Devi Mahatmya by Abhinav Agarwal - 5

Devi Mahatmya by Abhinav Agarwal - 5

Devi Mahatmya by Abhinav Agarwal - 5

Devi Mahatmya - Markandeya Purana, tr. by Bibek Debroy
 Chapter 5 (Ch 82 in the book) 
Rishi Sumedha continued his account of the goddess. Devi Ambika had acceded to the gods' request to help them when needed. Eventually, the asura brothers Shumbh and Nishumbha rose to power, usurped Indra's throne, and appropriated the rights of SuryaChandraKuberaYamaVarunaPavana and Agni. The gods remembered the goddess' boon to them to manifest herself when the gods beseeched her.

The gods made their way to the Himalayas and began to praise Vishnumaya the goddess.

Addressing her as MahadeviPrakritiBhadra, RoudraNityaGouriDhatri (one who creates), Kritya (one who destroys), NairritiLakshmiSharvaniDurga, they bowed down before her and praised her as one whose form is the moonlight, whose form is the moon, who is happiness, who grants good fortune, who brings prosperity and success, whose form is the tortoise, who holds up the earth, one who is the essence, who is the cause of all action, one who is fame, one who is dark, one who is exceedingly gentle, one who is exceedingly terrible.
Then follow shlokas with the refrain - "We bow down before her. We bow down before her. We bow down. We prostrate ourselves.
[या देवी सर्वभूतेषु  शान्तिरुपेण  सन्सिथता 
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः 
(Namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namo namah) is the refrain in the Sanskrit shlokas.
Pargiter translates this as "Reverence to her, yea reverence to her! Reverence to her, reverence, yea reverence!"
while Bannerjea translates this as "Five times prostration to the goddess"]
Here, the gods praised her as being the one who is spoken of as consciousness, who is in all beings in the form of intellect, in the form of sleep, in the form of hunger, in the form of a shadow, in the form of strength, in the form of thirst, in the form of patience, in the form of existence, in the form of modesty, in the form of peace, in the form of faith, in the form of beauty, in the form of prosperity, in the form of fortitude, in the form of subsistence, in the form of memory, in the form of mercy, in the form of good policy, in the form of contentment, in the form of nourishment, in the form of confusion, one who presided over the senses of all beings. The gods prayed that the goddess once again destroy the enemies of the gods.
Even as the gods were praying to the goddess, Parvati arrived there and asked the gods who they were praising. At that moment, from the sheaths of her body, Shivaa (not Shiva) manifested herself and answered Parvati's question - all the gods had been chanting the hymns in praise of her. Since Ambika had emanated from the sheaths of Paravati's body, all the gods referred to her as Koushiki. After she manifested herself, Paravati turned dark, and was thus also called Kalika. Ambika thenn assumed a radiant and beautiful form and it was in this form that Shumbha and Nishumbha's servants spotted her. These servants were none other than Chanda and Munda! They rushed to Shumbha and gave an account of the beautiful woman they had spotted. Since the two brothers, Shumbha and Nishumbha, had seized all the jewels from the gods - Airavata, jewel among elephants, Mahapadma from KuberaVaruna's umbrella, Mrityu's javelin Utkrantida, and so on - Chanda and Munda suggested that Shumbha take that woman as her queen.

Shumbha needed no other reason. He sent Sugreeva, his messenger, to Ambika, with the message that since Shumbha was now in possession of all the divine jewels that had earlier been in the possession of the gods, it was only natural that the goddess - a jewel - belong to Shumbha or his younger brother Nishumbha.

Durga Bhadra chose to toy with the messenger and the brothers. She replied that she had taken a vow at a time when her intelligence had been limited(!), that only one who defeated her in battle, who equalled her strength, and who destroyed her pride, would be her husband. Much as she wished to agree to Shumbha's message, she was bound by her vow.

The messenger, shocked, tried to reason with her, telling her that even gods had not been able to withstand the brothers, that she stood no chance, and ending with the warning that if she didn't willingly accede, she risked being dragged by her hair to the brothers.

Reference: Markandeya Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy. Published by Penguin, 2019. The Devi Mahatmya is covered in chapters 78-90 of the Markandeya Purana.