Shubho Mahalaya: How Goddess Durga came to be known as Mahishasura Mardini

 Shubho Mahalaya: How Goddess Durga came to be known as Mahishasura Mardini

Mahalaya — celebrated today — marks the start of 'Devipaksha', the end of 'Pitra Paksha' and begins the countdown for Durga Puja celebrations. In this graphical story, artists narrate how Goddess Durga vanquished Mahishasura, the buffalo demon. Artwork by Prerna Mittra, and Raj.


The story begins when Rambha, the king of the asuras fell in love with the demon princess Shyamala. Shyamala had taken on the form of a buffalo after being struck by a curse. Mahishasura was the child born to Rambha and Shyamala.


As an asura, the devas were of course arch enemies to Mahishasura. He attempted several times, to vanquish them.


Despite his ability to change his form, Mahishasura couldn't win against the combined might of the devas. He wondered what might help him defeat the gods.


Mahishasura began to meditate, and invoked Lord Brahma to grant him a boon.


His austerity finally appeased Brahma, who agreed to grant Mahishasura a boon. But Mahishasura wanted immortality!


Brahma granted Mahishasura's boon that he couldn't be destroyed by man, god, demon or beast. But the boon had an important omission — it said nothing about whether or not a woman could kill Mahishasura.


Armed with a boon from Brahma that made him near invincible, Mahishahura started on a conquest of the three worlds.


And this time, the gods in heaven too were no match for his might.


His reign of terror was supreme.


The once powerful devas were driven out of their heavenly abode.


It seemed there was nothing that could stop Mahishasura and his evil dominion.


Mahishasura's power grew unchecked, unrivaled.


Even Lord Brahma had no influence over Mahishasura; so omnipotent had the demon ruler grown.


The devas had hoped that Brahma would have a solution to their present predicament. But he admitted that Mahishasura was beyond his reach.


The devas wondered if Vishnu might be able to help them.


Then, they turned to Lord Shiva.


And as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva joined forces, a powerful entity began to take shape.


And that powerful entity was the Goddess Durga!


There she emerged, in all her glory!


Defeated by a woman? Mahishasura didn't even consider that a serious possibility. He was unconcerned.


First, his demon army marched against Durga. They lost — badly.


Then, a pitched battle ensued between Mahishasura himself, and the goddess. Despite all his wiles and bringing all his strength to bear, Mahishasura could not win against Durga.


And finally, the goddess struck a death blow to the demon.


All who had been oppressed by Mahishasura now rejoiced at Durga's victory. And peace reigned once more.


And from that moment on, the Goddess Durga was also known as Mahishasura Mardini — the destroyer of Mahishasura. And now you know the story too! Shubho Mahalaya.

Updated Date: Sep 30, 2016 11:59:41 IST