Chapter 13 – Interpretations

13.1–4: For one last time, Medhas repeats that The Devī makes possible the functioning and sustenance of the universe (13.3). She Does this through the Knowledge (Vidyā) She Creates. Here Vidyā refers not to the Uncreated, Eternal Knowledge but to relative knowledge, which consists of the modifications of the Supreme, Undifferentiated Consciousness as effected by Mahāmāyā. Such knowledge allows human beings to experience the phenomenal universe.

13.5: Medhas enjoins the king to surrender himself To Mahāmāyā. His last words are that She Confers bhoga (“enjoyment,” meaning also the experience of either pleasure or pain), svarga (“abode of light,” meaning heavenly reward), and apavarga (“completion,” meaning emancipation from bodily existence, final beatitude [→ 11.7]). In short, the sum total of experience, in the relative or the absolute state, rests in The Devī.

13.6–11: At this point Mārkaṇḍeya returns as the primary narrator and brings the framing story to an end. When they take their leave of Medhas, the king and the merchant go off to a riverbank and engage in intensive sādhana (13.9–11). They chant the supreme hymn to The Devī (the Ṛgvedic Devīsūkta) and fashion an earthen image, probably much like those still made in India for the autumn Durgā Pūjā. The other details of worship and austerities, except for the offering of human blood, also relate to modem practice. Fasting means not only restraint of physical nourishment but also of anything taken in through the senses, for in the broadest meaning, “food” includes all sensory and intellectual impressions gathered from without. Minimizing food involves not only physical asceticism but also the calming of the mind through the control of everything that stimulates it.

13.12–18: The Devī Caṇḍikā appears to the king and the merchant and offers each a boon. Although it is not stated in the text, the king realizes that running away was a cowardly act, unbefitting his status as a kṣatriya. Having failed to fulfill his duty, he asks for a second chance by reclaiming his earthly kingdom, followed by the reward of an imperishable kingdom in a future existence. He is not ready to relinquish his desires and merge with the Divine but wants to live righteously, in harmony with the dharma. The merchant Samādhi, on the other hand, realizes the folly of seeking wealth and position and of lamenting their loss. Grown wise and dispassionate, he asks for the liberating knowledge that dissolves the ego and its bondage.

13.19–29: The Devī Promises that the king will fight bravely and regain his earthly kingdom. After his death, the Sun God, Vivasvat, will grant him rebirth as Sāvarṇi, the manu of the eighth manvantara. And Samādhi, through knowledge, will attain samādhi, union with the Absolute. In this final scene, the Devī appears exactly as characterized in verse 11.7 of the Nārāyaṇīstuti: as the bestower of worldly enjoyment and final liberation (bhuktimuktipradāyinī).

“She Who Has Become All Things” Exists From All Eternity And Takes Form As The Creation (12.39). All That Is Finite Exists In The Infinite Śakti, Who Is At Once The Nondual Reality and The Kaleidoscopic Universe That Is The Resplendent Form Of The Formless. The Devīmāhātmya’s All-Embracing Vision Sees The Whole Of Being and Becoming As One Reality, For The Divine Mother Is Everything And Everything Is The Divine Mother.

OṀ tat sat OṀ.