Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Was Mahishasura an incarnation of Shiva?

Mahishasura an incarnation of Lord Shiva????? Bizarre, but true!

We all know that the son of Rambhasura, known as Mahishasura, is famed as a savage villain in Devi Mahatmya and Devi Bhagavatam. Born to Rambha and a she-buffalo, Mahishasura was a shape-shifting demon who had propitiated Brahma and was granted the boon that only a woman could slay him. Assuming himself thus to be immortal, Mahishasura unleashed a reign of terror, dethroned Devas and harassed humans.
All Devas approached Brahma, who in turn led them to Shiva and Vishnu. From the combined energies of all deities, Devi Chandika manifested and slew Mahishasura. She is therefore known as Mahishasura Mardini. 
We know the story of Mahishasura; but how many of us know that the savage villain of Devi Bhagavatam was an incarnation of Shiva? 
Sounds bafling, but yes, this is true. Mahishasura was an incarnation of Shiva.

Kalika Purana gives the following account of Shiva incarnating as Rambhasura’s son Mahishasura:

Kalika Purana, Chapter 60, verses 141–164


उर्व्व उवाच :-
आराधितौ महादेवौ रम्भेण सुरवैरिणा।
चिरेण स सुप्रितस्तपसा तस्य शङ्करः।। 141
Sage Urvva said:-
An Asura named Rambha once propitiated Mahadeva by performing austerities. Shankara was thus appeased by his penances.

अथ तुष्ठा महादेवः प्रत्यक्षं रम्भमूचिवान्।
प्रीतोऽस्मि ते वरं रम्भ वरयस्व यथेप्सितम्।। 142
A satisfied Mahadeva appeared and said "Oh Rambha! I am appeased with you. Ask for your desired boon."

एवमुक्तः प्रत्युवाच रम्भस्त्वं चन्द्रशेखरम्।
अपुत्रोहहम् महादेव यदि ते मष्युनुग्रहः।। 143
मम जन्मत्रये पुत्रो भवान् भवतु शङ्करः।
अवध्यः सर्वभूतानां जेता च त्रिदिवौकसाम्।। 144
चिरायुश्च यशस्वी च लक्ष्मीवान् स च शङ्कर।
एवमुक्तस्तु दैत्येन प्रत्युवाच वृषध्वजः।। 145
Upon hearing thus, Rambha spoke to Chandrashekhara "Oh Mahadeva! I am childless. Oh Shankara! If you are appeased with me, then incarnate as my son in my three births, and be invulnerable to all living entities, invincible to Tridevas, long-living, renowned and prosperous." Upon listening to the plea of that Daitya, the lord with bull-emblem said thus.

भवत्वेतद्वाञ्छितम् ते भविष्यामि सुतस्तव।
इत्युक्त्वा स महादेवस्तत्रैवास्तरधीयत।
रम्भोहपि यातः स्वस्थानं हर्शोत्फ़ुल्लविलोचनः।। 146
"To fulfill your desired wish, I would incarnate as your son." Saying thus, Mahadeva vanished from there. Rambha too left that place for his residence, with eyes brimming with joy.

पथि गच्छन् स रम्भोहथ ददर्श महिषीं शुभाम्।
त्रिहयायणीञ्चित्रव्रणाम् सुन्दरीमृतुशालिनीम्।। 147
On his way home, Rambha saw a female buffalo in heat, who was three years old, of unique complexion and lovely to behold.

स त्वां दृष्ट्वाथ महिषीं रम्भः कामेन मोहितः।
दोरभां गृहीत्वा च तदा चकार सूरतोत्सवम्।। 148
Seeing that buffalo, Rambha became deluded with lust, and grabbing her with both his hands, he indulged into sexual intercourse.

तयोः प्रवृत्ते सुरते तदा सा तस्य तेजसा।
दधार महिषी गर्भं तदाभून्महिषासुरः।। 149
Upon the conclusion of their sexual dalliance, the buffalo conceived with Rambha's seed, and from her womb, was born Mahishasura.

तस्यां स्वांशेन गिरीशस्तत्पुत्रत्वमव्यप्तवान् ।
ववृद्धे स तदा राम्भिः शुक्लपक्षशशाङ्कवत्।। 150
Due to the contact with a buffalo, Girisha thus incarnated as Rambha's son. Mahishasura thereafter grew day by day like a digit of moon in the bright fortnight.

तञ्च कात्यायनमुनिः शप्तवान्महिषासुरं।
दुर्नयं वीक्ष्य शिष्यार्थे शिष्यानुग्रहकारकः।। 151
Since Mahishasura had tormented the disciple of Katyayana, that Muni who is redeemer of disciples cursed the son of Rambha.*1

कात्यायनेन शप्तं तं विज्ञाय महिषासुरं।
प्राह प्रणामपूर्वन्तु चण्डिकां चन्द्रशेखरः।। 152
Upon seeing Mahishasura cursed by Muni Katyayana, Chandrashekhara after having prostrated before Chandika, spoke to Her thus.

ईश्वर उवाच :-
देवी कात्यायनेनायं शप्तोहद्य महिषासुरः।
योषिद्वि नाशकर्त्रीति भवितेति जगन्मये।। 153
Ishvara said:-
"Oh Devi Jaganmayi! Katyayana Muni has cursed Mahishasura by saying 'A woman would be cause of your death'.

निःसंशयमृषेर्वाक्यं भविष्यति न संशयः।
मदीयो महिषः कायस्त्वया देवी जगन्मयी।
हन्त्वयः सततं योगयुक्तः पूर्व्वे परेहपि च।। 154
There is no doubt that the words of that Muni would turn true. Oh Jaganmayi Devi! Through Yogic union, that continence of buffalo is mine; it was vanquished by you in former times, and same will happen in future as well.

हरिर्हरिस्वरूपेण न त्वां वोच्यक्षमोहधुना।
ममायं माहिषः कायस्तव वोढाम् भविष्यति।। 155
At the present time, Hari in the form of lion is unable to bear you*2; therefore, this buffalo incarnation of mine too shall bear you."

इति पूर्वं महादेवो देवीं प्राथित्वान् पुरा।
तेन देवी महादेवं जग्राह महिषासुरं।। 156
In the former times, Mahadeva had thus prayed to Devi; therefore, Devi gave refuge to Mahadeva's incarnation Mahishasura under Her foot.

त्रिषु जन्मेसु पुत्रोहभूद्रम्भस्य भगवान् हरः।
सृष्टित्रये स रम्भोहपि रम्भ एव व्यजायत।। 157
Bhagavan Hara incarnates as Mahishasura thrice, and so does Rambha. In all his three births, Rambha bears the name "Rambha" like before.

आसुरं तादृशस्तेपे तपः परमदारुणम्।
तथैवारधितः शम्भुः पुत्रार्थे प्रददौ वरं।। 158 
Like before, that Asura Rambha chases a buffalo in his sexual excitement; and like before, Shambhu incarnates from the buffalo's womb as Rambha's son Mahishasura.

तथैव महिषीं भेजे प्रथमं सूरताय सः।
तस्यां तथाभवद्वीरो दानवो महिषासुरः।। 159
तथैव शेपे भगवान् मुनिः कात्यायनस्तु तम्।
इति प्रवृत्ते पूर्व्वेहस्मिन् परस्मिन् स तु जन्मनि।
महिषः पूजयित्वाथ देवीं वरमयाचत।। 160
In first and subsequent births, Danava Mahishasura desires to enchant Katyayana's disciple and then gets cursed by the Muni. In all births, Mahishasura propitiates Devi for attainment of boons. *3

तृतीये जन्मनि वरं प्राप्य कल्पान्शेषतः।
नेह मे जन्म भवितेत्येवं वरमयाचत।। 161
In every Kalpa, Mahishasura asks boon thus "May I never reincarnate in the material realm." and procures his desired wish.

तेन देवी पादतले तिष्ठत्येषोहसुरोहधुना।
नोत्पत्तिरपि तस्याथ संवर्तास्तादभुन्नृप।। 162
Oh king (Sagara)! This is the reason why this Asura Mahisha is under Devi's foot. For the period of many Kalpas, he won't reincarnate.

एवं देवीप्रसादेन महादेवांशसम्भवः।
परामवाप सततं प्रतिपङ्क्तिम् महासुरः।। 163
By Devi's grace, Mahishasura, who incarnated from Mahadeva's portion, has attained eternal and exalted recognition.

इति ते कथितं राजन् यथा स महिषासुरः।
देवीपादतलं प्राप्य यथा सोहद्यापि मोदते।
प्रस्तुतं शृणु भो राजन् कथयामि नृपोत्तम।। 164
Oh king! The way that Mahishasura attained bliss by taking refuge under Devi's foot, I have narrated to you the same. Oh king! Now listen from me the eulogy of the current topic.


*1. According to the 60th chapter of Kalika Purana, Mahishasura once assumed the form of an enchantress and went to sage Katyayana’s monastery. Seeing the enchantress, on of Katyayana’s disciples got sexually excited. Thus, the furious sage cursed Mahishasura to get killed by a woman. An alternative retelling of why Mahishasura was vulnerable to Devi alone.

*2. According to the 58th chapter of Kalika Purana, the Tridevas Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva serve Devi by becoming Her Vahanas. Brahma becomes lotus, Vishnu becomes lion, Shiva becomes corpse and Devi takes turns to sit on each of them. The same has been detailed in "Are Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva Vahanas of Kamakhya Devi?"

*3. According to the 60th chapter of Kalika Purana, Devas witness a visual of sixteen armed Bhadrakali appearing on the northern shore of ocean of milk, impaling Mahishasura with Her trident during the Kritayuga of Svayambhuva Manvantara. The fair complexioned Bhadrakali directs them to go to Katyayana’s monastery and vanishes even as Devas watch.
Upon reaching the monastery situated in Himalayas, Devas meet Tridevas and Katyayana, who narrates to them how Mahishasura tricked his disciple. The eleven Rudras also come and narrate the tales of Mahishasura’s atrocities. At this, from the enraged faces of all deities present their, issues forth rays of light, and from the combined energies of all deities, manifests Devi Durga, armed with weapons in Her ten hands.
Mahishasura has a nightmare, in which he witnesses Devi in Bhadrakali beheading him and drinking his blood. On the following day, he propitiates Devi and Bhadrakali desires to offer him boons. Mahishasura asks for liberation as boon and Devi confers upon him the same. She decrees that Mahishasura would be worshipped by all living entities along with Her. She also shows Her eighteen armed Ugrachanda (Mahalakshmi) form slaying Mahishasura in Savarnik Manvantara, and then vanishes. After that, Mahishasura returns to his place and due to Devi’s Maya, forgets of those events. Later, he battles Devi Durga and gets slain.



Devi Mahishasuramardini standing atop
lion (Vishnu) and Mahishasura (Shiva)
I know that readers would be saying that "Equating Mahishasura with Shiva is a taxing agenda and would hurt the feelings of all Hindus". To those readers, I would like to ask, why "Hindu feelings" aren't hurt when Shiva incarnates as Hanumana from the womb of a monkey (as suggested by Ramacharita Manas)? 
Ramacharita Manas is a regional text from Avadh region of Uttar Pradesh. When "Hindus" can accept Tulasidas's fan-fiction written in Hindi, why on earth do they have problem in accepting a valid Purana composed in Sanskrit?

The reason is that most people assume Mahishasura to be an embodiment of evil, whereas Mahishasura was a devotee, who attained Moksha by getting slain by Devi.
Shiva is Kala, time personified. By time's influence, kingdoms rise and fall; similarly, by time's influence, sometimes Devas reign while Asuras reign other times. By incarnating as Mahishasura, Shiva shows that He is time, the catalyst by whose effect the events happening around us are influenced.

Some also believe that accepting Mahishasura as Shiva’s incarnation would mean that they agree with anti-national elements from JNU, who are pseudo-communists and have made some derogatory comments about Devi in early 2016. But be assured, the cock & bull story circulated by them is based on Aryan Invasion theory, which has been debunked long ago anyways. So leave the pseudo-communists to their archaic frame of mind, and pray to Devi for peace and prosperity of our great nation.

The following is Puja Mantra of Mahishasura from Brihannandikeshvara Purana, which is used while offering ritual worship to Mahishasura during the five-day long Vangadeshiya Durga Puja:


ॐ महिषस्त्वं महा वीरं शिवरूप सदशिवम्।
अतस्त्वां पूजयिष्यामि क्षमस्व महिषासुरः।।
Om. Oh buffalo! You are formidable, form of Shiva, incarnation of Sadashiva. I am offering you ritual worship. Oh Mahishasura, kindly accept it and forgive any offences/anomalies on my part.

May Devi Mahishasuramardini be appeased!
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