The Mahabharata Home
Vaisampayana said, "And while Yudhishthira was on his way to the delightful city of Virata, he began to praise mentally the Divine Durga, the Supreme Goddess of the Universe, born on the womb of Yasoda, and fond of the boons bestowed on her by Narayana, sprung from the race of cowherd Nanda, and the giver of prosperity, the enhancer (of the glory) of (the worshipper's) family, the terrifier of Kansa, and the destroyer of Asuras,--and saluted the Goddess--her who ascended the skies when dashed (by Kansa) on a stony platform, who is the sister of Vasudeva, one who is always decked in celestial garlands and attired in celestial
robes,--who is armed with scimitar and shield, and always rescues the worshipper sunk in sin, like a cow in the mire, who in the hours of distress calls upon that eternal giver of blessings for relieving him of their burdens. And the king, desirous with his brothers of obtaining a sight of the Goddess, invoked her and began to praise her by reciting various names derived from (approved) hymns. And Yudhishthira said, 'Salutations to thee, O giver of boons. O thou that art identical with Krishna, O maiden, O thou that hast observed the vow of Brahmacharya, O thou of body bright as the newly-risen Sun, O thou efface beautiful as the full moon. Salutations to thee, O thou of four hands and four faces, O thou of fair round hips and deep bosom, O thou that wearest bangles made of emeralds and sapphires, O thou that bearest excellent bracelets on thy upper arm. Thou shinest, O Goddess, as Padma, the consort of Narayana. O thou that rangest the etherial regions, thy true form and thy Brahmacharya are both of the purest kind. Sable as the black clouds, thy face is beautiful as that of Sankarshana. Thou bearest two large arms long as a couple of poles raised in honour of Indra. In thy (six) other arms thou bearest a vessel, a lotus, a bell, a noose, a bow, a large discus, and various other weapons. Thou art the only female in the universe that possesses! the attribute of purity. Thou art decked with a pair of well-made ears graced with excellent rings. O Goddess, thou shinest with a face that challengeth the moon in beauty. With an excellent diadem and beautiful braid with robes made of the bodies of snakes, and with also the brilliant girdle round thy hips, thou shinest like the Mandara mountain encircled with snakes. Thou shinest also with peacock-plumes standing erect on thy head, and thou hast sanctified the celestial regions by adopting the vow of perpetual maiden-hood. It is for this, O thou that hast slain the Mahishasura, 1 that thou art praised and worshipped by the gods for the protection of the three worlds. O thou foremost of all deities, extend to me thy grace, show me thy mercy, and be thou the source of blessings to me. Thou art Jaya and Vijaya, and it is thou that givest victory in battle. Grant me victory, O Goddess, and give me boons also at this hour of distress. Thy eternal abode is on Vindhya--that foremost of mountains. O Kali, O Kali, thou art the great Kali, ever fond of wine and meat and animal sacrifice. Capable of going everywhere at will, and bestowing boons on thy devotees, thou art ever followed in thy journeys by Brahma and the other gods. By them that call upon thee for the relief of their burdens, and by them also that bow to thee at daybreak on Earth, there is nothing that cannot be attained in respect either of offspring or wealth. And because thou rescuest people from difficulties whether when they are afflicted in the wilderness
or sinking in the great ocean, it is for this that thou art called Durga 1 by all. Thou art the sole refuge of men when attacked by robbers or while afflicted in crossing streams and seas or in wilderness and; forests. Those men that remember thee are never prostrated, O great Goddess. Thou art Fame, thou art Prosperity, thou art Steadiness, thou art Success; thou art the Wife, thou art men's Offspring, thou art Knowledge, and thou art the Intellect. Thou art the two Twilights, the Night Sleep, Light--both solar and lunar, Beauty, Forgiveness, Mercy, and every other thing. Thou dispellest, worshipped by the devotees their fetters, ignorance, loss of children and loss of wealth, disease, death, and fear. I, who have been deprived of my kingdom, seek thy protection. And as I bow to thee with bended head, O Supreme Goddess, grant me protection, O thou of eyes like lotus leaves. And be thou as boon-giving Truth unto us that are acting according to Truth. And, O Durga, kind as thou art unto all that seek thy protection, and affectionate unto all thy devotees, grant me protection!'"
Vaisampayana continued, "Thus praised by the son of Pandu, the Goddess showed herself unto him. And approaching the king, she addressed him in these words, 'O mighty armed king, listen, O Lord, to these words of mine. Having vanquished and slain the ranks of the Kauravas through my grace, victory in battle will soon be thine. Thou shalt again lord it over the entire Earth, having made thy dominions destitute of thorns. And, O king, thou shalt also, with thy brothers, obtain great happiness. And through my grace, joy and health will be thine. And they also in the world who will recite my attributes and achievements will be freed from their sins, and gratified. I will bestow upon them kingdom, long life, beauty of person, and offspring. And they, O king, who will invoke me, after thy manner, in exile or in the city, in the midst of battle or of dangers from foes, in forests or in inaccessible deserts, in seas or mountain fastnesses, there is nothing that they will not obtain in this world. And ye sons of Pandu, he will achieve success in every business of his that will listen to, or himself recite with devotion, this excellent hymn. And through my grace neither the Kuru's spies, nor those that dwell in the country of the Matsyas, will succeed in recognising you all as long as ye reside in Virata's city!' And having said these words unto Yudhishthira, that chastiser of foes, and having arranged for the protection of the sons of Pandu, the Goddess disappeared there and then."
11:1 Mahishasura, the son of Rambhasura. Durga had to fight for many many years before she could slay this formidable Asura. The story occurs in the Markandeya Purana. To this day, Bengal during the great Durga Puja festival in autumn, worships the goddess with great veneration.
12:1 Literally, one that rescues from difficulty.
Next: Section VII