1-8. Janamejaya spoke to Veda Vyâsa :-- O Bhagavân! Thou art the knower of all the Dharmas and Thou art the chief, the crown of the Pundits, knowing all the S'âstras. Now I ask Thee how is it that the twice-born have ceased to worship the Highest S'akti, the Gâyatrî and they now worship the other Devatâs, on the face of the distinct command in the S'rutis that the worship of the Gâyatrî is nityâ, that is, daily to be done at all times, especially during the three Sandhyâ times, by all those that are twice-born?
In this world some are the devotees of Visnu, some, the followers of Ganapatî, some are Kâpâlikas, some follow the doctrines prevalent in China; some are the followers of Buddha or Chârvâka; some of them again wear the barks of trees and others roam naked. So various persons are seen having no trace of faith in the Vedas.
O Brâhmana! What is the real cause underlying secretly here in this! Kindly mention this to me. Again there are seen many men, well versed in various metaphysics and logic, our B.A.s and M.A.s but then, again, they have no faith in the Vedas. How is this? Nobody wants anything ominous to him consciously. But how is it that these so-called learned men are fully aware and yet they are wonderfully void of any trace of faith in the Vedas? Kindly mention the cause underlying this, O Thou! The foremost of the knowers of the Vedas.
There is, again, another question :-- Thou hadst described before the glories of Manidvîpa, the highest and the best place of the Devî. Now I want to hear how is that Dvîpa greater than the great. Satisfy this servant of thine by describing these. If the Guru be pleased, he reveals even the greatest and the highest esoteric secret to his disciple.
9-10. Sûta spoke :-- Hearing the words of the King Janamejaya, the Bhagavân Veda Vyâsa began to answer the questions in due order. The hearing of this increases the faith of the twice-born in the Vedas.
11-30. Vyâsa said :-- Well has this been asked by you, O King! in due time and in an appropriate moment. You are intelligent and it seems that you have got the faith in the Vedas. I now answer. Listen. In ancient days, the Asuras, maddened with pride, fought against the Devas for one hundred years. The war was very extraordinary and remarkable. In this great war various weapons were used, variegated with numerous Mâyâs or ingenious devices. It tended to destroy the whole world. By the mercy of the Highest and the Most Exalted S'akti, the Daityas were overcome by the Devas in that Great War. And they quitted the Heavens and the Earth and went to the nether regions, the Pâtâla. The Devas were all delighted and began to dwell on their own prowesses and became proud. They began to say :-- "Why shall not victory be ours. Why are not our glories great? We are by far the best! Where are the Daityas? They are devils, powerless. We are the causes of creation, preservation and destruction. We all are glorious! Oh! What can be said before us in favour of the Asuras, the devils?" Thus, not knowing the Highest S'akti, the Devas were deluded. At this moment, seeing this plight of the Devas, the World Mother took pity on the Devas and, to favour them, O King!She appeared before them in the form of the Most Worshipful, the Great Holy Light. It was resplendent like ten million Suns, and cool as well like ten million Moons. It was brilliant and dazzling like ten million lightning flashes, without hands and feet, and exceedingly beautiful! Never was this witnessed before! Seeing this Extraordinary Beautiful Lovely Light, the Devas were taken aback; they spoke amongst themselves, thus :-- "What is this! What is this! Is this the work of the Daityas or some other great Mâyâ (Mayic) played by them or is it the work of another for creating the surprise of the Devas!" O King! Then they all assembled together and decided to approach towards that Adorable Light and to ask It what It was. They, then, would determine its strength and decide what to do afterwards. Thus, coming to this ultimate conclusion, Indra called Agni and said :-- "O Agni! You are the mouth-piece of the Devas. Therefore do you go first and ascertain distinctly what this Light is." Hearing thus the words of Indra, Agni, elated by his own prowess, set out immediately from the place and went to that Light. Seeing Agni coming, the Light addressed him thus :-- "Who are you? What is your strength? State this before Me." At this Agni replied :-- "I am Agni. All the yajñâs, ordained in the Vedas are performed through me. The power of burning everything in this universe resides in me." Then that adorable Light took up a straw of grass and said :-- "O Agni! If you can burn everything in this universe, then do you burn this trifling straw." Agni tried his best to burn the straw but he could not burn it. He got ashamed and fast went back to the Devas. Asked by the Devas, Agni told them everything and said :-- "O Devas! Know verily that the pride cherished by us that we are supreme, is entirely false."
31-50. Indra then asked Vâyu (wind) and said :-- "O Vâyu! You are dwelling in this universe, through and through; by your efforts, all are moving; therefore you are the Prâna of all; it is possible that all forces are concentrated within you. Go and ascertain what is this Light? Verily I do not see any other person here than you who can ascertain this great adorable Light." Hearing these commendable words of Indra, Vâyu felt himself elated and went at once to that place where was that Light. Seeing the Vâyu, the Light, the Yaksa, the demi-god, the Spirit asked in a gentle language :-- "Who are you? What strength is there in you? Speak out all these to me." At this, Vâyu spoke arrogantly, "I am Mâtarisvan, I am Vâyu; about my strength, I can move anything and I hold everything. It is through the strength of mine, that this universe is, and is alive and brisk with movements and works." That Highest Mass of Light then replied :-- "O Vâyu! Move this straw that lies before you, and if you cannot, quit your pride and go back to Indra ashamed." At this Vâyu tried all his might but, alas! He could not move the straw a bit from that place!
Vâyu then gave up his pride and returned to the Devas and spoke to them all about the Yaksa (a sort of demi-god, a ghost). O Devas! Our pride is vain; in no way can we be able to ascertain the nature of that Light. It seems that that Holy Light, adorable by all, is extraordinary. Then all the Devas spoke with one voice to Indra :-- "When You are the King of the Devas, better go yourself and ascertain the reality of Its Nature." Indra, then, with great pride, went himself to the Light; the Light, too, began to disappear gradually from the place, and ultimately vanished from Indra's sight. When Indra found that he could not even speak to That Light, he became greatly ashamed and began to conceive of his own nothingness. He thought thus :-- "I won't go back to the Devas. What shall I say to them? Never will I disclose to them my inferiority; one is better to die than do this. One's self-honour is the only treasure of the great and honourable. If honour is gone, what use, then, is there in living?" O King! Then Indra, the Lord of Devas, quitted his pride and took refuge unto That Great Light which exhibited, ere long, such a glorious character. At this moment, a celestial voice was heard from the Heavens :-- "O Indra! Go on now and do the japam, the reciting of the Mâyâ Vîja Mantra, the basic Mantra of Mâyâ. All your troubles will, then, be over." Hearing this celestial voice, Indra began to repeat the Mâyâ Vîja, the Seed Mantra of Mâyâ, with rapt concentration and without any food.
51-61. Then on the ninth lunar day of the month of Chaitra when the Sun entered the meridian, suddenly there appeared in that place a Great Mass of Light as was seen before. Indra saw, then, within that Mass of Light, a Virgin Form in full youth. The lustre from Her body was like that of ten million Rising Suns; and the colour was rosy red like a full-blown Javâ flower. On Her forehead was shining the digit of the Moon; Her breasts were full, and, though veiled under the cloth, they looked very beautiful. She was holding noose and a goad in Her two hands and Her other two hands indicated signs of favour and fearlessness.
Her body was decked with various ornaments and it looked auspicious and exceedingly lovely; nowhere can be seen a woman beautiful like Her. She was like a Kalpa Vriksa (celestial tree yielding all desires); she was three eyed and Her braid of hair was encircled with Mâlatî garlands. She was praised on Her four sides by the Four Vedas, Incarnate, in their respective Forms. The brilliancy of Her teeth shed lustre on the ground as if ornamented with Padmarâga jewels. Her face looked smiling. Her clothing was red and Her body was covered with sandalpaste. She was the Cause of all causes. Oh! She was all Full of Mercy. O King Janamejaya! Thus Indra saw, then, the Umâ Parvatî Mahes'varî Bhagavatî and the hairs of his body stood on ends with ecstasy. His eyes were filled with tears of love and deep devotion and he immediately fell prostrate before the feet of the Devî. Indra sang various hymns to Her and praised Her. He became very glad and asked Her, "O Fair One! Art Thou that Great Mass of Light? If this be, kindly state the cause of Thy appearance." O King! Hearing this, the Bhagavatî replied.
62-83. This My Form is Brahmâ, the Cause of all causes, the Seat of Mâyâ, the Witness of all, infallible and free from all defects or blemishes. What all the Vedas and Upanisadas try to establish, what ought to be obtained, as declared by all the rules of austerity, and for which the Brâhmanas practise Brahmacharyam, I am all that. I have told you about that Brahmâ, of the nature of the Great Holy Light. The sages declare that That Brâhman is revealed by "Om" and "Hrîm", the two Vîjas (mystic syllables) that are My two first and foremost Mantras wherein I remain hidden. I create this universe with My two parts (in My two aspects); therefore My Vîja mantra is two. "Om" Vîja is denominated as Sachchidânanda (everlasting existence, intelligence and bliss) and "Hrîm" Vîja is Mâyâ Prakriti, the Undifferentiated Consciousness, made manifest. Know, then, That Mâyâ as the Highest S'akti and know Me as that Omnipotent Goddess at present revealed before your eyes. As moonlight is not different from the Moon, so this Mâyâ S'akti in the state of equilibrium is not different from Me. (The powerful man and the power he wields are not different. They are verily one and the same.) During Pralaya (the Great Latency period), this Mâyâ lies latent in Me, without there being any difference. Again at the time of creation, this Mâyâ appears as the fructification of the Karmas of the Jîvas. When this Mâyâ is potential and exists latent in Me, when Mâyâ is Antarmukhî, it is called Unmanifested and when the Mâyâ becomes Kinetic, when the Mâyâ is Bahirmukhî, when She is in an active Kinetic state, it is said to be Manifested. There is no origin or beginning of this Mâyâ. Mâyâ is of the nature of Brahmâ in a state of equilibrium. But, during the beginning of the creation, Her form consisting of the several Gunas appears, when Mâyâ is Bahir Mukhî, She becomes Tâmas, in Her Unmanifested state. O Indra! For this reason Her state of abstraction, and becoming introspective, this is Her Antarmukhî state; it is known as Mâyâ and Her looking outward is Her Bahirmukhî state; it is denominated by Tâmas and the other gunas. From this comes Sâttva and then Râjas and Brahmâ, Visnu and Mahes'a are of the nature of the three gunas. Brahmâ has the Râjo guna in Him preponderating; in Visnu, the Sâttva guna preponderates and in Mahes'a, the Cause of all Causes, is said to reside the Tâmo guna. Brahmâ is known as of the Gross Body; Visnu is known as of the Subtle Body; and Rudra is known as of the Causal Body and I am known as Turîya, transcending the Gunas. This Turîya Form of Mine is called the state of equilibrium of the Gunas. It is the Inner Controller of all. Beyond this there is another state of Mine which is called the Formless Brahmâ (Brâhman having no Forms). Know, verily, that my Forms are two, as they are with or without attributes (Saguna or Nirguna). That which is beyond Mâyâ and the Mâyic qualities is called Nirguna (without Prâkritic attributes) and that which is within Mâyâ is called Saguna. O Indra! After creating this universe, I enter within that as the Inner Controller of all and it is I that impel all the Jîvas always to their due efforts and actions. Know, verily, that It is I that engage Brahmâ, Visnu and Rudra, the causes of the several works of creation, preservation and destruction of this universe (they are performing their functions by My Command). Through the terror from Me the wind blows; through my terror, the Sun moves in the sky; through My terror, Indra, Agni, and Yama do their respective duties. I am the Best and Superior to all. All fear Me. Through My Grace you have obtained victory in the battle. Know, verily, that it is I that make you all dance like inert wooden dolls as My mere instruments. You are merely My functions. I am the Integral Whole. I give sometimes victory to you and sometimes victory to the Daityas; Yea, I do everything as I will, keeping My independence duly and, according to the Karmas, justly. Oh! You all, have forgotten me though your pride and sheer nonsense. You have been carried deep into dire delusion by your vain egoism. And know now that to favour you, this My Adorable Light has issued suddenly. Hence forth banish ever from your heart all your vain boastings and idle pratings. Take refuge wholly unto Me with all your head, heart and soul, unto My Sachchidânanda Form and be safe. (At times the Devas forget and so fall into troubles).
84-93. Vyâsa said :-- Thus saying, the Mûla Pakriti, the Great Devî, the Goddess of the Universe, vanished from their sight. The Devas, on the other hand, began to praise Her then and there, with rapt devotion. Since that day, all the Devas quitted their pride and engaged themselves in worshipping the Devî devotedly. They worshipped the Gâyatrî Devî daily during the three Sandhyâ times and performed various Yajñâs and thus they worshipped Bhagavatî daily. Thus, in the Satya Yuga, everybody engaged themselves in repeating the Mantra Gâyatrî and worshipped the Goddess indwelling in the Pranava and Hrîmkâra. So, See now for yourself, that the worship of Visnu or S'iva or initiation in the Visnu Mantra or in the S'iva Mantra are not mentioned anywhere in the Vedas as to be done always and for ever. They are done for a while and not required any more when the objects are fulfilled; only the worship of Gâyatrî is always compulsory, to be done at all times, as mentioned in the Vedas. O King! If a Brâhmana does not worship the Gâyatrî, know, then, for certain, that in every way, he is sure to go down lower and lower. There is no doubt in this. A Brâhmin is not to wait, no never, to do any other thing; he will have all his desires fulfilled if he worships only the Devî Gâyatrî. Bhagavân Manu says that a Brâhmin, whether he does any other thing or not, can be saved if he worships only the Divine Mother Gâyatrî. (This worshipping the Gâyatrî is the highest, greatest, and most difficult of all the works in this universe). If any devotee of S'iva or Visnu or of any other Deity worships his desired Deity without repeating the Gâyatrî, he is sure to suffer the torments of hell. (But this age of Kâlî deludes the people and draws away their minds from reciting this Gâyatrî save a few of them.) O King! For this reason, in the Satya Yuga, all the Brâhmanas kept themselves fully engaged in worshipping the Gâyatrî and the lotus feet of the Devî Bhagavatî.
Here ends the Eighth Chapter in the Twelfth Book on the appearance of the Highest S'akti in the Mahâpurânam S'rî Mad Devî Bhâgavatam of 18,000 verses by Maharsi Veda Vyâsa.