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KRONOS Vol II, No. 1

Devi And Venus


In Worlds in Collision, Immanuel Velikovsky writes:

"In every country of the ancient world we can trace cosmological myths of the birth of the planet Venus. If we look for the god or goddess who represents the planet Venus, we must inquire which among the gods or goddesses did not exist from the beginning, but was born into the family."(1)

Elsewhere in the same work, he adds:

"If there exists a fantastic image that is projected against the sky and that repeats itself all round the world, it is most probably an image that was seen on the screen of the sky by many peoples at the same time."(2)

Velikovsky tests his thesis against a number of different gods and goddesses, his most detailed analysis being that of Pallas Athene. In a very brief reference, he cites the Hindu god Vishnu as a possible case in point.(3) There is, however, another Hindu deity which conforms to Velikovsky's postulated paradigm far better than does Vishnu, better in fact than does Pallas Athene herself.


If Pallas Athene sprang from the head of Zeus, the Devi's birth (or rather creation) was, if anything, even more dramatic:

"Of yore when Mahishasura was the lord of asuras and Indra the lord of devas [literally: the shining ones] there was a war between the devas and asuras for a full hundred years. In that the army of the devas was vanquished by the valorous asuras. After conquering all the devas Mahishasura became the lord of heaven."(4)

The defeated "shining ones" approached Shiva and Vishnu for help against their foe, charging that, among other misdeeds, Mahisha had "usurped" the jurisdiction of Surya (the Sun), Chandra (the Moon), Varuna (the Sky), and still other devas, including the petitioners. "Thrown out from heaven by that evil-natured Mahisha, the hosts of devas wander on the earth like mortals."(4)

The principal gods were outraged and took action at once:

"Then issued forth a great light from the face of Vishnu who was full of intense anger, and from that of Brahma and Shiva too. From the bodies of Indra and other devas also sprang forth a very great light. And (all) this light united together. The devas saw there a concentration of light like a mountain blazing excessively, pervading all the quarters with its flames. Then that unique light, produced from the bodies of all the devas, pervading the three worlds with its lustre, combined into one and became a female form."

"By which was Shiva's light, her face came into being; by Yama's (light) her hair; by Vishnu's fight her arms; and by Chandra's (light) her two breasts. By Indra's light, her waist, by Varuna's (light) her shanks and thighs and by earth's light her hips."(4)

And so with other parts of the Devi's anatomy. Next, each of the principal gods gave the newly created goddess a special weapon: Shiva duplicated his trident and presented it to her; Vishnu gave her a duplicate of his own cosmic weapon, the chakra (a flaming disc); Indra bestowed upon the Devi a copy of his own thunderbolt (vaira); Surya (the Sun) "bestowed his own rays on all pores of her skin"(4) (or: "Filled his rays in the roots of her hair"),(5) while Kala (Time)gave her a spotless sword and shield. (4) Others gave her ornaments, including a necklace of snakes. Himavant (the Himalaya Mountains viewed as a deity) gave her a lion to ride upon as well as various gems. (We shall have more to say about the lion, below.)

The Devi

"gave out a loud roar with a defying laugh again and again. By her unending, exceedingly great, terrible roar the entire sky was filled, and there was great reverberation. All the worlds shook. The seas trembled. The earth quaked and all the mountains rocked."(4)

So also Pallas Athene sprang into birth "shouting a triumphant cry of victory ... Great Olympus was profoundly shaken by the dash and impetuosity of the bright-eyed goddess. The earth echoed with a terrible sound, the sea trembled and its dark waves rose."(6)

The Devi

"indented the earth occupied by her foot, her crown struck the sky: the sound of her bowstring terrified the whole subterraneous world. She grasped all the space of the regions by her one thousand arms; fierce war was waged between the Devi and the enemies of the devas."(5)

And thus the Devi was born. Her names are legion, and her aliases include Durga ("hard to approach", "impervious"), Kali (black), Chandi or Chandika (fierce, violent, angry, hot, active), Kanya (virgin), Kanya Kumati (youthful virgin), Avara (youngest), Muktakesi (with disheveled hair), Tara (star), Jagad-Gauri (Fair One of the Universe), to mention just a few. John Dowson's A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and Religion (7) lists a total of 68 different appellations of the Devi, and the list is very far from exhaustive. Arthur and Ellen Avalon, in their compilation "Hymns to the Goddess" (translated from the Sanskrit), include hymns citing 108 names of the Devi - and even such lists are incomplete!(8)


As we have seen, the Devi was ready for battle from the moment she sprang into being. At first, Mahishasura sent into the fray his minions numbering "thousands of crores"* of warriors on foot, horse and elephant, as well as charioteers. They fought the Devi with iron maces, javelins, clubs, spears, swords, axes, halberds, nooses and thunderbolts. The devi easily destroyed them all, and "the profuse blood from the asuras, elephants and horses flowed like large rivers. . ."(4)

[* A crore is a Hindu numeral; it signifies 10,000,000.]

His entire host thus eventually vanquished, Mahishasura at last entered upon the battle himself, assuming his buffalo shape** for the purpose:

[** Mahisha means "buffalo" (as a noun; as an adjective it means "mighty").]

"Mahishasura, great in valour, pounded the surface of the earth with his hooves in rage, tossed up the high mountains with his horns, and bellowed terribly. Crushed by his wheeling, the earth disintegrated and, lashed by his tail, the sea overflowed all around. Pierced by his swaying horns, the clouds went into fragments. Cast down by the blast of his breath, mountains fell down from the sky in the hundreds."(4)

The final encounter between the Devi and her enemy is graphically described:

"She flung her noose over him and bound the great asura. Thus bound in the great battle, he quitted his buffalo form. Then he became a lion suddenly. While the Devi cut off the head of the lion form, he took the appearance of a man with sword in hand. Immediately then the Devi with her arrows chopped off the man together with his sword and shield. Then he became a big elephant. He tugged at her great lion with his trunk and roared loudly. But as he was dragging (the lion), the Devi cut off his trunk with her sword. The great asura then resumed his buffalo shape and shook the three worlds with their movable and immovable objects. Enraged thereat, (the Devi) quaffed a divine drink again and again and laughed, her eyes becoming red. And the asura also roared, intoxicated with his strength and valour, and hurled mountains against the Devi with his horns. And she with showers of arrows pulverized (those mountains) hurled at her and spoke to him in flurried words ... The Devi said: 'Roar, roar, O fool, for a moment while I drink this wine. When you will be slain by me, the devas will soon roar in this very place.' . . . (Then) she jumped and landed herself on that great asura, pressed him on the neck with her foot and struck him with her spear. And thereupon, caught up under her foot, Mahishasura half issued forth (in his real form) from his own (i.e., buffalo) mouth, being completely overcome by the valour of the Devi. Fighting thus with his half-revealed form, the great asura was laid low by the Devi who struck off his head with her great sword. Then crying in consternation the whole asura army perished; and all the hosts of the devas were in great exultation."(4)

There follows a magnificent hymn of praise to the Devi, ending in the request that she should again come to the rescue in the event of similar trouble in the future. This was wise, for the devas were not yet through with their need for the Devi's assistance. Generations later -- the exact length of the interval is not specified -- two new demons, named Shumbha and Nishumbha, a pair of brothers, appeared, usurped Indra's sovereignty "over the three worlds" and, like their predecessor, took over "the offices of the sun, the moon" and of the all embracing sky.(4) Again, the helpless devas invoke the Devi:

"Salutation always to her who is of the form of the moon and moonlight . . . who is smoke-like in complexion ... who is at once gentle and most terrible . . . who is the support of the world.""(4)

Once again, the battle ends in the Devi's complete victory. One particular detail may be worth noting in a battle otherwise similar to the Devi's earlier encounter: one of the asuras' generals (Raktabija, literally meaning "blood seed", i.e., whose blood is a seed) is struck by a thunderbolt:

"Blood flowed quickly and profusely from him who was wounded by the thunderbolt. From the blood rose up (fresh) combatants of his form and valour. As many drops of blood fell from his body, so many persons came into being, with his courage, strength and valour."(4)

The problem was ultimately solved by preventing Raktabija's blood from reaching the ground.*

[* If the phenomenon is an echo of any real event, one might think of the fall of burning naphtha or petrol, resulting in further fires on the ground, nursed by naphtha or petrol not set ablaze during the descent to earth.]

After Nishumbha has been slain by the Devi, Shumbha

"seizing the Devi... sprang up and mounted on high into the sky. There also the Devi without any support fought with him. Then they fought as never before with each other in the sky in a close contact, which wrought surprise to the siddhas** and the sages" (Emphasis supplied).(4)

[**Siddhas: a class of semi-divine beings of great holiness.]

The Devi prevails over Shumbha too:

"Battered by the pointed dart of the Devi, he fell lifeless on the ground, shaking the entire earth with its seas, islands and mountains. When that evil-natured one was slain, the universe became happy and regained perfect peace, and the sky grew clear. Flaming portent clouds that were in evidence before, became tranquil, and the rivers kept within their courses when Sumbha was stricken down there ... And the band of nymphs danced; likewise, favourable winds blew; the sun became very brilliant; the sacred fires blazed peacefully and tranquil became the strange sounds that had arisen in different quarters of the sky" (Emphasis supplied).(4)

There follows another superb hymn of praise to the goddess. She is implored to protect the universe. She agrees to do so, saying that there will indeed be further assaults on the "three worlds" but that she will once more come to the rescue as in days of yore. Indeed, the Devi promises even more:

"And again, when rain shall fail for a period of a hundred years....... I shall be born on the drought-ridden earth, but not womb-begotten..... I shall maintain the whole world with life-sustaining vegetables, born out of my own cosmic body, till the rains set in."(4)

(What these "life-sustaining vegetables" are, we are not told, although the reference may invite comparison with the biblical manna.)


No great demands are made upon our detective skills to discover the identity of the Devi. The events explicitly occur in space, in the Solar System. They involve catastrophes covering the entire terrestrial globe, explicitly. The embattled goddess herself is - again: explicitly - a newcomer. She is said to be of the form of the Moon. One of her names is particularly revealing: it is quite simply "star" (tara). She is called "the youngest" (avara). Like Pallas Athene, she is "the virgin" (kanya); also like Athene, she is redoubtable as a fighter whose weapons include a shield and a sword. The very word "Devi" has been translated by some Indologists as "that which is by its nature Light and Manifestation" (thus, e.g., 8, p. vi).

True, in the classical Indian sources available to me, I do not find any explicit statement linking the Devi to Jupiter (Zeus) (called in classical Hindu sources, inter alia, Brihaspati), as Pallas Athene is linked to that (planetary) deity from whose head she sprang (see, however, the sections "Sixteen" and "Jupiter and Venus both Brahmins," below). Equally true, there is no explicit statement that the Devi is the planet Venus. Nevertheless, our proposed identification leaves little room for doubt; as we shall see, the Devi is Venus.


We have mentioned that the Devi went into battle with her lion. The association is firmly established in the Devi's iconography, and the lion's role in fighting the Devi's enemies is described at length in Sanskrit sources.(4, 5, 8, 9) It is therefore extremely interesting to note the observation of Francis Xavier Kugler that the

"association of Venus with Leo [i.e., the lion] must have had a momentous meaning for the ancients, since the several goddesses that represent Venus, such as the Phrygian Cybele, the Greek Great Mother, the Carthaginian Coelestis, had the lion as an inseparable companion. Coelestis [like the Devi, let us note] was portrayed as riding a lion while holding a spear in her hands" (Emphasis supplied).(10)

Livio C. Stecchini, to whom I am indebted for the above quotation from Kugler, also quotes the following passage from Alfons Kurfess' translation of the Sybilline Oracles:

"The Morning Star fought the battle having climbed on the shoulders of Leo."(10)

The Morning Star is, of course, the planet Venus.


One of Athene's appellations is that of Pallas Athene, commemorating her victory over the giant Pallas. One of the Devi's names may well be similarly constructed: Durgadevi. The word might simply mean -- and sometimes undoubtedly does -- "the goddess Durga". But it may also mean -- and equally undoubtedly does -- "the Devi (who slew) Durgama".

" . . . I shall slay the great asura named Durgama. Thereby I shall have the celebrated name of Durgadevi."(4, p. 149)*

[* I am indebted to Dwardu Cardona for drawing my attention to this parallelism.]

As is well known, the owl is Athene's emblematic animal. Interestingly enough, although less well known, the owl plays the same role in one of the Devi's aspects: as the slayer of Chanda and Munda, another pair of demons, the Devi is also known as Chamunda for which manifestation

"She should be dressed in a tiger's skin and have a corpse and an owl as her vehicles." (9, p. 55; note, however, that on p. 98 of the same work it is said that her vehicle is a corpse or an owl, not and an owl.)

Suggestive as the emergence of an owl might be of certain equivalents of the Devi and Athene, it would be still more convincing if Hindu tradition provided some direct hints of the postulated identity of Venus and the Devi. It does.


One of the synonyms for the planet Venus in Sanskrit is the word shodashanarchis", meaning "having sixteen rays" (Also: "shodashananshu", with the same meaning). No other heavenly body is known as "sixteen-rayed" in Sanskrit, at least not to the point of the expression being an accepted synonym for such a planet, as is the case with Venus. It is therefore noteworthy to find "Shodashanabhuja" (Sixteen-armed) as a synonym for Durgadevi - and for no other Indian deity. Sixteenray means the planet Venus; sixteenarm means Durga-devi.(11) This is at least curious. Was there an appearance of Venus in which rays prominently grouped themselves into the major, intermediary and sub-intermediary cardinal directions? The bibliographic sources immediately available to me do not permit me to ascertain whether Roman, Greek, Egyptian and other traditions similarly associate Venus with the number 16. But we have by no means exhausted Indian associations: according to Hindu Astrology

"Mars has the appearance of a child, and Mercury that of a boy. Jupiter's age is 30 years; Venus, 16 years. . . . .", etc. (12, p. 17)

What's more, the Devi is sometimes invoked as the "Girl-of-Sixteen" (Shodashi), and a special literary work, the Shodashi Tantra, represents Shodashi as the "power of Shiva as the ruler of the three worlds". (13, p. 278) Significantly, Velikovsky identifies Shiva with Jupiter.)(1, p.66) There are additional associations, especially in the Tantric literature, where, to cite just one example, we find a "sixteen-fold service" to the Devi.(14, pp. 161-165) Whatever the significance, there is no gainsaying the fact of the existence of associations of the number sixteen both with the Devi and the planet Venus in Indian tradition.


Not important by itself, but perhaps suggestive when viewed in the context of the other data to which attention has been invited in this article, is the fact that of all the planets only two are Brahmins according to Hindu astrologers - Jupiter (Brihaspati) and Venus: see for example Varahamira's "BrihatJataka"(15) They could therefore be related; but let us note that such a relationship is not explicitly asserted in Hindu tradition, whereas there is an explicit assertion that Athene was born of Jupiter-Zeus, in Greek tradition.


Our identification of Venus and Devi would no doubt have been strengthened if we could have cited classical Greek sources in support thereof. Unfortunately, none of the handful of pre-Alexandrian Greek writings extant and referring to India attempt to identify the Greek goddess Pallas Athene with any Hindu god or goddess; neither do the somewhat later (but still pre-Christian) Greek authors whose writings have come down to us: the sources are collated by Baij Nath Puri in his India in Classical Greek Writings. (16) We need not, however, be overly impressed by this lacuna: classical Greek authors do not appear to have identified any Hindu gods, having limited themselves to the observation that "the philosophers who inhabit the mountains [of India] are worshipers of Dionysos. . ." while "the philosophers who live in the plains worship Herakles" (Strabo citing Megasthenes, as quoted by Puri; 16, p. 66). It remains unknown which particular Hindu deity Megasthenes (or his sources) identified as Dionysos, or which as Herakles; no Hindu deity corresponds exactly to either Greek deity.*

[* "About that date" - (i.e., circa 300 B.C.) - "Megasthenes, the Greek envoy at Pataliputra, describes two Indian deities under the names of Dionysus and Herakles. They are generally identified with Krishna and Shiva. It might be difficult to deduce this identity from an analysis of each description and different authorities have identified both Shiva and Krishna with Dionysus ... 11(17) Or in other words, no Hindu god was actually identified with any Greek deity, these so-called identifications being nothing more than guesswork.]


From the fact that the Devi plays no part in the Vedas (the earliest body of formal Indian literature) - self-explanatory if the phenomena giving rise to the Devi were post-Vedic - some have drawn a different conclusion, viz., that the Devi was originally a Dravidian (indigenous) deity. This is possible but by no means certain; nor would it help us in dating the emergence of the Devi. One of the leading authorities on Dravidian deities, W. T. Elmore, flatly asserts that the Dravidian goddess most closely resembling the Devi in name - Kanaka Durgama (meaning "the Golden Durga") "is a very recent goddess. She seems not to have been known a generation ago."(18, p. 65)

Elmore, however, does not object to the prevalent scholarly view that Shiva and his wife are of Dravidian origin and, since Kali is one of Shiva's wives, the door is thus opened to a Dravidian origin of the Devi. This gains strength from the importance attached in Dravidian religion to the "Seven Sisters" and the fact that female deities are prominent in Dravidian religious beliefs. On the other hand, Elmore also presents a number of criteria to assist one on spotting Dravidian deities in ostensibly Hindu guises. These criteria do not fit the Devi with striking aptness:

"The Dravidian gods, however, are usually local in their origin. Their history commonly begins on earth, often as the ghost of some person who has died. In the thought of the people also, the Dravidian gods are local. Each village has its own deity....... Even when one god is found in many places, the people never think of it as a general god with world relations, but only as their local deity."(18, p. 10)

But even if the Devi is not necessarily of Dravidian origin, it is entirely possible that she has a (perhaps independent) parallel in one or more of the Dravidian "Seven Sister" goddesses. In a ritual which could still be observed by Elmore in this century, some sixty years ago, and which may still survive in parts of South India, the following features claim our attention: during a festival of several days duration called a jatara (a "Dravidian word meaning originally a tumult or noisy disturbance" ),(18, p. 14) smaller animals are sacrificed to a particular one of the Seven Sisters concerned, every day, for three or four days. Then, on the climactic final day of the jatara, a bullock is sacrificed by being beheaded in front of the goddess, ideally with a single stroke of a sword (although up to three sword strokes are permissible). The severed head is placed before the goddess

"and one, or quite commonly, both front legs are cut off at the knee and placed crosswise on the mouth of the buffalo. Some of the fat is taken from the abdomen of the buffalo and spread over its eyes, and a wick placed in a small vessel of oil is lighted and placed on the head. The oil that is burned is supposed to be from the fat of the buffalo, but this rule does not seem to be commonly observed."(18, p. 17)

The description of the ritual relates to the worship of the goddess Poleramma, but very similar rituals are observed in the jataras celebrated in the worship of the other Sisters (Ankamma, Muthyalamma, Dilli Polasi, Bangaramma, Mathamma and Renuka).(18, p. 12) There are aspects of the ritual which remind one of the final battle between the Devi and the Buffalo Demon, Mahisha:

"And thereupon, caught up under her foot, Mahishasura half issued forth (in his real form) from his own (i.e., buffalo) mouth . . . Fighting thus with his half-revealed form, the great asura was laid low by the Devi who struck off his head with her great sword" (Emphasis supplied).(4)

The fact that a small vessel of oil is lighted and placed on the buffalo's head may also have its origin in some astronomical event.

Much more could and should be said about a possible Dravidian origin of the Devi and its bearing on our proposed identification of her with the planet Venus. To avoid misunderstanding, let me point out that it is not my intention to assert that the Devi exclusively represents Venus; nor yet that Venus has no other (partial) representation in the Hindu pantheon.* Hindu hagiography is so interlinked, so over-determined (to use a psychoanalytic term), and perhaps so intentionally complicated for didactic purposes (note for example that Brahma the Creator is himself born from a lotus growing out of the navel of Vishnu the Preserver!) that any attempt at such exclusiveness would surely be foredoomed. It is my much more limited aim to suggest that whatever else she may have come to represent and to be linked with (cf. her role in the Tantra, for instance), the Devi must also be identified with the planet Venus, quite independently from any of the goddesses who played a similar role in other parts of the world. Nor does it follow that, if both the Devi and Athene represent the planet Venus, Athene and the Devi must themselves be identical one with the other. All that is necessary is that they must resemble one another in respect of those characteristics which represent the planet Venus; they may (and do) differ in other respects without invalidating the thesis that each of them represents the planet itself.

[* 'Thus, e.g., I am inclined to believe that Shiva's son Kartikeya (also known as Subrahmanya and Tarakajit--"Vanquisher of (the Demon) Taraka") also represents certain aspects of the planet Venus. Kartikeya was explicitly begotten to cope with a celestial crisis, to lead the devas into battle riding on a peacock. In holding that view, I am aware that Kartikeya is regarded by some as "the (Hindu) god of war and (of) the planet Mars" (22, p. 152). I believe that he is a god of war, not the god of war; and that he has nothing to do with the planet Mars.]

In a personal communication, Stephen L. Talbott (editor of Pensee) invited my attention to the fact that "in Grimm's Teutonic mythology, Vol. II, the peacock is termed a comet-symbol." He added that the "devi's 'peacock plumes' may be significant evidence, comparable to the plumes of Isis-Venus and Quetzalcoatl-Venus." In the Harivamsa, a post-Mahabharatic Sanskrit work, it is said of the Devi that

"Thou traverseth in all directions the world With peacock-feathered flags."(8, p. 147)

Again, in the Mahabharata itself mention is made of Durga

"Who holdeth a peacock's tail for thy banner."(8, p. 154)

Elsewhere in the Mahabharata, the Devi is said to be wearing peacock feathers:

"Thou shinest also with peacock-plumes standing erect on thy head ..."(19, vol. IV, p. 12)

If peacock plumes are indeed a cometary symbol, we thus see that the Devi not only represents the planet Venus but also carries symbolic hints that Venus went through a cometary stage in its cosmic career, as postulated by Velikovsky.


The earliest reference to the Devi's victory over Mahishasura occurs in one of the two great Hindu epics of which mention has just been made, the Mahabharata.* In fact, it does so twice: in Section VI of the Virata Parva; and again in Section XXIII of the Bhishma Parva. Both sections contain hymns of praise of the Devi (called Kali and Durga as well as Supreme Goddess of the Universe). In the Virata Parva we read

"Thou hast sanctified the celestial regions by adopting the vow of perpetual maidenhood. It is for this, O thou that hast slain the Mahishasura, that thou are praised and worshiped by the gods for the protection of the three worlds."(19, vol. IV, pp. 11-12)

[* The other epic is the Ramayana.]

A similar hymn of praise in the Bhishma Parva refers to the Devi, i.e., as

"O thou that art always fond of buffalo's blood" but does not mention the Devi's victory over Mahishasura (although it does mention her victory over another asura, Kaitabha).(19, vol V. pp. 51-52)

However, the Mahabharata's account of the birth of the Devi is totally different from that given in the Markandeya Purana (above ).(4) She is said to be the daughter of Yasoda -- which would make her a sister of Krishna, the divine charioteer of one of the principal warriors in the climactic Mahabharata War. The point is of interest only as a possible I-lint concerning the time of the Devi's birth (or rebirth?). One Indian tradition places that famous war in the year 3102 B. C. and another puts the date at about 1500 B. C. Generally, scholars favor the ninth century B. C.(20) (leaving aside those scholars who deny the historicity of the Mahabharata War altogether). While the first of the three dates (3102 B. C.) might weaken the identification of Venus with the Devi (unless Venus, as a comet, was involved in celestial encounters even then), either of the other dates would support our thesis, even if there are reasons for opting for the most recent of the above-mentioned dates, or an even slightly later one, perhaps 687 B. C.(21) The Mahabharata and the Iliad may be more nearly contemporary than has been generally assumed, referring to a time when King Hezekiah was fighting Sennacherib in the Holy Land, in the days of the Prophet Isaiah.


Most modern scholars believe that the original form of the Mahabharata began to take shape about 500 B. C., acquiring its present form about a thousand years later (ca. 500 A. D.). Few would doubt that much of the contents included in the great Hindu epic must have ante-dated the age of its initial composition, i.e., must have been in existence prior to 500 B. C. A point on which all are in agreement is the fact that the Mahabharata is post-Vedic, i.e., post 1500 B. C.

The Vedas (circa 1500 B. C., according to most scholars) contain no reference at all to a battle between the Devi and the Asuras. Nor do they contain any reference to the goddess we have described earlier in this essay; the Devi is clearly post-Vedic, coming to prominence some time between 1500 and 500 B. C. As chronological parameters, the two dates are noticeably similar to Velikovsky's timetable. The problems of Indian historiography being what they are, it would not be wise to be too sanguine about the dates mentioned, let alone to attempt further refinements until and unless much more secure foundations can be laid for dating Indian pre-history. For even if the Mahabharata War might be dateable to 687 B.C., as noted above, such a dating would not throw a definitive light on the question of the timing of the battles of the Devi; the Devi does not prominently participate in the Mahabharata War, although she predicts the victory of one side "through my grace". (19, vol. IV, p.13; vol. V. P. 53)*

[* It is worth bearing in mind that while Hindu tradition abounds in descriptions of battles among the gods and their foes, it is much more restrained than Greek tradition in depicting personal divine intervention in human battles (even if such intervention is not entirely unknown).]

In our major account of the birth and warfare of the Devi we have followed the story as told in a celebrated section of the Markandeya Purana, variously known as the Devi-Mahatmya, Chandipatha or Sri-Durga-Saptasati. While conceding a much higher antiquity to the contents of India's major puranas (legends composed on the Hindu model) most modem scholars believe that they were composed, in the form in which they now exist, about fifteen hundred years ago, with variations depending upon the particular purana concerned. Dowson places the Markandeya Purana "in the ninth or tenth century" A. D.3 (22) while others mention slightly earlier dates.

The average purana deals with five major topics: (1) creation of the universe; (2) its destruction and renewal; (3) genealogy of gods and patriarchs; (4) reigns of so-called "manus", mythological progenitors of mankind; and (5) the history of India's ancient Solar and Lunar Royal Houses. The typical purana exhibits strong sectarian preferences and contains much religious and devotional matter.

Not so the Markandeya Purana, which

"has a character quite different from that of other Puranas. It is entirely shorn of that sectarian spirit which is seen in other Puranas. There are rarely to be seen prayers and invocations to any deity. Its leading feature is narrative and it abounds in a number of beautifully written legends."(23)


In overall outline and in many details and sequences, the events described in the Devi Mahatmya chapter of the Markandeya Purana bear an unmistakable resemblance to those described in Worlds in Collision by Immanuel Velikovsky. Even if I refrain from entering, in this essay, into the intriguing question of the correct identities of the Devi's enemies, I trust that I have succeeded in showing how extraordinarily well the Devi fits Velikovsky's paradigm, quoted at the beginning of this paper. As a working hypothesis, then, which others may find worthwhile to pursue and to investigate in greater depth, I therefore venture to suggest that the Hindu goddess known inter alia as the Devi is, or originally was, representative of the planet Venus.


1. I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, (Doubleday, New York, 1950), p. 168.
2. Ibid., p. 305.
3. Ibid., p. 168.
4. The Devi-Mahatmya or Sri Durga-Saptasati, tr. by Svami Jagadisvarananda (Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras, 1953) In English and Sanskrit. Unless otherwise identified, all quotations relating to the birth and acts of the Devi are taken from this work, pp. 25 to 178.
5. M. N. Dutt, A Prose English Translation of Markandeya Purana (Calcutta, 1897), pp. 339-375. (Since Svaini Jagadisvarananda's translation is somewhat more modem, I have generally made use of it rather than of Dutt's version. I have, however, consulted both and occasionally used Dutt's. Differences between the two are almost entirely stylistic.) Puranas are legends of relatively late date.
6. F. Guirand, "Greek Mythology," in Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology (London, Batchworth Press Ltd., 1959) pp. 117-118.
7. John Dowson, A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and Religion (London, 1879), pp. 86-87.
8. Arthur and Ellen Avalon, Hymns to the Goddess (Tr. from the Sanskrit), (Ganesh & Co.,Madras, 1952).
9. R. S. Gupte, Iconography of the Hindus, Buddhists and Jains (D. B. Tarapor-ala Sons & Co., Bombay, 1972), p. 102, p. 104, Plates 104-106.
10. L. C. Stecchini, "Astronomical Theory and Historical Data," in The Velikovsky Affair:, Scientism vs. Science (Alfred de Grazia, Ralph E. Juergens, Livio C. Stecchini Editors), (University Books, New Hyde Park, New York, 1967), p. 143.
11. V. S. Apte, The Student's Sanskrit English Dictionary (Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi Patna, Varanasi 1959), p. 570.
12. Horasara of Prithuyasas, with an English Translation and Notes by Panditabhushana V.Subrahmanya Sastri (Bangalore, 1949), p. 17.
13. Alain Danielou, Hindu Polytheism (Bollingen Foundation, New York, 1964), p. 278.
14. The Great Liberation (Mahanirvana Tantra), Translation and Commentary by Arthur Avalon (Sir John Weedroffe), (Ganesh & Co., Madras, 1953), pp. 161-165.
15. Varahainihiries Brihat Jataka with an English Translation and Copious Explanatory Notes and Examples by V. Subrahmanya Sastri (Mysore, 1929), p. 24. ("Venus and Jupiter are Brahmins. Mars and the Sun are Kshatriyas. The Moon is a Vaishya. Mercury is the lord of the Sudra community. Saturn is the leader of the outcasts. . . ")
16. Baij Nath Puri, India in Classical Greek Writings (The New Order Book Co., Ahmedabad, 1963).
17. Sir Charles Eliot, Hinduism and Buddhism: An Historical Sketch (Barnes & Noble, Inc., New York, 1954), VoL 11, pp. 137-138.
18. Wilber Theodore Elmore, Dravidian Gods in Modern Hinduism (The Christian Literature Society for India, Madras, Allahabad, Rangoon, Colombo, 1925).
19. The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Tr. by Pratap Chandra Roy; revised by Hiralal Haldar. (Oriental Publishing Co., Calcutta, n.d.), VoL IV, p. 12; Vol. V. pp. 51-52.
20. A. L. Basham, The Wonder That Was India (Sidgwick and Jackson, London, 1956). p.39 for all three dates.
21. Artur Isenberg, Dating the Great Mahabharata War - A Previously Neglected Clue (unpublished manuscript).
22. John Dowson, op. cit., p. 204.
23. M. N. Dutt, op. cit., p. IV (Introduction.

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