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About Madhu-Kaitabha

Madhu and Kaitabha, Asuras or demons of Hindu mythology, are associated with Hindu religious cosmology. They both originated from one of the ears of God Vishnu, while he was in the deep sleep of Yoganidra. From his navel, a lotus has sprouted out on which Brahma, the creator, was sitting and contemplating to create the cosmos.

Bhagavata Purana states that during the creation, the demons Madhu and Kaitabha stole the Vedas from Brahma and deposited them deep inside the waters of the primeval ocean. Vishnu, in his manifestation as Hayagriva, killed them, and retrieved the Vedas. The bodies of Madhu and Kaitabha disintegrated into 2 times 6 - which is twelve pieces (two heads, two torsos, four arms and four legs). These are considered to represent the twelve seismic plates of the Earth.

According to another legend, Madhu and Kaitabha are considered asuras (demons), intended to destroy Brahma. However, Brahma spotted them, and invoked the goddess Mahamaya. At this point, Vishnu awoke, and the two conspiring demons were killed. This led to Vishnu being called Madhusudanah - the killer of Madhu.

The Story of Madhu

The story of the demon Madhu is disclosed in the Kalika Purana, the Devi Bhagavata, and the Mahabharata. Srila Prabhupada briefly mentions the story in his book Krishna (in the chapter “Prayers of Akrura”) and in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.9.37, purport).
At the beginning of time, the spiritual world brought forth the material universe, within which Lord Vishnu then reclined in deep huge slumber on Sesha, His serpent bed. While Lord Vishnu slept, a lotus stem grew from his navel. Atop of the stem was a lotus flower, on which Brahma appeared, the first created being. Lord Vishnu gave him the charge of creation, and he meditated on how he would accomplish his God-given task.

It is said that as Brahma sat in deep meditation, “ear wax” (karna-shrotodbhava) flowed from Vishnu’s ears. Two cruel demons, Madhu and Kaitabha, were born out of that wax. They performed great penance for thousands of years. Pleased by their penance, Lakshmi, the Lord’s consort, appeared before them and granted them the boon that they would die only when they so desired. Proud of their newly acquired asset, the demons became abusively arrogant. They attacked Brahma, still meditating on his lotus stem, and stole from him the four Vedas. Though angry, Brahma was helpless in the presence of such powerful adversaries. He rushed to his one and only shelter, Vishnu, asking for help.

Vishnu, however, was in deep sleep and did not wake up, even though Brahma tried his best to awaken him. Realizing that the Lord slept for reasons of his own, Brahma decided to pray to Yoga-nidra, who is none other than Goddess Lakshmi herself in a special form to assist in the Lord’s yogic sleep. As Brahma had hoped, she showed sympathy on him and awakened the Lord.

Brahma then told Lord Vishnu about the immoral deeds of Madhu and Kaitabha and begged him to destroy them. Lord Vishnu manifested as Hayagriva, the beautiful horse embodiment, and fought with Madhu and Katabha, finally retrieving the Vedic scriptures. But they could die only when they wanted to, as their boon had stated. And so Vishnu cleverly told them that just as Goddess Lakshmi had given them a boon, they should give him one. After all, he told them, they were so powerful they should show him the same courtesy that his feminine half, the embodied form of his spiritual energy, had showed them.

In their arrogance, they fell for his ruse.“What boon do you want from us?” they asked. “We will give you anything You want.”“I want your death!” the Lord replied. And so Hayagriva put an end to their nuisance once and for all.

Srila Prabhupada writes in Srimad-Bhagavatam : The Supreme Personality of Godhead in his transcendental form is always ready to give protection to his devotees. The Lord in the form of Hayagriva killed two demons named Madhu and Kaitabha when they attacked Lord Brahma. Modern demons think that there was no life in the beginning of creation, but from Srimad-Bhagavatam we understand that the first living creature created by the Supreme Personality of Godhead was Lord Brahma, who is full of Vedic understanding. Unfortunately, those entrusted with distributing Vedic knowledge, such as the devotees engaged in spreading Krishna awareness, may sometimes be attacked by demons, but they must rest certain that demoniac attacks will not be able to harm them, for the Lord is always prepared to give them protection.



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