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ORIGIN OF GODDESS DURGA

The word Shakti means divine energy and Durga is the warrior aspect of the Divine Mother/Brahman.

Durga's feminine power contains the combined energies of all the gods. Each of her weapons was given to her by various gods: Rudra's trident, Vishnu's discus, Indra's thunderbolt, Brahma's kamandalu, Kuber's Ratnahar, etc.

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According to a narrative in the Devi Mahatmya story of the Markandeya Purana, Durga was created as a warrior goddess to fight an asura named Mahishasura. He had unleashed a reign of terror on earth, heaven and the nether worlds, and he could not be defeated by any man or god, anywhere. The gods went to Brahma, who had given Mahishasura the power not to be defeated by a man. Brahma could do nothing. They made Brahma their leader and went to Vaikuntha the place where Vishnu lay on Ananta Naag. They found both Vishnu and Shiva, and Brahma eloquently related the reign of terror Mahishasur had unleashed on the three worlds. Hearing this Vishnu, Shiva and all of the gods became very angry and beams of fierce light emerged from their bodies. The blinding sea of light met at the Ashram of a priest named Katyayan and Durga emerged from this pool of light. The goddess Durga took the name Katyaayani from the priest and emerged from the sea of light. She introduced herself in the language of the Rig-Veda, saying she was the form of the supreme Brahman who had created all the gods. Now she had come to fight the demon to save the gods. They did not create her; it was her lila that she emerged from their combined energy. The gods were blessed with her compassion.

However, Durga roared with laughter, which caused an earthquake which made Mahishasur aware of her powers. And the terrible Mahishasura rampaged against her, changing forms many times. First he was a buffalo demon, and she defeated him with her sword. Then he changed forms and became an elephant that tied up the goddess's lion and began to pull it towards him. The goddess cut off his trunk with her sword. The demon Mahishasur continued his terrorizing, taking the form of a lion, and then the form of a man, but both of them were gracefully slain by Durga. Then Mahishasur began attacking once more, starting to take the form of a buffalo again. The patient goddess became very angry, and proclaimed to Mahishasur in a colorful tone "Roar with delight while you still can, O illiterate demon, because when I will kill you, the gods themselves will roar with delight".[cite this quote] When Mahishasur had half emerged into his buffalo form, he was paralyzed by the extreme light emitting from the goddess's body. The goddess then resounded with laughter before cutting Mahishasur's head down with her sword.

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The goddess Durga created an army to fight against the forces of the demon-king Mahishasur, who was terrorizing Heaven and Earth. After ten days of fighting, Durga and her army defeated Mahishasur and killed him. As a reward for their service, Durga bestowed upon her army the knowledge of jewelry-making.

The goddess, as Mahishasuramardini, appears quite early in Indian art. The Archaeological Museum in Matura has several statues on display including a 6-armed Kushana period Mahisasuramardhini that depicts her pressing down the buffalo with her lower hands. A Nagar plaque from the first century BC - first century AD depicts a 4-armed Mahisamardhini accompanied by a lion. But it is in the Gupta period that we see the finest representations of Mahisasuramardhini. The spear and trident are her most common weapons. A Mamallapuram relief shows the goddess with 8 arms riding her lion subduing a buffalo-faced demon a variation also seen at Ellora. In later sculptures show the goddess having decapitated the buffalo demon.

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