Mahishasur, the Demon who Once Ruled Earth

Today I had been to the Banagalore’s mini Kumortuli (potters’ quarter in northern Kolkata). Here a small group of potters arrive from Kolkata and make idols for the various Durga Pujas in the city. Idol making has reached the final stages, most of them were painted and to some clothes were being attached. This post is dedicated to images of Mahishasur, the evil that is going to be conquered by Ma Durga. Each idol is different in colors and expressions. The most striking one is that of Mahishasur seeking mercy with folded hands.


…because it is necessary to conquer evil.

Today is Mahalaya! On the auspicious occasion of Mahalaya, seven days before Durga Puja, chants of Jaago, tumi jaago ushers in the aura of this festival. Mantras chanted midnight onwards is a kind of invitation to Ma Durga to descend on Earth. She descends on earth from heaven to destroy the evil called Mahishasur.

The mythological story about Mahishasur is very interesting. In this post I will narrate briefly the story of this demon:


The legend…

Rambh and Karambh two demon siblings listened to their mother Danu’s instruction and did severe penance to obtain their desired boons. While Karambh was unsuccessful in his attempt and got killed by Lord Indra disguised as crocodile, Rambh prayed successfully to Lord Agni, God of fire and obtained the boon of having an extremely powerful son who would rule over the three worlds in this universe.

Rambh was content with his reign over underworld. He fell in love with Mahishi, a she buffalo and married her. Mahish, a male water buffalo couldn’t forget his love Mahishi and tried kidnapping her. Rambh comes to the rescue of his pregnant wife but gets killed by the Mahish. During cremation of Rambh, overcome with grief pregnant Mahishi jumps into the fire and prevents Yama God of death from taking Rambh’s life.


The birth of Mahishasur…

From the cremation fire emerged two demons namely Raktabeej (rebirth of Rambh) and Mahishasur (the child of Rambh). Mahishasur became the king of Asuras (demons). He was a ambitious demon and wanted to conquer the Devas (Gods). To become stronger, Mahishasura retired to the mountains, did rigorous penance, praying to creator of all creatures, Lord Brahma.

Asking for boon…

At last the Lord appeared before the demon and said, “Child! Your prayers have pleased me. Ask of me that which your heart desires.”
The Asura promptly said, “Lord, let me become immortal. May I have no fear from death!”
The Lord smiled and said, “It is not possible. All creation must have an end. Immortality is not in my power to grant. Anything else, other than this impractical request, ask, and it shall be yours.”


Mahishasura said, “Since it is not possible for me to be immortal, may I not die at the hands of men. May I not die at the hands of my foes, the Devas. May I not die at the hands of the great Trinity. If death has to approach me, may it approach me only through a woman. Woman is weak, woman is powerless. How can a woman kill me, the all powerful Mahisha? If you grant me this boon, I shall be as good as immortal.”

The Lord said, “O best among the Asuras. You shall become all powerful among men and Gods. You shall lead a long life, but it shall come to an end, through the means of a woman. There is no escaping fate. You shall not die, except at the hands of a woman”.

After granting the boon, Brahma disappeared. This is how Mahishasur came into being!

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33 Responses

  1. Arun says:

    Thanks for the detailed history behind Mahishasur.

  2. Nice to read your post.
    Shubho Mahalaya _()_

  3. magiceye says:

    Fascinating legend

  4. Sri Kri says:

    Great to know about this story of Mahishasur.

    Sriram & Krithiga

  5. Arun says:

    Nice post.. Durga Puja is one of my favorite festivals.. especially visiting the pandals …and this post narrates the mythological aspect of this festival so well..

  6. Quite an in-depth and informative post. Got to learn great history behind Mahishasur. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  7. Lovely Narration!! Amazing pictures! Those who think women are powerless…finally had a day to realize the opposite!!!

  8. DeniseinVA says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Mahishasur. Thank you, a great post!

  9. I agree with you Indrani, the most striking one is the one where he’s seeking forgiveness. Lovely post and beautiful pics dear!

  10. A nice read. Great Pics! Wishing you a blessed Durga Pujo!

  11. Nice piece of information 🙂

  12. kashpals says:

    Interesting read on Mahishasur. Thanks for sharing.

  13. very nicely composed post and pictures. Loved this mythological twist at your blog.

  14. Powerful expressions and great piece of legend! Shall book mark it to tell my daughter when she is a little older! 🙂

  15. ladyfi says:

    Powerful expressions on those statues.

  16. What a perfect post in the occasion of Mahalaya. And great pictures. I loved the one where Mahishasur is seeking mercy.
    Happy Durga Pujo dear 🙂

  17. dNambiar says:

    It must be a busy time there, getting all these figures ready.

    Thank you for Mahishasur’s story, Indrani.

  18. Hema says:

    This has to be one of my favorite posts! Kudos, Indrani 🙂

  19. Ant says:

    Wonderful history, I can see that the artist shown much expressions.

  20. Wow, what a fascinating culture indeed. If there is an Egyptologist, there should be a counterpart for everything India.

  21. Vaish says:

    Beautiful narration and colorful pics, never get tiered of reading the story behind celebrations!

  22. Truly a Great Post Indrani.. My humble Pranam to The Goddess Mahishasur Mardhini!

  23. sylviakirk says:

    This is amazing!! Thank you so much for sharing, Indrani!! Terrific captures!!

  24. Yogi saraswat says:

    I did not read it before . Mahisasur story to be immortal or to be powerful is very interesting but I amaze by the part of Rambh story and his wife she buffallo and her love ones . Jay Mata Di Indrani ji

  25. Ruchi says:

    As the pictures and the post ! reminder of our beliefs and heritage 🙂

  26. Very nice post here.

  27. Eileen says:

    Thanks for sharing the history of Mahishasur! Wonderful collection of images. Have a happy week!

  28. Linja says:

    Wow, that’s quite a story! I imagine the sequel is exciting too.

  29. Bibi says:

    Thanks for this post. Very informative.

  30. Nikhil says:

    Hi Indrani,

    Nice post about the legend of Mahishasur.

    However felt strangely for the pregnant Mahishi and their penances and the sad story.

    , a reminder that sadness is inevitable for the unlucky few.


  31. Let the good things prevail

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