hanging out, with deep-sunk reddish eyes, she filled the field with her roars.

Kāli rushed towards the asuras, slaughtering them with impunity. Devouring some, crushing others, chewing most frightfully with her teeth, she pounded the entire army of the mighty wicked asuras. Seeing the army of asuras being laid waste, Chanda and Munda ran towards the terrible Kāli. While Canda showered arrows at her, Munda hurled discuses at her eyes. The numerous discuses entering her mouth shone like a thousand suns as Kāli just swallowed them.

Laughing fiercely, she mounted the lion and rushed towards Chanda. Seizing him by his hair, she decapitated him with a single stroke of her sword. She then caught Munda, threw him to the ground, and pushed her sword deep into his chest.

Seeing Chanda and Munda vanquished, the remaining asura army panicked and fled in all directions. And Kāli, holding the heads of Chanda and Munda in her hands, approached Chandika and said, “In this sacrifice of battle, here I have brought you the heads of Chanda and Munda.”

Seeing the two great asuras Chanda and Munda brought to her, Chandika said to Kāli , “As you have brought me both Chanda and Munda, O Devi, you shall also be known and worshipped by the name Chāmunda.

The mighty Śumba burned with rage. Chanda and Munda were slain, and their armies annihilated. “Now, let the eighty-six Udayudhas with all their forces and weapons, and the eighty-four Kambus, along with their own forces, set out for battle. Let the fifty asura families of Kotiviryas and the hundred families of Dhaumras go forth at my command. Likewise let the asura clans, Kalakas, Daurhrdas, the Mauryas and the Kalakeyas hasten at my command and march forth ready for battle”. Śumba thus set out, commanding thousands of asuras, ready to slay anyone in his path.

Seeing this asura army approaching, Devi Ambika rang the mighty bell and it resounded all over the earth and the skies. Kālī roared and so did the lion of the Devi. The asura armies surrounded Devi Chandika and Kālī on all sides.

At that moment, to ensure the well being of the devas and to destroy their adversaries, the Śaktis sprang forth from the bodies of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Skanda, and Indra.

In a heavenly chariot yoked by swans came Brahmani, carrying a japa-mala and a kamandalu. Maheshvari arrived mounted on a bull, holding the great trishul, with huge serpents for bangles, with the crescent moon as an ornament. Maa Kaumārī came in the form of Guha, riding on a fine peacock wielding the spear in her hand. Vaishnavi arrived seated on Garuda, holding a conch, club, bow and sword in hand. Varahi came to the battlefield, in the form of Hari as the sacrificial boar. Nārasirhhī too arrived in the form of Narasmiha, half-woman and half-lioness, scattering the constellations by the toss of her mane. The thousand-eyed Aindrī, holding a thunderbolt in hand and riding on the lord of elephants arrived just like Indra.

A pitched battle began. The asuras were no match for the śaktis, who slaughtered the demons by the thousands. Seeing them crushing the asura armies, the great asura Raktabīja came to the fore, in his huge chariot. This was no ordinary asura. Whenever a drop of his blood would spill on the ground, another asura as mighty as him would spring forth from the earth.

Raktabīja first attacked Aindrī, who struck him with her thunderbolt. As blood flowed from his wounds, thousands of Raktabījas sprung forth from the earth, each one as mighty as him. They fought by his side, with swords and spears, attacking the śaktis from all sides. Vaisnavi struck him with her discus, and Aindri hit the great asura with her mace. The field was soon filled with thousands of Raktabījas, born from the blood that flowed out of the cuts inflicted by Vaisnavi’s chakra. Kaumari struck him with her spear and Varahi with her sword. Maheshvari assaulted him with her trishul. And the enraged Raktabija fought back hard, not yielding an inch.

The devas were alarmed, seeing the seemingly unending numbers of Raktabījas filling up the field. Seeing them dejected this way, Chandika laughed and said to Kālī “O Chamunda, drink up all the blood that spills from Raktabīja as I strike him with my weapons.

Go around the battlefield and devour all the Raktabījas that are born from his blood. He will perish once he loses all his blood in this manner, and no more asuras will be born from his blood since you will drink it all.”

The Devi then struck Raktabīja with her spear, and the fierce Kālī drank up all his blood before it could spill to the ground. Raktabīja struck back, but failed to even touch the Devi. As she kept striking him with her spear, and her swords, Kālī kept drinking the blood that flowed from his wounds, not allowing even a single drop to spill to the ground. Raktabīja fought hard, but soon lost all his blood, and, after letting out a loud roar, fell to the ground, lifeless.