A Goddess Rules

Once there was a magical buffalo named Mahisa. His dad was a demon king named Rambha and his mom was a buffalo named Mahisi.
He could transform himself into a lion.
He could transform himself into a human. Or anything.
But mostly he liked being a buffalo, just like his mom. The gods decided he could live forever...unless a woman killed him. "How can a woman kill me?" He laughed. He was a powerful and strong buffalo.
He got stronger and stronger. He became king of the demons, just like his dad. Then he became king of the humans. THEN he became king of the gods. "I am king of the world!" he roared, "No woman can kill me!"
For one-hundred years, Mahisa was king. The gods became scared. They became worried. They became angry. The three most powerful gods--Visnu, Siva, and Brahma-- sat together and became angrier and angrier...UNTIL a flame burst forth from each of their foreheads and created a TREMENDOUS flame.
The amazing flame grew and grew and became a beautiful goddess named Durga. The gods rejoiced! Siva gave her a trident, Visnu gave her a discuss, Brahma gave her a rosary, and the other gods also gave her weapons, jewelry and powers.
Durga laughed and laughed. She laughed so hard that the mountains tottered, the oceans shook, and the earth trembled. "VICTORY!" yelled the gods. They bowed down to Durga.
Mahisa felt the earth move. He heard the mountains rumble. He felt the ocean splash. He raised his eyebrows. "What is this?" he wondered.
He gathered millions of chariots, billions of demons, zillions of weapons and went looking for a battle. Durga came with her army and the gods fought the demons.
Durga was so strong that swords, arrows, and spears EXPLODED when they neared her.
Finally, only Mahisa and Durga remained. Mahisa turned into a lion.
Durga cut off his head. Mahisa turned into a human.
Durga sliced him all up. Mahisa turned into an elephant. Durga cut off his trunk.
Mahisa turned into a buffalo. Durga jumped right on top of him. "Roar now!" she yelled. "Soon a woman will kill you!" And she cut off his head...
...and drank his blood and laughed. All the demons vanished. The gods came out and praised Durga. The Gandhavas sang. The Apsarases danced.
And once again, the world was ruled by the gods.
And a woman.
Story adaption and art by Autumn Jacobsen, December 1998.


Berkson, Carmel. The Divine and Demonic: Mahisa's Heroic Struggle with Durga Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Coburn, Thomas B. Encountering the Goddess: A Translation of the Devi-Mahatmya and A Study of its Interpretation. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991.

Narayan, R.K. Gods, Demons, and Others New York: Viking Press, 1964.

Wilkins, W.J. Hundu Mythology (Vedic and Puranic) Delhi: Delhi Book Store, 1972.