Mahishasura's father Rambha was king of the asuras,and he once fell in love with a water buffalo (Princess Shyamala, cursed to be a buffalo); Mahishasura was born out of this union. He is therefore able to change between human and buffalo form at will (mahisha is Sanskrit word for buffalo).
The gods then went into conclave to decide what could be done with this invincible asura. Since he was invincible to all men, they created his nemesis in the form of a young woman, Durga (a form of Shakti or Parvati). She combined the powers of all the devas in a beautiful form. According to one legend, the goddess Durga created an army to fight against the forces of the demon-king Mahishasura, who was terrorizing Heaven and Earth. After nine days of fighting, during which Mahishasura's army was decimated, she finally killed him on the tenth day of the waxing moon. Durga is therefore called Mahishasuramardini (literally the slayer of the buffalo demon), the destroyer of Mahishasura. During several battles, she appears in her incarnation of Kali; particularly while fighting Raktabija, who has the magic boon that every drop of blood falling from him to the ground will become another Raktabija (literally the blood borne). Here Kali spreads her giant tongue and drinks up all the blood before it falls to the earth.
- Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions, David Kinsley. (ISBN 81-208-0379-5)
- Mahishasura Mardini Stotram (Prayer to the Goddess who killed Mahishasura), Sri Sri Sri Shankara Bhagavatpadacharya
Hindu deities and texts Gods Goddesses Texts Hinduism · Hindu mythology · Indian epic poetry
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