With Indra’s city still under siege, the gods arrange the marriage of Siva and Tripura-sundari. After some time the goddess, with her female associates (saktis), goes off to battle Bhanda and his army. Tripura-sundari produces many weapons from the noose and goad that she carries in her hands. Bhanda is amused by the army of females and predicts that they will be as ineffective in battle as the name of their leader, Lalita (soft and delicate), suggests. Tripura-sundari and her army, however, turn out to be superior to Bhanda and his army. In the course of the battle the two chief protagonists, Tripura-sundari and Bhanda, produce various beings from their bodies. Bhanda creates a number of demons that are well known in Hindu mythology, and Tripura-sundari counters by bringing forth a corresponding deity or avatara to defeat the demon. Bhanda, for example, creates Hiranyakasipu. Lalita in turn produces Prahlada, who in the well-known Vaisnava myth defeats Hiranyakasipu. Bhanda brings forth Ravana, and Tripura-sundari creates Rama from one of her fingernails. In the course of the battle Bhanda also creates Mahisasura. The goddess responds by producing Durga, who is ornamented with jewelry given to her by many male gods. Durga then slays Mahisasura, as she does in the famous Devi-mahatmya. Finally, the goddess defeats Bhanda himself. After the battle, the gods, led by Kama-deva’s wife, Rati, implore Tripura-sundari to restore the god of love, whom Siva had destroyed. She does so, and desire is restored to the world. The gods praise her in unison.
Please pardon me as I gush for a moment about how in love I am with this deity, Shree Raseshwari Radha Rani, located at the Radha Madhav Dham in Austin, Texas. It is the first time I have seen a deity of Radharani singularly, in her queenly, majestic aspect, indeed as Queen of Vrindavan. She looks so serene, so haughty, proud and beautiful. I am grateful to the wonderful Srimati Radharani page on Facebook for granting me my first darshan of this amazing deity. HARE KRISHNA!!!
71 The crest jewel of all beautiful girls is now manifest deep in Vrndavana forest, a girl who is the devotees’ cintamani jewel, a girl who is a jewel streaming the nectar of great bliss, a girl who with the slightest amorous signal from Her eyebrows bewilders He who is the jewel of Vraja.
72 Sri Radha, whose waves of sidelong glances gave birth to many millions of Kamadevas proudly standing with twanging archers’ bows, and who, in the first entrance of youth has become wonderful and glorious with limitless floods of the greatest sweetness, is our queen.
73 Brahma, Siva, and the demigods are not qualified to place on their heads even a single particle of dust from Radha’s feet. Even so, they who take shelter of the gopis in the course of time eventually attain Sri Radha, who is the great treasure of the nectar ocean of love. O destiny, I bow down before you.
74 Let the affectionate relatives stay far away. Let the friends and servants stay far away. How can anyone approach? In a forest grove King Vrsabhanu’s daughter now enjoys pastimes with Her passionate lover. Standing at the doorway, I, Her dear maidservant, will hear the tinkling of the ornaments at Her waist.
75 O Sri Radha, in my heart may I always see in meditation the softness of Your fair limbs, the sweetness of Your smile, the longness of the corners of Your eyes, the heaviness of Your breasts, the slenderness of Your waist, the slow grace of Your steps, the broadness of Your hips, the curve of Your eyebrows, the redness of Your bimba-fruit lips, and the coolness of the nectar in Your heart.
The princes were eager for a fight. They stood vigilantly by Viśvāmitra’s side as he sat silently meditating upon the sacrificial hymns. Rāma leaned on his great bow, which stood almost as tall as Him. Lakṣman held in His hand a shining blue sword, its golden handle impressed with bright gems.
As the sixth night approached and the final rituals were being performed, the sacrificial fire suddenly blazed forth furiously. A loud clamor came from the sky, which was covered over by clouds. Swooping down upon that sacrifice, the two Rākṣasa demons Maricha and Subahu, appeared from the sky. They were accompanied by their fierce and terrible looking followers. As they spread their sorcery, torrents of blood and pus, as well as large pieces of flesh, fell upon the altar. Blazing fires sprang from the earth and hot coals flew everywhere.
Shrieking horribly, the Rākṣasas danced about, wreaking havoc. The hermits fell back, but this time they were not fearful. Viśvāmitra quickly stood up. It was time for these evil beings to receive their just deserts. They had defiled his sacrifice once too often. They would not do so again. Gathering the other ascetics, Viśvāmitra moved aside and ordered Rāma to attack the Rākṣasas.
Rāma became infuriated upon seeing the scene of devastation. He rushed forward toward the Rākṣasas, calling to His brother, “Watch now as I scatter these wicked demons who feed on raw flesh.”
Even as he spoke, Rāma continuously worked His bow. He sent swift arrows in all directions. The Rākṣasas were stunned; they had not expected any resistance. Some of them closed quickly on Rāma, covering Him on all sides. Rāma released arrows with deadly accuracy and speed. The Rākṣasas were cut to pieces. Rāma looked for Maricha. Seeing his huge form nearby, tearing at the sacrificial altar, Rāma invoked a celestial weapon. He placed it on His bow and, although still feeling furious, he calmly said to Lakṣman. “I shall release the Manava weapon, presided over by the father of the gods, Manu.”
Rāma angrily fired His weapon at the fearsome, roaring Maricha. The demon was struck by the mighty missile and he was lifted and flung a distance of eight hundred miles, landing in the ocean. Although reeling and struck senseless by Rāma’s arrow, Maricha was not killed. Rāma looked at Lakṣman. “See the force of that weapon, My brother. It easily hurled the demon to a vast distance.”
Rāma and Lakṣman continuously discharged flaming arrows at the other Rākṣasas. Imbued with mystic power one arrow expanded into thousands. It appeared as if a continuous line of shafts was leaving Rāma’s bow, so fast was His movement. The Rākṣasas screamed in pain. Some of them vanished and others fell dead on the ground. Some entered the earth while others flew into the sky.
Regrouping, a large number of the demons rushed down from the sky towards the princes. They hurled lances, iron maces, massive rocks and blazing coals. Rāma and Lakṣman stood firm, parrying that shower of weapons with Their arrows. Tightly grasping His golden bow, Rāma said to His brother, “Fear not Lakṣman, for I shall now swiftly deal with these blood-sucking demons. They are wicked and merciless and always given to sinful acts. This indeed shall be the last sacrifice they defile.”
Having said this to His brother, Rāma moved with agility, evading the rocks thrown by the demons. He invoked the weapon presided over by the god of fire, Agni. Fired from Rāma’s fully extended bow, the weapon hit the Rākṣasa Subahu full upon the chest. His heart torn apart, he fell dead on the ground like an uprooted tree. Rāma then invoked the Vāyu-astra, the powerful wind weapon. He fired it and a roaring gale went towards the Rākṣasas. They were blown away like so many pieces of dust and debris. Those who were not killed by that weapon fled for their lives.
Thank you! I am indeed a convert, having been born basically a white American with no religious upbringing, though with an interest in concepts such as reincarnation, parallel universes, etc from an early age, so Hinduism, and specifically Vaisnavism, quickly made complete sense to me, and I continue to learn and grow spiritually thanks to this font of knowledge. I’ve never had any trouble with those born into the religion, and this is because the philosophy is very clear that the soul transcends the form of the body, and that attachment to one’s temporary physical form is an illusion, and detrimental to spiritual development. Even when there may be a difference of opinion, viewpoint, or tradition, almost all Hindus I have encountered will agree that the soul is eternal while the body is temporary, so to get to hung-up on your or someone else’s race, gender, nationality or what-have-you is essentially counter-productive. We ALL come from the same source, we ALL are individual souls connected to the Supersoul, so whatever body one happens to inhabit for this blink-of-an-eye of a lifespan is not what makes you who you are. Anyone can be a Hindu; all that is required is devotion! Hare Krishna!
One legend relates the story of how Shiva protected Markandeya from the clutches of death, personified as Yama.
Mrikandu rishi and his wife Marudmati worshipped Shiva and sought from him the boon of begetting a son. As a result he was given the choice of either a gifted son, but with a short life on earth or a child of low intelligence but with a long life. Mrikandu rishi chose the former, and was blessed with Markandeya, an exemplary son, destined to die at the age of 12.
Markandeya grew up to be a great devotee of Shiva and on the day of his destined death he continued his worship of Shiva in his aniconic form of Shivalingam. The messengers of Yama, the god of death were unable to take away his life because of his great devotion and continual worship of Shiva. Yama then came in person to take away Markandeya’s life, and sprung his noose around the young sage’s neck. By accident or fate the noose mistakenly landed around the Shivalingam, and out of it, Shiva emerged in all his fury attacking Yama for his act of aggression. After defeating Yama in battle to the point of death, Shiva then revived him, under the condition that the devout youth would live forever. For this act, Shiva was thereafter known also as Kalantaka (“Ender of Death”). This was said to have happened in Thirukkadavoor in Tamilnadu.