Birth of Bhandasura
At this point of time, Chitrakarma, the commander of one of the Rudra Ganas (Lord Shiva’s Army) one day started toying with the ash of the burnt Manmatha and prepared a doll out of it. He took this doll to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva’s intentions are indeed unfathomable. As soon as the doll neared Lord Shiva, it sprang to life and the boy thus born prostrated before Lord Shiva and Chitrakarma. Chitrakarma was overwhelmed with joy. He gave the boy the Upadesha of Shata-Rudreeya Mantra and asked him to undertake penance. When the penance reached the stage of fruition, Lord Shiva appeared before him. He asked Lord Shiva to grant him a special boon “Anyone who fights against me should immediately lose half of his strength and that strength should be added to my strength. None of the weapons of my opponents should be able to bind me” was his request. Immediately Lord Shiva granted the boon and added, “I am also bestowing on you the boon of ruling the kingdom for sixty thousand years”. After giving these boons, Lord Shiva disappeared. He became surprised and a bit apprehensive by the words of Lord Shiva. But soon he forgot it.
Lord Brahma, who was witnessing all this, grew frustrated and swore “Bhand” “Bhand” (meaning shame, shame). From then on, he got the name “Bhanda”. Because of his qualities he became an Asura (demon) and entered the domain of Asuras. This is how he got the name ‘Bhandasura’.
In the mean time, from the remnants of the ash of Manmatha were born two demons – Vishukra and Vishanga. These two became the main brothers of Bhandasura. In addition, thousands of Rakshasas (demons) were born out of the ash of Manmatha. All of them became followers of Bhandasura. They formed a strong army of 300 Akshouhinis (one Akshouhini consists of 21870 elephants, 65610 horses and 109350 soldiers). Having come to know about the birth of thousands of Rakshasas, Shukracharya (the guru of Rakshasas) came there and assumed the role of the Guru for all those Rakshasas and initiated them to undertake regular Anushthanas (daily rituals). He also summoned Mayan, the architect-builder of demons and asked him to create a new city in the province of Mahendra Mountains. He named the city as ‘Shoonyaka Pattana’
Shukracharya asked all the demons to move to the new city. He crowned Bhandasura as the king of the newly formed kingdom and made Vishukra and Vishanga the Yuvarajas (princes) of that kingdom. Bhandasura had four wives.
Under the guidance of Shukracharya, activities like fire sacrifices, Vedic education and penance went on uninterruptedly in every house.
Tormenting of the three worlds:
When the kingdom was well established, Bhandasura called for a meeting of his brothers and ministers and said:
A) Devatas (Gods) are our enemies. As long as Manmatha was alive, their lineage continued without any problems. They also enjoyed many pleasures.
B) Now, because of our luck, we have taken birth from the ashes of Manmatha. The gods are trying to see that Manmatha is born again. We should not allow that to happen. Before they try anything like that, we should kill the Devatas.
C) But, if we go in our present form, we cannot win. Let us therefore assume the form of air and enter their bodies.
D) After having so entered their bodies, let us dry up their body fluids, especially the semen.
E) If semen dries up, the strength of other tissues and organs will automatically diminish. Then they will automatically be annihilated.
F) Let us torment the beings of all the three worlds by entering their bodies in the form of air and by drying up their body fluids.
Hearing this, the entire army of the demons cheered with joy. Without wasting much time, Bhandasura and his army of 1000 Akshouhinis assumed the invisible form of air and entered the heaven. First of all, they entered the minds of the devas and dried up their mental faculties. Subsequently they entered the face of the devas, robbed them of their beauty and made them ugly looking. All the women and men in the heaven became impotent and sterile. Not only that, their love for one another was also lost. They lost enthusiasm to do anything. Even the plants and animals suffered the same fate.
Vishukra, along with his troupes entered Bhooloka (earth) and meted out the same treatment to the beings there. People on the planet earth stopped smiling. They lost all happiness. No one had any respect for another. No one thought of helping the other. They lost interest in their activities. The situation was stone-like, devoid of any life and feelings.
Vishanga, along with his troupes entered Rasaatala (one of the seven netherworlds). He created similar havoc there also. In the Naga Loka (land of serpents) everyone became afflicted with grief for no apparent reason. Everyone started hating everyone else. Everyone became drained of energy and potency. Rasa, the fluid principle is the basis for the accomplishment of the four-fold aims of life (Purusharthas). Let us see how.
A. Rasa itself is the form of Paramatma, the Almighty.
B. From Rasa are created Shukla (sperm) and Shonita (ovum). These two are collectively called as Veerya.
C. From Veerya comes Kanti (radiance), Utsaaha (enthusiasm), Ullasa(happiness), Dharma (righteousness), Daya (compassion), Preeti (love),Buddhi (intellectual capabilities), Vikasa (development), Parakrama (valour)Shastra Vijnana (scientific knowledge), Kala Asakti (interest in arts), Soundarya Drishti (proper concept of beauty) etc.
D. In plants, the Rasa enhances the fire energy, which is hidden in them. Only when the fire energy is harnessed, the plants can branch out and bear flowers and fruits. Because of this fire principle, the dried logs catch fire easily and burn.
E. The Vedas have declared that beings can experience happiness only if Rasais present.
F. Rasa is nothing but Prana (vital energy).
G. Having known all these secrets, Bhandasura devised the plan of entering the bodies of all beings in the form of air and drying them up.
Vasanta, the close friend and associate of Manmatha observed this immediately and consoled Rati (Manmatha’s wife). He said “Even the sun, the moon and the stars have lost their brilliance. Even Goddess Parvati seems to have become dull and has engaged in Tapas. Therefore, the day when your dead husband will come to life again is not very far. That day will come very soon. So, stop grieving.” On hearing this, Rati Devi prepared to undertake penance.
In the heaven, all the Devatas including Brahma, could not comprehend what was going on and what had caused the situation. Not knowing the remedy for their hardship, they approached Lord Sri Hari. When they finally reached the abode of Lord Sri Hari, they saw that even He was sitting still with his eyes closed. It appeared as though He was merged in the bliss of Sushupti.
After the devas praised His glory for a long time, Lord Sri Hari slowly opened His eyes. “What is this? Why are you all looking drained of your energies?” asked Lord Sri Hari. He called everyone by their names and said:
A. Your present condition is due to the invisible foul play of Bhandasura.
B. Even I have lost the affinity for Goddess Lakshmi. What to say about other lesser beings?
C. Myself, Brahma and Rudra are Karana Purushas (causal beings for the manifest creation). Even then, because we are also inhabiting this creation, even we cannot escape the torture of Bhandasura.
D. There is however one Almighty God who is beyond this manifest Brahmanda. He is called Maha Shambhu. Parashakti is constantly in His Company.
E. He is devoid of form. He is not dependent on anything. He has nomodifications. He is greater than the greatest. He is the ultimate.
F. He is not influenced by the foul play of Bhandasura, who is born from the ashes of Manmatha.
G. He can rescue us from our difficulties. Therefore, let us all take refuge in Him and praise Him. Follow me.
So saying, Sri Hari led all the devas to the brim of the Brahmanda (Universe). There was a huge wall like fence there. The devas summoned the celestial elephants to break the wall. After toiling continuously for one year, a breach was formed in the wall. After passing through the breach, they saw Chinmaya Akasha (sky beyond comprehension) , which was Niralamba (independent), Nirajnana (untainted) and which was devoid of the five elements.
They all stood in that Chinmaya Akasha and sang the glory of Maha Shambhu, who was of the form of Chidakasha. Then Maha Shambhu appeared before them. He was dark like clouds. He had two hands. He was holding a Shoola (spear) in one hand and a Kapala (skull) in the other. He had three eyes. Parashakti also appeared before them. She was holding Aksha Mala (rosary of beads) and Pustaka (book) in Her hands. She was bright and cool like the moon.
The great Maha Shambhu smiled and said
A. I am aware why you have all come here.
B. Pralaya (destruction) is of three types. (i) Avaantara Pralaya (ii) Maha Pralaya and (iii) Kama Pralaya.
C. I am the one who is responsible to rescue the world from Maha Pralaya. Vishnu is the one who rescues from Aavantara Pralaya. It is Lalita Parameshwari who rescues from Kama Pralaya.
D. These three kinds of Pralaya take place in a cyclic pattern in every Kalpa. Now, Kaamika Pralaya has taken place because of the destruction of Kama and subsequently due to the actions of Bhandasura.
E. Only Lalita Devi can rescue from this situation. Parashakti alone can create another Lalita Devi. Therefore, take shelter in her. Beg her to help you.
Hearing this, the Devatas did not know what to do. They again prayed to Maha Shambhu to teach them the method of appeasing Parashakti.
Maha Shambhu explained:
A. This is called as Maha Yaga. (great fire sacrifice)
B. I am (assuming the form of Vayu) the Hota (the priest who makes the offerings in a Homa) in this Yaga (fire sacrifice).
C. My Chidagni itself is the fire in this Yaga.
D. The last of the seven seas, i.e., Jala Samudra (Water Sea) has now dried up. The huge pit so formed itself is the Homa Kunda (fire pit where Homa is performed)
E. The remaining six great oceans constitute the six drops of ghee which is used as offering.
F. Srishti (creation) is of five types (i) Manasa Srishti (ii) Jarayavee Srishti (creation-taking place through the womb.
G. Human beings), (iii) Anda Srishti (creation taking place through eggs) (iv) Swedaja Srishti (creation taking place through sweat) and (v) Udbhijja Srishti (creation taking place by sprouting). These five Srishtis (creations) are the sacrifice animals in this Maya Yaga.G. Bhoomi (land), Parvata (mountains), Jala (water), Vayu (air) and Akasha (space) these five are the substances used in this fire sacrifice. Agni element (one of the five elements) being a part of my Chidagni can not be a substance to be offered.
H. At the end of this great fire sacrifice, all of you (the performers of the Yaga) should jump in to the Homa Kunda (fire pit). While doing so, you must possess absolute devotion.
I. Then, Lalita Parameshwari will manifest.
J. She will be seated in a chariot called Chakra Raja Ratha.
K. She will create Parabrahma in the name of Kameshwara and will have Him as Her consort.
L. This couple will re-create the entire universe, which will turn out to be more beautiful than the previous creation.
M. Lalita Parameshwari will bring Manmatha Backto life.
N. She will create four weapons, namely (i) Ikshu Dhanus – a bow of sugarcane (Mano roopekshu kodanda – is one of the 1000 names of Goddess Lalita) (ii) five Pushpa Banas – flower arrows (Pancha tanmatrasaayaka is one of the 1000 names), (iii) Paasha – noose (Raaga svaroopapaashaadhyaa – is one of the 1000 names of Lalita) and (iv) Ankusha (a hook, especially an elephant driver’s hook) (Krodha-akaaran kushojjvala is one of the descriptions of Lalita)
O. With the help of these weapons, she will destroy Bhandasura.
P. She will bring Manmatha Backto life.
Q. She will give you fresh bodies.
R. If you all agree, I will begin this great sacrifice myself.
The devas became very pleased and begged Maha Shambhu to be the Hota and carry on the sacrifice. Parashakti and Maha Shambhu disappeared. The devas also returned to their abode.
After some time, Maha Shambhunatha, accompanied by Parashakti started chanting the Lalita Maha Mantra and entered the Universe in the form of the seven-layered Vayu (air). Parashakti assumed the form of His Kriya Shakti (energy of action). With the help of Kriya Shakti, Vayu blew the Jala Samudra with all his energy. The Jala Samudra (water ocean) became totally dry. In the pit thus formed He kindled the Chidagni with the help of fire emanating from the third eye. This Agni raged from the Patala (a region in the nether-world) to the Brahma Loka. He decorated the periphery of the Homa Kunda with the stars just as one decorates a sacrificial fire pit with flowers. After this, he performed the Yaga as ordained by the Vedas. He used the Pralaya Meghas (clouds appearing during Pralaya), namely Pushkala and Aavartakaas Srik and Sruva (the two spoons which are used to offer ghee in fire worship).
As the Homa progressed, the Chidagni emanating from it spread to vast area. He then offered the first six oceans and then the five-fold creations to this Agni. In the end, the gods too decorated themselves and sat on the Srik and Sruva, ready to be offered to Agni. Maha Shambhunatha offered them to Agni. After this, Maha Shambhunatha discarded his Vayu form and assumed his real form. He then chanted 8 special mantras and performed 8 Homas.
“Sree mata sree maha ragnyi sreemat sinhasaneshwari | Chidagni kunda sambhuta deva karya samudyata ||
Udyadbhanu sahasrabha chaturbahu samanvita | Raga swaroopa paashadya krodhaakaraankushojvala ||
Mano roopekshu kodanda pancha tanmatra saayaka | Nijaruna prabhapura majja brahmanda mandala ||
These are the first three shlokas in the sahasranama.They explain that She was born from the homa kunda having “Chidagni”, for the sake of devas; She was seated on a throne and had four hands holding four weapons She created – bow (mano roopekshu kodanda), five flower arrows (pancha tanmatra saayaka), noose (raga swaroopa pashadya) and finally elephant goad (krodha akaarankushojvala). She was shining like the morning sun with crimson colour (udyadbhanu sahasrabha) and Her form covered the entire Brahmanda.