Mahisa’s mother asked for a gift from Brahma, the King of Heaven. Her first request was that the child be made immortal, but Brahma refused. Then she asked that her child be made vulnerable to women alone and this wish was granted. Mahisa grew up sure that he could never be killed because women could not fight. Convinced of his invincibility, Mahisa gathered up a great demon army and marched on Heaven. All of the gods tried to defeat the attackers and a terrible battle ensued that lasted nearly a thousand years.
Helpless and afraid, the gods begged Brahma for advice. Brahma admitted he had given Mahisa his power and was at a loss for how to defeat the monster. As their last effort, Nandni Mata, popularly known as Durga, was created when the most powerful Gods combined their strengths. Her first act was to easily vanquish Mahisa. This victory is celebrated in many forms and with many festivals around the world.
Some will take from this story that when men combine their power they can equal a woman. Perhaps, rather than strength being connected to gender, it lies more in recognizing that there can always be someone more powerful. The lesson could also be that things change; what makes you victorious today could defeat you tomorrow. Nandni Mata reminds us to live with humility because in every moment, whether you are invincible or conquered, everything can change.
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