The story of Madhu and Kaitabha and how Vishnu took care of them

Once there was a time when there were no people, no animals nor plants and not even soil for them to grow from. According to the gods’ reckoning, Brahma had completed one of his days after fourteen seasons of famine. Night had fallen upon the world and a great storm had caused a vast ocean to form. As nothing had been created, there was nothing to look after; Vishnu was resting on the coils of a great snake called Anantnaga in the middle of that ocean. His eyes were shut in a trance bestowed upon him by Mahamaya. A lotus bloomed from his navel. In the heart of that very lotus was Brahma, meditating.

As Vishnu slept, two specks of dust fell from his ear into the sea. A pair of asuras emerged from them and began swimming. As they swam they wondered where they were,who the giant being asleep in the sea was and how they came to be there.

Their thirst for these answers led them to meditate for many long days and months.

Eventually a little music woke them and they looked into the sky to see a beautiful Saraswati. She carried a garland in one hand and a book in another. There was a goad and a noose in her two remaining hands.
She said, ‘You have pleased me. Know yourselves to be Madhu and Kaitabh. I grant you the boon of choosing how and when you die.”

When she faded away, the two thought, “What did she mean?”
Madhu: We can choose when we die.
Kaitabha: Stupid! Who would ever select that!
M: Does that mean we are immortal?
K: It seems like that; why fear anyone? We should go and sit on that lotus over there.

Brahma heard this and grew worried. What if they attacked Vishnu? One could never tell with these unclean demons.

Brahma sat in meditation, his mind fixed on the goddess Adyashakti. She would wake Vishnu from his yogic slumbers. Soon enough, Vishnu began to stir. The demons noticed this and came charging. Powered by the boon they had received, they fought Vishnu for five thousand years. Vishnu could not use his sudarshan chakra because the demons were empty handed.

Brahma saw that there was a need for Adyashakti’s help again. She appeared and cast a spell on the two demons. Soon they went to Vishnu and said to him, “You may ask us for a boon.”

Vishnu laughed at their audacity and said,”If your contest with me has pleased you, grant me the boon that you will die at my hands.”

The demons were beginning to understand their mistake. But there was nothing they could do now for a boon once granted could not be taken back.
They tried to be clever and said, “Of course, but you must slay us where there is no water.”

One by one Vishnu managed to get them to lie on his knee and behead them both with his spinning sudarshan chakra. He is thus Madhusudan as he killed the demon Madhu.

The fat or ‘meda’ from their bodies filled the earth and created the ground. That is why another name for the earth is ‘Medini’.

Sri Sri Chandir Gawlpo
Hiren Chattopadhyay

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