THE STORY OF SURATHA AND SAMADI

The narration of the glories of The Divine Mother by sage Medha to King Suratha and to the merchant, Samadhi represents Shravanam – the first type of Bhakti or devotion.

Once upon a time, there lived a king named Suratha who lost his kingdom. Dejected, he went to a forest on a horseback. He met the great sage Medha who requested the King to stay in his humble hermitage. Even the peaceful ambience of the hermitage did not help the King to forget his sorrows. One day, a merchant looking very miserable came to the hermitage seeking shelter. His name was Samadhi and he had been driven away from his own home by his wife and ruthless sons. Both the men requested the sage to help them to forget their sorrows that were engulfing them.

The wise sage explained to the men that they were trapped in their feelings of love and attachment. This was due to the influence of Mahamaya or illusion. The sage continued further by saying that Mahamaya or Goddess Durga is the one who binds her children and also helps in liberating them. When one surrenders to this Divine Mother, she relieves them from the cycle of birth and death as she is Brahma Vidhya or spiritual knowledge. As Brahma, Mother is the creator; as Vishnu, she is the protector and as Shiva, she is the destroyer. Saratha and Samadhi were very impressed and expressed their desire to know more about this Divine Mother. The sage replied by saying that this Mother, though usually formless can also take various forms when required, to kill demons. On one hand, she would lovingly and unconditionally help those who sought refuge in her while on the other hand she could brutally slay the demons.

Mother is the mantra “Swaha” that is used in yagnas to offer oblations (sacrifices) to Gods as well as the mantra, “Swadha” which is used to offer oblations to manes (souls of dead ancestors). She is “Vashatkara” the mantra of sacrifice as well as the nectar or the fruits of the sacrifice. She is Mother Gayatri representing the mantra of spiritual elevation. She represents the entire Universe including the Vedas. Mother is both God as well as demon. Mother is Prakriti – nature that is composed of the three Gunas - Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Both Rajas and Tamas are like the demons that distract the mind and prevent the ascent of the mind. Mother destroys these and once these are abolished even Sattva is transcended. Mother represents beauty and is adored by humans, the sages as well as the Trinity Gods including Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara.

The sage continued by narrating many such instances. During Pralaya, Lord Vishnu was asleep in the ocean. This sleep was Yoganidhra – sleep induced by meditation. Lord Brahma was sitting in a lotus that sprung from the navel of Lord Vishnu contemplating on his creations. Two demons, Madhu and Kaitabha emanated from one of the ears of Lord Vishnu and tried to defeat Brahma. Brahma immediately invoked the goddess Mahamaya by singing her glories as only she could help in awakening Lord Vishnu from his sleep. Lord Vishnu soon awoke with the help of Mahamaya and killed the demons in a flash. Here, Mother took the form of Shakti.

Thereafter, sage Medha narrated the story of Mahishasura, the demon who waged war against the Devas. Mahishasura had gained the boon that no man could kill him. The Devas combined their energies which resulted in the formation of Goddess Durga who led a battle against Mahishasura, riding on a lion, and killed him. Thus, she got the name, Mahishasuramardini, meaning "the killer of Mahishasura". Here, Mother took the form of Durga or the Warrior Goddess.

Chanda and Munda, the servants of the demon Sumbha upon seeing the dazzling form of the Mother had asked Sumbha as to why he did not possess her. The Mother had taken a wow that she would marry the one who conquered her in battle and is her match in strength. The demon, Sumbha sent the demon Dhumralochana to drag Mother and to get her to him by pulling her hair. Mother sent out a thunderous cry that turned the demon to ashes. Later the demons Chanda and Munda tried to attack the Mother. The Mother got so angry that from her forehead the fierce Kali emerged who killed the demons instantaneously. Kali is known as Chamunda as Kali offered the heads of demons, Chanda and Munda to Mother. Here the Mother took a darker form which is that of Kali.

Once, Raktavija, the demon had to be killed. He had a power that every time a drop of blood fell to the ground, there arose a demon just like him. Hence, the Mother asked Chamunda to drink the blood of the demon Raktavija in order to slay him. Chamunda quickly fulfilled this desire and Raktavija was easily killed.

All the three stories are present in Devi Mahathmyam which is the “Glory of the Goddess ". It is a Hindu religious text that describes the Goddess as the supreme power and the creator of the universe.

It is said that poverty, danger or misery can never trouble the one who surrenders to Mahamaya. This Mother is bondage as well as liberation. She pervades the whole universe and is present in all beings as Buddhi. Such is the power of the Mother. The sage Medha advised both Suratha and Samadhi to surrender completely to this great Mother. Both obediently, worshipped her by chanting the “Devi Sukta”. They performed hard austerities for three years and finally Mother appeared before them and granted their boons. Suratha got his Kingdom back and Samadhi got the knowledge which was the realization of Brahman.