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The Legend Of Durga And Mahishasur: How The Goddess Won The Battle Against The Demon

What is the legend of Goddess Durga? In our first article of the series, we told you all about the divine feminine, her birth and her inspiring story of having beaten the demon Mahishasur to save the Gods and mankind. In Part 2, we talk about her defeat of the Demon Mahishasur in detail. The story is older than history, older than the world they say. It has been told and heard over and over. It has been passed down from generation to generation through the oral tradition of songs and poems. But it never grows old. The legend of Durga has entered into the modern world of television and the Internet and is still as fresh as it was when we heard it for the first time. Surely, it is worth telling one more time!

This was a time when the asuras or demons and the Gods were often in a fight of good over evil. More often than not, it was the Gods that won. But things were about to change.

Mahishasur, a buffalo or mahisa demon, was the son of the demon king Rambha. He was said to have superhuman powers and sky-high ambition. He desperately wanted to defeat the Gods. To become invincible, Mahishasur started a long penance. He stopped eating and began to pray to Lord Brahma, the creator. His devotion made Brahma feel that he deserved to be rewarded.

So, Lord Brahma paid a visit to the demon to grant him a wish. He told Mahishasur that he would grant his devotee one boon. Mahishasur fell at Brahma's feet and thanked him for answering his prayers. He had just one wish and that was to become immortal.

Brahma refused to grant his wish saying that all living creatures must die and that Mahishasur's wish was an impossible one. This is the law that cannot be violated even by the Gods themselves.

Mahishasur, without the slightest disappointment, asked for another wish instead, something that he thought would make him as good as immortal. He told Brahma to grant that he should not be killed by a man or a beast or a God. Smiling, Brahma granted his wish saying that he would be killed by a woman.

Mahishasur's raucous laughter filled the three worlds. He did not believe that a mere woman would succeed in killing him. He had been made immortal by Brahma! He thanked the God for granting his wish. He said that he believed himself to be immortal because a woman could not fight or kill a powerful asura like him. Even in today's times this misogynist attitude is prevalent.

Soon, news spread that Mahishasur was invincible and that no one could harm him. Mahishasur went on a rampage across the Earth. After his victory over the people of the Earth, Mahisasur turned his attentions towards the heavens to fight the Gods. He announced his wish to attack Amaravati, the capital of Lord Indra's heaven.

The Gods Versus Mahishasur: Who Won The Battle?

The Gods were witness to the untold suffering that the humans on Earth were being subjected to. They also knew that they could do little to save themselves from Mahishasur who had received the blessings of Lord Brahma himself. Their individual powers and divine weapons would not defeat or kill the buffalo demon. When Mahisasur's army attacked Amaravati, a deadly battle ensued between the Gods and the demon army in which the Gods lost. Even Lord Vishnu's Sudarshan Chakra could not secure a victory for the divine beings. The Gods began to flee in fright, as goes the legend. Mahishasur took control of Amravati and declared himself the ruler of the three worlds.

The Creation Of Maa Durga

The triumvirate of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Mahesh or Shiva then decided to create a new power - a feminine power - to vanquish Mahishasur because there was no woman in the three worlds who could do so. The Gods all concentrated their energies together to create an invincible woman capable of destroying demon Mahishasur. From their combined power and energy emerged a powerful force.

The Gods bestowed her with a form. She had three eyes and 10 arms. They dressed her in fine clothes and jewellery and gave her their weapons to carry in her multiple arms. She was named Goddess Durga or Mahadevi. Mounting her lion, she set out to destroy Mahishasur.

Did Mahishasur Want To Marry Durga?

Upon reaching the gates of Amaravati, Durga let out a mighty roar and challenged Mahishasur to battle. Enamoured by her beauty and courage, Mahishasur proposed marriage to the Goddess. This is also prevalent these days, when a man would propose marriage to a woman in order to defeat her purpose. Goddess Durga laughed at the proposal and declined. Instead, she asked Mahishasur to leave Amaravati or face death. Angered at her rejection, as it usually happens, Mahishasur sent his army to fight Devi Durga but soon they came back defeated. The demon king realised that he was left with no choice but to fight this brave woman individually.

Battle Between Durga And Mahishasur

What ensued was a vicious battle between the divine feminine and the superhuman demon. The battle lasted for nine days and shook the foundations of heaven and earth. Mahishasur, the shape-shifting buffalo demon, tried all the tricks he knew. He kept changing shape to confuse the Goddess. From a man he became a lion, then an elephant. But each time, Durga / Mahadevi wounded him severely with her weapons.

At the end of the ninth day, Goddess Durga finally killed Mahishasura, who had taken the form of a huge buffalo. She dealt him a death blow to the chest with Lord Shiva's trident, thus freeing the world from Mahishasur's demonic ambitions forever. Indra and the other Gods returned to the heavens again after Durga's win over Mahishasura.

The mission was accomplished. Since then, Maa Durga is worshipped during the Navratra / Navratri and Durga Puja celebrations, and thus addressed as Mahishasur Mardini.