Devibhāgavata

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Devibhagavata, DevibhAgavata, Devibhaagavata


The Devībhagavata is one of the well-known and popular purāṇas. This purāṇa provides details on Devī or the Divine Mother and gives information useful to spiritual aspirants.

Devībhagavata Controversy

The core content of the purāṇas is known as Purānāsamhitā. Over time, it was expanded to include the eighteen Mahāpurāṇas and eighteen Upapurāṇas (minor works).

Whether the Devībhagavata is a Mahāpurāṇa or an Upapurāṇa, is a contentious issue. Vaiṣṇavas[1] argue that the Bhāgavata in the list of Mahāpurāṇas is Visnubhāgavata, whereas the Sāktas[2] vehemently assert that it is Devībhagavata and not Visnubhāgavata. These controversies are ignored to avoid obstruction of spiritual evolution.

Significance of Devibhāgavata

King Janamejaya[3] incurred great sin for having massacred innumerable serpents in his Sarpayāga.[4] He had performed it to avenge the death of his father by the bite of Takṣaka, the king of reptiles. The sage Vyāsa taught him Devibhāgavata to ward off the effects of this sin.

Core Content of Devībhagavata

The main content of the work is the story of the exploits of the Devi. It provides more detail to the contents of the Devimāhātmya.

There are 12 skandhas (Books), the number of adhyāyas (Chapters) and the number of ślokas (couplets or verses) being 318 and 18,457 respectively. To get an idea of this work, its synopsis is given below:

Skandha 1

This book has 20 chapters and 1184 ślokas and includes:

Skandha 2

This book has 12 chapters and 723 ślokas and includes:

  • Story of Vyāsa
  • Story of Śantanu
  • Story of Bhīṣma
  • Story of the Pāṇḍavas

Skandha 3

It has 30 chapters comprising of 1746 ślokas. The content delineated in this book includes:

  • Story of the king Sudarśana of Kāśī who was a great devotee of the Devī at whose request the Devī stayed back there
  • Details of the Durgāpujā, known as Saran-navarātri-vrata
  • The origin of Śri Rāma’s first worship as per the advice of the sage Nārada

Skandha 4

It has 25 chapters with 1416 ślokas and prominently consists of:

Skandha 5

This book has 35 chapters having 2094 ślokas and includes:

  • The entire story of the Devimāhātmya also known as Durgāsaptaśati and Candi in greater detail
  • The story of Mahiṣāsura’s birth, his falling in love with the Devī before being obliged to fight with her and be killed and the rest of the story is the same as in the other works except this section of the story which is not reflected in other works

Skandha 6

It has 31 chapters with 1888 ślokas in it and includes:

  • Story of Vṛtrāsura
  • Story of Nahuṣa
  • Story of Sunśśepha
  • Story of Nārada’s being deluded by the power of all-bewitching māyā of Lord Viṣṇu

Skandha 7

It has 40 chapters comprising of 2245 ślokas and this book includes:

Skandha 8

It has 24 chapters with 834 ślokas. This book prominently includes:

  • A detailed description of world geography
  • Description of Bhāratavarṣa (India)
  • Details of some astronomical factors
  • Description of hell

Skandha 9

This book comprises of 50 chapters with 3617 ślokas. It is the biggest of all the skandhas of this work and includes:

  • The well-known and popular story of Sāvitrī
  • Legends of Mahālakṣmī and Maṅgalacaṇḍī
  • Several mantras and procedures for meditation on some aspects of Devi like Rādhā, Durgā and Manasā

Skandha 10

It has 13 chapters with 508 ślokas. The story of Devimāhātmya, given in greater detail in the 5th skandha has been repeated in this book, but in a condensed form.

Skandha 11

It has 24 chapters with 1239 ślokas. This skandha is devoted entirely to sadācāra and pujā, various ritualistic items connected with the daily routine of a religious person and includes:

  • Rules of good conduct
  • Personal cleanliness
  • Details of the rudrākṣa beads
  • Some vratas or religious observances and vows
  • The sandhyā ritual
  • Special worship processes
  • Ritual repetition of the famous Gāyatrīmantra
  • Details connected with the preparation and wearing of bhasma or vibhuti (sacred ash, dear to Śiva)

Skandha 12

This book has 14 chapters with 963 ślokas. This small book gives some details regarding:

  • The Gāyatrīmantra
  • Dīkṣā (initiation into spiritual life)
  • Description of the Ambāyajña (sacrifice conducted to please the Devī) performed by the king Janamejaya.

References

  1. People who are the followers of the Viṣṇu
  2. People who are the followers of the Śakti cult or the Divine Mother
  3. He was the son of the well- known king Parīkṣit and grandson of Arjuna, the famous Pāṇḍava hero
  4. It is a Serpent-sacrifice
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore