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A statue of Mahishasura in Chamundi Hills, Mysore.

According to Hindu mythology, Mahishasura was a combination of both an Asura and a Mahisha(buffalo). He intended to annihilate all the Devas since they were the arch enemies of Asuras.The legend of Mahishasura is important in Hindu mythology since it was to slay him that Goddess Durga was born. Hence his story is an important part of shaktiism which venerates Goddess Durga.

The mythology of Mahishasura[edit]

This painting shows a battle between Durga and Mahishasura.

Rambha the king of Asuras was enticed with the beauty of a she buffalo and eventually he married her.Out of this strange union was born a child which was half buffalo and half human.This child was named Mahishasura(Mahisha literally means buffalo).Mahishasura being an Asura wanted to wage war against their archenemies the Devas and hence to make himself invincible,performed a tapas to Brahma and requested that he be granted immortality.Brahma refused him the boon of immortality and instead gave him a boon such that his death will happen only at the hands of a woman.Mahishasura considered himself immortal since he felt that it was impossible for a woman to slay a person of his strenth.[1] Thus with this belief,Mahishasura started a war with the Devas and a battle took place.The Devas led by the Indra were defeated.The Devas requested the trinity of Shiva,Brahma and Vishnu requesting help, subsequently they combined their thejas and created a woman.The Goddess thus created was Durga and she eventually led a battle against Mahishasura and Killed him,thus fulfilling the prophecy that he would meet his death at the hands of a woman.

Mahishasura in Art[edit]

Durga slaying the Mahishasura is a prominent theme which was sculpted in various caves and temples across India.Some of the prominent representation are seen at the Mahishasuramardini caves in Mahabalipram,the Ellora caves, in the entrance of Rani ki vav[2] Hoysaleswara Temple in Halebidu and many more temples across India.

Durga is worshiped in her Mahishasuramardini form, during Durga Puja

The worship of Durga during Durga puja in West Bengal is done to the idols of Durga which depict Durga killing Mahishasura.

Mahishasura and Mysore[edit]

The popular legend is that Mysuru gets its name from Mahishasura .The original name of Mysuru was 'Mahishasurana oor'which literally means Mahishasura's land.[3]In Sanskrit Mahisha means a buffalo. There is a popular story to substantiate the association of a buffalo with the city’s name.The earliest mention of Mysore in recorded history may be traced to 245 B.C., i.e., to the period of Asoka when on the conclusion of the third Buddhist convocation, a team was dispatched to Mahisha mandala for propagating Buddhism,which also emphasises its association with buffaloes.[4]

Conflict of Durga with Mahishasur - Mahishasuramardini Cave Temple, Mamallapuram (c. 1880) Mahishasura Mardini caves in Mahabalipuram depicting the battle between Mahishasura and Durga.
Ellora Cave 21 si0319
Pattadakal si1505 Mahishasuramardini in Pattadakkal Virupaksha temple
Ellora Cave 21 si0319

Mahishi (Mahishasura's Sister)[edit]

In Kerala, there exists a parallel mythology according to which, Mahishasura had a sister by the name of Mahishi. After the death of Mahishasura, Mahishi continued the war against Devas.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mahishasuramardini. "mahishasur". / Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  2. ^ mahishasuramardini. "Rani ki vav". frontline magazine. Retrieved 26 January 2016.  External link in |website= (help)
  3. ^ "Mysuru name". Retrieved 27 January 2016.  External link in |website= (help)
  4. ^ "DISTRICT CENSUS HANDBOOK MYSORE" (PDF). Census of India 2011 KARNATAKA. SERIES-30 PART XII-B. 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 

External links[edit]