Chapter 18 — Bhushunda’s Matrika Background, Alambusha; the Matrikas Overpower Parvati

Bhushunda related:—

In this world there is the god of gods, Hara (Shiva) by name, who is chief among the gods and honored by all the gods of heaven. He had his consort Gauri (Parvati) who is the better half of his body and by whom he is embraced like an ivy clings to a young amra tree. Her bosom resembled a cluster of blooming blossoms and her eyes resembled the lines of black bees fluttering in the summer sky. The hoary locks of hair Hara’s matted head were like white lace made by the snow-white stream of the Ganges, whose waves were like clusters of flowers on a hair-band. The crown of his head was decorated with the shining milk-white disc of the crescent moon which sprung from the bosom of the Milky Ocean and spread her bright radiance and ambrosial dews about his body. 5 The constant flow of ambrosial nectar from the moon on his crest made him immortal by reducing the heat of the deadly poison which he swallowed. That poison marked his throat with the bluish color of sapphire or lapis lazuli, for which he is named blue-throated, Nilakantha.

The body of the god is smeared with ash symbolic of the dust to which the world was reduced by the flame of his all destructive fire. The stream of water flowing from the Ganges on his head is typical of the current of his clear knowledge of all things. His body is decorated with strings of bleached bones far brighter than the silvery beams of the fair moon. These serve as necklaces of silver and pearly gems decorating his body. His vest is the open sky with its plates of folded clouds washed by milk-white moonbeams and studded with the many colored spots of the stars.

He is surrounded by prowling jackals devouring burnt carcasses on funeral grounds. He lives beyond the habitations of men, in cemeteries and mortuaries in the outskirts of cities.

10 The god is accompanied by the Mother Goddesses, the Matrikas who are decorated with strings of human skulls about their necks and girt with the threads of entrails on their bodies. The fat and flesh of dead bodies and the blood and moisture of putrid carcasses form their delectable food and drink. 11 Their bodies are soft and shining like gold. They move about with sparkling gems on their heads and bracelets of snakes curled round their wrists.

12 The acts of this god Shiva are dreadful to relate and strike terror in hearts of gods and demons, and all others beings beside. One glance of his eye is enough to set mountains on fire and his hunger grasps the whole world in one morsel. 13 The perpetual rest of his meditative mind in holy samadhi trance has restored the world to rest, and the movement of his arms at intervals is attended with the destruction of demons. 14 His forms of the elements are intently bent on their fixed purposes without being deterred by the impulses of his anger, hatred or affection. The wind of his breath makes mountains tremble and turns the humid earth to arid ground. 15 His playmates are devils with their heads and faces resembling those of bears, camels, goats and serpents. They have heads for hoofs, hoofs as their hands, hands that serve as their teeth, and faces and mouths set in their bellies and breasts.

16 His face shone brightly with the rays of his three eyes, and the Matrikas were dependent on him as were his dependent demonic bands of deity attendants (ganadevata, the gods of categories).

17 The Mother Goddesses, together with bands of demons, dance about Shiva lowly at his bidding and feed upon living bodies born and dying in all fourteen regions of creation. 18 These Matrikas, having faces like asses and camels, passed at great distances from Shiva. They are fond of feeding on flesh and fat and drinking the red hot blood as their wine. They have fragments of dead bodies hanging around their bodies like strings of pearls. 19 They live in the hollows of hills, in the open sky, and other regions also. They also dwell in holes under the ground, and they like to live in cemeteries and in the pores of human and brute bodies.

20 There are the goddesses known under the names of Jaya, Vijaya, Jayanti, Aparajita, Siddha Rakta and Alambusha, and another bearing the name of Utpata. 21 These eight are called the leaders of the whole body of Matrikas. The others are subordinate to these, and there are others again subordinate to them. 22 Among all these venerable Matrikas, there is one named Alambusha who is the source of my birth. I revealed this to you on account of your great favor to me, by your kind call to my cell.

23 She had the crow named Chanda for her vehicle, which had its bones and bills as strong as the bolts of Indra’s thunder. Chanda was as dark as a mountain of black blue agate. He served her goddess like Garuda served the consort of Vishnu.

24 Once this group of eight Matrika goddesses assembled and bent their course in the ethereal firmament on some of their malevolent purposes. 25 They made their merry makings and religious revels in the air, then turned their course to the left side where they halted at the shrine of Tumburu which was sacred to Shiva. 26 There they worshipped the forms of Tumburu and Bhairava, which are adored in all the worlds, then entertained themselves with a variety of discourses seasoned with drinking and singing. 27 They look up the topic, among other subjects of their conversation, whether they were slighted and disliked by their paramour (Shiva) who had given one half of his body to his spouse, Uma (Parvati). 28 “We shall now show him our prowess so that he may never think of despising our great powers even by a contemptuous look. For though the god feigns to be single and naked, yet we know he is divided in two parts with his consort Uma forming his better half.”

29 Thus determined, the goddesses overpowered Uma by one of their potent charms and by sprinkling a little water upon her, as they do to distract a beast about to be sacrificed before the alter. By this spell they succeeded changing the fine features of Durga (Parvati), and weakening her body. 30 By their power of enchantment, they managed to detach Uma from the body of Hara (Shiva) and bring her before them with an intent to curse her by converting her fair form to their own dark form.

31 There was great rejoicing on the day they cursed Parvati. All the Matrikas joined dancing and singing and making their giddy revelries before her. 32 The shouts of their great joy and loud laughter resounded in the sky, and the jumping and hopping of their big bodies laid open their backs and bellies to sight. 33 Some laughed so loudly with deafening claps of their hands that the sound rebounded in the sky like the roaring of lions and clouds. Their bodies moved in their warlike dances and the sound of their singing rang through the forests and reached the mountains, 34 sounding loudly echoing in mountain caves and running to the depth of the ocean which swelled with surges like the full moon tide. 35 Others drank their bowels and daubed their bodies from head to foot with liquor, muttering their drunken chatters that chattered in the sky.

36 They drank again and sang louder and louder. They spun around like tops, uttering and muttering like drunkards. They laughed and sipped and chopped and fell down and rolled and prattled aloud. Thus they reeled in fits and chewed pieces of their flesh meats until these drunken dancing goddesses did all their orgies in their giddy revels.