We have just learned the stories of Hayagriva as well as Madhu Kaitabha as per the Devi Bhagavatham.
- Hayagriva : Devi Bhagavatham : Part 1 : Vishnu’s head is lost.
- Hayagriva : Devi Bhagavatham : Part 2 : Vishnu gets a Horse’s Head
- Madhu and Kaitabha : Devi Bhagavatham
Now let us look at an alternate version as taught by Ugrasrava (Sauti), the son of Romaharshana (Suta), as he told it to Saunaka Maharshi, when he told them the Mahabharatam. Ugrasrava heard this when Vaisampayana, a student of Veda Vyasa, narrated it to Janamejaya, the son of Parikshit, the grandson of Abhimanyu and the great grandson of Arjuna, at the time of the sarpa yagnya. Actually the Mahabharata was taught by Veda Vyasa to Romaharshana (Suta) and Yajur Veda to Vaisampayana, still it was Vaisampayana who narrated it to Janamejaya. There is also another version called the Jaimini Mahabharatam, as narrated by another of Vyasa’s students, who actually received the Sama Veda from Veda Vyasa.
The most striking feature of the Mahabharata Version, is that there is no Devi at all in the story, and she is the most important deity the all-consciousness in the Devi Bhagavatam.
For the following story I use as my reference Kisari Mohan Ganguli’s translation of Vyasa Bharatam. (in the Santi Parva).
Janamejaya was very curious about the Hayagriva Avatar of Vishnu and asked Vaisampayana to tell him all about it.
Vaisampayana explained how Narayana as Purusha, the antarAtma or the Jivatama, created the universe and the elements and then he told hi the story.
- “All existent objects, O king, in this world, are the result of a combination of the five primal elements.
- Narayana, is the supreme Lord and Creator of the universe.
- He is the inner Soul of all things, and the giver of boons.
- Divested of attributes, he is again possessed of them.
- Destruction : At first, the element of Earth becomes merged in Water and nothing then is seen save one vast expanse of Water on all sides. Water then merges into Heat, and Heat into Wind. Wind then merges into Space, which in its turn, merges into Mind.
- Mind merges into the Manifest (otherwise called Consciousness or Ego).
- The Manifest merges into the Unmanifest (or Prakriti).
- The Unmanifest (or Prakriti) merges into Purusha (Jivatman) and
- Purusha merges into the Supreme Soul (or Brahman, paramAtma).
- Then Darkness spreads over the face of the universe, and nothing can be perceived.
- Creation : From that primal Darkness arises Brahma (endued with the principle of Creation).
- Darkness is primeval and fraught with immortality.
- Brahma that arises from primeval Darkness develops (by its own potency) into the idea of the universe, and assumes the form of Purusha.
- This Purusha is called Aniruddha and is genderless it is called otherwise by the name of Pradhana (Supreme or Primary).
- That is also known by the name of Manifest, or the combination of the 3 gunas.
- He exists with Knowledge alone for his companion.
- That Being is called by the name of Viswaksena or Hari.
- Yielding to Yoga-nidra, he lays himself down on the waters.
- He then thinks of the Creation of the Universe of diversified phenomena and fraught with immeasurable attributes.
- While engaged in thinking of Creation, he recollects his own high attributes. From this springs the four-faced Brahma representing the Consciousness of Anirudha. The illustrious Brahma, otherwise called Hiranyagarbha, is the Grandsire of all the worlds.
- Endued with eyes like lotus petals, he takes birth within the Lotus that springs from (the navel of) Anirudha.
- Seated on that Lotus, Brahma of wonderful adopts the attribute of Satwa Brahma, otherwise called Parameshthi, then commences to create the universe.
Naryana’s eyes fell on a couple of drops of water within the lotus. Then the Daitya Madhu was born of a honey like drop and called Madhu, at the will of Sri Hari, with tamas as his guna. And from the other drop which was hard, sprang the daitya Kaitabha, with the rajo guna.
These two Asuras, walked around that lustrous lotus with their maces – and came up on Brahma intently creating the Vedas. They snatched the Vedas and madea run for it. Brahma was very unhappy and complained to Vishnu. He said that the Vedas were the very Brahman to him and prayed Hari to give them back to him.
Brahma praised Vishnu in the following terms.
- I bow to thee, O heart of Brahman.
- I bow to thee that hast been born before me. Thou art the origin of the universe. Thou art the foremost of all abodes. Thou, O powerful one, art the ocean of Yoga with all its branches.
- Thou art the Creator of both what is Manifest and what is Unmanifest.
- Thou treadest along the path whose auspiciousness is of inconceivable extent.
- Thou art the consumer of the universe.
- Thou art the Antaralok (Inner Soul) of all creatures.
- Thou art without any origin. Thou art the refuge of the universe.
- Thou art self-born; for origin thou hast none that is not thyself.
- As regards myself, I have sprung through thy Grace. From thee have I derived my birth.
- My first birth from thee, which is regarded sacred by all regenerate persons, was due to a fiat of thy Mind.
- My second birth in days of yore was from thy eyes.
- Through thy Grace, my third birth was from thy speech.
- My fourth was from thy ears.
- My fifth birth, excellent in all respects, was from thy nose.
- O Lord, My sixth birth was, through thee, from an egg.
- This is my seventh birth. It has occurred, O Lord, within this Lotus, and it is meant to stimulate the intellect and desires of all the beings.
- At each Creation I take birth from thee as thy son, O thou that art divested of the three attributes. Indeed, O lotus-eyed one, I take birth as thy eldest son, made up of Sattwa the foremost of three attributes. Thou art endued with that nature which is Supreme. Thou springest from thyself. I have been created by thee.
- The Vedas are my eyes. Hence, I transcend Time itself.
Now Vishnu was roused from his Yoga Nidra and resolved to get the Vedas back for Brahma. He took the head of a horse, and became as bright as the moon. His head itself was the abode of the Vedas. The firmament, with all its luminaries and constellations, became the crown of his head. His locks of hair were long and flowing, and had the splendour of the rays of the Sun. The regions above and below became his two ears. The Earth became his forehead. The two rivers Ganga and Saraswati became his two hips. The two oceans became his two eye-brows. The Sun and the Moon became his two eyes. The twilight became his nose. The syllable Om became his memory and intelligence. The lightning became his tongue. The Soma-drinking Pitris became, his teeth. Goloka and Brahmaloka, became his upper and lower lips. The terrible night that succeeds universal destruction, and that transcends the three attributes, became his neck.
Then he went to the regions below to find Madhu and Kaitabha. Through a high Yoga, through a voice regulated by the Siksha Vedanga, he chanted the Veda Mantras loudly. His pronunciation was distinct and reverberated through the air, and was sweet in every respect. The sound of his voice filled the nether region from end to end. Endued with the properties of all the elements, it was productive of great benefits.
The asuras threw the Vedas into the regions below to (hide them) and followed the source of the sound of the Veda Mantras. Sri Hayagriva who was in the nether regions already quickly picked up the Vedas and took them over and gave them to Brahma. The asuras could not find the source of the sound they had followed and when they went back for the Vedas they were gone. They came back to the lotus and found Aniruddha in deep Yoganidra, his face as bright as a moon and lying on ananta (infinity) sarpa.
They loudly wondered whether this was the one who had taken the Vedas back from them and in doing so, they roused Sri Hari. Vishnu understood that the two Danavas intended to have an encounter with him in battle. Beholding the two foremost of Asuras prepared to do battle with him, he also set his mind to gratify that desire of theirs. Then there was a battle and the Asuras Madhu and Kaitabha who were embodiments of the attributes of Rajas and Tamas were slain. Narayana thence came to be called by the name of Madhusudana (slayer of Madhu). Having compassed the destruction of the two Asuras and restored the Vedas to Brahma, the Supreme Being dispelled the grief of Brahma. Aided then by Hari and assisted by the Vedas, Brahma created all the worlds with their mobile and immobile creatures.
My thoughts : To me this is very clearly a yogic narration. Historically Sri Vishnu may have killed two daityas Madhu and Kaitabha who tried stealing the Vedas.
But this narration with the sahasrara kamala in which Brahma resides, with the Vedas as his Brahman, where the Jivatama or Purusha has to defeat the tamasik Madhu (sweet) and rajasik kaitabha (fraud/ insect), by chanting the Veda Mantras in order to rescue the Vedas from the nether regions and restore them to the top of the head.
Also look at the the 7 births of Brahma and the places from where he took birth, (in his praise of Vishnu.)
For more thoughts in this line see : Padmasana, Padmanabha : Literal (Lotus Stalk), Yogic (Spinal Cord)
Authorship and Copyright Notice : All Rights Reserved : Satya Sarada Kandula