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.

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…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:

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Mahishasur2

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.

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Mahishasur4

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.”

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Mahishasur7

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!

Maha Shashti of Durga Pujo
Virupaksha Temple, Hampi, getting Facelift

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