As he saw the army being slaughtered, Ciksura, the great asura general went ahead in tremendous fury to battle Ambika. He rained showers of arrow on the Devi just as clouds shower the summit of Mount Meru. But easily shattering those volley of arrows, the Devi, in turn, killed Ciksura’s horses and charioteer. Like lightning She slashed through his flag and bow, cutting them in half, and wounded the asura general using swiftly dispatched arrows. With his bow broken, chariot wrecked, horses and charioteer slain the asura now picked up his sword and shield and rushing at the Devi, struck her lion on the head, and then violent attacked Her left arm. But no sooner did the sword touch Her arm it instantly shattered into pieces. Then the great asura, with rage-intoxicated red eyes, seized a lance and flung it at Bhadrakali, as if he were hurling the very sun from the skies. Seeing the approaching missile, Chandika released Her own lance that shattering the incoming projectile and went onto hit Ciksura, shattering his body into a hundred pieces, too.

As Mahisa’s mighty general lay slain in battle, Camara (another asura), afflictor of the devas, advanced mounted on his war-elephant. He dispatched his spear towards the Devi but an instant roar from Her send the weapon hurtling powerless on the battleground. Next Camara flung a lance and that too She destroyed with her arrows. Now the lion, Devi’s mount, leaped on the elephant’s forehead directly attacking the asura. Struggling, and locked in dreadful combat both of them fell from the elephant onto the ground, when suddenly, in a flash the lion sprang upwards to the skies and on landing severed Camara’s head with a single sweep of his paw. Meanwhile, Devi attacked the asura Udagra with rocks and trees, and biting, punching, and slapping repeatedly, she felled Karala (gaping mouth). Now even more enraged, Devi crushed Uddhata (arrogant) to pulp with a blow of her mace, and killed Baskala (bellicosity) with Her javeline while Tamra (oppressive) and Andhaka (blind) were felled by Her arrows. With Her trident, the supreme three-eyed Goddess slew Ugrasya (fierce-faced), Ugravirya (of great courage) and Mahahanu (great jaws) and with the sword She removed Bidala’s (impurity) head from his body and shot both Durdhara and Durmukha into the above of death.

While his army was being pulverized thus by the Goddess, Mahisasura terrified the Devi’s hosts using his buffalo form, jostling some with his snout and pawing others with his hooves. Still others he lashed with his tail and lacerated with his swaying horns. He toppled some to the ground with the force of his bellowing and wheeling, while the blast of his breath brought the remain deva-s to the ground. After destroying Devi’s army, Mahisasura now rushed forward to slay Her lion. Mahisasura, great in valor, struck the earth angrily with his hooves, flung mountains up in the sky with his horns while uttering blood-curdling bellows. Earth cracked under the weight of his frenzied wheeling, and the lashing of his tail cause oceans to overflow all around. 

On seeing this fantastic asura thus approaching, inflated with rage, Chandika too aroused Her wrath and prepared to end him forever. She threw her noose over his neck and bound the buffalo. Trapped, Mahisa left his buffalo form and assumed the shape of a lion. No sooner did Ambika severe the head of the lion that the asura now transformed into a man with a sword in his hand. Instantly, the great Goddess shred him to pieces along with the sword and shield he was carrying when the asura transformed into a gigantic elephant, and started dragging Her lion with his trunk. Immediately Devi chopped off his trunk with Her sword and once more the asura turned into a buffalo causing all creatures of the three words to tremble in fear.

By now sufficiently angered, Chandika, mother of the worlds, drank a divine intoxicant which turned Her eyes blood-red and She started roaring in laughter, again and again. The asura too bellowed in return, intoxicated by his own might and valor and started throwing mountains at Chandika, which She pulverized into fine dust. Her face now flushed with intoxication from the drink, She paused and addressing Mahisasura, prophesized:

“Bellow you fool, bellow for now, while I drink this potion. For when I am done, I will slay you and the gods shall rejoice in this very place!”

[garja garja kṣaṇaṃ mūḍha madhu yāvatpibāmyaham|

mayātvayi hate‌traiva garjiṣyantyāśu devatāḥ]

Having declared that She leaped upon the mightly asura, and pinned his neck down with her foot while piercing him with Her spear. Trapped under the Devi’s foot and crushed by Her might, the wily asura now started to emerge from the slain buffalo’s neck in his true form. Half-revealed in this manner, and still fighting, Mahisasura finally fell in battle beheaded by Devi’s sword.

Crying loudly in alarm and shock, the asura army perished as the gods finally exulted and then, together with all the rishi and celestial gandharvas, they showered the Devi with praises.

*   *    *

The above is only a small section from the Devi Mahatyam of 13 chapters. There is probably no other text inside the Hindu spiritual literature which goes into such gory details of battles. In that final crescendo of the battle when Devi slaughters the half emerging asura from the buffalo’s neck that Mahisasura is suddenly awestruck as he realizes the immeasurable strength of the Goddess, and it is this particular moment that is captured and immortalized in the iconography of Durga Mahisasuramardini since ancient times.

Leave a Reply

All rights reserved Salient.