Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)


Devi Bhagavata

Baghavata means "of the divinity". There are two principal Bhagavatas in Indian mythology: Vishnu Bhagavata and Devi Bhagavata. Vishnu Bhagavata tells the stories of the incarnations and incidents in Lord Vishnu's life. The Devi Bhagavata extolls the virtues of Bagavati, also known as ParaSakti (great force), the ultimate Goddess (Devi). Both these compilations have exactly eighteen thousand hymns, arranged in twelve divisions. The total number of chapters in Vishnu Bhagavata is 335. The Devi Bhagavata consists of 318 chapters.

The Devi Bhagavata as we have it now, is in the form of a narration by a Rishi named Suta (सूत) to other Rishis led by sage Shaunaka, assembled in the forest of Naimisharanya. He says that he in turn had heard it from sage Vyasa.

When Suta speaks about the virtues of the Devi Bagavata, he says, "It is incomparable among compilations. This Purana is the the secret behind the scriptures and is consistent with the meaning of the Vedas. The deity whose praises are sung here is the SHE, she who was refered to as Vidya (learning) in the Vedas, as the primal force, as the ultimate Goddes, one who is omniscient and one who can lead you to salvation from the cycle of birth and death. It also contains the Bagavati Geeta (different from the Bhagavat-Geeta), which was revealed by the Goddess who was born as the daughter of Himavan."

It is usually divided into nine sections, each to be chanted on one day of a three day long worship. The first day's portion contains the story of the birth of Shuka, the story of Hayagreeva, the slaying of the Asura twins Madhu and Kaitaba, the life history of Shuka, and the story of the Kuru dynasty.

The second day's portion consists of Shantanu's history, the story of the Pandavas and the end story of the Mahabharata. The third day's portion contains the principle of Trinity, the history of Sudharsana, the glory of Navarathri (a festival for Devi). It also has the history of Krishna and the description of the slaying of the Asura Mahisha by Devi.

I don't have access to the rest of the Devi Bhagavat yet, and will finish this introduction when I have them. Instead of reproducing the translation of this Purana (for many excellent sources exist for that purpose), I have simply given the stories that occur in it, roughly in the order in which the appear in the original.

Last Modified At: Sat Nov 6 12:00:13 2004