The Rishi said:
Once apon a time two Asuras, Shumbha and Nishumbha assumed leadership of the three worlds. They took the offerings intended for Indra and arrogated to themselves the roles of Surya, Chandramas, Kubera, Yama, Vayu, Varuna and Agni.
The Devas, expelled from their rightful place and authority, all thought of the invincible Goddess and Her promise:
“Whenever in distress you call Me to mind I will end those calamities at that very instant.”
So the Gods went to that Lord of Mountains, Himavat, and began to recite hymns of praise to Shri Vishnumaya who is the illusive power of Shri Vishnu.
The Devas said:
Salutations to the Devi, the Mahadevi. Salutations to the eternal auspiscious one, to that one who is the Primordial Cause, She who is the sustaining power, we utterly surrender to Her.
We bow and surrender to Raudra who is ferocious and who, as Gauri, is the support of the universe.
We surrender to that one who is tender as the moonlight, who bestows happiness, we reverence Her continually.
We bow to Kalyani who enables us to perfect ourselves.
We bow to Lakshmi who prospers us.
We bow to Sharvarni who is the arbiter of kings.
Reverence to Durga, we surrender to Her who is inaccessible and who enables us to cross the ocean of illusion,
We bow to Her who is the foundation of the world, who is the awareness and discrimination, to Her whose complexion is blue-black like smoke.
We surrender and bow again and again to that goddess who is most gentle and most terrible, to Her who destroys the enemies of truth to preserve the world order.
To the Goddess who is proclaimed as the illusive power of Lord Vishnu, which exists in all beings, we bow again and again.
We bow to the Devi who abides in all beings in the form of consciousness, we bow and surrender to Her.
We bow and surrender to Her who is intelligence
To Her who is sleep
To Her who is hunger
To Her who is reflection, shadow, in all beings
We bow to Her who is the strength, the energy, the power in all beings.
We bow to Her who is desire, who is thirst.
We bow to Her who is forgiveness and patience.
We bow to Her who is the particular genus, or class, or species of all beings
We bow to the Devi who is modesty in all beings.
We bow to Her who is peace, who is tranquility in all beings.
To Her who is faith, we bow.
To that Devi who dwells in all beings as lustre and loveliness, we bow.
We bow to the Devi who dwells in all beings as good fortune.
We bow to the Devi who dwells in all beings as activity.
To Her who dwells in all beings as memory, we bow.
To Her who dwells in all beings as kindness, as mercy, as compassion, we bow.
We bow to Her who is satisfaction, the contentment in all beings.
We bow to the Devi who resides in all beings as Mother.
We bow to that Devi who abides in all beings as delusion and error.
To the all-pervading Devi who protects the sense organs in all creatures and rules all creatures continually, we surrender, bowing again and again.
All reverence to Her. She alone pervades the entire world as consciousness. We prostrate ourselves again and again.
As in olden times when invoked by the Gods to fulfill their desires, that one who is adored every day by the Lord of the Gods, may She, that Ishvari who is the source of auspiciousness, accomplish our deliverance.
We the Devas who are tormented now by Asuras, we bow to that one who instantly destroys calamities, to Her we surrender ourselves in devotion.
The Rishi said:
O King, while the gods were praising and worshipping Her, Parvati came to bathe in the waters of the Ganga.
The Goddess with beautifully arched eyebrows asked:
Whose praise is being hymned here?
Then an auspiscious goddess sprang forth from the treasure-house of Her body and replied:
“For Me this hymn is uttered by the assembly of gods who have been defeated in war and exiled by Shumbha and Nishumbha.”
As Ambika manifested from the pores of Parvati’s body She is glorified as Kausiki in the three worlds.
Then Parvati also became black and came to be known as Kalika and took Her abode in the Himalaya.
Then Chanda and Munda, two servants of Shumbha and Nishumbha happened to see that Ambika (Kausiki) looking extremely beautiful. They reported to Shumbha:
“O great king there is an exceedingly beautiful woman whose queenly beauty is illuminating the Himalaya. No-one has ever seen such sublime loveliness anywhere. Find out who that goddess is and take possession of Her, O Lord of Asuras. She is a gem among women, with exquisitely beautiful limbs which illuminate the four directions with their lustre. There she stands, O King of Demons. You deserve to see Her.
Lord! Whatever precious stones, jewels, elephants, horses and so on are in the three worlds, all now decorate your house, O King! You have obtained the precious elephant Airavat, also the fabulous tree Parijata, as well as the wonderful horse Ucchaishrava, which was Indra’s. Here in the courtyard stands the gem-studded chariot drawn by swans, brought here from Brahma the Progenitor. Here is the treasure Mahapadma from Kubera and the unfading lotus garland Kinjalkini, the gift from the ocean. Varuna’s umbrella, which showers gold, now stands in your house with the superb chariot that once belonged to Prajapati.
Lord! You have snatched Utkrantida, the missile of Yama by which he gives exit to all creatures.
Your brother now possesses the noose of the Ocean King. Nishumbha also has all the gems from the Ocean while you have the two fire-proof garments from Agni.
O Demon king, as all these gems have been given you why not also seize this jewel among women?”
The Rishi said:
After listening to all this from Chanda and Munda, Shumbha sent out the mighty demon Sugriva as his messenger to the Devi. He said:
“Go and convey my invitation to Her in a gentle way so that She will be affectionate toward me.”
Going over to the lovely mountain seat of the Goddess, the messenger spoke in a sweet, soothing tone, saying:
O Devi, I am the messenger of Shumbha, Lord of the Demons and Sovereign of the three worlds. He has vanquished all his foes among Asuras and even the Gods were unable to resist him. He sent me here to Your presence. Listen to what he says, his message is this:
“All the three worlds are mine. Even the Gods obey me. I eat all the offerings which once were theirs. All the finest jewels of the three worlds are now mine. Even Indra’s elephant, Airavata, I now have. With salutations the Gods have even offered me the glorious horses called Ucchaihsravas which arose at the churning of the milk ocean.
O magnificent lady! All the other objects which belonged to the Gods or Gandhavas or Nagas, all are now in my possession. We regard You, O Devi, as the jewel among womankind. Therefore, come to us, we who are the connoisseurs of gems. Come to me or to my powerful younger brother Nishumbha, O Lady of the quick side-glances, You are indeed a sparkling jewel. By marrying me You will gain incomparable wealth. Think of the advantage and become my wife.”
The Rishi said:
When this was said, the adorable Goddess Durga who sustains and protects the universe, smiled thoughtfully and said:
“What you say is true, no doubt. Shumbha is indeed sovereign of the three worlds together with Nishumbha. But how may I nullify My former vow? Please listen to this vow I once made in ignorance: I once declared I would only marry one who could be My equal in strength, one who could defeat Me in battle and remove My pride, only he could be my husband.
So let Shumbha come here, or Nishumbha the great Asura, let him vanquish me without delay and gently take my hand in marriage.”
The messenger said:
O Devi! This is arrogance! Do not talk this way to me! Name a single god from the three worlds who is capable of standing against Shumbha and Nishumbha!
In fact all the Gods were unable to face even the other Asuras in battle. So how could You, a single woman do this on your own? If Indra and all the other Godheads united could not defeat Shumbha, how will You, a woman, dare to face him?
It would be better that You heed my message and go to Shumbha and Nishumbha yourself. Otherwise you will suffer the humiliation of being dragged there by the hair.
The Devi said:
It is true. Shumbha is strong. Nishumbha is very heroic. But what can I do? In My ignorance I made my vow earlier. You go back to the Asura Lord and tell him politely what I have said then he may do whatever he pleases.