In the kingdom of Danavas, Darika was known for his ferocious temper and for the boon of immortality that he had wrested from the great Brahma after a long and arduous penance. Brahma had granted Darika the boon that no god or man would be able to kill him and that every drop of his blood that fell to the ground would lead to the birth of hundreds of Darikas. He could be slayed only by a woman.
Born to Darumathy, Darika grew extremely arrogant in his power and attacked the Devas. He entered Devalok and then stormed into Kailasa. Shiv was furious and to bring about his end created Bhadrakali from his third eye (it is said she incarnated from his eye on a Tuesday afternoon). Bhadrakali set about her mission as soon as she was born, with the leader of forest ghosts and spirits, Vetalam in tow, she attacked the demon and beheaded him. And as the blood dripped off his torso, she licked it before it could fall on to the ground.
However, even after Darika was killed, Bhadrakali’s thirst for blood was not appeased and she went on a killing spree. The gods ran to Shiva for help. He tried to convince her to stop but when everything failed, he lay down on the ground and said, “Daughter dance upon my naked body and release your anger.” That worked and Bhadrakali’s terrifying rampage came to an end as did the reign of Darika.
In another version, Bhadrakali failed to kill Darika in her first attempt and so she approached his wife Manodari who knew the secret mantra that Brahma has given her husband. Bhadrakali tricked her into revealing the mantra and went into the battlefield, but when Manodari found out, she obtained a bucket of Parvati’s sweat and threw it on Bhadrakali at which she was instantly covered with sores all over her body. Shiva then created a being out of his earwax called Ghantakarnan who licked the sores off her body, however he was too embarrassed to lick her face and hence Bhadrakali’s face is still marked with spots (like a small pox infestation).
This story is performed and sung as Darikavadham (the legend of Darika’s killing) in various parts of Kerala as an offering to the goddess Bhagavathy. In later years, the worship of Bhadrakali has been merged with that of Bhagavathy.
STORY COLLECTED BY: Arundhuti Dasgupta
SOURCE: South Asian Folklore, An Encyclopaedia; Edited by Margaret Mills, Peter Claus and Sarah Diamond
LOCATION: Tamil Nadu
At the tip of Indian subcontinent, where three mighty oceans – The Indian Ocean, Arabian sea and Bay of Bengal meet, lies the shrine of the virgin goddess or Kanyakumari . There are many legends that explain why the goddess has remained a virgin and here is one.
Banasura the asura, meditated upon Brahma for years. Pleased with his devotion, Brahma granted him a boon. Banasura asked that he be killed by no man in this universe, only a woman could bring about his end. The boon having been bestowed pleased Banasura no end and he promptly reported it to his preceptor Shukra. To his surprise Shukra reprimanded Banasura saying, “You fool! You should have asked for death only at the hands of a virgin. Virgins are rare on earth. Go back to Brahma and perform rigorous tapas and ask him to modify the boon. Be specific that only a virgin can kill you”.
Confused Banasura asked Shukra, “But why do you say virgins are rare?” Shukra replied, “This world constitutes of Shiva and Shakti. Neither can exist without each other and therefore, virgins are rare.” Convinced by the logic of the argument, Bana sought Brahma’s blessings one more time and was duly rewarded. With his newly acquired power, Banasura conquered the three worlds and started harassing sages and devas. Frustrated, the devas approached Vishnu, who suggested that they go to Parashakti, the mother goddess. It was in her power to solve their problems he said and so the sages began performing the required sacrifices to Parashakti.
Pleased, the goddess appeared before them in the form of a young girl. After listening to their problems she promised them deliverance from the demon. At the right time she would eliminate Banasura and restore peace on earth, she said. True to her word, she donned the form of a beautiful maiden and went to the southern-most edge of the world where she lay in wait for Banasura. In this form she came to be known as Kanyakumari, the virgin girl.
One day Shiva (in the form Suchindaram) happened to pass by and noticed her and the austere life that she was living. He instantaneously fell in love with her and expressed his wish to marry her. The goddess agreed and the marriage was fixed for an auspicious hour by midnight. Now Sage Narad heard the news and was alarmed because he realized that if the marriage took place then Kanyakumari would no longer remain a virgin and she would not be able to kill Banasura. He decided to take matters in his hands and went to Kanyakumari and told her that perhaps it was not Shiva who wanted to marry her, but Banasura in disguise. To verify his true identity, he told her that she should ask Shiva to bring three items that could not be obtained anywhere in the world: a coconut without eyes, a mango without a seed, and a betel leaf without veins. Kanyakumari did as asked but Shiva easily fulfilled her demands and the marriage was back on schedule.
A worried Narad decided to trick Shiva (Suchindaram) instead. As Shiva embarked on the journey to the bride’s home with his wedding party, Narada assumed the form of a cock and prematurely announced the arrival of dawn. Shiva-Suchindaram was distraught as he assumed that he had missed the auspicious hour. He turned back leaving an anxious Kanyakumari waiting for her groom in bridal clothes. When the sun came up and her groom had not arrived, the goddess threw a tantrum, kicking all the utensils and food items that were part of the marriage ceremony. In anger she cursed them to turn into pebbles and shells of the sea. And even today, you can find sand grains that resemble rice grains on the beaches of Kanyakumari. Heartbroken, the goddess vowed that she would remain a virgin till the day Shiva came to her as her groom.
News of the beauty of the goddess and her severe austerities soon reached Banasura. He sought her hand in marriage but she refused him. The demon decided to take her by force leading to a fierce battle between the two. In the end Banasura was killed by her discus. A dying Banasura asked for forgiveness and repented his adharmic actions and the goddess, in an act of compassion, proclaimed that the waters of the ocean would wash away all his sins.
In a small village near Ujjire, Mangalore, there lived not more than a hundred families; all god-fearing, hardworking and simple people. Set between small hills and a few rivulets, the village was picturesque and a haven for the people who lived there. The village had a small temple that was looked after by a priest who was held in high esteem by the villagers. He was a pious man and would never eat until he had performed all the rituals twice daily, early morning before sunrise and after sunset.
One such day, just before the sunrise, a sadhu with a kamandalu (a small brass pot) filled with water from the Ganges, walked into this temple. The priest was pleased to see him and invited him to his house so that he could share a meal with his family. The sadhu accepted his invitation, but on one condition. He would not eat until he had prayed and performed all the attendant rituals in front of “lingam” with the sacred water that he had been carrying. Now the temple did not have a Shiva Lingam, but only a small figurine of a deity known to the villagers as the “the Protector of the Village”.
The priest was at a loss. He wept in front of the temple god and vowed to go without food until the sadhu’s wishes were fulfilled. Three days went by but the priest refused to get up for even a sip of water. The third day, just before sunrise, the priest opened his eyes to see a bright light emanating from the temple within which was a lingam. The sadhu was finally appeased and also highly impressed with the priest’s devotion. He blessed the priest and said that he would visit him every year to partake of the feast offered to the lingam.
Since then the village has been named “Dharmasthal” and every day at noon, the priest sets aside a portion of food prepared for the deity and the lingam after all his morning rituals. The practice continues till date and the food, it is said, disappears without fail, every day. None can explain this but some have said that a huge bird, resembling an eagle, visits this hill every noon to eat the offered food.
The devotees however strongly feel that the sadhu who visited the priest was Lord Shiva and that he is the one who comes every day, to keep his promise. And it is this faith that draws thousands of devotees here regularly. And, as per the high priest’s wishes (known as Hegde), free meals are offered to everybody who visits this place.
STORY COLLECTED BY: Anjali S. Pai Panandiker
STORY TOLD BY: Meera Balse
Artist . E. A. Rodrigues. From The complete pantheon comprising principal deities worshiped by the Natives of British India throughout Hindoostan
Image Source: wikipedia