Sumbha, Nikumbha and followers slayed by Devi Ambika

As in the case of Mahishasura, the Demon brothers from Patala, named Sumbha and Nikumbha did the same indiscretion of ignoring the Supreme Power of Maha Bhagavati as Mahishasura and after strenuous Tapasya for an ‘Ajuta’ or ten thousand years to Lord Brahma, secured boons for invincibility from any living species, except women. As soon as they received the boons, they requested Sage Bhrigu to be their Guru and Adviser and the elder Sumbha was enthroned with Nikumbha as the next in command. The news spread out in the nether world and multitudes of Danavas were attracted to the King as he became invincible in the three worlds. The Fierceful Chanda and Munda Danava Warriors joined in with their entire armies. So did the fearful Danava Dhumralochana and his army. The notorious Raktabija who had the boons of creating another Raktabija for each drop of blood from his body also joined in. Together, they all created deadly scare in all the three worlds and humbled Indra, Varuna, Agni, Vayu, and other Demi-Gods like Yama, Kubera as also tormented Sages. Thus the strong group of Demons reigned the Heavens besides the rest of the World for a thousand years and Indra and other Devas were displaced and disillusioned. Indra approached Deva Guru Brihaspati as to what should be done in this situation of wilderness. Deva Guru explained that the phase of frustration was a result of ‘Karma’ and the only recourse would be to approach Maha Devi Bhagavati and also enlist the support of Brahma, Maha Vishnu and Maha Deva. He recalled that at the time of Bhagavati destroying Mahishasura, Maha Devi told Indra at that time such crises, Indras and Devas could approach Her for help. Accordingly, they prayed to Devi Bhagavati to provide rescue to them. They all recited the Seed Mantras of Devi like ‘Om Hreem’ incessantly; pleased by their devotion, Maha Bhagavati appeared in the Form of Ambika Devi , known over the Universe as Kausika Devi; an alternate image created from Parvati Devi also emerged as Kalika Devi ( Kalaratri) looking angry with a countenance of black colour and blood red lips too frightful to behold by Danavas. Ambika along with Kalika appeared on the back of a lion and they were seated comfortably looking cool and relaxed as the Historic Drama of the twin Demons and their followeres was to be unveiled! Even as Kausika Devi and Kalika were sighted on a lion, Demons Chanda and Munda happened to passby and had a fantastic view of Kausika and Her unparalelled beauty and could not take away their eyes staring and admiring Her. They ran to Sumbha to convey the latest news and the former asked Sugriva, an intelligent spy cum messenger to collect information about the Lady and also sensitise Her about the valour, richness and smartness of the King Nisumbha and that he could be a richly deserving partner of life for Her.The Messenger used all his skills and sought Her to tempt with innumerable valuable gifts! He also conveyed to Her the most significant fact that his King was invincible and immortal, thanks to Brahma Deva’s boons. Kausika Devi pretended that She was impressed and said that the matrimonial offer looked highly gorgeous. There was however only a small catch and that could be to overcome Her as the King appeared to be such an illustrious warrior. She said that She took a bet in Her childhood among Her friends that She would marry only such a husband who could defeat Her in a fight! The Messenger coveyed the ‘small catch’ in the alliance to which the King felt was amusing. He consulted his younger brother Nikumbha who advised that Dhumralochana to approach the Devi Kausika but handle Her tenderly, as She said something childishly and was not, after all, aware of our valour! Dhumralochana repeated the same kind of amorous message from his King, when Kalika Devi intervened to say that instead of bragging he might as well display his valour as there was no point in wasting his breath. The Danava became furious, as Kalika the ‘ugly’ woman attacked him with a shower of arrows. As he dared to leap towards Kali abusing Her, Kausika Devi burnt the demon into ashes from Her fiery looks and his entire army ran back helter-skelter to return to their King. Kausika Devi blew Her conchshell so loudly as though She was inviting the next batch of Demons could be despatched for their death. Nisumbha volunteered to jump in the fray, but King Sumbha restrained him, as there were other Warriors were getting anxious to dispose of ‘that’ Maya Devi. He had thus signalled Chanda and Munda go along with their combined armies of huge volume and prowess, as they were all trained in war tactics including black magic, and tantra of meanest type. Once again the catchphrase of wedlock with Sumbha was used by them. Kausika Devi was readily annoyed as She was surfeit of praises and boasts; She created Devi Chandika from Her frown and Her face became red with anger. Chandika Devi was looking extremely dreadful with tiger skin around , wearing strings of skulls, deep eye holes, fat belly, protruding and uneven teeth and eighteen hands wearing variety of sharp weapons. She was biting elephants and horses with Her fingernails and crooked teeth, besides hundreds of Danavas who were creating such screeches of pain and death. The entire war field looked like a stream of blood and stinking flesh with corpses bundled up in mountain-like heaps. Such was the havoc created in the battle with Chanda and Munda who were dazed and terrified. She caught them by their necks and took them to Devi Ambika as Sacrifices, cut their heads into pieces and drank their blood when Devas clapped and chanted Victory Musicals! As the remnants of Davanas ran for their lives to the King, the latter said that they were timid flies who had vulgar lust for life and deserved to depart to Patala as they had no place for them on Earth. Meanwhile Raktabija was already ready waiting for the Master’s nod. On arrival at the battle field the three Shakties-Ambika, Kalika and Chandalika-welcomed them tauntingly asking him not to commence the praises of the King’s might, smartness and richness but come to the point of a fight without the initial pleasantries. As Raktabija spilled blood, each drop would produce his prototype, the fact indeed known to the Devis already. Lord Rudra gave the boon to the Demon and as such, the Demon was welcoming more and more of gashes so that as many drops of blood would produce as many demons. At this point, Kausiki Devi created more forms of Shakties such as Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Rudrani, Indrani, Varahi, Narasimhi, Kumari, Narayani, Sivani and so on to devastate the thousands of Danavas. Ambika then asked Kalika to extend Her tongue long and wide and struck an axe on the body of Raktabija so that the blood of the body got completely drenched out. This operation continued for some time and the blood of the very many Raktabijas was drenched out sysmatically by one form of the Demon pitted against another form of a Devi and only the flesh left out was relished by the Devis.With the last effective Demon Raktabija having been eliminated, The Devi’s high voltage death-call sound was heard clearly in the court of Sumbha and Nikumbla inviting them to death. Nikumbha made his appearance at the battle forthwith as he was aware that his turn to death was certain and door-knocking. He surely knew how difficult it would be to extinguish war experts like Chanda-Munda, Dhumralochana, and Raktabija as each one of them single handedly could keep Indra and Devatas on the run. Now that they had all gone down the drain, death was staring at his face. Indra and Devas were all in their celestial positions to watch the Memorable Sight of Nikumbha’s imminent massacre. As soon as he arrived in his chariot, he went off to business without preliminaries, unlike his predesessor warriors who would not initiate the fight hoping against hope that the Devi might relent to marry the King Sumbha as Nikumbha himself brainwashed them to use the four principles of Sama, Dana, Bheda and Danda before resorting to the last alternative. As Nikumbha sent a torrential rain of arrows on Devi Chandika, She kept on breaking the arrows as a sport while intermittently She was redirecting back to the Demon and meanwhile joking to Kalika Devi that these Danavas were so foolish as not to understand even now the impossibility of success in their mission but continue to hope against hope! Her mighty lion was let loose in the meantime which sprang up like a lightning, killing hundreds of Danavas who were massacred with their blood flowing in streams. Nikumbha was infuriated and hit the lion on its head with a massive club, as it was hurt and withdrawn and with the same club approached Kalika Devi. Chandika noticed the offensive of Nikumbha and with Her Trisula hacked his head into pieces, which no doubt fell down smashed but shot up on its own circling around Devi Chandika as though it was paying his last homage! Simultaneously, his headless body with his club in hands was wandering all over, as a frightful spectacle was on display by onlookers above but the fighting hands were severed into pieces by Maha Chandika and his body assumed a mountain-like shape fell on ground with a startling sound of a ear-piercing thud.

The last Chapter of Sumbha was scripted by Maharshi Veda Vyasa to King Janamejaya more in remorse than in anger as those were the heartfelt feelings of the Demon. Having lost his dear brother, valued Ministers, Generals and countless Demon soldiers who had ruled the Three Worlds without even a minute question, Sumbha was already destroyed psychologically wondering the playful hand of Fate which turned his ‘Ahamkara’ (Ego) into ashes. Indeed, he was now prepared to save his skin and return to Patala- from where he hailed originally from-but the future generations would describe him as a selfish coward who succumbed to timidity and certainly that was not a life worth living in disgrace. Thus putting up a face of courage and self respect rather than of humility and ignominy, Sumbha approached Ambika Devi with false feelings of bravado and expected pride and addressed Her that he would not feel like fighting with a fresh flower like Her, as She was meant for sentimental treatment rather than harsh language and that She was worth performing prayers to rather than picking up cudgels. Fully reading the Demon’s mind hiding fear of death and of sins of the past, Ambika smilingly replied that even at this stage, he could be excused as guilt and timidity were the predominant features in his heart. More over, She said, since he was not reconciled to fighting against Her due to infatuation and obsession, he could as well attack Chandika Devi who was excusively incarnated for the purpose. As She said so, the full play of his ‘Arishvargas’ came up in His exterior mental frame and commenced displaying arrogance, anger and desperation of ‘do or die’ attitude. He picked up his powerful club and tried to jump against Chandika Devi and with Her own club, She broke the demon’s head into two parts, thus ending the disgusting Saga of Sumbha’s end to the horror of the Sub-terrain and the momentous rejoicing of the Three Worlds which heaved a sigh of relief and liberation. Indra and Devas with the Trinity in the background went in overwhelming swoons of excitement and ecstacy for they were forlorn for thousand years of relegation and sincerely conveyed gratitude to Devi.

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India The author can be contacted at