Who is the killer of Mahishasura? Is it Durga or Lakshmi? My confusion arises after finding out that Lakshmi killed Mahishsura in the Devi Mahatmaya.

Goddess Mahalakshmi is the presiding Goddess of the middle episode. Here she is depicted as Devi in her universal form as Shakti. The world was under attack by Mahishasura the most evil demon in the world, who took many different forms, including that of a buffalo. The male Gods, fearing total annihilation endowed Durga with their powers. The Goddess is described as eighteen- armed bearing string of beads, battle axe, maze, arrow, thunderbolt, lotus, bow, water-pot, cudgel, lance, sword, shield, conch, bell, wine-cup, trident, noose and the discus sudarsana. She has a complexion of coral and is seated on a lotus. She is known as Ashta Dasa Bhuja Mahalakshmi. Riding a lion into battle, she slew the buffalo by cutting off its head and then she destroyed the spirit of the demon as it emerged from the buffalo’s severed neck. It is through this act that order was established in the world”.

link: https://hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/8940/who-is-vaishno-devi-is-it-goddess-laxmi-or-goddess-durga

I also found out about this.

MahaSaraswati is the first incarnation of Goddess Adi Para Shakti. She represents the Sattva Guna and is the shakti(consort) of Lord Brahma. She is the goddess of wisdom, creation, and learning. She is the source of all of the arts. It is she who slew Sumbha and Nisumbha, who are symbols of ignorance. She was created from the body of Mother Parvati and is the embodiment of her hard work, spirituality and devotion. She is also known as Ambika Devi as per Durga Saptashati. She wears yellow clothes when she takes form. When she is without form, she becomes the Primordial Sound.

link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adi_Parashakti#Adi-Parashakti_forms

What is this? In Devi Mahatmaya, Lakshmi is Durga (killer of Mahisasur) and Saraswati is Ambika(killer of Shumb and Nishumbh). Kali, or Parvati is merely helps Vishnu kill Madhu and Kathiba (she doesn't actually participate in the slaying). Normally however, Parvati is Durga (killer of Mahisasur) and Saraswati is Ambika (killer of Shumb and Nishumbh) while the other two hardly kill anybody.

Please clear my doubts.


Firstly,I used the Wiki link in the question because I could not find any other texts that describe Lakshmi killing Mahishasura(apart from the text in the Devi Mahatmaya).However,I have found another Shakta text,the Devi Bhagvata Purana,which sates that it is Lakshmi,and not Durga,who killed Mahishasura:

33-46. Vyâsa said :– On Visnu, the Lord of the Devas, saying thus, came out spontaneously, at once, of the face of Brahmâ, the brilliant fiery energy, very difficult to conceive. That energy looked red like gems and pearls, hot, at the same time, a little cool, having a beautiful form, and encircled by a halo of light. O King! The high-souled Hari and Hara, of mighty valor, were astonished to see this Fire, emitted from Brahmâ. Next came out of the body of S’ankara, His fiery spirit, quite in abundance and very wonderful to behold; it was silvery white, terrible, unbearable, and incapable of being seen even with difficulty. It extended like a mountain and looked horrible as if the incarnation of the Tamo Guna like another Tamo Guna (S’iva is the incarnation of Tamo Guna that destroys everything). It was very surprising to the Devas and very fearful to the Daityas. Next a dazzling light of blue colour emanated from the body of Visnu. The light that came out of the body of Indra was hardly bearable, of a beautiful variegated colour, and comprised in itself the three qualities. Thus masses of lights came out respectively from Kuvera, Yama, Fire and Varuna. The other Devas, too, gave their shares of fiery lights, very lustrous and splendid. Then these all united into a great Mass of Fire and Light. Like another Himalayan mountain shone full their lustrous Divine light; Visnu and the other Devas were all extremely surprised to see this. While the Devas were thus looking steadfastly on that Fire, an exquisitely handsome Lady was born out of it, causing excitement and wonder to all. This Lady was Mahâ Laksmî; composed of the three qualities of the three colours, beautiful, and fascinating to the universe. Her face was white, eyes were black, her lips were red and the palms of her hands were copper-red. She was adorned with divine ornaments. The Goddess was now manifest with eighteen hands, though She had a thousand hands (in Her unmanifested state). Now She became manifest out of the mass of fire, for the destruction of the Asuras.

47-52. Janamejaya said :– O Best of the Munis! O Krisna! You are highly fortunate and you are all-knowing. Kindly describe, in detail the birth of Her body. O Deva! Please say whether the energies of all the gods united into one or remained separate? Whether Her body and Her limbs were all luminous. Was it that Her face, nose, eyes, etc., and all other parts of Her body were created out of the different fires respectively or whether was it that those limbs were fashioned when the different fires blended into one huge mass? Describe, in detail, the origin of the body and the several limbs thereof; also inform me the limbs that were produced out of the corresponding Deva’s fiery part; as well tell me the several ornaments and several weapons given by the several Devas respectively. I am very desirous to hear all these from your lotus-like mouth. O Brahmân! Hearing from your lotus-like mouth the life and doings of Mahâ Laksmî, the sweet juice as they are, I am as yet not satiated (and am desirous to hear more).

Secondly,I changed the question from "Who is Mahishasura Mardini?" to "Is Mahishasura Mardini Lakshmi or Durga?" to avoid confusion as to waht I am asking for.

  • 1
    From your wiki link :"Lalita Tripura Sundari and her incarnations Parvati is the original manifested form of Mother Adi-Para Shakti. She is Adi-Shakti who is Energy of ultimate GOD .[14]The Devi Gita declares her to be the greatest Goddess.She is seated on a chair constituted by Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Maheswara and Sadashiva.Lakshmi and Saraswati is always fanning her."The first & the last lines in the quote above should settle all your doubts. – Rickross Feb 18 '16 at 6:21
  • okay so you are saying that durag is mahishasuramardini.Well,waht about the story on saraswati? – user4627 Feb 18 '16 at 9:21
  • Well,It is stated in the wiki link that 1)Lalita Tripura Sundari and her incarnations Parvati is the original manifested form of Mother Adi-Para Shakti. She is Adi-Shakti who is Energy of ultimate GOD . 2) She is every other goddess. She is Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati in her mild form;3)MahaSaraswati is the first incarnation of Goddess Adi Para Shakti......She was created from the body of Mother Parvati 4)Mahalakshmi is the second incarnation of Goddess Adi Para Shakti.So ,everything is quite clear i guess. – Rickross Feb 18 '16 at 18:01
  • Durga, Laxmi, Saraswati are basically the incarnations of Shakti. And we worship Mahishasur Mardini to Goddess Durga – Eesha Mar 2 '16 at 13:40
  • She is mahalaksmi (not the same as lakshmi , the consort of vishnu). mahalakshmi is a form of durga. – user1195 Sep 21 '17 at 4:43

Godesses Ambika who is also known by the name Godesses Durga is the Mahisasura Mardini (slayer of Mahisasura). Precisely speaking it is Chandika form of Godesses Ambika who slays Mahisasura:

Chaptet 81 to Chapter 93 of Markandeya Purana is called Devi Mahatmyam and it sings the Glory of Devi.

First of all Mahisasura defeats all gods and take their position as described in chapter 82:

देवासुरमभूद्युद्धं पूर्णमब्दशतं पुरा।
महिषेऽसुराणामधिपे देवानां च पुरन्दरे॥२॥
तत्रासुरैर्महावीर्यैर्देवसैन्यं पराजितम्।
जित्वा च सकलान् देवानिन्द्रोऽभून्महिषासुरः॥३॥

In former times war was waged between the deities and demons for the full space of one hundred years; also between Mahisha-sura, the greatest of demons, and Purandara (Indra). The Asura of ample heroism repulsed the army of the Devas; Mahishasura vanquished all the gods and became as Indra.

Then in the same chapter Gods go to Brahma and pray him to give him relief from Mahisasura. Then from the combined energy of Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and etc... all Gods Godesses Ambika/ Durga manifest as:

इत्थं निशम्य देवानां वचांसि मधुसूदनः।
चकार कोपं शम्भुश्च भ्रुकुटीकुटिलाननौ॥९॥
ततोऽतिकोपपूर्णस्य चक्रिणो वदनात्ततः।
निश्‍चक्राम महत्तेजो ब्रह्मणः शंकरस्य च॥१०॥
अन्येषां चैव देवानां शक्रादीनां शरीरतः।
निर्गतं सुमहत्तेजस्तच्चैक्यं समगच्छत॥११॥
अतीव तेजसः कूटं ज्वलन्तमिव पर्वतम्।
ददृशुस्ते सुरास्तत्र ज्वालाव्याप्तदिगन्तरम्॥१२॥
अतुलं तत्र तत्तेजः सर्वदेवशरीरजम्।
एकस्थं तदभून्नारी व्याप्तलोकत्रयं त्विषा॥१३॥

Madhusudana hearkened to the words of the deities; Sambhu was wroth contracting his brows with furious ire. Afterwards, Chakrini's face was transported with rage, abundance of light issued from Bramha and Sankara. An immense mass of light proceeded from the bodies of Sakra and all the other Devas, and conglomerated. This effulgent lustre appeared as a flaming mountain: the Suras having seen the flame receded to the extremities of regions. The peerless light issued from the bodies of all the Devas and the phenomenon was transfigured as a woman extending through the three worlds.

Then all Gods give their respective weapons, Himavat gives Lion and so on.. Then Godesses Ambika marches to slay Mahisasura. Then the slaying of Mahisasura is described in chapter 83:

एवं संक्षीयमाणे तु स्वसैन्ये महिषासुरः।
माहिषेण स्वरूपेण त्रासयामास तान् गणान्॥२१॥
कांश्‍चित्तुण्डप्रहारेण खुरक्षेपैस्तथापरान्।
लाङ्‌गूलताडितांश्‍चान्याञ्छृङ्‌गाभ्यां च विदारितान्॥२२॥
वेगेन कांश्‍चिदपरान्नादेन भ्रमणेन च।
निःश्वासपवनेनान्यान् पातयामास भूतले॥२३॥
निपात्य प्रमथानीकमभ्यधावत सोऽसुरः।
सिंहं हन्तुं महादेव्याः कोपं चक्रे ततोऽम्बिका॥२४॥
सोऽपि कोपान्महावीर्यः खुरक्षुण्णमहीतलः।
श्रृङ्‌गाभ्यां पर्वतानुच्चांश्चिक्षेप च ननाद च॥२५॥
वेगभ्रमणविक्षुण्णा मही तस्य व्यशीर्यत।
लाङ्‌गूलेनाहतश्‍चाब्धिः प्लावयामास सर्वतः॥२६॥
धुतश्रृङ्‌गविभिन्नाश्‍च खण्डं* खण्डं ययुर्घनाः।
श्‍वासानिलास्ताः शतशो निपेतुर्नभसोऽचलाः॥२७॥
इति क्रोधसमाध्मातमापतन्तं महासुरम्।
दृष्ट्‌वा सा चण्डिका कोपं तद्वधाय तदाकरोत्॥२८॥
सा क्षिप्त्वा तस्य वै पाशं तं बबन्ध महासुरम्।
तत्याज माहिषं रूपं सोऽपि बद्धो महामृधे॥२९॥
ततः सिंहोऽभवत्सद्यो यावत्तस्याम्बिका शिरः।
छिनत्ति तावत्पुरुषः खड्‌गपाणिरदृश्यत॥३०॥
तत एवाशु पुरुषं देवी चिच्छेद सायकैः।
तं खड्‌गचर्मणा सार्धं ततः सोऽभून्महागजः॥३१॥
करेण च महासिंहं तं चकर्ष जगर्ज च।
कर्षतस्तु करं देवी खड्‌गेन निरकृन्तत॥३२॥
ततो महासुरो भूयो माहिषं वपुरास्थितः।
तथैव क्षोभयामास त्रैलोक्यं सचराचरम्॥३३॥
ततः क्रुद्धा जगन्माता चण्डिका पानमुत्तमम्।
पपौ पुनः पुनश्‍चैव जहासारुणलोचना॥३४॥
ननर्द चासुरः सोऽपि बलवीर्यमदोद्‌धतः।
विषाणाभ्यां च चिक्षेप चण्डिकां प्रति भूधरान्॥३५॥
सा च तान् प्रहितांस्तेन चूर्णयन्ती शरोत्करैः।
उवाच तं मदोद्‌धूतमुखरागाकुलाक्षरम्॥३६॥

While she was thus destroying his army, Mahishasura impeded those Ganas in the form of Mahisha. Some by biting with his mouth, and others by kicking with his hoofs, some by the lashes of his tail and by the goring of his horns. Some of them by the loudness of his bellow, by his burning breath he made them to fall to the ground. The Asura having caused Pramadas to fall, angrily ran to kill the lion of the goddess. The great hero enraged, tore up the earth with his hoofs and cast down the highest hills. He speedily turned about, cracked the earth, lashed the ocean with his tail, and made it to overflow everywhere. The clouds were dispersed by his long horns, the mountains and sky were blown into hundred pieces by his breath and sighs. The great Asura wrathfully bellowed! Chandika looked, highly enraged and endeavoured to lay hold on him. She threw out a Pasa to bind him, he was tied, and relinquished his buffaloe's form in this great combat. He instantly turned into a lion, within the time that Ambika cut of this head; he then converted himself into a man, held a sword and disappeared. Afterwards the goddess pierced him with her arrows, he with his sword and shield turned into a mighty elephant. The elephant pulled the lion with his trunk, and made a terrific noise, the goddess cut his proboscis with her sword. Afterwards the great Asura assumed the form of a buffaloe, and terrified the three Lokas of animates and inanimates. The passionate Chandika, matron of the world, frequently drank excellent liquor, bearing wrathful redness in her eyes. The Asura being highly endowed with bravery and lust, furiously hurled mountains with his horns on Chandika. She pulverized them with her strong arrows, and with increased intoxication and angry looking face.

गर्ज गर्ज क्षणं मूढ मधु यावत्पिबाम्यहम्।
मया त्वयि हतेऽत्रैव गर्जिष्यन्त्याशु देवताः॥३८

Devi cried "Oh! vain noise! noise! wait a moment until I perfectly drink this madhu; when you are slain by me here, all the gods will exclaim."

एवमुक्त्वा समुत्पत्य साऽऽरूढा तं महासुरम्।
पादेनाक्रम्य कण्ठे च शूलेनैनमताडयत्॥४०॥
ततः सोऽपि पदाऽऽक्रान्तस्तया निजमुखात्ततः।
अर्धनिष्क्रान्त एवासीद् देव्या वीर्येण संवृतः॥४१॥
अर्धनिष्क्रान्त एवासौ युध्यमानो महासुरः।
तया महासिना देव्या शिरश्छित्त्वा निपातितः॥४२॥
ततो हाहाकृतं सर्वं दैत्यसैन्यं ननाश तत्।
प्रहर्षं च परं जग्मुः सकला देवतागणाः॥४३॥
तुष्टुवुस्तां सुरा देवीं सह दिव्यैर्महर्षिभिः।
जगुर्गन्धर्वपतयो ननृतुश्‍चाप्सरोगणाः॥

The Rishi said, she laid hold on the great Asura, (who advanced towards her conveyance), with her feet, she struck him with her Sula. When he was caught hold on by her feet, his half real form from his face became manifest; the goddess was surrounded by a blaze of glory. The great Asura being half issued and fighting with her, the goddess cut off his head with her ample sword. Afterwards every one exclaimed, that the army of the Daitya was annihilated; then a multitude of deities were highly delighted. The band of deities, with the magnificient sages applauded the goddess, the kings of Gandharvas sung, Apsaras danced.

Thus from above description, it is clear it is Godesses Chandika (a form of Ambika), who slayed Mahisasura. Then, Gods pray with Godesses Ambika in chapter 84, after she slays Mahisasura. There is a beautiful long prayer. The prayer goes as:

देव्या यया ततमिदं जगदात्मशक्त्या
भक्त्या नताः स्म विदधातु शुभानि सा नः॥३॥
 O Goddess! by thy power this world was created with spirits and gods of different and numerous forms. O Ambika! thou art revered by all the deities; the magnificent sages faithfully prostrate themselves to thee: mayest thou give us prosperity.

As a Side note, from the chapter 85, story of Sumbha and Nisumbha begins, and at that time there is no need for Gods, to manifest Ambika from their powers. At this time Ambika directly come from body of Parvati and goes to slay Sumbha, Nisumbha and other Daityas:

एवं स्तवादियुक्तानां देवानां तत्र पार्वती।
स्नातुमभ्याययौ तोये जाह्नव्या नृपनन्दन॥८४॥
साब्रवीत्तान् सुरान् सुभ्रूर्भवद्भिः स्तूयतेऽत्र का।
शरीरकोशतश्‍चास्याः समुद्भूताब्रवीच्छिवा॥८५॥
स्तोत्रं ममैतत् क्रियते शुम्भदैत्यनिराकृतैः।
देवैः समेतैः समरे निशुम्भेन पराजितैः॥८६॥
शरीर कोशाद्यत्तस्याः पार्वत्या निःसृताम्बिका।
कौशिकीति समस्तेषु ततो लोकेषु गीयते॥

The Rishi said, when the deities applauded Parvati, O prince! she went to perform ablution in the water of Janhavi. She asked them, "Whom did you greet there." The resplendent Shiva emanated from her body, and spoke thus to her. "They recited my praises, because they were expelled by the giant Sumbha, all the deities retreated before Nisumbha in the war." From the body of Parvati, Ambika issued, and was denominated Kouciki throughout the universe. When she had emanated from Parvati, (who turned black), she was called Kouciki and resorted about Himachala.

What I speculate is at the time of Mahisasura slaying event, Parvati was not born yet (she was born only after Chakshusha Manvanatara, ) while Sati already died in Pitri Kalpa and there was no physical form of Shakti whom Devas could evoke to kill Mahisasura. So, it was necessary that all use their Shakti and manifest from there (as Shakti is pervaded in power of all), and thus Ambika/Durga issued from there at that time. While in case of Sumbha and Nisumbha, Parvati was already there and Devas simply go and pray to Parvati and then Godesses Ambika manifested from Parvati.

Edit Update:

As mentioned in question Devi Bhagvatam quotes:

This Lady was Mahâ Laksmî; composed of the three qualities of the three colours, beautiful, and fascinating to the universe.

MahaLakshmi mentioned here is not consort of Lord Vishnu. I explain it in my answer here. Quoting from that answer:

ततोऽम्बिकां परां शक्तिं महालक्ष्मीस्वरुपिणीम् । तुष्टुवुस्ते सुराः सर्वे भक्तिगद्गदया गिरा ।।

The Gods then prayed to the Supreme Godesses Ambika in the form of MahaLakshmi with choked voice in devotion. .
एवं ते कथितो राजन्महालक्ष्म्याः समुद्भवः । सरस्वत्यास्त्तथोत्त्पत्तिं श्रृणु सुस्थेन चेतसा ।।

O King in this way the origin of MahaLakshmi has been spoken to you. Now with a cool mind listen to origin of (Maha)Saraswati.

So, MahaLakshmi described here is just form of Godesses Ambika and not consort of Lord Vishnu.

| improve this answer | |

Here is two difference Sources May it will be helpful to know who killed Mahishasura both sources refer to Mahadevi Shakti so first we should know Who is Maha Devi Shakti?

The Shakta tradition glorifies Devi, the consort of Shiva, as the World Mother who, as Shakti, is the energy giving power behind all creation. Shakti is shown in many forms. As Uma or Parvati, she is the gentle consort of Shiva. As Kamakshi or Rajarajeshwari she is the Great Mother. In the form of Durga she rides a tiger, the ego and arrogance that man must subdue. In her angry form she is Kali.The earliest term applied to the divine feminine, which still retains its popular usage, is Shakti.The word Shakti is used in a variety of ways ranging from its use as a way to illustrate the ultimate primordial creative power, to expressing the capacity or power of words to convey meaning. The word 'Shakti' is derived from the root 'shak,' meaning potency or the potential to produce, an assertion of Her inherent creative aptitude. All interpretations of the word 'Shakti' hold common one parameter, Power. Specifically, Shakti means Power, Force and Feminine Energy. She represents the fundamental creative instinct underlying the cosmos, and is the energizing force of all divinity, of every being and every thing. Devotees believe the whole universe to be a manifestation of Shakti, who is also known by her general name Devi, from the Sanskrit root 'div' which means to shine.

According to Markandeya Purana The Form of Maha Devi so materialised created a luminous face with combined Shaktis in a formidal feminine form: while Yama’s powers created her hair, Vishnu’s power provided both her arms, Chandra’s radiance gave sparkling jewels, Indra contributed the belly, Varuna’s powers created thighs, Prithvi the rear, Brahma contribruted the feet, Surya provided the fingers of the feet; Vasuganas contributed hand fingers; Kubera’s ‘Tejas’ created the nose, Prajapati’s energy provided the teeth, Pavaka created all her three eyes, both the ‘Sandhyas’ gave away ‘bhrukutis’ (mid-portion of eye brows) and Vayu supplied the Devi’s ears. Maha Deva then contributed his Shula from his own, Narayana gave away a Chakra born out of his Chakra, Varuna gave a Shankha, Hutashana / Agni his Shakti, Vayu the Dhanus with powerful arrows, Indra gave his Vajra and a bell from Iravata, Yama gave his ‘Kaladanda’, Varuna a ‘Pasha’, Daksha Prajapati his Akshaya Maala (Rosary), Brahma his Kamanadalu (water vessel), Surya supplied his rays into Maha Devi’s skin pores; Kaal gave away his ‘Khadga’ (sword); Samudra Deva contributed pure pearls, shining clothes, valuable chudamani, precious ear-rings, and bangles; Moon gave away ‘Bhuja Kirtis’ (Shouder-Ornaments), neck laces, and finger rings; Vishwakarma donated ‘Astras’, ‘Kavacha’ (Body Secure); Himalaya provided the carrier Simha (Lion); and like wise all the various Devas gifted various items of their valuable possessions.

Now, Mahishasura led a fresh reserve of army, assuming his original form of a Mahisha or a buffalo, made several offensive gestures by way of forcefully pulling up his powerful horns high, by taking speedy circlings, by throwing up his mighty tail and by thumping his hooves making sounds like earth-quakes. The Asura jumped forward towards the Lion who created havoc and killed many of his warriors, whereby Maha Devi became livid with rage but Mahisha too got enraged and dug deep into the Earth and threw mountains by braying with frightful reverberation. The Asura’s breathing was so heavy that mountains shivered and sand storms got into motion with high velocity. Chandi Devi desired to kill Mahishasura in one go, but Maha Devi restrained Chandi and threw a powerful rope around the buffallo neck; She then assumed the form of a roaring lion, then as a huge elephant, and like a mammoth ‘Veera Purusha’. Meanwhile Chandika Devi consumed a huge cup of wine, got drunk with a resounding laugh with blood red eyes and said like a drunkard; ‘Oh miserable Stupid! Keep on with your roar as long as my wine is swallowed; your last moments have now started ticking and you should soon leave this World as your ignominous life would get terminated.’ By so saying, Chandi jumped up and strangled Mahishasura’s mighty neck and sliced it open; soon Rishi ganas performed ‘Veda Parayana’, Gandharvas sang sonorous hymns of praise for Devi Chandi who was but a shadow of Maha Devi, Apsaras danced to their glory and Devas headed by Indra went into deep raptures in great jubilation with unreserved gratitude to Parama Maha Devi.

According to Devibhagwatpurana

The entire Universe and the Pancha Bhutas ( The Five Elements) were dislocated from their axis as the duel was in progress. The Danava tied up his tail to mountains and whirled them against Maha Devi, who was enjoying cups of Grape juice meanwhile. The Demon kept on transforming his body forms in such quick succession that one could hardly realise what was happening and each time there was a change, he was striking from various angles with different kinds of arms like arrows, swords, Trisulas (Tridents), clubs, and maces. Charged then with red eyes looking like torrential balls of fire, Devi Bhagavati finally lost Her cool and commanded Her Chakra ( discus) which broke Mahisha’s body split into two, each part jumping one over another and the Greatest menace on Earth had thus been terminated; there were hysteric shriekings and reverberations of earsplitting sounds of high volume drummings spread across the entire Universe to the utmost relief and ecstasy of all Devas, Gandharvas, Kinnaras, Kimpurushas, Apsaras and world wide congregations of Sages all rejoicing with celebrations.

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