By Swami Harshananda
The purāṇas contain interesting stories aimed to glorify deity of the pantheon. According to the Devibhāgavata and the Devīmāhātmya Madhu and Kaitabha were the two demons who came out of the ears of Lord Viṣṇu when he was asleep. They tried to kill the four faced Brahmā, the creator, who had just emerged from Viṣṇu’s nābhikamala or navel-lotus.
Brahmā then earnestly prayed to Mahākālī, an aspect of the Divine Mother, who had put Viṣṇu to sleep. As she came out of Viṣṇu’s body and manifested herself to Brahmā, Viṣṇu woke up and fought with the two demons. Finding it difficult to subdue them, he had to pray to the Divine Mother for help. With the power of her delusion, Viṣṇu succeeded easily in killing them.
- Devibhāgavata 1.4.9
- Devīmāhātmya 1
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore