The Goddess Ambika had wounded the pride of the mighty Asura king, Shumbha — she had refused his offer to make her his queen. After that, she had defeated his armies twice.
Finally, putting himself at the head of an immense army, Shumbha marched against her. Ambika, helped by Kaali and the Shaktis (divine forces of the various devas) beat back the attack, inflicting heavy losses on the aggressor. Shumbha lost not only his ablest warriors, but also his brother, Nishumbha, who had helped him drive the Devas out of their kingdom in the heavens.
Now, isolated on the battlefield, he cried out like a wounded lion.
“You’ve won because you were helped by the Shaktis, the goddesses,” he roared. “There were so many of them, it’s not fair. That’s not how a battle should be won!”
“Are you sure there were many goddesses?” taunted Ambika.
Then, to his amazement, the various Shaktis darted forward and disappeared into her body.
“Now I am alone. You can fight me,” said the Goddess.
Watched by the Devas and the Asuras, a Goddess of virtue and a power-drunk Asura advanced towards each other, shooting and dodging arrows and hurling spears. Shumbha drew his fabled sword that dazzled like a thousand suns and charged forward. Ambika responded with a shower of arrows, shattering first the great shield that he held in his other hand, and then the sword.
Shumbha picked up a heavy mace and swung it at her. She deftly avoided the blow and stepping forward hit him on the chest with her clenched fist. Caught by surprise, he reeled back and fell. Then, quickly springing up he grabbed her by her waist and leapt high into the air. Ambika broke free in mid-air and catching Shumbha by his leg, whirled him around and flung him to the ground.
Shaken but unhurt, Shumbha picked himself up, and rushed forward intending to strangle her with his bare hands. Ambika picked up a spear and threw it at him. The spear went through his chest, knocked him down and pinned him to the ground. It was all over for him.
Seeing their leader dead, his army broke ranks and the soldiers did not stop running until they reached Pataal-lok, their homeland in the underworld. Peace returned to the three worlds to the great relief of people on the earth and the Devas. This peace would last for many years. Everyone joined their hands in salutation to Ambika and sang her praises.