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In the Bala Kanda of the Ramayana, Rama is hesistant to kill the Rakshasi (demoness) Thataka because she's a woman, but the sage Vishwamitra tells him that even the gods have fought women when they were engaged in evil:

Compassion regarding the elimination of a female is ungermane, oh, best one among men, since a prince has to effectuate it intending the welfare of four categories of society.... To the nominee who bears the burden of kingdom this is the age-old duty, and hence oh, Rama, the legatee of Kakutstha, eliminate this infamy, as goodness is inevident in her, isn't it? Oh, Rama, the protector of people, we have heard that Indra once eliminated Manthara, the daughter of Virochana, when she wished to annihilate earth, haven't we? And Rama, once Vishnu wiped out even the wife of sage Bhrigu and sage Shukracarya's mother when she wished the world to become one without a governing factor, namely Indra.

I already asked about Indra killing Manthara here, but now I'm interested in the story of Vishnu killing Sukracharya's mother. For those who don't know, Sukracharya is the guru of the Asuras (demons), god of the planet Venus, and son of the sage Bhrigu.

The only account I could find of Vishnu killing Sukracharya's mother is from the Fourth Skanda of the Devi Bhagavatam. In this account, Sukracharya goes to pray to Shiva in order to acquire a mantra to help the Asuras defeat the gods. The gods take advantage of Sukracharya's absence to launch an attack on the Asuras. Since the Asuras can't turn to their guru for help, they instead turn to Sukracharya's mother, who knocks the gods unconscious with her magical powers. Sukracharya's mother then threatens to "devour" Indra, so Indra asks Vishnu to kill her:

Seeing the Daityas thus attacked, the mother was furiously irritated and told them she would make all of them overpowered by sleep by her tapas strength, clarified intellectual force. So saying she sent the Goddess of sleep who at once overpowered the Gods and made them all lie down on the grounds senseless. Indra with the other Devas lay there dumb, and miserable. On seeing Indra thus stupefied by sleep, the Bhagavân Visnu told Indra to enter into His body. He would then carry him to another place and he will be better. Indra entered into the Visnu’s body; and, under His protection, he became free from sleep and fear.

On seeing Indra thus sheltered by Visnu and fearless, the mother of Kâvya spoke: "O Indra! I will devour you with Visnu today by my Tapas force. All the Devas will presently see all this and my extraordinary power." ... Indra, on hearing the Devas cry aloud, told Visnu, "O Madhusûdana! I am more bewildered in particular than yourself. O Mâdhava! No need of any further consideration. Before this wretch, inflated with pride by her tapasyâ, burns us, better cause her death as early as possible." When thus requested by Indra who was very much perplexed, Bhagavân Visnu quickly remembered his Sudars’ana disc... The disc, the ever obedient weapon of Visnu appeared instantly at his remembrance; and Visnu, becoming angry as prompted by Indra held the disc in His hand, and, hurling it off on the S’ukrâ’s mother, severed off her head quickly.

The story ends with Sukracharya's father Bhrigu bringing his wife back to life and cursing Vishnu to be born repeatedly on earth in various incarnations (avataras).

Unfortunately, the Devi Bhagavatam is widely regarded as not being an authentic Hindu scripture; it's purportedly an Upapurana (minor Purana), but it's not mentioned in the canonical lists of Upapuranas given in the Mahapuranas. So my question is, are there any other scriptures that tell the story of Vishnu killing Sukracharya's mother? The story took place sufficiently long ago that it's alluded to by Vishwamitra in the Ramayana, so is it possible that it's mentioned in the Vedas? Is the story mentioned in Puranas other than the Devi Bhagavatam?

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    This story is also mentioned in Matsya Purana Chapter 47. – The Destroyer Apr 24 '16 at 5:25
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Lord Vishnu killing mother of Sukraacharya is also mentioned in Padma Puran Brahma Khanda Chapter 57.

  1. Speaking thus to one another, they who were frightened, took the shelter of Kavya's mother. She too granted them security.

  2. "Do not be afraid; give up your fear, O demons. Remain with me; (then) you will have no fear."

  3. Gods then seeing the demons protected by her, and without judging their strength or weakness forcibly assailed them.

  4. Then that goddess (i.e. Kavya's mother) seeing the demons being murdered by gods, got angry and said to the gods: "I shall stupefy you with sleep."

  5. Collecting all materials she then brought about sleep (to the gods); she rich in penance and endowed with meditation stupefied (them) with her power.

  6. Then seeing Indra paralysed (by Kavya's mother) the army of gods fled. The gods, seeing Indra subdued, ran through fear.

  7. When the hosts of gods had fled, Visnu said to Indra, "Enter me, God bless you, O best of gods, I shall protect you."

  8. Indra, thus addressed, entered Vishnu. Seeing him protected by Vishnu the enraged goddess said (these) words:

  9. "O Indra, I shall now with force burn you along with Vishnu, when all the beings are looking on; see the might of my penance!"

  10. The two gods, Indra and Vishnu, were overpowered by her. Visnu said to Indra: "How should I get free with you?"

  11. Indra said: "Kill her as long as she does not burn us, Olord; I am especially subdued by her; kill her; do not delay."

  12. Then observing her, Vishnu determined to do the evil deed of killing a woman and the lord quickly approached the distressed Indra.

243-244. Then Vishnu, struck with fear and moving with speed, and knowing the cruel act desired to be done by the goddess got angry, took his disc and through dread cut off her head. Seeing that dreadful murder of the woman Lord Bhrgu got angry.

245-246. Then Vishnu was cursed by Bhrigu for his wife's murder. Bhrigu said:Since you, knowing Dharma, have killed a lady who should not have been killed, therefore you will be born among human beings seven times.

  1. Then due to that curse he is repeatedly born among human beings for the well-being of the world, when Dharma disappears from it. Then, after having spoken to Vishnu, himself bringing the head, and bringing her body and holding (the head and the body) in his hand he said:

  2. "O goddess, I am reviving you, who were killed by Vishnu. If I know the entire sacred law or have practised it, and if I am telling the truth, (forsooth) come back to life."

  3. Then having sprinkled her with cold water, he said: "Come back to life, come back to life."

  4. When he spoke (thus) the goddess came back to life.

  5. Then all the beings having seen her as if awakened from sleep, uttered the words 'good ! good !' from all sides.

  6. Thus that Bhrigu then brought back to life that respectable lady. While the gods were watching that wonderful thing took place.

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    Bhrgu bringing back Kavyamata to life is an incredulous anticlimax because if he can bring her back to life one can ask why he cursed Vishnu. – Surya Apr 14 '16 at 7:28
  • @Surya curse is given in the state of angerness..furthermore they are needed for specific leelas... for eg. Lord Krishna cursed Aswatthama although he was able to save Parikshit by his truth power... – Tejaswee Apr 14 '16 at 7:49
  • I know that all of it is Krsna's leela. I am just retrospecting. – Surya Apr 14 '16 at 8:50
  • Thanks for your answer. Given that this story is mentioned by Vishwamitra in the Ramayana, I assume that it's also described in the Vedas somewhere, but I'm not sure where. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 15 '16 at 3:54
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Also,this story is mentioned in Uttara Ramayana as told by Sage Durvasa to King Dasaradha when he queried about Lord Rama's future.Later this part is narrated to Lakshmana by Sumantra on being asked why Rama had to forsake Seetha.

  • You can mention chapter number of Uttara Khanda and some verses. – The Destroyer Oct 15 '17 at 10:28

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