A quick view of Hindu mythology – part two

In the Book of Demons, by Dr. Nanditha Krishna, there is a dictionary of demons, that gives amazing stories, handed down through the ages, related to demons in Hindu mythology.

Before the Great Goddess was known as Durga, there was a demon with the name  Durga, which means “fortress.”  He was quite a bad fellow who did a lot of damage.  He cast Indra and the other gods out of heaven into the forests—even forcing the gods to bow down to him.  He upset the climate (perhaps, on another level, he is still at work?), caused the stars to disappear, and put an end to all religious ceremonies.

All the gods were very upset, so they asked Lord Shiva for help.  He sent them to the Great Goddess, Devi.  Devi set out to confront the army of demons, which had ten million horses, 120 billion elephants, and a hundred million chariots.  The demon with his multitudes of armies, fought against her with trees, clubs, rocks, and arrows.

Devi, however, was not easily beaten. She grew one thousand arms, and nine million beings sprang forth from her to fight the demon.  When the demon threw a mountain at her, she cut it up.  So he took the form of the elephant, which Devi destroyed; then a buffalo, which Devi also destroyed.  When he assumed his own natural form which also had one thousand arms, each wielding a weapon, then Devi held down each of his arms with her own.  She threw him on the ground and killed him with an arrow.  Then she took his name, and she has been known as Durga ever since.  She is depicted riding a tiger.

This is one of the many stories outlined in the Book of Demons and one of thousands of traditional stories in India.  Like fairy tales, the stories are enchanting, magical, and have intricate and multi-faceted layers meanings.

Being the warrior aspect of the Great Goddess, Durga overcomes evil.  She is attacked, but she wins in the end.  She is the one to whom the gods themselves go when they need help with a difficult demon.

Even today, or perhaps, more especially today, evil shifts from form to form, from corruption to cruelty to indifference, but while the power of goodness in the universe can be attacked, it is never vanquished.  Nature herself, the forests and the wilderness, are under seige throughout the world. Yet the spirit of the earth is indomitable, and lives on to overcome, in the end, her destroyers, whose arrogance is boundless, but whose effect is limited to the physical world, bounded in space and time.

The stories of Hinduism harken back to an age before this one. In Hindu knowledge, our present age is the last of four ages—and the most violent and corrupt—the Kali Yuga.  This is the age before the Great Ending, after which there will be a cosmic night, followed by a new cycle and a recurrence of the First Age.  The ages preceding our current age were times of magic and miracles—now veiled and covered in clouds—but destined to rise again—as the cosmic wind blows away the clouds, so that the stars shine once more in the heavens.

Photo: Stef Bennett / Dreamstime.com

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