On the Verge of Creation – The First Form of the Goddess
Shesha-shayi Vishnu, Madhu-Kaitabha and Adishakti
Before the creation of the world, Lord Vishnu lay in deep meditative sleep on his serpent coiled in the form of a couch. A lotus then sprang from his navel, on which was seated the god of creation Brahma. No sooner had this happened than two demons named Madhu and Kaitabh also sprang from the earwax of Vishnu, intending to kill Brahma.
Brahma tried to awaken Lord Vishnu by shaking the stalk of the lotus he was sitting on, but in vain. He then realized that the sleep that had settled on Vishnu’s eyes was the Great Goddess in her form of Mahamaya, an expression of the divine mother’s power of delusion. Brahma then worshipped her with an inspiring hymn of praise, asking her to release Vishnu from his slumber. The ever-compassionate goddess obliged.
Awakening, Vishnu held Madhu Kaitabh and engaged them in a combat, which went on for five thousand years. The two demons then puffed up with pride, thinking themselves invincible. It was at this moment that the great goddess struck at the duo with her maya, making them vain enough to say to Lord Vishnu himself:
“We are pleased with your power and strength. Go ahead and ask for a boon.”
Vishnu immediately seized the opportunity and asked for the boon that they be slain by him then and there. Indeed, one should always watch out for those moments of pride, which are the opportune instances for maya to delude us.
Lord Vishnu Slays Madhu and Kaitabh on His Thighs as Yoga Nidra The Great Goddess Looks On (From the Devi Mahatmya)
Thus cornered, the duo realized their folly; but seeing water everywhere, were wise enough to ask that they be killed only in a dry place. Vishnu then sat down in the water itself. However, like the auspicious lotus remains untouched by the water it grows in, similarly did Vishnu’s lotus like body remain untainted. He then proceeded to place both of them on either thigh, and cut off their heads.