Durga is a popular fierce form of the Hindu Goddess Parvati. She is depicted with multiple (variously, up to eighteen) arms, carrying various weapons and riding a ferocious lion or tiger. She is often pictured as battling or slaying demons, particularly Mahishasura, the buffalo demon.
According to a narrative in the Devi Mahatmya story of the Markandeya Purana text, Durga was created as a warrior Goddess to fight an asura (an inhuman force/demon) named Mahishasura. Brahma had given Mahishasura the power not to be defeated by a male. Mahishasura had unleashed a reign of terror on earth, heaven and the nether worlds, and he could not be defeated by any man or God, anywhere. The Gods were helpless. Shiva, realizing that no man or God (male) can defeat Mahishasura, made a request to his wife Parvati to take the role of a female Goddess warrior in order to slay the demon. Parvati took his request and went to the Ashram of priest disciple named Katyayan to assume the role of a warrior. Meanwhile, the Gods went to Brahma for help and, with Brahma, then made their way to Vaikunthathe place where Vishnu lay on Ananta Naag. They found both Vishnu and Shiva, and Brahma eloquently related the reign of terror Mahishasur had unleashed on the three worlds. To save the worlds, Vishnu, Shiva and all of the Gods emitted beams of fierce light from their bodies. The blinding sea of light reached Parvati at the Ashram of the priest Katyayan and Durga emerged from this pool of light. The Goddess Durga took the name Katyaayani from the priest. She introduced herself in the language of the Rig-Veda, saying she was the form of the supreme female aspect of Brahman (Prakriti) who had created all the Gods. Now she had come to fight the demon to save the Gods. They did not create her; it was her lila that she emerged from their combined energy. The Gods were blessed with her compassion.
To combat the evil Mahishasura, she had appeared in a great blinding light, to combat this demon and end it for all to be in peace. Mahishasura had gravely underestimated her, thinking: "How can a woman kill me, Mahishasurthe one who has defeated the trinity of Gods?". However, Durga roared with laughter, which caused an earthquake which made Mahishasur aware of her powers.
And the terrible Mahishasura rampaged against her, changing forms many times. First he was a buffalo demon, and she defeated him with her sword. Then he changed forms and became an elephant that tied up the Goddess's lion and began to pull it towards him. The Goddess cut off his trunk with her sword. The demon Mahishasur continued his terrorizing, taking the form of a lion, and then the form of a man, but both of them were gracefully slain by Durga.
Then Mahishasur began attacking once more, starting to take the form of a buffalo again. The patient Goddess became very angry, and proclaimed to Mahishasur in a colorful tone "Roar with delight while you still can, O illiterate demon, because when I will kill you, the Gods themselves will roar with delight". When Mahishasur had half emerged into his buffalo form, he was paralyzed by the extreme light emitting from the Goddess's body. The Goddess then resounded with laughter before cutting Mahishasur's head down with her sword.
Thus Durga slew Mahishasur, thus is the power of the fierce compassion of Durga. Hence, Mata Durga is also known as Mahishasurmardhinithe slayer of Mahishasur. According to one legend, the Goddess Durga created an army to fight against the forces of the demon-king Mahishasur, who was terrorizing Heaven and Earth. After ten days of fighting, Durga and her army defeated Mahishasur and killed him. As a reward for their service, Durga bestowed upon her army the knowledge of jewelry-making.
You can find more information on the Durga page on Wikipedia.
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Page last updated on Sun May 2 11:44:23 2021 (Mountain Standard Time)
Hindu Goddess Durga on guenther-eichhorn.com