Durga Text & Images

Devas and Asuras were brothers. The story goes that they were born to Kasyapa in his wives Aditi and Dili. They used to quarrel over their rights for the supremacy of the three worlds viz. the heavens, the earth and the nether worlds. The Devas would contend that the three worlds belonged to them, whereas the Ausras claimed that these were their domains. So there used to be wars between them, which were sometime total and gruesome. In these wars the powerful ones would become victorious and rule over the worlds. The vanquished would lick their wounds for sometime and slowly start mobilizing until they gather enough, strength and start another war, defeat the opponents and establish their supremacy.

This has been the eternal pattern of life from the beginning of creation. However, there is a marked difference in their methods of living and fighting. The Ausras depend on brute physical might for their victory. They have no faith in the nobler values of honesty, and righteousness and so they have no problem in adopting all kinds of deceit and hypocrisy to gain their ends. They invoke the dark forces for their victory. The Devas on the other hand always invoke the Supreme Lord for their victory, and their path is laid by nobler values and righteous conduct. However, there were instances when they had deviated from their noble path. In all such cases they had to go down to the lower worlds of humans or even Asuras and animals to expiate their ‘sins’ of having stooped down to lower nature for gaining the ends. Thereafter they rise up again through austerities etc. to gain their original I?orihood. The Asuras had no such problem because they had never risen from their base nature and therefore had nowhere to fall down’ upon.

Whenever the king of gods, Indra, had confronted a fall due to his callousness, an eligible person from the human world used to be brought up into the heavens and conferred the Indra-hood’ (lordship of the Devas). This Indra by proxy would rule the heavens till the real Indra came back after expiation of his sins.

Long-long ago, it so happened that when the real Indra was himself ruling the heavens, and a demon called Mahishasura* was ruling the nether worlds, a war broke out between the Devas and Asuras.

It lasted for a full hundred years. Ultimately, the Asuras won the battle. They drove away the Devas and took over the lordship of all the three worlds. Mahishasura appointed himself as the Indra. The vanquished Devas approached Brahmaji, the Creator, and conveyed their misery and plight. Brahmaji could not solve their problem all by himself. He thought for a while and, taking the Devas with him, went to the place where Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu were sitting together. The Devas described in detail their woes. They said : “Mahishasura has taken over the lordship of the worlds. He has thrown out the deities appointed by Thee for performing their respective duties, like the Surya, Indra, Agni, Vayu, Chandra, Yama, Varuna and others. He has assumed charge of their portfolios and is ruling the wofld according to his whims and fancies. We have been driven out of our native heavens, and are wandering about on the earth like ordinary mortals. We all have come to seek refuge here. Kindly do something to put an end to Mahishasura’s reign.”

When They heard about the Deva’s plight and the unrighteousness unleashed by the demon Mahishasura, Their faces were reddened with anger, the eyebrows curved, and the eyes were blood-shot. From the angry face of Vishnu, there issued forth a brilliant tight. From the faces of Brahma and Siva also brilliant masses of light issued forth. Such brilliance emerged from the bodies of Indra and other Devas also. All these lights merged to form a conflagration of brilliance which shone like a mountain of fire illumining all the quarters. This mountain of effulgence materialised into a dazzling female form, a Goddess of unparalleled strength.

From the splendour that issued forth -from Lord Siva, Her face was formed and from that of Yama, Her tresses. From Vishnu’s splendour were formed Her long, beautiful and extremely powerful hands. From the splendour of the Moon deity were formed Her breasts, from Indra’s the waist, from Varuna’s the thighs and the shanks, and from the Earth deity’s the hips. From the splendour of Brahma, the Creator, was formed Her feet, from the Sun deity’s her toes, from the Vasu’s Her fingers, from Kubera’s Her nose. From the splendours of the Prajapatis were formed Her teeth, from Agni’s the three eyes, from the dusk’s and dawn’s the beautiful eye brows and from the Vayu’s the ears. From the splendours of other Devas, remaining parts of Her body were formed. Thus, there manifested in front of them, the divine form of the Goddess from the amalgamated splendours of all gods. Looking at this glorious form, the Devas who were tormented by the demon Mahishasura, experienced great joy and a sense of confidence.

The Devas thereafter adorned Her with divine ornaments and weapons. Lord Siva drew forth a trident from His trident and presented it to Her. Vishnu brought forth a discus from His own discus and gave it to Her. Varuna presented a Conch, and Agni a spear. Vayu gave a bow and two quivers with inexhaustible supply of arrows. Indra created a Vajra from his powerful weapon Vajra and gave ‘it to Her, which had the power and swiftness of the thunder bolt. Airavata, the four-tusked white elephant, the vehicle of Indra gave a bell to Her. Yama, the lord of death and wielder of the deadly staff, produced a staff from his weapon and gave it to the Goddess. The Prajapati gave Her a gariand of Rudraksha and Brahmaji, a holy water pot (Kamandulu). The sun deity filled the pores of Her skin with his brilliance. Time gave Her a dazzling sharp sword and a shield. The Milky Ocean* adomed Her with a pearl garland and beautiful clothes. Viswakarma adomed Her with a crest jewel, ear-rings, crescent of the moon, bracelets, anklets, necklaces, diamond rings, and various types of weapons and an impenetrable armour. The oceans presented the Goddess a garland of red lotuses which never faded. The Himalayas gave Her a lion to ride on and also various types of precious gems. Kubera, the lord of wealth gave Her a wine pot which remained ever full. Ananta, the lord of serpents, gave a garland studded with the most precious and rarest of jewels. Other celestials also adomed Her with various kinds of ornaments and weapons.

Thus, born out of the resplendence of Lord Siva, Vishnu and other Devas and armed and adorned by them, the Goddess roared aloud and Her voice reverberated through all the quarters. The earth and the mountains trembled and the oceans heaved with tidal waves. Seeing Her seated on the lion and ready for fight, the Devas extolled Her crying, “Victory unto Thee!” and bowed before Her in humble devotion.

Seeing the nature agitated all around, the Asuras came out of their dwelling to find out the cause of such a sudden change. Mahishasura was enraged at the commotion and came out shouting angrily: “What is this?” Other Asuras grabbed their weapons and rushed out in the direction from where the roars of bgttle cry emanated. They beheld the divine form of the Mother, illumining all the quarters with Her effulgence. Her jewelled crown touched the clouds and the feet pressed the earth down. The twang of Her bow sent a shrill vibration down the nether worlds which shook them with fear. Her thousand arms, upheld with weapons, filled the space.

if a wild fire had been set on them. The Mother went on fighting playfully for a while with the AsUras, but felt there was no fun in a single person fighting with a big army. So, she created from Her exhalation hordes of Ganas, which soon swelled and filled the battle ground. They danced in joy and played on drums, bugles and trumpets. The sound reverberated the heavens and the earth and multiplied the war tempo. And there ensued a gruesome war between the Asuric forces and the Ganas of the Mother. Blood flowed like rivers, The entire area was filled with heaps of dead bodies of the Asuras, their horses and elephants which made it impossible to walk about freely in the area. In the fierce battle, the allies of Mahishasura perished, one by one, and along with them their vast armies.

Seeing the destruction wrought by the Ganas of Mother, Mahishasura became red with anger. He assumed his terrible form of the wild buffalo and broke down upon the Ganas of the Mother. He ran amuck in their midst and felled numberless Ganas by goring them, kicking, lifiting and throwing them about and lashing them with his powerful tail. He blew up some of them like cotton by his panting exhalation. Then he turned to the lion, the vehicle of the Mother. He kicked the earth with his hoofs and raised a dust storm and charged at the lion. At this, the Mother threw the Varuna Pasa* and bound him up. The Asura, who was an adept in changing forms, immediately transformed himself into a lion. Perhaps he thought that he could delude the Mother by his magic power. The Mother, however, cut the lion’s head. Immediately the Asura changed himself into a man with a sword and shield. When the Mother felled him with an arrow and broke his sword and shield, the Asura assumed the form of an elephant and started pulling at the Mother’s vehicle, the lion, with its long trunk. At this the Mother cut his trunk by sword. The Asura then gave up his elephant body and assumed his original form again, namely the wild buffalo. The Mother was amused by the tricks of the Asura, who was now almost at his wit’s end to know how and in which form to confront the Goddess.

The Mother thought that the fight could now be brought to an end and decided to go about it in the Asuric style itself so as to enhance the mirth of the fight. So, She drank a little from the wine pot and reddened Her eyes. Seeing this, Mahishasura’s pride was hurt and he roared in defiance. With his stout horns, he uprooted big rocks and hillocks and hurled them at the Mother. The Mother, however, rendered them to dust by Her sharp arrows. She laughed aloud and said, “Oh fool! go on roaring till I finish drinking this wine! At this very place where you are now roaring in defiance, the Devas will soon roar in joy at your defeat.!” So, saying the Mother jumped onto the back of the buffalo and pressing it down by Her toes, pirced its neck by Her trident. The Asura, struggling under the feet of the Mother, decided to give up the buffalo body and started emerging from it in the form of a man wielding a sword and a shield. The merciful Mother, quickly cut off the head of the Asura, even as he had half emerged from the buffalo body, thus liberating him from further cycles of transforming himself into lion, elephant, etc. The “buffalo-headed” monster, who had terrorised the three worlds and made the lives of people so miserable, was thus annihilated by the Mother.

The Devas who were all scattered here and there and were living incognito in various worlds for fear of the mighty Mahishasura, now started coming out in groups. They regained their lost glory and attained their natural brilliance. They showered flowers on the Mother and danced in joy. Keeping Indra, the king of Gods, in front, they came in a large procession and prepared themselves to extoll the Mother with divine hymns.

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