Sura Sena’s Illustration of Maha Devi’s Glories

As an illustration of Maha Bhagavati’s direct intervention to bless an upright devotee, Veda Vyasa narrated a Pauranic instance to King Janamejaya who had already firmed up his decision to perform Amba Yajna instead of the Tamasic ‘Sarpa’ Sacrifice. A King of Solar Dynasty of yore at Kosala, Dhruvasandhi was an ideal and pious ruler. He had two wives, Manorama and Leelavati, the earlier wife being a legally wedded one and the latter one out of fascination. Within a year’s difference, the wives delivered two boys, named Surasena and Shatrujit respectively. The King had a stronger attraction to his second wife and son. In course of time, the King was killed by a lion in a royal game in a forest. The Royal Court’s Senior Officials recommended Surasena to be the King, but the younger wife of King Dhruvasandhi, Leelavati claimed the throne as the deceased King was closer to her and Shatrajit too. The fathers of the two wives were called for consultations but there was no solution to the problem as both King Virasena of Kalinga the father of Manorama and the powerful King of Ujjain Yudhajit, the adamant daughter of Leelavati too were at war at each other. King Virasena was defeated and killed and Shatrujit was made the King by the dominating Yuddhajit, despite Sage Vasishtha’s protests. Priminister Vidalla of the Court, the loyal person of the erstwhile King, accompanied the hapless Manorama and son Surasena to seek refuge from Sage Bharadvaja at his Hermitage. But, Yuddhajit’s secret agents found out the whereabouts of Manorama and Surasena at the Ashram of Sage Bharadvaja. Yuddhajit visited the hermitage and tried to take away the mother and son by force but the Sage cautioned not to do so and gave the example of Sage Visvamitra trying to take away Nandini the Sacred Cow and its calf by force from the hermitage of Sage Vasishtha and regretted later as the wrath of Vasishtha and the powers of the Sacred Cow were grossly underestimated. Then Yuddhajit had to make a retreat and since then the mother and the son lived peacefully.

Meanwhile, Surasena grew as a fine and handsome youth in the pious atmosphere of the hermitage under the turorship of the Sage and his followers. One day, Priminister Vidalla, who had been loyal to the elder queen and the son visited to the hermitage to enquire of the welfare of the mother and the son and the disciples of the Ashram addressed him to say: ‘Klib’, ‘Klib’ at the entrance where Surasena too was nearby. Since then, he kept on repeating the words ‘kli’, ‘kli’ as a mis- pronounciation of words ‘Klib, ‘Klib’. Quite unknowingly, the words mis- pronounced were those in the Moola Mantra of ‘Kama’ or desire with anusvara omitted.Thus initiated with the Mantra which became a habit of reciting it, the boy’s attitudes changed miraculously by the coincidence or ‘Sukrita’ –the carry forward of good deeds of his previous birth. Eventually, the boy’s ‘Upanayana’ (Gayatri Mantra’s initiation) was performed by the Sage Bharadwaja who also taught him Archery and Military Science as also the essence of Sastras which a Kshatriaya should know. A princess, Sasikala, sighted Surasena and got intensely desirous of him. The King of Kasi, Subahu announced Swayamvara (Choice of bride for selection of a groom from among invitees) at the instance his daughter, keeping Surasena in view. Surasena too reciprocated and met her frequently with the concurrence of both the parents from both sides. Of the three types of Swayamvara, viz. ‘Iccha anusara’ or bride’s free choice without strings, ‘Panya anusara’ or choice as per a condition like Lord Rama breaking ‘Siva Dhanush’ (Lord Shiva’s bow), or bride’s choice of the most courageous warrior. Sasikala chose the first option. Surasena, as Manorama, Sasikala, her parents were all praying to Maha Devi in their own ways and the blessings of Sage Bharadwaja were aplenty. Meanwhile Yuddhajit too attended and so did his grandson Shatrujit along with a galaxy of Princes as also Surasena. Yudhajit challenged to say that if Surasena were to be the choice, he would surely kill the latter. He also incited other invitees and said that anybody other than Surasena would be acceptable but the latter had neither a Kingdom, nor bravery, nor wealth. Scenting that a fight would be inevitable, King Subahu postponed the function overnight to cool the tempers and offered overnight guest status to all. On the following day, a quiet announcement came that the selection had been made in favour of Surasena. As expected, a battle was fought with Surasena and Subahu on one side and many who protested headed by Yudhajit on the other. Maha Devi Bhagavati assumed many forms of Shakti and massacred the opposing armies in no time and both Yudhajit and Shatrujit were smothered like flies. The devotees of Devi Bhagavati headed by the Surasena couple were astonished to witness glimpses of the Sakar Swarupa of the Great Mother and prayed to their heart’s content with tears rolling and senses benumbed. As soon as he assumed Kingship of Kosala, Surasena built temples all over the Kingdom especially at Ayodhya and simultaneously King Subahu built famous temple complex of Lord Visvanath and accompanying Saktis of Devi Annapurni and Devi Visalakshi. In fact, through out Bharatvarsha, ‘Nava Ratri’ celebrations are performed with immense devotion and dedication to various Forms of Devi Bhagavati, especially as Devi Durga.

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