After Devi killed Mahishasura the gods were overjoyed. They sang verses in praise of the goddess who quelled the mighty asura who challenged her in battle. The sage who was narrating this story to the king and the merchant sang the beautiful verses of chants composed by Indra and all the gods.
He then said that the goddess came forth from the bodies of the three gods in the past. She then sprang out of the body of Gowri and destroyed Shumbha and Nishumbha, the wicked asuras.
In the days of yore, great yagnas used to take place in the kingdom of Indra, the king of all the gods. With power received through sheer arrogance, the two asuras would come at the time of completion of the sacrifices and snatch away the havir bhagam or the portion offered to the gods, for themselves. They usurped the powers of Surya, Yama, Kubera,Chandra and Varuna.
They grabbed power from Vayu, the god of air and Agni, the god of fire too. The gods who lost all their power to the asuras meditated on Devi.
The verses that these gods chanted is what we all chant during Navaratri—Ya Devi Sarva Bhuteshu—that goddess who is present in all beings as intelligence, sloth, hunger, shade, energy, craving, patience, the different types of species, sense of shyness and peace, we bow down to that goddess again and again, is the prayer. She is faith, brightness, wealth, thought, memory, compassion, contentment, joy, mother, delusion, the basis of all sense organs, the very consciousness that enlivens all beings, and thinking of whom, all our problems are destroyed.
When the gods were singing the praises, goddess Parvati had come to bathe in the Ganga. When she asked the gods who they were praising, a being appeared from her body. She said that the gods who were being tortured by Shumbha and Nishumbha were extolling her. Since she manifested out of a Kosha or a subtle sheath from the body of Parvathi, she is called Koushiki.
The moment she came out, Parvathi became dark. She was called Kalika and she made the Himalayas her abode. Chanda and Munda, the aides of Shumbha and Nishumbha were the first to encounter the most ravishing form of Koushiki. They ran to Shumbha and told him that a very beautiful woman was almost lighting up the whole Himalayas with her radiance.
A messenger was sent out to convince her to come to Shumbha. She said that he was right that Shumbha and Nishumbha were the great lords, but she had made a vow and it could not be falsified. Only that person who conquered her in battle and quelled her arrogance and matched her strength could become her husband. Go back to your masters and ask them if they can achieve this, she said.
The author is Sevak, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi; firstname.lastname@example.org