The Story Behind Buffalo-headed King Mahishasura:
With the festivities come the different tales and legends that surround the festivals. The story of the goddess Durga, the legend of Mahalaya and the story of the goddess Durga defeating Mahishasura, for example.
Who is King Mahishasura:
As legends have it, Mahishasura was a king with the head of a buffalo. He was a staunch worshipper of Lord Brahma. After years of penace by Mahishasura, Brahma was finally pleased and offered him a wish. Mad with power, Mahishasura demanded immortality. His wish was that he should not be killed by a “man or animal” on the face of Earth. Brahma granted him this wish, and then told him that a woman will be the end of him.
Mahishasura believed that there is no woman in the world who could cause him any harm. The legend continues, Mahishasura, high on the power of “immortality”, attacked Trilok (the three worlds of earth, heaven and hell) with his army. He even tried to capture Indralok (the kingdom of Lord Indra).
The gods decided to wage a war on Mahishasura but due to Lord Brahma’s boon nobody was able to defeat him. The gods thus approached Lord Vishnu for help. After considering the situation, Lord Vishnu decided to create a female form to defeat Mahishasura. But since Lord Shiva is the god of destruction, they consulted with him. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva combined all their powers together to give birth to Durga.
Goddess Durga then fought Mahishasura over a period of fifteen days during which he kept changing his shape to become different animals and misled her. Finally when he transformed into a buffalo, Goddess Durga stabbed him with her trident and that was the end of him. Mahishasura was defeated and killed on the day of Mahalaya.
This story is widely narrated during Durga Puja.
Non-Aryan King Mahishasura:
Another tale that dates back 3000 years says that Mahishasura was a non-Aryan king whose people worshiped the buffalo. Mahishasura’s power knew no bounds as he defeated many Aryan kings in the northern kingdom of Aryabarta.
While many kings were defeated by Mahishasura, a queen came to rule the northern part of Aryabarta. the kings who were already defeated by Mahishasura pledged their allegiance to the Queen. Her army grew in strength and numbers, while Mahishasura was running out of supplies and man power.
Thinking that he couldn’t be defeated by a woman, he send out messengers to the queen to become his consort. The queen kept refusing but Mahishasura was not to back off easily and kept sending messengers. Meanwhile, the queen was planning an attack on the buffalo king.
Mahishasura’s army was too worn out to protect themselves from the queen’s army. Mahishasura himself thought that he could defeat the queen but she killed him with her spear, tore his chest and fed him to his pet lion.