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MAHIṢA - महिष

See also महिष
An Asura. 1). Birth. Long ago there was a famous Asura King named Danu. Two sons named Rambha and Karambha were born to him. Having no issue, they decided to worship Mālavaṭa yakṣa, praying to be blessed with children. They started tapas, Karambha, in the middle of water and Rambha in the middle of Pañcāgni. Indra was alarmed at their tapas. He took the form of a crocodile and went into the water in which Karambha was standing and caught hold of his feet, pulling him down. Karambha was drowned. The mighty Rambha who was enraged at the death of his brother, decided to cut off his own head and offer it as sacrifice in the fire. He drew his sword and was about to cut off his head, when Agni, the god of fire, appeared before him and stopped him saying:--“Do not kill yourself. Killing another person itself is a sin. Suicide is a more serious sin. Ask for any boon you wish to have; I shall grant it. Do not put an end to your life.” Then Rambha replied:-- “If you are prepared to grant me a boon, let me have a son who is more brilliant than yourself and who will be the conqueror of all the three worlds. He should not be defeated by Devas or Asuras, and he should be as mighty as the wind, handsome and an expert archer.” Agni replied:- “You will have such a son by the woman who wins your heart”. When god Agni had left after saying this, Rambha went to visit Mālayakṣa, who was attended to by Yakṣas. There, they had a treasure known as Padma and numerous animals like elephants, horses, buffaloes, cows and sheep. Among them was a three-year-old shebuffalo of exceptional charm and Rambha fell in love with her. She was also irresistibly attracted by him. As fate would have it, a sexual union took place between them. The she-buffalo became pregnant and Rambha took her with him to his own house in Pātāla. There, the other Dānavas, his kinsmen who came to know of his connection with the she-buffalo, expelled him from their midst as one who had committed a forbidden act. So he returned to Mālavaṭayakṣa. The pretty shebuffalo accompanied her husband to the holy Yakṣamaṇḍala. While they were living there, she gave birth to an attractive buffalo-calf. After that a he-buffalo came across her. But she remained loyal to her Dānava husband who drew his sword and rushed towards the he-buffalo. The terrible beast with his mighty horns attacked Rambha who fell dead on the ground. The widowed Mahiṣī (she-buffalo) sought the protection of the Yakṣas. They saved her from the Mahiṣa (He-buffalo). The disappointed and love-stricken Mahiṣa drowned himself in a holy lake and was reborn as a mighty and heroic Asura named Namara. The Mahiṣī spent some time under the protection of the Yakṣas. When they cremated Rambha's body, she jumped into the funeral pyre and burnt herself to death. At once from the middle of the fire there arose a monstrous being. That terrible monster, armed with a sword drove away the Yakṣas and killed all the Mahiṣas. Mahiṣa who was the son of Rambha alone was spared. He was the Asura named Raktabīja. He defeated all gods like Indra, Rudra, Sūrya, Vāyu and others. Mahiṣāsura became the King of the Asuras. The alarmed Devas (gods) abandoned their posts of honour. All the worlds were plunged in darkness. [Vāmana Purāṇa, Chapter 17].
2) Mahiṣāsura's Reign.
Mahiṣāsura who was intoxicated with pride on account of the boon he had received, became the undisputed and sole emperor of the three worlds. He formed a strong council of Ministers. Cikṣura who was puffed with pride and an expert in military Science, was installed as War- Minister and Tāmra, the gifted economist as Finance Minister. The Prime Minister was Asilomā. Biḍāla was Foreign Minister. Udarka became Military Commander. Bāṣkala, Trinetra and Kālabandhaka were assigned the posts of Members of the Executive Council. Śukrācārya was the Education Minister. Mahiṣa strengthened his army. The State Treasury overflowed with wealth. Kings of the neighbouring states paid tribute and bowed their heads to him. The Brāhmaṇas offered the share of yajña to Mahiṣāsura and prostrated before him. [Devī Bhāgavata, 5th Skandha].
3) Outbreak of War.
After strengthening his position as Emperor of the world, Mahiṣa contemplated the conquest of Heaven. He sent a messenger to Indra. The messenger ordered Indra to surrender to Mahiṣāsura. Indra answered with utter contempt to the messenger and his master Mahiṣa. The messenger returned and reported the matter to Mahiṣāsura who began to tremble with anger. Although Indra sent away the messenger with scorn, he had no peace of mind. He called together the Devas and discussed what was to be done. They decided to declare war on Mahiṣāsura. Brahmā and Indra, accompanied by the other Devas set out to Kailāsa. From there, taking Paramaśiva with them, they proceeded to Vaikuṇṭha. On arrival there, they offered prayers to Mahāviṣṇu who appeared before them. They submitted to him their grievances and sufferings under the rule of Mahiṣāsura. After deep deliberations, Mahāviṣṇu supported the proposal for war. Thus the war between Devas and Asuras started.
4) Devāsura Yuddha.
It was a dreadful war. Mahiṣa himself appeared on the scene of battle. He struck at Indra with his mighty club. Before he received the blow, Indra broke the club with his Thunderbolt. The Asura named Andhaka encountered Mahāviṣṇu. The five arrows of that Asura were broken to pieces by Mahāviṣṇu in the sky itself. Then they started a terrible fight with various weapons such as sword, spear, axe, arrow, discus etc. It lasted for about 50 days without a break. Bāṣkala fought against Indra, Mahiṣa against Rudra, Trinetra against Yamadharma, Mahāhanu against Śrīda, and Asilomā against Pracetas. In the course of the battle, Andhaka, struck a blow at Garuḍa with his cudgel. Garuḍa, the vehicle of Viṣṇu was stunned by the blow, but Viṣṇu restored his energy by stroking him gently with his right hand. After that he took up his bow Śārṅga and tried to kill Andhaka with a shower of arrows. But the Daitya warrior countered all of them with 50 arrows which he shot at Viṣṇu. Viṣṇu smashed all of them and sent his destructive weapon “Sudarśana Cakra” against Andhaka. Without the slightest fear, Andhaka stopped it with his own Cakra weapon and kept Viṣṇu's weapon at bay and shouted in triumph. Finding that Viṣṇu's weapon had failed and hearing the scornful shout of Andhaka, the Devas were filled with panic. At this critical moment, Viṣṇu took up his club “Kaumodakī” and rushed into the midst of the Asuras and struck Andhaka with it. Under the blow, the Asura hero reeled and fell down unconscious. At his fall, Mahiṣa himself rushed forward to Viṣṇu with a terrible roar. Then there ensued a bitter fight between Viṣṇu and Mahiṣa. Each began a shower of arrows on the other. But not a single arrow injured either. In the thick of the battle Viṣṇu struck a blow on Mahiṣa's head and he dropped down unconscious. But ere long the Dānava rose up and taking up his iron pestle aimed a mighty blow at Viṣṇu's head and brought it down with deadly effect Under the blow, even Viṣṇu fell unconscious on Garuḍa's back. Viṣṇu's condition made Garuḍa withdraw from the scene of battle temporarily, with Viṣṇu on his back. Indra and the other gods began to cry aloud. Śiva, who saw this desperate plight of the Devas, at once came to the battlefield, carrying his trident, ready to fight against Mahiṣa. When he tried to pierce the Asura's chest with his trident, the latter thwarted the blow with his own lance and aimed it at Śiva's breast. Although it actually hit him, Śiva disregarded it and gave another thrust to Mahiṣa with his trident. By this time Mahāviṣṇu had recovered from his swoon. At once he returned to the field of battle and joined Śiva in his attack on Mahiṣa. When Mahiṣa saw that both Śiva and Viṣṇu were launching a combined attack against him, in his wild fury he assumed his own buffalo form and lifting up his tail and shaking his head rushed towards his mighty adversaries. With his terrible horns he lifted up mountain peaks and hurled them at the enemy. But the Deva leaders stopped them with their shower of arrows. Viṣṇu sent his Cakra against him and it made the Asura chief drop down senseless. But he soon recovered and rushed forward to renew his attack with a terrible roar. Viṣṇu then sounded his divine conch “Pāñcajanya” and drowned the sound of his roar. Just as the roaring of the asura frightened the Devas, the sound of Pāñcajanya struck terror in the minds of the Asuras.
5) Mahiṣa's Death.
The Asuras were terrified at the sound of Pāñcajanya. In order to encourage them, Mahiṣa assumed the form of a lion and rushed into the midst of the army of Devas roaring. Even the Trimūrtis were alarmed for a short while when they saw the fierce beast advancing through their battlearray killing and mauling hundreds of the Devas on either side. Mahāviṣṇu at once sent his weapon Cakra against the lion. The lion was reduced to ashes by it, but Mahiṣa rose up again in the form of a buffalo and rushed forward. He gave a severe cut on Mahāviṣṇu's chest with his long and powerful horn. Mahāviṣṇu started fleeing to Vaikuṇṭha. At the sight of this, Śiva concluded that Mahiṣa was proof against killing and so he also fled to Kailāsa riding on his bull. When Viṣṇu and Śiva took to their heels, Brahmā also flew to Satyaloka, riding on this swan. Although the leaders left the field, the rest of the Devas under the leadership of Indra, encountered Mahiṣa again. Indra drew his Vajra. The Aṣṭadikpālakas assisted him. The battle raged fiercely again. The Devas began to flee for life. Taking this opportunity, Mahiṣāsura forced his way into Heaven. He planted his Daitya flag highly. He drove out all the remaining Devas. In this way the Asuras took possession of Devaloka. The Devas took shelter on the tops of mountains. Several centuries passed. The Devas assembled and prayed to Brahmā. He took them again to Vaikuṇṭha. Śiva also arrived there. The Devas submitted their grievances to Viṣṇu. They prayed to him to devise some method by which Mahiṣa could be killed. Brahmā had given him a boon that no Man was capable of killing him. Mahāviṣṇu said to them:--“By Virtue of the boon, Mahiṣa could be killed only by a woman. If we can create a woman who is part of the Devas with their power and glory, we could kill him with her help. So let us try to create such a mighty woman, concentrating all our powers on her. After her creation, we must give her all our weapons.” As soon as Mahāviṣṇu spoke these words, a figure with dazzling effulgence issued forth from Brahmā's face. Both Viṣṇu and Śiva were amazed at the sight of this figure radiating beams of light which were partly cool and partly warm. Similar figures, embodying the peculiar powers and qualities of Viṣṇu, Śiva, Indra, Kubera, Varuṇa and all other gods, emanated from them. In a moment all these figures merged into a single figure and transformed themselves into a single woman with celestial beauty and having eighteen arms. This woman of exquisite beauty combining all the powers and glories of all the Devas was Devī herself. The devas supplied her with jewels and ornaments and gorgeous clothes. Decked in all glory and with fascinating beauty, riding on a lion. she took her stand at the entrance of Devaloka and challenged Mahiṣa. At the very first sight of Devī, Mahiṣa fell in love with her. She declared she would become the wife of the person who could defeat her in battle. So Mahiṣa made up his mind to defeat her in a fight. It was a terrible battle. All the Ministers of Mahiṣa, like Bāṣkala, Durmukha, Tāmra, Cikṣura, Asilomā and Biḍāla were slain. At last Mahiṣa himself appeared on the scene to fight with Devī. Mahiṣa started with a shower of arrows and Devī countered them all with her own arrows. In the end she attacked him with Viṣṇu Cakra. The Cakra cut off his throat and he dropped down dead. The devas raised a thunderous shout of joy and triumph. [Devī Bhāgavata, 5th Skandha].

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  • क्रि.वि. जवळ ; सन्निध ; शेजारीं . चित्त जो उपसमीपचि वासी । राघवीं करील तो उपवासी । [ सं . उप + समीप ] 

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