28 September 2009

Navaratri 2009

There are many stories about the origin and mythology of Arunachala presented in various scriptural texts, and in particular in the Skanda Purana, from which many other scriptures have been based. To read more about some of these stories click on this link here. To visit a Durga resource page to this link here.

However as we are currently celebrating the 2009 Navaratri am posting below the story of ‘The Fight with Mahishasura,’ as it pertains to Arunachala mythology.

The Fight with Mahishasura

"In this story Brahma relates how the demon Mahishasura was attracted to the beautiful Goddess Parvati and how he was lured to meet his end.

The devas, oppressed by the demon Mahishasura, who had taken the form of a buffalo, came down to earth and took refuge in the Goddess. They piteously told her about their sufferings and how they lived in fear and were compelled to obey all Mahishasura’s commands. They could do nothing, as the demon Mahishasura was invincible having obtained a boon from Siva that no man could kill him.

Hearing their cry of fear, the Goddess assured the devas of her protection and vowed to kill the great asura by strategy. Hearing such words of assurance the devas returned in peace to their abode. After they had left, Parvati manifested herself as the resplendent delusion Mohini (enchantress) and appointed four Bhairavis to keep watch on all four sides of Arunagiri, ordering them to admit only those who came to worship Arunachala and were tired, hungry and thirsty. Then after appointing strong men to guard the boundaries of Arunachala, extending to two yojanas (24 kilometres) the Goddess continued her penance at the ashram.

While Parvati was engaged in penance, there was no type of distress at all. The rains were plentiful, crops grew and the trees bore abundant fruits. Animals antagonistic to one another gave up their previous animosity, and neither external nor internal enemies prevailed. All the sages became content and praised the Goddess, who day and night continued to perform severe penance.

One day the demon Mahishasura, far from his own place, entered the forest of Arunachala whilst hunting animals. The animals then took refuge in the ashram of the Goddess and the asuras, chasing them, were denied entrance as it was a place of penance for Parvati. After entering the ashram, disguised as birds, the asuras seeing the Goddess soon returned to Mahisha praising her enchanting beauty. The demon, stricken with lust, disguised himself as an old man and entered the ashram, where he was told that the maiden of the ashram was doing penance in order to obtain a valiant husband, capable of performing great deeds.

After Mahisha spoke of his glories, the Goddess said she would become the wife only of a valiant man: ‘If you are such a man, display your strength. If you fail, admit that you are weak.’

On hearing these words Mahisha became enraged and sprang towards the Goddess with the object of killing her. At his approach Parvati transformed herself into Durga, the fiery and invincible Goddess. On seeing this, the demon made himself into the size of a mountain and gathered his vast armies from all quarters. But the Goddess was offered weapons and missiles by Brahma, Visnu, Siva, the dikpalakas, devas, mountains and seas. With many hands blazing due to the multitudes of arms, missiles and weapons, Durga, the great Maya, wore a coat of mail and immediately rode on her vehicle, the lion. Unable to bear her effulgence and seeing her terrible form, the demon Mahisha fled.

Knowing that the wicked Mahishasura could only be killed by subterfuge, the Goddess sends a monkey-faced muni named Suraguru to the demon. The demon becomes enraged on hearing the muni’s message from Parvati of abandoning adharma and following the path of righteousness. Thereafter the demon, gathered his armed forces and surrounded Arunagiri. The ensuing battle ended when the Goddess pierced the demon with her trident and cut off his head."

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Ramana Ashram is currently engaged in very beautiful daily functions and observations of the 2009 Navaratri Celebrations. Above is a photograph of The Goddess Durga battling Mahishasura as portrayed in one of their functions. To view more of the celebrations at this year’s Ramana Ashram Navaratri click on this link here.

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