At the beginning of universe, there was ocean all around. Vishnu lay on Sheshnag in deep slumber under the influence of Yog Nidra. While Vishnu slept a lotus stalk grew out of his navel. At the upper end of the stalk was a lotus flower. Brahma was born in the lotus flower and was in deep meditation at the time of his birth. At the same time when Brahma was in deep meditation in the lotus flower reciting the Vedas, ear wax flowed out of both ears of Vishnu and two Asuras known as Madhu and Kaitabh were born out of the ear wax.
There names are Madhu and Kaitabh. Both performed great penance for thousands of years. The Goddess was pleased with their devotion, appeared before them and granted them the boon that death would come to them only when they desired it. By the knowledge of their immense strength, both the asuras became arrogant. They attacked Brahma and stole away from him the four Vedas. Brahma though furious, was helpless in the before the Asuras. Hence he rushed in great consternation to Vishnu to seek his protection.
Vishnu, however, was in deep sleep under the influence of yog nidra and did not wake up inspite of the best efforts of Brahma.
Seeing the demons, Brahma who was seated on a lotus at Vishnu’s navel sang to Devi Mahamaya. He pleaded her to withdraw from Vishnu so he may awaken and slay the two demons. Hearing the Brhamastuti, the Goddess took pity on Brahma’s plight and left Vishnu’s body. Lord Vishnu then woke up.
Vishnu now freed from the influence of Maya, woke up and saw the mighty demons threatening all creation. For five thousand years Vishnu fought the demons using his arms as weapons. Now frenzied and blinded by their might Madhu – Kaitabh exclaimed, Vishnu we are pleased by the fight you put up. Ask us for a boon! Such was their delusion caused by power and might.
Seeing the Goddess’s play, Vishnu replied, I ask that you may be slain by me. The demons caught in their own trap and bewitched by the Devi looked around to see only an ocean stretching endlessly.
Slay us then at the spot where the world is not flooded with water, they said to Vishnu who lifted them on to his lap suspended above the waters and slayed them with his discus.
The Goddess, so praised by Brahma had come to his rescue and restored order to the Cosmos.
In the episode of Madhu and Kaitabh, Goddess Durga has been portrayed as the ‘Yoga Nidra’ whose powerful influence renders even Lord Vishnu helpless.