The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes Demon Mahisha Slain by Durga which is chapter 19 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the nineteenth chapter of the Arunacala-khanda (Uttarardha) of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 19 - Demon Mahiṣa Slain by Durgā

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nandikeśvara said:

1-2. In the meantime Asura Mahiṣa heard from someone that she (i.e. Pārvatī) was present here. He despised and treated with contempt all (other) Daityas, Dānavas and Asuras. He had already destroyed Purandara. He had conquered all the worlds. He had terrorized Siddhas and Vidyādharas. On account of the boon he had received, he could not be restrained by means of any type of weapon or missile.

3. He was unaffected by even the severest of imprecations. He was resorted to and served by the proudest Dānavas, Daityas and Kauṇapas.

4. He defiled the wives of sages. He created obstacles in the path of righteousness. In strength he was far superior to Bala, Puloman, Namuci and Vṛtra.

5. He belonged to the family of Hiraṇyakaśipu. He was like another Hiraṇyākṣa. It is said that he sent a female messenger in order to entice her (i.e. the Goddess).

6. Thereupon she (i.e. the messenger) assumed the guise of an ascetic woman and addressed the following unbecoming, improper words to Girijā in the presence of her friends:

7. “Alas! O timid girl, why do you stay in this terrible forest? Really you are accustomed to and worthy of dwelling in inner apartments of a royal palace!

8. What for has your mind become averse to the desire for enjoyment of pleasures in (the days of) the prime of youth? What for has it resorted to and engaged in austerities very difficult to be pursued even by Devas?

9. You have abandoned a bed filled with soft downs of swans with a canopy studded with pearls. O lady of tender and delicate limbs, why do you sleep on rough and rugged rocks?

10. Fortunately, Mṛḍa (i.e. Śiva) who is sluggish due to his frequent pursuit of penances has already been deserted by you. There is no one else among the dwellers of heaven suitable to you.

11. But there is a leading Dānava (named) Mahiṣa who is the overlord of all the three worlds. O lady of beautiful brows, if you see him, you will immediately leave off your penance.

12. Why should I keep it secret? Having heard everythinng (about you) our Lord has been lovesick for a long time. He has sent me as a messenger to fetch you.”

13. As she irrelevantly went on speaking thus to the utter distastefulness of the Goddess, Vijayā who understood the state of the mind of the Goddess, expelled the demoness.

14. In the height of her fury she reassumed the form of a Daitya-woman taking the vow (of reveṅge). She went to Mahiṣa, the Asura, and reported the incident to him.

15. On hearing everything he became excessively furious and his eyes turned red. Surrounded by crores of Daityas he rush-fid in with a desire to take the Goddess by force.

16. He covered the entire ground with chariots, elephants, horses and foot-soldiers and the ethereal space with banners and flags.

17. With battle cries, war-whoops and the sounds of martial music the sky appeared to break in twain. As the Daityas kicked and stamped with their feet (while marching) the surface of the earth split asunder.

18-19. Along with him his commanders too set out (for war). They were Karāla, Durdhara, Vicaṣṇu, Vikarālaka, Bāṣkala, Durmukha, Caṇḍa, Pracaṇḍa, Cāmarāsura, Mahāhanu, Mahāmauli, Ugrāsya, Vikaṭekṣaṇa, Jvālāsya, and Dahana.

20. On hearing this uproar and upheaval the Goddess was afraid of obstacles in her observances. She ordered Durgā to annihilate the Daityas.

21. In a secret chasm among the hills of Aruṇādri she (Durgā) got on the back of a lion. With brilliant arms held in her hands she appeared like Kālikā come down to the earth.

22. She produced a leonine roar as fierce as the rumbling sound of a thick raining cloud. The extremities of her lips throbbed. The sprout-like fingers moved.

23. From their limbs the Mothers furiously created a multitude of Yoginīs for pleasing the Goddess. They were thousands in number and they were capable of annihilating the Daityas.

24. Some of them there had a reddish brown complexion. They held long sticks and batons. They had swans for their vehicles. They had four faces with lips throbbing due to anger. They came (to that region).

25. Some of them furiously set out with blazing tridents in their hands with their brows knitted and ornaments jingling. They had bulls for their vehicles.

26. Others set out along with their armies with peacocks for their vehicles. They were hundreds in number, with Śaktis, staffs in their hands and Abhaya-Mudrās (i.e. gestures indicating immunity from fear). They were six-faced.

27. Still others set out with greater fury, mounted on Garuḍas. They held conchs and discuses like the firmament holding the sun and the moon.

28. Some proceeded ahead with tigers for their vehicles. They had their complexion like the colour of blue water lilies. Their snouts produced grunting growling sounds and they wielded pestles and ploughs.

29. Others set out with white elephants for their vehicles. They had a thousand eyes red with anger. They were hundred crores in number and they held thunderbolts.

30. Some came there riding on horses. They resembled lightning streaks. They held swords and clubs. Their faces were tawny due to anger.

31. All these blocked the sixty-four crores of Asuras outside the hermitage with great force like the radiance of the Sun stopping (the advance of a mass of darkness).

32. Thereupon a terrible battle ensued between the multitude of Yoginīs and the army of the Dānavas, in which they hit one another with fists and dragged the tufts of hair of one another.

33. The heads of the Daityas crushed and cut by the arrows discharged by the Yoginīs covered the surface of the ground all round like (lotuses) growing on land.

34. Rivers of blood flowed with hair and tresses (of the Daityas) appearing like moss, with the Vipāṭha arrows rolling about like Pāṭhīna fish. They appeared to be smiling on account of the lotus-like faces of the various Goddesses.

35. Piśācikās (i.e. witches, vampires) mounted the trunks of elephants as though they were mansions. They indulged in their rough and fierce Tāṇḍava dances. They drank blood as if it were liquor and shone thus.

36. By means of the terrible skulls of the Daitya soldiers, resembling toy Ḍamaru drums, the groups of the Yoginīs consumed their (i.e. Daityas’) blood like spirituous liquors.

37. Flocks of female jackals avoided the entrails suspecting them to be nets and nooses. Although they were hungry, the jackals set aside the flesh with darts and arrows still sticking to it.

38. The dust of the ground raised during the stir and excitement of the battle subsided by (being absorbed by) the honey oozing from the Mandāra flowers showered by Siddhas and Vidyādharas.

39. The horses of the enemies shone like porcupines because the darts, shafts and javelins discharged with excessive fury and speed by the Yoginīs stuck firmly to their bodies.

40-41. The powerful Dānavas were slain in various ways: some of them with staffs and rods; others with sharp spears; some with Śaktis; others with discuses; a few with ploughs; some by means of thunderbolts; others through the swords of the Yoginīs. They were crushed and pounded. Excepting the commanders all of them were utterly destroyed.

42. Brāhmī herself came and fought the battle, blazing for a long time. By means of her terrible rod she killed Karāla.[1]

43. Māheśvarī fought the battle for a long time with the trident. Becoming exceedingly furious, she immediately cut off the head of Durdhara.

44-46. With her Śakti Kaumārī cut off the head of Asura Cikṣura. Vaiṣṇavī cut off the head of Vikarāla by means of the discus. Vārāhī quickly cut off the head of Bāṣkala by means of a mace. Aindrī made Durmukha immediately short of life with her thunderbolt. With the edge of her circular discus Cāmuṇḍā chopped off Caṇḍa and Muṇḍa. It was because she killed them (i.e. Caṇḍa and Muṇḍa) that she got the famous name Cāmuṇḍā.

47-48. As Mahiṣāsura furiously went for fighting the heroic Asuras Pracaṇḍa, Cāmara, Mahāmauli, Mahāhanu, Ugrāsya, Vikaṭākṣa, Jvālāsya and Dahana followed him like Kālanemi and others followed Vipracitti.

49. Wearing helmets they rode in chariots. They held bows and had good quivers. Encouraging and stirring up the camps of the armies they reached the battleground waving their flags and banners.

50. With terrific leonine roars they filled the quarters all round. Showering volleys of arrows they rushed against the multitudes of the Mothers.

51. Those (Mothers) fought with those powerful Asuras. But unable to bear it they sought refuge in Goddess Durgā with the lion as her vehicle.

52. After recounting the invincibility of the wicked Daitya in the guise of a buffalo by means of his Māyā all the seven Mothers eulogized Goddess Durgā thus:

53. “O Goddess, you lie concealed within the lotus-like eyes of Viṣṇu in the form of Yogaṃdrā (‘transcendental Yogic slumber’) sportfully like a honey-bee.

54. O Mother, if you had not made him and the demons lose sense in that manner, how could Viṣṇu have killed Madhu and Kaiṭabha with their own permission?

55. If you had not been born as Kauśikī bringing about the death of Śuṃbha and Niśuṃbha, O Goddess, how could the glory and prosperity of the Guardians of Quarters have been regained?

56. O Vindhyavāsinī (‘Resident of Vindhya’), what fruitful penance has been performed by Vindhya where a friendship with you can be acquired even by the Kirātīs (‘huntresses’)!

57. The liquor offered as a present by Dhanada (i.e. Kubera) and brought along with the juices of the Daityas that had restrained human beings, had been drunk by you, O Mother.

58. O Mother, you are the power of creation of Brahmā, the power of sustenance of the slayer of Madhu, i.e. Viṣṇu, and the power of annihilation of Rudra. Thus you are all-powerful.

59. You will be born of Yaśodā and Nanda with the name Ekānaṃśā.[2] You will render help to Hari in the annihilation of Kaṃsa and other Asuras.

60. You are Vidyā; you are Mahāmāyā; you are Lakṣmī; you are Sarasvatī; you are Goddess Pārvatī too. O Durgā, what is it that you are not (born as)?”

Nandikeśvara said:

61. Due to this eulogy Durgā herself granted immunity from fear to the Mātṛs (‘Mothers’). Very much delighted she set out for a fight with Ṃahiṣa, the Asura.

62-64. She slew Pracaṇḍa with the edge of the circular wheel, Cāmara with Bhiṇḍipāla (i.e. an instrument like a sling to discharge missiles), Mahāmauli with a dagger, and Mahāhanu with a Karpara (‘skull-like weapon’). She slew Ugravaktra with a sharp-edged sword, Vikaṭacakṣus with the Śakti, Jvālāmukha with a mallet, and Dahana with a mace. After killing them she herself fought with Mahiṣa with great fury. Delighted in her mind she made a very terrible leonine roar in front of Mahiṣa.

65. Then the exceedingly infuriated Asura Mahiṣa pierced Durgā with arrows aimed at her broad forehead, breasts and cheeks.

66. Thereupon Durgā with great impetuosity struck the Lord of Asuras in his arms, chest and face by means of arrows with shining edges.

67. Thereupon the Daītya struck Durgā in her face with three arrows. He discharged five arrows on each of the arms and two on each of the eyes.

68. Durgā cut off his charioteer with a single arrow, the horses with eight arrows, the bow with three arrows and the flagstaff with four arrows.

69. Thereupon the leading Daitya fought on foot. He discharged Śataghnī (a great missile) towards Durgā. It blazed. It resembled the massive baton of Kāla (i.e. god of Death).

70-72. Devas yelled with fright exclaiming ‘Alas!’and the group of the Mothers fled but Durgā playfully caught hold of that oncoming missile.

He hurled various weapons at Durgā, viz. dagger, goad, noose, Bhuṣuṇḍī missile, small sword, spike, Śakti, mace, discus, Tomaras (‘iron clubs’), Phalaka (‘arrow-tip’), Sṛṇi (‘hook-like goad’), axe, Bhiṇḍipāla (‘sling-like instrument hurling missiles’), Paṭṭiśa (‘sharp-edged spear’) and Laguḍa (i.e. stick). He hurled these like cloud at the time of dissolution showering thunderbolts.

73. Catching hold of the oncoming missiles and weapons discharged by the enemies, Durgā broke them with her hands freely like a cow-elephant breaking stumps of sugarcane.

74. Durgā’s vehicle, the lion, hit (the demon) by the. tip of his tail, tore him with his curved teeth and struck with lotus-like nails (?).

75. The demon changed his forms frequently remaining a Hon for an instant, a boar for another, a tiger, an elephant and a buffalo successively. Thus the Daitya fought with Durgā.

76. The extremely infuriated buffalo struck the lion (of the Goddess) with its sharp horns. He struck the Goddess too repeatedly.

77. For a moment he stayed in the middle of the sky; for another moment he came down on the surface of the earth; for another moment he wandered in all the quarters and for a moment he vanished.

78. Requested by the group of the Mothers Durgā smilingly tore off the Dānava Mahiṣa by means of her never-failing trident.

79. He shouted in a growling tone when the Dānava began to fall; she placed her foot on his shoulders with great force.

80. When his neck was pressed down and afflicted, the Asura gave up his life. She cut off his head and taking it in her hand she began to dance.

81. When the demon in the form of buffalo, who bad been a source of trouble to all the worlds, was crushed and destroyed in the battle thus by Durgā, Suras danced, the great sages became delighted and clouds showered divine flowers.

Footnotes and references:


VV 42-46 detail the exploits of different Śaktis, e.g. Brāhmī, Māheśvarī, Kaumārī etc. corresponding to god Brahmā, Maheśvara, Kumāra (Skanda) and other prominent gods.


Durgā is here identified with Ekānathśā who is better known as Vindhyavāsinī.

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