Mahishasura and Goddess Durga

The story of Goddess Durga and Mahishasura

The interesting story of Goddes Durga and Mahishasura is produced here for you. This is a facinating story of battle between Devas and Asuras and how the trinity of gods was helpless before the demon Mahishasura. The demon was granted a boon by Brahma, which made by undefeatable, but there was a small chink in his armour, which proved to be his achilles heel.

Birth of  Mahishasura

Mahishasura was born to the King of Asuras named Rambha (different from the divine nymph Rambha). Rambha was a formidable demon (asura) and he had the boons from Brahma which made him invincible among devas and asuras.

Empowered by boons, Rambha began a rampage of fear and destruction, killing all living beings to cross his path. One day, roaming the garden of Yaksha, he met the beautiful female-buffalo Mahishi – who was actually the princess Shyamala, cursed to be a buffalo – and fell in love. Rambha, in an expression of love, transformed himself into a male-buffalo and seduced Mahishi.

Durga and Mahishasura
Durga and Mahishasura

But all too soon a real buffalo discovered Rambha and killed him as Rambha did not have the immunity against animals.

Through their union, Mahishi became pregnant and at Rambha’s funeral rites, threw herself into the funeral pyre. Out of the flames sprang a mighty beast with the head of a buffalo and the body of a human. This was Mahishasura. Being born from alliance of asura and buffalo, He could,change form at will.

Boon of Mahishasura

As boons and curses are an integral part of mythological stories, Mahishasura too was a recipient of a boon which was near to immortality. He performed severe penances praying and fasting for months as he stood on one foot.

He practiced severe austerities, meditating on Brahma. He consumed neither food nor water, and stood on one leg, focusing on nothing but the Creator. Over the course of time, ant hills began to form over his massive body, vines crept over it and there grew a mound that covered the Asura completely. The power of his austerities was such that flames began to emanate from his being and foul smoke arose from these flames.

Brahma's boon
Brahma’s boon

The three worlds trembled under the strength of his penances and a pleased lord Brahma came to give him a boon. Mahisha asked for immortality, which the lord said he could not have as every creature that was born had to die. Mahisha decided that he would ask for a boon that would make him as good as immortal. He asked that no man should be able to kill and, if he had to die it should be only at the hands of only a woman. He was sure that no woman could ever fight against him however strong she may be.

Thus we was also immune from death from the hands of holy trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh.

Mahishasura captures Amravati

Mahishasura, having received boon, now considered himself invincible and started a reign of terror and conquest of the three lokas. Slaying and killing mercilessly, he and his army of demons soon conquered earth, and set their eyes upon Devaloka, the abode of the Devas.

Accordingly, the Devas and Lord Brahma went to the abode of Shiva and prayed to the Lord to protect Indra and his kinsmen against the marauding Asuras. Lord Sankara (Shiva) then suggested that the help of Lord Vishnu should also be taken. Accordingly, all of them went to Vaikunta and secured Lord Vishnu’s help.

Soon, the trinity appeared in the battlefield, arrayed for war. When the Asuras beheld them, impelled by a desire to win glory, Asiloma, Trinetra, Bashkala, Andhaka and many others gave battle to the foremost among the Gods. When Vasudeva (Vishnu) saw that the Devas were being sorely harassed, he faced Mahisha in battle. He hit the Asura on the head, with his famous mace, known as Kaumodaki. Stunned by the force of the blow, the King of the Asuras fell down in a swoon. However, he quickly regained consciousness and discarded his form as a Buffalo. He assumed the form of a Lion. Angered, Vishnu tried to behead him with his discus. However, thanks to the boon of Brahma, the discus was powerless against him. He bull-rushed Vishnu and knocked the Lord down. Stunned by the force of the blow, and realizing that his efforts against the Asura were futile, the Lord retired from the battlefield and took refuge in Vaikunta, his abode.

When they saw that Vishnu had disappeared from the battlefield, Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma also realized that their efforts would be futile. Struck with fear, they also left the battlefield, abandoning the Devas to their fate. The Devas were disheartened. Indra tried to rally them around, but fear had already entered their hearts and they could no longer fight as effectively as before.

The invincible army of Mahisha entered Amravathi unopposed. The Asura installed himself on the great throne of the King of heaven. He appointed his trusted generals in the posts occupied by the principal Devas. As far the Devas, they fled from heaven and spent many years wandering in the mountains and forests.

Emergence of Goddess Durga

A council of Gods was convened in Vaikunta. Indra said, “O eternal one, as you are well aware, we have been chased away from our kingdom by that evil Asura, Mahisha. Strengthened by the boon from the Lord Brahma, he is confident that death cannot come to him and has let loose a reign of terror. He can be killed only by a woman. But what woman is there who will be able to kill this evil demon?”

Vishnu smiled and said, “We tried to defeat him in battle. Not only did he survive, all of us had to ignominiously flee from battle. As of now, there is no woman who can be his death. Let a woman be created the best parts of all our powers. This lady shall be the death of Mahishasura.”

As Lord Vishnu said this, a dazzling pillar of light emerged from the face of Brahma and shone in the sky. It was red like a flawless sapphire and was bright like the sun. Next, from the body of Lord Shiva, a silver colored flame emerged and joined that from Brahma. Vishnu also contributed his power to this group.

Goddess Durga emergence
Goddess Durga emergence

Similarly, Kubera, Yama, Agni and the other Devas, sent their power to join this bundle of light and energy. The collection had grown so bright that not even the Trinity could gaze at it without shielding their eyes. As all were watching, a beautiful woman emerged. She was Durga (a form of Shakti or Parvati). She combined the powers of all the devas in a beautiful form. After that, she marched against the demons on her mount, the lion (sometimes depicted as a tiger).

Born of the best part of all the devas, she is known as Mahalakshmi. Of unsurpassed beauty, she is three-colored, three-natured and had eighteen arms. She is eternal. She is the protector of the Gods. Though she appears in many forms, her true form is one and is beyond sensory perception.

She was a manifestation of the Shakti of all the celestial beings, a manifestation of the Supreme Power, of Energy. She was the governing force of all the universe, in the form of an eight armed woman of great beauty and She was mounted on a lion. The gods descended to the hermitage of Kaatyan and they paid obeisance to Her. They sang Her praises and each gave Her a symbol of their might. Thus, Vishnu gave Her His Sudarshana chakra, Siva gave Her His Trishoola, His trident spear, Brahma gave Her His kamandalu that held the water of Ganga, Indra gave Her his Vajra, his thunderbolt and the other gods too gave Her their weapons. They named Her Kaatyaayani, the daughter of Kaatyan. Armed with their weapons and heady with their songs of Her praise, Durga let out a laugh. Immediately, Her lion let out an earth shaking roar. Wasting no time, She rode out to meet Her destined foe.

Durga’s face off with Mahishasura’s troops

Durga, riding the lion marched towards Amravathi, the capital city of Indra, where Mahisha had currently established his court. She let out a terrible roar that far surpassed that of her beast as she approached the city.

When Mahisha heard this this noise, he was struck with wonder. He turned to his advisors and asked them, “What is the reason for this uproar? Who dares to disturb the peace of my city?”

Soon he came to know that Durga has come and she challenged him to fight with and she said she would kill him.

Mahishasura in his arrogance had not considered that a woman could be of any threat, but Devas knew that he was only protected against animals, men and Gods, and that a woman, a Devi, with the boons and powers of the three would be able to slay the demon and restore balance and prosperity to the worlds.

He was smitten by devi’s  immense beauty but was enraged by Her desire to want to fight him. Did She, a mere woman, stand any chance against him, the supreme Lord of the universe? He thought Her to be an impudent fool and decided to teach Her a lesson. He sent out his troops to humor Her.

He ordered them to subdue Her and bring Her to him. His hordes rode out to meet Her in combat but She decimated them in no time. She laughed as She killed each one of them. When Mahisha learned of their defeat, he became furious and ordered his most powerful soldiers to go and capture Her. However, Durga welcomed them all with death. She created replicas of Herself and Her army soon killed all of Mahisha’s soldiers.

His commanders Bashkala and Durmukha were also killed by Devi. Then Tamra was also killed.

The final battle

At last, Mahishasura came out in person to confront the Goddess. He changed his form into that of a handsome man and said to her, “O thou of the beautiful eyes, I have been slain by the arrows of lust emanating from thy person. I have never begged anyone for any favour. I request you to accept me as your lover. All Gods know of my prowess in battlefield. I am your slave to command. Please accept me”

Goddess Durga advised her to return the kingdom to Devas. In response, the demon king donned his armor and armed himself as he prepared himself to fight. His mind was so full of rage that not once did he pause to consider if Durga could be the woman to bring about his downfall.

When at last he saw her, She was alone. All the other Durgas had withdrawn into Her, after killing Mahishasura’s army.  Seeing him approach, Durga said – O Mahishasura, the tormentor of all worlds! In your great ignorance, you asked the creator to grant you death only at the hands of a woman, a being you had utter disregard for.

Mahishasur Mardini
Mahishasur Mardini

You never thought a woman could ever overpower you and after receiving the boon, you believed you are immortal.  Now look at me. I am Durga, the manifestation of Shakti. I am come to slay you and rid the universe of your malice.”  Her words infuriated Mahisha more. Blinded by rage, he took the form of a massive buffalo, stomped menacingly and then rushed to tackle Her lion.

The lion deftly dodged him and Durga slashed out at him with Her sword. However, Mahishasura transformed himself to an elephant using his powers of sorcery and charged at Durga, whipping Her with his mighty trunk.  Durga grabbed him by one of his tusks and dashed him to the ground. He changed form yet again and became a lion as fierce as Goddesses’s. The two lions pounced on each other, their paws slashing each others’ faces. Durga’s lion overpowered Mahishasura but he escaped and took on the form of a buffalo once more.

This time, Durga tamed the raging buffalo with a noose and then beheaded the beast. From its torso, Mahisha began to emerge in human form but Durga’s lion, sturdy as the Himalaya mountains, pounced upon him and pinned him to the ground as Durga raised Her trident and pierced the chest of the evil Mahishasura, slaying him.

Then She rode back to the heavens, Her lion roaring fiercely and the reinstated gods all sang hymns in Her praise. Mashishasura-Mardini they named Her. She who slew Mahishaasura.

It is believed that after nine days of fierce fighting (Mahishasura gave Durga a stiff opposition), Durga finally managed to kill the powerful Mahishasura on the tenth day of the waxing moon. This day is celebrated as Vijayadashmi.

Nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped during these nine nights (navratri) and ten days. Each of the days are devoted to the different aspects of Durga Ma and celebrated accordingly.

In Hindu tradition, when  one recites the Devi Mahatmyam – Durga Saptashati – during Navaratri, he invokes the blessing of Maa Durga. It is recommended that the entire Devi Mahatmya should be read in one sitting. However, if one cannot, then the chapters are divided accordingly.

1st Day – Chapter 1 – Madhu kaitabha samhaara
2nd Day – Chapters 2, 3 and 4 – Mahishhasura samhaara
3rd Day – Chapters 5 & 6 – Dhuumralochana vadha
4th Day – Chapter 7 – Chanda Munda vadha
5th Day – Chapter 8 – Rakta biija samhaara
6th Day – Chapters 9 and 10 – Shumbha Nishumbha vadha
7th Day – Chapter 11 – Praise of Narayani
8th Day – Chapter 12 – Phalastuti
9th Day – Chapter 13 – Blessings to Suratha and the Merchant
10th Day – Chapter 14 – Aparadha Kshamaprarthana

Note: The story of Mahishasura and Goddess Durga appears in Markendeya Purana.

Navratri festival

Maa Durga

It is believed that Goddess Durga on her 10 day journey around the earth removes all evil. Thus navratri festival is very auspicious for hindu devotees. Devi has taken avatar to kill the king of asuras, Mahishasura. She killed the most fearsome demon Mahishasura along with others.

Maa Durga
Maa Durga

May Goddess Durga destroy all evil around you and fill your life with happiness and prosperity.

Maa Durga
Maa Durga

Further reading

Legends of Durga Puja

Navratri – Story

Legends associated with Durga Puja (Navratri)

Lord Rama

Legends of Navratri (Durga Puja)


Durga Puja or Navratri is an integral part of the Hindu culture in India. Celebrated in between September to November throughout the country, this Puja is considered to be one of the most complex and difficult puja out of all the Hindu ceremonies. It is a nine days long affair in which the Goddess of Power ‘ Maa Durga’ is worshipped in nine different forms namely Shailputri, Brahmcharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri.

It is said that worshipping Goddess Durga with full devotion brings success, luck, health and prosperity to one’s family. There are also several legends and stories associated with this Pooja, to know them in detail, read on.

Maa Durga killing Mahishasura
Maa Durga killing Mahishasura

108 names of Goddess Durga

Nine forms of Durga - Navratri

Here are 108 names of Goddess durga with its meaning

Deity Durga is the supreme force who came to fight Mahisasura. Mahisasura had conquered the devas and even Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva could not defeat him. Unable to tolerate his tyranny the gods plead with Vishnu to annihilate the demon. The Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara (Shiva) come together to create a powerful female form with ten arms – Goddess Durga or ‘Mahamaya’. Then they armed the devi with individual blessings and weapons. Thus armed with powers of gods, the devi has defeated Mahisasura. Hindu’s celebrate this festival as Navratri which culminates on Vijaydashmi.



  1. Durga —The Inaccessible
  2. Devi— The Diety
  3. Tribhuvaneshwari —Goddess of The Three Worlds
  4. Yashodagarba —Sambhoota Emerging From Yashoda’s Womb
  5. Narayanavarapriya —Fond of Narayana’s Boons
  6. Nandagopakulajata —Daughter Of The Nandagopa Race
  7. Mangalya —Auspicious
  8. Kulavardhini —Developer Of The Race
  9. Kamsavidravanakari— Threatened Kamsa
  10. Asurakshayamkari— Reducer Of The Number Of Demons
  11. Shilathata Vinikshibda —At Birth,Slammed By Kamsa
  12. Akashagamini —Flew In The Sky
  13. Vasudevabhagini —Sister Of Vasudeva
  14. Divamalya Vibhooshita— Adorned With Beautiful Garlands
  15. Divyambaradhara —Beautifully Robed
  16. Khadgaketaka Dharini —Holder Of Sword And Shield
  17. Shiva —Auspicious
  18. Papadharini —Bearer Of Others’ Sins
  19. Varada— Granter Of Boons
  20. Krishna —Sister Of Krishna
  21. Kumari —Young Girl
  22. Brahmacharini— Seeker Of Brahman
  23. Balarkasadrushakara— Like The Rising Sun
  24. Purnachandra Nibhanana— Beautiful Like The Full Moon
  25. Chaturbhuja—- Four-Armed
  26. Chaturvakttra—- Four-Faced
  27. Peenashroni Payodhara —-Large Bosomed
  28. Mayoora Pichhavalaya—- Wearer Of Peacock-Feathered Bangles
  29. Keyurangadadharini —-Bejewelled With Armlets And Bracelets
  30. Krishnachhavisama—- Like Krishna’s Radiance
  31. Krishna—- Dark-Complexioned
  32. Sankarshanasamanana —-Equal To Sankarshana
  33. Indradhwaja Samabahudharini —-With Shoulders Like Indra’s Flag
  34. Patradharini —-Vessel-Holder
  35. Pankajadharini—-Lotus-Holder
  36. Kanttadhara—- Holder of Shiva’s Neck
  37. Pashadharini —-Holder Of Rope
  38. Dhanurdharini—- Holder Of Bow
  39. Mahachakradharini —-Holder Of Chakra
  40. Vividayudhadhara —-Bearer Of Various Weapons
  41. Kundalapurnakarna Vibhooshita—- Wearer Of Earrings Covering The Ears
  42. Chandravispardimukha —-Beautiful Like The Moon
  43. Mukutavirajita —-Shining With Crown Adorned
  44. Shikhipichhadwaja Virajita —-Having Peacock-Feathered Flag
  45. Kaumaravratadhara—- Observer Of Fasts Like Young Girls Do
  46. Tridivabhavayirtri —-Goddess Of The Three Worlds
  47. Tridashapujita —-The Goddess Of The Celestials
  48. Trailokyarakshini—- Protector Of The Three Worlds
  49. Mahishasuranashini—- Destroyer Of Mahisha
  50. Prasanna—- Cheerful
  51. Surashreshtta —-Supreme Among The Celestials
  52. Shiva —-Shiva’s Half
  53. Jaya —-Victorious
  54. Vijaya—- Conqueror
  55. Sangramajayaprada—- Granter Of Victory In The War
  56. Varada —-Bestower
  57. Vindhyavasini`—- Resident Of The Vindhyas
  58. Kali —-Dark-Complexioned
  59. Kali —-Goddess Of Death
  60. Mahakali —-Wife Of Mahakala
  61. Seedupriya —-Fond Of Drinks
  62. Mamsapriya—- Fond Of Flesh
  63. Pashupriya —-Fond Of All Beings
  64. Bhootanushruta —-Well-Wisher Of Bhootaganas
  65. Varada —-Bestower
  66. Kamacharini —-Acting On One’s Own Accord
  67. Papaharini —-Destroyer Of Sins
  68. Kirti —-Famed
  69. Shree —-Auspicious
  70. Dhruti —-Valiant
  71. Siddhi —-Successful
  72. Hri—- Holy Chant Of Hymns
  73. Vidhya—- Wisdom
  74. Santati —-Granter Of Issues
  75. Mati —-Wise
  76. Sandhya—- Twilight
  77. Ratri —-Night
  78. Prabha —-Dawn
  79. Nitya —-Eternal
  80. Jyotsana —-Radiant Like Flames
  81. Kantha —-Radiant
  82. Khama —-Embodiment Of Forgiveness
  83. Daya —-Compassionate
  84. Bandhananashini—- Detacher Of Attachments
  85. Mohanashini —-Destroyer Of Desires
  86. Putrapamrityunashini —-Sustainer Of Son’s Untimely Death
  87. Dhanakshayanashini —-Controller Of Wealth Decrease
  88. Vyadhinashini —-Vanquisher Of Ailments
  89. Mruthyunashini —-Destroyer Of Death
  90. Bhayanashini —-Remover Of Fear
  91. Padmapatrakshi—- Eyes Like The Lotus Leaf
  92. Durga —-Remover Of Distress
  93. Sharanya —-Granter Of Refuge
  94. Bhaktavatsala—- Lover Of Devotees
  95. Saukhyada —-Bestower Of Well-Being
  96. Arogyada —-Granter Of Good Health
  97. Rajyada—- Bestower Of Kingdom
  98. Ayurda —-Granter Of Longevity
  99. Vapurda —-Granter Of Beautiful Appearance
  100. Sutada —-Granter Of Issues
  101. Pravasarakshika —-Protector Of Travellers
  102. Nagararakshika —-Protector Of Land
  103. Sangramarakshika —-Protector Of Wars
  104. Shatrusankata Rakshika —-Protector From Distress Caused By Foes
  105. Ataviduhkhandhara Rakshika—- Protector From Ignorance And Distress
  106. Sagaragirirakshika —-Protector Of Seas And Hills
  107. Sarvakaryasiddhi Pradayika —-Granter Of Success In All Attempts
  108. Durga —-Deity Durga