LORD SHIVA PREPARES FOR THE BATTLE

GANAS THRONG MANDAR MOUNTAIN

Pulastya says- "When Lord Shiva became aware of Andhak's imminent attack, he requested Nandi to summon all the Ganas who were more than 700 crores in number. Some of the prominent Ganas like Pashupat, Kaalmukh, Mahavrati, Digambar, Maini, Mahapashupat and Vrishabhdhwaj arrived at Mandaar Mountain to help Lord Shiva at the request of Nandi.

On seeing the valiant Gana- Pashupat, Lord Shiva embraced him, which surprised all the other Ganas. They were amazed at the special honour given to him. Lord Shiva realised their astonishment and said- "Although all of you have great devotion towards me but in your ignorance, you have shown disrespect towards Lord Vishnu. All of you except Pashupat don't realise that both of us (Lord Shiva and Vishnu) are inseparable and there is no difference between us. Pashupat is aware of this and hence he has been accorded the highest honour." Having said this, Lord Shiva revealed his majestic form of Sadashiva to the Ganas. The Ganas were bewildered on seeing the whole universe existing within Sadashiva. Lord Sadashiva then transformed his appearance into that of Lord Vishnu. The Ganas also viewed the forms of deities like Indra, Surya and Lord Brahma etc. in him. They were now convinced that both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu were the same. The dawning of this realisation liberated them from their ignorance. Lord Shiva blessed the Ganas and embraced them. All the Ganas then took their position all around Mandaar Mountain and readied themselves for the forthcoming attack.

THE BATTLE COMMENCES

Pulastya says- "When the Ganas saw Andhak's army approaching the Mandaar Mountain, they made a loud roar, which reverberated through the land and sky. Hearing this roar, Lord Ganesha became apprehensive and went to Mandaar Mountain to ask Lord Shiva about the origin of that tremendous roar. Lord Shiva told him- "I am going to fight a battle with Andhak." Lord Ganesha also expressed his willingness to accompany him. Lord Shiva then entrusted the job of Parvati's security to prominent Matrikas like Maalini, Jaya, Vijaya, Aparajita and Jayanti. He then went to fight Andhak holding his weapon- trident in his hand and mounted on a bull. The Ganas made a protective ring and surrounded him from all sides.

In a very short time, both armies confronted each other and a tremendous battle began in which the Ganas crushed many demons to death. The demons retaliated by attacking them with mace and swords. All the deities assembled in the sky to witness this battle. Mahapashupat attacked the demons with such force that it caused great losses to the enemy. On seeing death and destruction caused in the demon's camp, Tuhunda- the mighty demon attacked the Ganas with his most destructive weapon- Paridhi, which scared the Ganas and they fled. Then Lord Ganesha came forward to fight Tuhunda. Tuhunda assaulted him with his weapon- Paridhi but it fragmented into hundreds of pieces after dashing against Ganesha's belly. On seeing the destruction of his maternal uncle's most destructive weapon, Rahu came running towards Lord Ganesha and held him tightly. Lord Ganesha, Ghatodar and Sukeshi assaulted him simultaneously with their respective weapons. Writhing in pain, Rahu immediately released Ganesha. Seeing the time opportune, Lord Ganesha severed Tuhunda's head with his axe. After killing Tuhunda, Lord Ganesha attacked the demons but the attack was repulsed by the mighty Bali. In this battle, the Ganas were finally able to annihilate the demons. Shambar protected himself by taking Shukracharya's refuge and all the surviving demons including Andhak followed suit.

SHUKRACHARYA USES SANJEEVANI VIDYA

Andhak went to Shukracharya and narrated the woeful tale of demons' defeat. He also requested Shukracharya to help the demons win the battle. Shukracharya was dejected but he assured the demons that he would make alive, all the dead demons with the help of Sanjeevani Vidya and really all the mighty demons like Jambh, Kujambh etc. became alive once again.

When Nandi came to know about this unbelievable incident, he went to Lord Shiva and informed him. Lord Shiva instructed him to bring Shukracharya by any means. "I shall control him by my Yogic power", said Lord Shiva. Nandi infiltrated into the demon's army but Hayakandhar spotted him and tried to resist his forward march. Nandi attacked Hayakandhar with his Vajra as a result of which, he fell down unconscious. After this, Kujambh, Jambh and some other demons ran menacingly towards Nandi. They surrounded him from all sides and started assaulting him ruthlessly. On seeing Nandi in danger, Lord Brahma became very worried and instructed the deities to help him.

Indra and all the other deities joined Lord Shiva's army and fought bravely against the demons. The sudden entry of the deities in the battlefield had distracted the attention of the demons and as a result, Nandi got an opportunity to penetrate through the rank and files of demons army. Ultimately, he successfully accomplished his mission and brought Shukracharya to Lord Shiva after abducting him. Lord Shiva wasted no time and swallowed Shukracharya immediately. The next moment, Shukracharya found himself in Lord Shiva's stomach. Shukracharya made frantic efforts to come out of the stomach but was unsuccessful. Being helpless, he started eulogising Lord Shiva. After becoming pleased by Shukracharya's extreme devotion, Lord Shiva expressed his desire to bless him with a boon. Shukracharya requested Lord Shiva to give him a way so that he can come out from his stomach. Lord Shiva agreed and asked him to come out immediately. Shukracharya started searching for an exit point but was amazed by the vastness of Shiva's stomach in which he saw the existence of the whole universe. He made ceaseless effort for one divine year but was unsuccessful in his attempts to come out from Shiva's stomach. At last, he surrendered to the will of Lord Shiva.

Lord Shiva told Shukracharya- "By entering into my stomach, you have become my son. Now, if you want to become free then you should come out through the pore of my Linga." After saying this, Lord Shiva liberated Shukracharya through his Linga who after being released made salutations to him and joined the demons' army once again. The demons were extremely pleased at his arrival. Once again, a fierce battle took place, which continued for eight divine years. When the demons realised about the deities' supremacy in the battle, they started employing illusionary tactics and swallowed all the Ganas and the deities. The scene of the battlefield, Mandaar Mountain became devoid of Ganas and the deities, which made Lord Shiva extremely furious. His extreme anger resulted into the manifestation of Jrimbhayika- a ferocious entity. The mere touch of Jrimbhayika made the demons to yawn. All the deities and the Ganas came out from the opened mouths of the demons. Once again, the battle commenced, which continued for 700 years.

When Andhak realised that Lord Shiva was invincible then he decided to acquire Parvati by deceitful means. He sought the help of one of his most trusted commander- Sunda by saying- "O brave Sunda! You are like my brother. I need your help. The battle has continued for such a long period but has still remained indecisive. I have decided to approach Parvati in the guise of her husband- Shiva and I want you to disguise yourself as Nandi." Sunda agreed to disguise himself in the form of Nandi to help his master.

Andhak went to Mandaar Mountain in the guise of Lord Shiva mounted on Sunda's back who had disguised himself as Nandi. When Parvati saw the injury marks on Shiva's (Andhak's) body, she told her companions- "Look, how grievously the demons have injured my husband! Please bring the medicinal herbs quickly so that I can dress his wounds." Her companions rushed to bring the medicinal herbs and in the meantime, Parvati started observing the wounds of Shiva (Andhak) minutely. She was surprised to see the absence of both the shoulders on his body. She immediately realised that somebody else had come in the guise of her husband- Shiva. Sensing danger, she ran away to protect herself. Her companions ran behind her and Andhak chased all of them. Parvati and her companions hid behind bushes. Being unable to locate Parvati, Andhak returned to the battlefield and the battle continued.

The deities were fighting valiantly. Lord Vishnu created havoc among the enemy ranks and Lord Brahma sprinkled holy water from his kamandalu, which had increased the strength and power of the deities. Indra attacked the demon- Bala on his head with his Vajra but it was broken into pieces. On seeing the destruction of his weapon, Indra became scared and wanted to flee from the battlefield. Jambh, the demon made fun of him and challenged him for a duel. Indra then requested Lord Vishnu to provide him with a weapon so that he could fight Jambh but Lord Vishnu sent him to Agni. Agni made a replica of his weapon- Shakti and gave it to Indra. Holding his new weapon, Indra then proceeded on his way to fight Jambh mounted on his elephant- Airavat. Jambh assaulted Airavat with such force that Indra started falling down towards the ground.

When the Siddhas and Charanas saw Indra falling down, they provided a magnificent chariot to him so that he could fight with the demons. Meanwhile Indra dashed against the ground with a great thud as a result of which, the earth shook violently.

Sage Shamik's wife thought that the earth was shaking violently due to the impact of earthquake. She requested her husband to carry their son outside the hermitage so that he remains unharmed and said- "The astrologers say that whatever is kept outside home during an earthquake becomes stable." Sage Shamik was very surprised but still followed her instructions. After the shaking of the earth had subsided, Shamik's wife requested him to bring back the child. Sage Shamik went outside and was surprised to find two children instead of one. He came back carrying both the children in his lap and asked his wife as to what made the second child to manifest. She told him that the second child will become the charioteer of Indra and assist him in the battle. This second child was none other than Maatali who acted as the charioteer of Indra during the battle.

Now, Indra had both the chariot and the charioteer in his possession. He went to the battlefield mounted on his new chariot. On the way, he saw a multicoloured bow and arrows lying on the ground. He picked up the weapons and fought valiantly with the demons. He killed many mighty demon warriors. Jambh and Kujambh ran menacingly towards him but Lord Vishnu severed the head of Kujambh with his Sudarshan chakra. Jambh assaulted Indra with his mace but Indra retaliated by attacking with his Shakti as a result of which Jambh was killed. The rest of the demons fled from the battlefield.

LORD SHIVA KILLS ANDHAK

Inspite of death and destruction caused to his army, Andhak still wanted to continue fighting against Lord Shiva's army. He even dismissed the advises of Shukracharya who wanted a momentary retreat and rebuffed him by saying- "All the deities including Maheshwar and Indra cannot save themselves from my wrath. Very soon, I am going to vanquish them." He then instructed his charioteer to move the chariot towards enemy's position. He shot a volley of arrows, which entirely covered the deities. Lord Vishnu advised the deities to kill Andhak along with his charioteer and destroy the chariot so that Lord Shiva could kill Andhak without any difficulty.

All the deities then attacked the demons with renewed vigour. Lord Vishnu killed thousands of enemy's horses with his mace. Skand killed the charioteer and Vinayak accompanied by the Ganas destroyed Andhak's chariot. After being bereft of his chariot, Andhak attacked the deities with his mace. Seeing the deities in danger, Lord Shiva concealed them within his body and challenged Andhak for a duel. Andhak tried to attack Lord Shiva who was mounted on Nandi. Lord Shiva immediately jumped down from Nandi's back and attacked Andhak with his trident, which pierced his chest. Even after being seriously injured, Andhak did not die instead he pulled Lord Shiva for one mile holding him tightly in his clutch. Lord Shiva tried to resist by attacking for the second time. But Andhak retaliated by hitting Shiva with his mace causing serious injury on his head. A stream of blood oozed out from the wound, which poured down towards all the four directions. The blood stream which poured down towards east resulted into the manifestation of Bhairav named Kaalraj. Similarly, Kamaraj, Chakramala, Somaraj, Swachcharaj, Lalitraj and Vighnaraj manifested from the other three directions.

Lord Shiva then lifted Andhak above his head with the help of his trident, which was still pierced in Andhak's chest. His body had become red due to the blood oozing out from Andhak's wound. Lord Shiva had toiled hard to kill Andhak and as a result, he was perspiring profusely. The sweat drops originating from Shiva's forehead resulted into the manifestation of a divine girl while the sweat drops that fell on the ground from Shiva's face resulted into the manifestation of a divine boy. Both the children started gulping down the blood emanating from Andhak's wound. Lord Shiva named the girl child as Charchika while the boy child was named Mangal and blessed both of them. Lord Shiva held Andhak above his head for 1000 divine years, which reduced his body to a skeleton.

At last, Andhak realised his mistake and begged for forgiveness. He eulogised Lord Shiva and hailed his greatness. Lord Shiva told him that he would forgive him only when he accepts Parvati as his mother. Andhak agreed not only to accept Parvati as his mother but also Shiva as his father. Shiva became pleased and lowered down his trident. He healed Andhak's wound by his divine touch. The deities became pleased at Andhak's change of heart and blessed him. Lord Shiva then took Andhak to Mandaar Mountain.

Parvati was still hiding behind the bushes. When she saw Lord Shiva approaching, she recognised him and called her companions to come out from their hiding. Lord Shiva gleefully told Parvati that Andhak had now become her slave. "Look at him. He is making salutations to you. Accept him as your son. Andhak then eulogised Parvati with complete devotion. Parvati became pleased and expressed her desire to bless him with a boon. Andhak said- "I don't want anything. I just want to become liberated from all my sins and remain in the proximity of Lord Shiva." Parvati blessed him and made him the Gana of Shiva who became famous as Bhringi

THE ORIGIN OF MARUT GANAS

Narad asked Pulastya about the battle which Indra fought with the demon at Malay Mountain. Pulastya replied- "Andhak's followers- Maya and Taar tried to enter Pataal loka after being defeated by the deities. While they were passing close to the Malay Mountain, they decided to live there being enchanted by its natural beauty. The caves of Malay Mountain were inhabited by sages who were Lord Shiva's devotees. The demons started causing obstacles in the rituals performed by the sages. When Lord Shiva came to know about this, he instructed Indra to go to Malay Mountain and help the sages. Indra went to Malay Mountain and successfully drove out the demons from there.

Narad again asked Pulastya as to why Indra was also known as Gotrabhit. Pulastya narrated the following tale- "After her son's death, Diti requested her husband, Kashyap to bless her with another son so that Indra could be killed. Sage Kashyap advised her that she would get her desire fulfilled after the successful accomplishment of her penance lasting for 100 divine years. In course of time, Diti became pregnant. One day, sage Kashyap left for Udaygiri Mountain to do his penance and Diti was left all alone.

One day, Indra arrived at the hermitage and expressed his desire to be at Diti's service if she permitted. Diti gave permission and Indra engaged himself in serving her. He used to keep the oblation site clean and bring dry wood necessary for the performance of Yagya. This continued for 1000 divine years. One day, Diti was taking rest after her bath. She had postponed her penance for sometime because of her impurity. As she was tired, very soon, she fell asleep. Seeing the moment opportune, Indra entered into her womb through her nostrils and cut the foetus into seven parts. After waking up, Diti realised about her foetus' destruction. Indra was very scared on the prospect of being cursed by Diti and said- "I am not the cause of your foetus' destruction. It has been destroyed due to your own impurity. So please don't curse me." Diti replied- "You are certainly not responsible for my foetus' destruction. It was all in my destiny. From the pieces of the foetus manifested the Marut Ganas and since Indra had tried to harm his own uterine brothers therefore he became famous as Gotrabhit.

MARUT GANAS OF DIFFERENT MANVANTARAS

Sage Pulastya says- "O Narad! Now, I am going to describe about the origin of Marut Ganas of various Manvantaras. Savan was Swayambhu Manu's son. He had no sons and when he died, the sorrowful queen- Sudeva heard a heavenly voice, which instructed her to give up her life by jumping into the burning pyre." "You would become a proud mother of seven sons", said the heavenly voice. The queen acted accordingly and died after jumping into the burning pyre."

"The souls of the dead king and queen ascended towards the sky. The prophesies made by the heavenly voice came true and Sudeva found herself in her periods. The king enjoyed a physical relationship with the queen for five days. Incidentally, few drops of sperms fell towards earth. After this both the souls departed towards Brahma loka. These falling drops of sperms were gathered by the wives of some sages and stored in a lotus flower. Those women were Samana, Nalini, Vayushmati, Chitra, Vishakha, Harita and Alini. They mistook the sperms for ambrosia and drank it after getting permission from their husbands. But after drinking it, they became devoid of their effulgence and were abandoned by their respective husbands. In course of time, they gave birth to seven sons who became famous as Aadya Maruts during Swayambhu Manvantara."

After having described about the Marut Ganas, sage Pulastya went on to describe about Swarochish Manvantara- "Kratudhwaj was the son of Swarochish Manu. He had seven sons. All of them went to Meru Mountain to do penance as they were desirous of Indra's kingdom. Indra being scared instructed Putna to create hurdles in their penance so that Kratudhwaj's sons wishes remained unfulfilled."

"Putna went to the place where Kratudhwaj's sons were doing penance. There was a river nearby where Kratudhwaj's sons arrived one day to bathe. Acting according to her plan, Putna too entered into the river to take bath. Kratudhwaj's sons were infatuated by her divine beauty. They could not control themselves and as a result, they had an ejaculation. Putna was successful in accomplishing her mission of corrupting the thoughts of Kratudhwaj's sons, who after realising that their penance had gone in vain returned to their father's kingdom. The released sperms of Kratudhwaj's sons was swallowed by a fish named Shankhini. One day, she was caught by a fisherman and presented to Kratudhwaj's sons, who again released her into a nearby pond. In course of time, Shankhini died after giving birth to seven young fish. The seven young fish started crying at their mother's death. Lord Brahma appeared and advised them not to cry and for this reason, they were called Marut. Lord Brahma blessed them by saying- "All of you would attain the status of deities and would be capable of flying in the air." After finishing his story, sage Pulastya told Narad that this was how Marut Ganas originated during Swarochish Manvantara.

Sage Pulastya says- "Now, I am going to describe about the Marut Ganas of Uttam Manvantara. Jyotishmaan was the son of Vayushmaan and his wife was the daughter of sage Vrihaspati. As they were sonless, both of them decided to do penance to beget a son. The Saptarishis arrived there and enquired as to why they were doing such a severe penance. Jyotishmaan's wife told the Saptarishis that they were desirous of a son. The Saptarishis blessed her by saying that she would become a mother of seven sons. In course of time, Jyotishmaan's wife became pregnant. One fateful day, Jyotishmaan passed away. His sorrowful wife wanted to commit Sati. While he was sitting on the burning pyre, suddenly, a piece of burning flesh fell into the nearby river and got fragmented into seven pieces. Seven Marut Ganas manifested from these seven pieces of flesh."

Sage Pulastya says- "During Taamas Manvantara, Ritdhwaj, the son of Taamas Manu did a severe penance with the desire of getting a son. He made offerings of his own flesh, blood and sperms to the oblation fire. Suddenly, he heard a heavenly voice instructing him not to make offerings of his sperms. But the king continued with his offering and as a result, he died. After sometime, seven infants manifested from the oblation fire who later on became famous as the Marut Ganas of Taamas Manvantara."

King Ripujeet was the descendant of Raivat. He was sonless and after being pleased by his extreme devotion, the deity- Sun had blessed him with a daughter named Surati. In course of time, she grew into a beautiful woman. One day, Ripujeet passed away and a grieved Surati decided to give up her life. The Saptarishis arrived there and they were so infatuated by her beauty that they tried to prevent her from doing so. But unrelenting Surati did not listen and gave up her life by jumping into the burning pyre. The sorrowful Saptarishis went away after casting lusty glances on her. Seven infants manifested from the burning pyre, who became famous as Marut Ganas of Raivat Manvantara.

During Chaakshush Manvantara, a sage named Manki did a tremendous penance at the banks of Saptasaraswat. But he fell down from grace after being infatuated by the beauty of an Apsara named Vapu. His sperms ejaculated and fell into the Saptasaraswat river from which manifested the seven Marut Ganas.

LORD VISHNU KILLS KAALNEMI

After hearing the news of Bali's coronation, Maya and some other demons went and advised Bali to avenge the killings of his father- Virochan and other relatives by Indra. Bali became furious and marched with a huge army to fight the deities.

When Indra heard this news, he started making preparations for the battle and very soon, the deities' army assembled at the foothills of Udyachal Mountain. A fierce battle was fought between both the armies. The movement of the troops covered the whole sky with dust which subsided only after the tremendous bloodbath wetted the earth with blood. Kartikeya fought valiantly in this battle and killed many demons. The demons too retaliated by vigorously attacking the deities. Lord Vishnu created havoc in the demons' army by killing many demons in a very short time.

When Kaalnemi- the demon saw that his comrades were scared of fighting Lord Vishnu, he attacked the deities with renewed vigour and swallowed many of the Yakshas, Kinnars and the deities. The deities became scared and started running away from the battlefield. The demons became delighted considering it as their victory and the defeat of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu became furious and covered the Udyachal Mountain with a volley of arrows named Naarach. Bali and Maya became terrified and instigated Kaalnemi to fight against Lord Vishnu.

Kaalnemi confronted Lord Vishnu with a mace but it was destroyed by Vishnu's chakra. After destroying Kaalnemi's weapon, Lord Vishnu first severed both his hands and then his head. The news of Kaalnemi's death spread like a wildfire in the demons army and they fled from the battlefield.