Durga slays the Demon Mahashasura

Truly favored among the vast amount of East Indian myths and folk stories is the rather Durgaviolent, but seductive tale of the Goddess Durga slaying the Demon Mahasi.  Although Durga apppears several times throughout written Indian mythos, creating balance, she intercedes not as a reason of necessity, but out of an action of sport or play.  This is the concept of leela; consciousness manifesting or creating for godish entertainment value.  Durga came into being when she realized she had a certain lust for avenging a demon and even displaying her power.

The story goes like this:  The Demon Mahashasura had practiced some major austerities, like fasting and  so on.  He was praised highly by the gods for his dicipline and vigilance, so they blessed him with the incredible boon of invincibility, though he could be defeated by a female.  He was sly and happy with this gift and planned all along to use it to his advantage.  Before long, he was conquering and pillaging the land.  This angered the gods but he disregarded their warnings and continued his wrath.

The gods gathered in a secret fortress, high in the mountains, to discuss their plight.  Huge heat and light came from the male dieties in consort, and from that energy, the Goddess Durga came into being.  Durga was already aware of the situation and made it known that the challenge of destroying a demon excited her and that was why she decided to appear.  At this, the gods applauded her and each gave the goddess their personal weapons for the battle;  Ruda's trident, Vishnu's discus, Indra's lightning bolt and so on. 

When Mahashasura first encountered Durga, he doubted her power and thought of her threats and challenges as love talk.  The demon only saw her as a suitable mate and considered her a helpless female who needed to be protected by him.  Durga kept her cool demeanor, informing Mahishi that in family tradition, a suitor who could defeat her in battle could take her hand in marriage.  As she casually took a couple of sips of wine, Durga proclaimed, with a red-eyed glare that when the wine was done, he would be destroyed.

Excited, the demon charged in a violent manner, as the many forms he assumed were gracefully slain; demon buffalo, elephant, lion, warrior.  The battle raged on.  Once more he re-emerged as a buffalo.  The goddess lost patience and was angered.  Durga took one more sip of wine and implaled Mahashasura, who was paralized by the light emanating from her body.  The deed was done.  Powerful compassion allowed Durga to manifest and the menace was slain.

This folk tale of Durga explains certain metaphysical ideas expressed in East Indian thought.  Except for the terminology, the concepts are quite universal.

Sakti - The underlying power of the divine.  A positive and creative force, usually personified  in goddess form.  Across many mythological pantheons, the male dieties always had their female counterpart, without  whom, they would be rendered ineffective.  The male gods contributed their vigor and strength to Durga's manifestation and the goddess personified action and power to defeat the demon.  The action repeats itself in our human nature with our male gender containing female aspects and our female gender containing male aspects.   As above, so below.

Maya - The power that prevents an individual to see things as they really are.  Maya inspires the being into self-centeredness and egotistical actions.  Maya is also the positive and creative force that allows dieties to display or embody themselves ,or act, such as the  expression of creation or nature.  This is the very concept equated with the term leela, in which the Goddess Durga manifests to slay the demon, not out of the sense of duty or moral purpose, but out of the sense of pure pleasure.  Durga's expression is one of calm while entering into battle, showing a lack of exertion in her game or play, mesmerizing the demon with her relaxed demeanor; maya mixed with leela.

Prakrti  - Prakrti is the physical world.  The ongoing rhythms that allow nature to nourish and sustain creation as we know it.  Prakrti is the primordial matter, the origins of life.  Durga is a creative goddess.  She protects the earth when she manifests as the mother or demon slayer, keeping vigilance of herself as the very world she creates.

The concept of Sakti, Maya and Prakrti underpin the myth, Durga Slaying the Demon Mahashasura, and allows the reader to delve into deeper understanding of how nature continues an ongoing manifested support system of our physical reality.