Source and Reference: Translation by Swami Vijñanananda : [1921-22]
Salurations to the Devî! to the Mahâmâyâ! to the Auspicious One! to the Creatrix of the Universe! We bow down to Thee, who is beyond the Gunas, the Ruler of all the Beings! O Mother! Thou givest to S’ankara even His desires. Thou art the receptacle of all the things; Thou art the Prâna of all the living beings; Thou art Buddhi, Laksmî (wealth), S’obhâ, Ks’hamâ (forgiveness), S’ânti (peace), Sraddhâ (faith), Medhâ (intellect), Dhriti (fortitude), and Smriti (recollection).
Thou art the bindu (m) over the Prânava (om) and thou art of the nature of semi-moon; Thou art Gâyatri, Thou art Vyârhiti; Thou art Jayâ, Vijayâ, Dhâtri (the supportress), Lajjâ (modesty), Kîrti (fame), Ichchâ (will) and Dayâ (mercy) in all beings.
O Mother! Thou art the merciful Mother of the three worlds; Thou art the adorable auspicious Vidyâ (knowledge) benefitting all the Lokas; Thou destroyest the Universe and Thou skilfully residest (hidden) in the Vîja mantras. Therefore we are praising Thee. O Mother! Brahmâ, Visnu, Mahes’vara, Indra, Sûrya, Fire, Sarasvatî and other Regents of the Universe are all Thy creation; so none of them is superior to Thee. Thou art the Mother of all the things, moving and non-moving.
O Mother ! When Thou dost will to create this visible Universe, Thou createst first Brahmâ, Visnu and Mahes’vara and makest them create, preserve and destroy this universe; but Thou remainest quite unattached to the world. Ever Thou remainest constant in Thy one form. No one in this Universe is able to know Thy nature; nor there is any body who can enumerate Thy names. How can he promise to jump across the illimitable ocean, who cannot jump across an ordinary well.
O Bhagavatî! No one amongst the Devas even knows particularly Thy endless power and glory. Thou art alone the Lady of the Universe and the Mother of the world.
The Vedas all bear testimony how thou alone hast created all this unreal and fleeting universe. O Devî! Thou without any effort and having no desires hast become the cause of this visible world, thyself remaining unchanged. This is a great wonder. We cannot conceive this combination of contrary varieties in one. O Mother! How can we understand thy power, unknown to all the Vedas even, when thou thyself dost not know thy nature! We are bewildered at this. O Mother!
Thus, all those who otherwise have no opportunity to learn the Vedas, are taught in one brief summary what the Vedas say about the Devi. Thus does Veda Vyasa, pass on to Vedic Knowledge via the Puranas – Satya
Then the Vedas, went on to wonder how could the Devi not know that Vishnu‘s head was severed? Was this all Her will? Could Sri Hari himself have done anything wrong? How could a devotee of Devi like Sri Hari ever do anything wrong? What would happen to Lakshmi Devi, the daughter of Sindhu and to the Devas? Was it a boon given by Devi to the Daityas? Lakshmi is an Amsa’ of the Devi Herself, then how could she be subject to such a big sadness?
The begged her to restore Vishnu to life and to protect them all.
Thus praised by the Vedas with their Angas, with Sâmagânas (the songs from the Sâma Veda), the Nirgunâ Mahes’vari Devî Mahâmâyâ became pleased.
Two things to note – ‘that samaveda was there at the time of either the event or the narration’ and ‘that nirguna devi is pleased by Vedas’ – Satya
“Amongst men, whoever will read this My stotra with devotion, will get all what he desires. Whoever will hear this devotedly, during the three Sandhyas, will lie freed from troubles and become happy. When this stotra has been sung by the Vedas, it is equivalent to the Vedas.”
Then Devi said that she knew about Vishnu’s head.
(One reason she gives for this event was the result of Lakshmi’s curse to Vishnu when She was overcome by tamas in the form of unjustified jealousy. I find this hard to take at surface value. Even the next statement purported to be of the Devi, is the interpolation of some later misogynist : “Falsehood, vain boldness, craftiness, stupidity, impatience, over-greediness, impurity, and harshness are the natural qualities of women” I have met both men and women who have one or more of the above qualities. Vyasa, himself the son of Satyavati, and the author of the Mahabharata, is too smart to make such a silly generalisation about people. – Satya)
She told them about a daitya called Hayagriva (one with the neck of a horse), who had taken a boon from Her, after a severe penance on the banks of the Saraswathi River that he could only be killed by another Hayagriva.
The Daitya had eschewed all comforts and meditated on her with the Bija Mantra. When the Devi appeared before him seated on a lion, and in her in Her tamasic form, he said, “O Mahes’vari! the five jñânendriyas (organs of perception) eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin and the five organs of action Karmendriyas :– hands, feet, speech, arms, and the organ of generation are all created by Thee. Please grant me immortality”. Since death is inevitable to those who are born as life is inevitable to those who die, Devi asked him to choose another boon, when he asked that he could be killed only by another Hayagriva.
Since it was now time for the daitya Hayagriva to die, Devi ordered Viswakarma to fix a horse’s head on Vishnu, so that the divine Vishnu in the avatar of Hayagriva could kill the daitya. Then Viswakarma did as ordered and Vishnu went and killed the Daitya.
I always have thought that Devi on Simha has some connection to the Simha Rasi. The Srimad Bhagavatham does not count Hayagriva in this list : 22 Avatars of Vishnu – Srimad Bhagavatam, that is why this story was something of a surprise to me.
I have heard in popular media the story of Vishnu as Hayagriva, saving the Vedas from Madhu and Kaitabha. I have heard that Ancient Egyptians as well as Gonds worshipped a horse-headed God.
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