The Story of Srimati Tulasi devi
AN ENVOY SENT TO SANKHACHUDA
Lord Brahma and the other demigods returned to their respective abodes. Later, to gain victory for the demigods, Lord Siva pitched his big tent and camped on the banks of the Chandrabhaga River under a beautiful fig tree. He then sent Puspadanta, the leader of the Gandharvas, as a messenger to Sankhacuda. When Puspadanta arrived at Sankhacuda capital, he noticed that it was more beautiful than Indra's realm and more opulent than Kuvera's.
The city was 40 miles wide and 80 miles long. It was built of pearl and jewel crystals, and on all sides there were roadways. Seven inaccessible moats, one after another, surrounded the city.
There were hundreds of shops full of trade articles and marketable commodities. Palatial buildings of traders and merchants were all over. Thousands and thousands of beautiful buildings, constructed with scarlet gems, inlaid with various ornaments and decorated with fancy articles, gave the place a boundless charm.
The Gandharva chief saw that Sankhacuda's palace was spherical like the moon. Four successive moats with fiery flames encircled it. On top of the palace were ramparts, made of jewels, that touched the sky. The palace was inaccessible to enemies but offered no hindrance to friends.
The twelve gates, decorated with lotuses, jewelled mirrors, paintings and statues, were guarded by twelve gatekeepers. On all sides the place was protected by very powerful, graceful, well-dressed and richly adorned demons who were holding heavenly weapons in their hands. When Puspadanta approached the first gate, he saw that it was guarded by a man who had a hideous face, copper complexion and tawny eyes, and who was smiling and holding a trident in his hand. Puspadanta explained to him the purpose of his mission--that he was a war ambassador--and the guard allowed him to pass inside; the other gatekeepers did the same. At the last gate he said to the guard, "O guard, quickly inform your king that a war is about to occur."
The guard did so and, obtaining Sankhacuda's permission, ushered the messenger inside. There, the Gandharva saw the well-formed, handsome demon seated in the centre of the royal assembly on a golden throne. One attendant was holding a jewelled umbrella over the king's head while other attendants were fanning him with white chamaras (whisks). Countless demons surrounded him and armed guards walked here and there. Sankhacuda was beautifully dressed in heavenly garments, covered with garlands, and anointed with fragrance.
Seeing all this, Puspadanta was thunderstruck and said to Sankhacuda, "O King, I am a messenger of Lord Siva and my name is Puspadanta. My lord has ordered me to tell you the following: The demigods have sought the protection of Lord Hari. So you had better restore to them their kingdoms and rights. Lord Hari has given His own trident to Lord Siva and asked him to wage war against you if necessary. Presently, Lord Siva is residing under the shade of a fig tree on the bank of the Puspabhadra River. Either you must return to the demigods their property or you must be ready to fight with Lord Siva...What shall I tell my lord is your reply?"
The demon laughed loudly and said, "You had better leave. I shall go to him in the morning."
The messenger returned to Lord Siva and conveyed the demon's message. In the meantime the following group of persons appeared before Lord Siva: Kartika, Nandi, Mahakala, Bana, Manibhadra, the eight Bhairavas, the eleven Rudras, the eight Vasus, the twelve Adityas, Indra, Agni, Chandra, Viswakarma, the two Aswini-kumaras, Kuvera, Yama, Jayanta, Nala-Kuvara, Vayu, Varuna, Budha, Mangala, Dharma, Sani, Kama, Ugra-chanda, Kottari, the hundred-armed Bhadrakali, as well as many other personages.
Bhadrakali was seated on an excellent chariot. Her paraphernalia, clothing, garland and sandal paste were red. Inspiring her devotees with courage and infusing fear into the enemy, she began dancing, laughing and singing. Her rolling tongue and the skull she held in her hand were each eight miles in circumference. She carried a trident, an iron spear, conches, a wheel, mace, lotus, bow, arrows, dumbbells, a scimitar, thunder, the weapons of Visnu and Varuna, a snake noose, the weapons of Agni, Narayana, Brahma, Gandharva, Garuda, Pasupata, a pestle, shield, staff, as well as other irresistible weapons. This fearsome goddess was accompanied by millions of devotee Yoginis and Dakinis, and also countless ghosts, goblins and demons known as Bhutas, Pretas, Pisachas, Kusmandas, Brahma Raksasas and Raksasas, as well as Yaksas and Kinnaras. Then Kartikkeya arrived and he bowed down to his father Lord Siva, who asked him to sit on his left side and help him. The army remained there in battle array.
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