Scroll to explore
Scroll to explore

The Story of Maa Katyayani

Ma Katyayani_01
Mahishasura’s boon

The conflict between Devas and Asuras went on for Yugas and Kalpas. This story is about one of those great wars between the Devas and Asuras during one the 2nd Manvantara. 

A demon called Rambha did severe penance  to beget a powerful son as a boon from Lord Brahma. Rambha’s son was Mahishasura. Born to Rambha, an Asura and Mahishi( buffalo), Mahishasura had the ability to shape-shift his form to any animal, ranging from a buffalo to a human. Mahishasura also commenced a severe penance to please Lord Brahma. When Lord Brahma finally appeared, He asked for the boon of immortality. Lord Brahma refused saying that he did not have the mandate to grant such a boon as it was against the laws of creation. So Mahishasura asked for the next most plausible thing to gain immortality – to be slain by a woman, thinking that no woman could ever be powerful enough to kill him! Lord Brahma granted it, and Mahishasura’s atrocities began. There was nobody to restrain his cruelty, as he wreaked havoc in all three worlds. Indra lost his throne to him. Yagyas and worship were disrupted. Disharmony sets in everywhere in creation.

The emergence of Ma Katyayani

The Devas rushed to the Trinity of Gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh,  who furrowed their brows in anger at the tyranny of Mahishasur. The furious Devas spawned a divine radiance “TEJ” from their mouths and a blazing mountain of flame emanated, which merged into an incandescent, powerful mass of blinding illumination that took the form of a divine woman, pervading all the three realms of existence with Her lustre. All parts of Her body emerged from the Great Shakti Punj (combined energy) of the Devas. The Devi is characterised with angelic beauty, gargantuan size, overbearing presence and a towering existence.

From Lord Shiva’s light, her face came into being, by Yama’s light her hair, by Lord Vishnu’s light her arms; and by Chandra’s light her two bosoms. By Indra’s light her waist appeared, by Varuna’s light her shanks and thighs and by earth’s light her hips. By Brahma’s light her feet came into being, by Suryadev’s light her toes, by Vasus light her fingers, by Kubera’s light her nose; by Prajapati’s light her teeth came into being and similarly by Agnidev’s light her three eyes were formed. The light of the two sandhyas(twilight) became her eyebrows, the light of Vayu her ears; the manifestation of the lights of other devas too contributed to the being of the supremely effulgent, auspicious Devi. Beholding this beautiful divine form of Devi, who had come into being from the combined effulgence of all the devas, the immortals who were oppressed by Mahishasura experienced great joy as Mother was there to protect them!

She received Her weapons from all the Devas present- a trident from Lord Shiva, the Sudarshan Chakra from Lord Vishnu, a conch from  Varundev, a bow from Vayudev, a spear from Agnidev, a bow and 2 quivers of arrows from Maruts, the Vajra (thunderbolt) from Indradev and a bell from Indradev’s elephant, Airavata. Yama gave a staff from his own staff of Death and Varuna, the lord of waters, a noose; a rosary and Kamandalu from Lord Brahma and many more weapons from all the Devas.

Suryadev bestowed his own rays on all the pores of her skin and Kala (Time) gave her a spotless sword and a shield. The milky ocean gave her a pristine necklace, a pair of un-decaying garments, a divine crest-jewel, a pair of ear-rings, bracelets, a brilliant half-moon, armlets on all arms, a pair of shining anklets, a unique necklace and extremely beautiful rings on all the fingers. Vishvakarma, the cosmic architect, gave her a brilliant axe, various missiles and an impenetrable armour. The ocean gave her unfading lotus garlands to wear and a very beautiful lotus to be held in her hand. Himavan, the King of the Himalayas, gave her various gems and the lion as her vehicle. Kubera, the lord of wealth, gave her a drinking cup which would remain ever full of celestial wine. Shesha, the lord of all serpents, who supports this earth, gave her a serpent-necklace bedecked with the best jewels. Honoured likewise by other devas with ornaments and weapons by the remaining gods too, the Goddess roared with a loud laughter again and again. 

The entire sky was filled with her immeasurable stupendous roar and loud was the echo that reverberated. All the worlds were frenzied and the oceans raged. The earth quaked and the mountains rocked in the wake of the Warrior Goddess, the great unity of the innate powers (Shaktis) of all the gods. 

“Victory to you,” exclaimed the gods in joy to Her, the lion-rider. The sages extolled her, bowing their bodies in salutation. Seeing the three worlds agitated, the foes of the gods, marshalled all their armies and rose up together with uplifted weapons. Exclaiming in wrath, Mahishasur rushed towards that sound, accompanied by innumerable asuras. Then he saw the Goddess pervading the three worlds with her effulgence. Making the earth bend with her footstep, scraping the sky with her diadem, shaking the nether worlds with the twang of the bowstring, she stood there covering all the quarters with her majestic arms.

A refulgent form with 18  arms and powerful weapons in all of them, Her body shining like a thousand suns, Her eyes blazing, Devi set forth to annihilate Mahishasura. 

In the meantime, the Sage Katyayan, a parabhakta of Devi had been ardently doing Tapas to beget Ma as His daughter. As She granted his wish and manifested on the earth as his daughter, she gained the name Katyayani. 

The resplendently beautiful Devi Katyayani sat Herself on the Vindhyachal mountains when Mahishasura’s attendants set eyes on Her, and entreated Her to become their king’s queen. In her dulcet voice, She responded that She would only accept a man who can defeat Her in a combat. 

Mahishasur, thinking himself too big to go into combat with a woman, sent his army to face Her. His army was defeated in no time. Chakshura, Chamara, and many more deadly demons were razed to the ground by Her in no time. 

Unable to bear the humiliation of his entire army being defeated by a woman, Mahishasura himself came out to face Her in the battlefield. Blinded by rage, he began taking various forms, sometimes turning into a fearsome buffalo, sometimes an elephant, a lion and various other terrifying creatures. He leapt up to attack Devi’s lion. In his fury, Mahishasur caused terrifying earthquakes and other calamities on the earth during the battle. 

He was no ordinary demon, and the battle lasted for 10 days between him and Devi. Finally, she made a giant leap into the air,  pinned him to the ground with Her foot, and drove Her Trishul(Trident) deep into his chest just as he was transforming from a buffalo into a human. She then beheaded him with one clean sweep of  Her sword. 

Maharishi Katyayana worshipped Her during the last three days of Ashwin (Fall Navratri). On the tenth day, known as Vijayadashmi (the day of Victory), this captivating form of Maa Durga vanquished the demon Mahishasura. In Adi Sankaracharya’s famous Mahishasura Mardini Stotram composed in 810 AD, He specifically uses the word, ‘Mardini’, meaning the One who used Her foot to pin down and kill Mahishasura.  

Just as She restrained Mahisha’s arrogance, so does She curtail our innate negative tendencies so we may evolve spiritually, seeking Her.

The Esoteric Meaning of this Battle with Mahishasura

This battle with Mahishasura from Durga Saptashati is not an event which took place in the outer physical realm. It continuously unfolds in all human beings at all times. There is a constant battle which is relentlessly being fought  between the devatas and daityas within us. When we indulge in actions of rejection, hate, resentment, fear, ego and criticism, we fuel the “Asuras” within us. When we abide by Dharma with Unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness, we fuel the Devtas.

Mahishasur stands for the human Ego. We immerse ourselves in body consciousness so much that we forget that we are not merely this body. Ego, originates from the belief that we are this body and are immortal, like Mahishasur. Ego just as Mahishasur takes different forms at different times, in different states and different circumstances. In rulers, ego takes the form of superiority, among the ruled, it takes the form of playing the victim card all the time.

Expecting others to salute you, greet you, treat you with respect, expecting others to place you on a pedestal and feed your ego is Mahishasur. The Asura or Danav is within us. This Mahishasur which sits within us as hunger for self importance is self destructive. Ego is like slow poison. It slowly and steadily harms us and one day rules the mind leading to self inflicted misery and suffering.

Indra stands for the 5 senses (also called paanch indriya). The defeat of Indra by Mahishasur implies 5 senses succumbing to the Ego. The ego wishes to see others working for it, others speaking well for it, others serving tasty food, others surrendering to it and the list goes on. The devatas are the good sanskaras and punya karmas we accrue with regular acts of kindness, compassion, empathy, love and the likes. When they are activated, they lead us to the Tridev as in the story of Devi’s Avirbhava (appearance from the combined potencies of all devas). The radiance or “TEJ” from which Mahadevi is born is nothing but the energy which we create and build when we do sadhana. It is called Taposhakti. This energy, when merged with the blessings of all the Holy Siddhas of Siddhashram is capable of creating the all powerful Shakti which slays the Ego leading to self purification.

Ma Katyayani, the sixth Nav Durga

The word Prapancha means that which manifests the Panchabhutas, or the five elements. Everything that happens and unfolds before us, that which is manifest is called Prapancha. Everything that is unmanifested, that which cannot yet be perceived by our senses, is far greater that we can ever imagine and comprehend.

The subtle world which is invisible and unmanifest is ruled by this form of the Mother Divine – Katyayani. In this form, She represents everything that cannot be seen or understood. Devi Katyayani represents the deep and most intricate secrets of Divinity.

Devi  Katyayani manifested from the wrath of the Trinity. Anger is often perceived as a negative trait, but it can be harnessed as a positive force too and has its own place. It is said that the anger of a wise person only brings about greater good for the establishment of Dharma; whereas even the love of an ignorant or foolish person can only cause trouble. The anger that arises for righteous reasons and is directed towards evil forces and injustice is represented by Devi Katyayani.

Devi Katyayani also represents that anger that arises in Creation to restore and revive the principles of Dharma and truth. Katyayani is the divine force or principle of the unmanifest Divinity that arises in the subtle layers of creation to curb Adharma. Hence, Devi Katyayani represents a beneficial and uplifting cosmic force.

The iconography of Ma Katyayani

We invoke Durga in her 6th manifestation as Devi Katyayani, the warrior goddess. She is also present in Buddhist and Jain traditions and is one of the many ferocious forms of Adi Shakti who slays negative ego, fear, material desires and those inner demons that obstruct our path to moksha(liberation).

When Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva’s intense wrath at the atrocities of the demon Mahishasura coalesced, the incandescent form of Ma Katyayani appeared! Ma Katyayani is the four armed daughter of Maharishi Katyayan. Her two graceful hands hold a sword and a lotus while Her other two are raised in Abhay and Varada mudras (granting fearlessness and bestowing boons).

Astride a golden lion, her eyes blazing with fury, She killed Mahishasura in a fearsome battle and is revered as Mahishasurmardini Devi Katyayani!

She blesses Her devotees with the ability to transform the energy of anger and other inner demons into an unstoppable creative force, and removes all obstacles onour spiritual path. She fills our lives with Her radiance.

The immense blessings of worshipping Ma Katyayani

The worship of Ma Katyayani is said to bestow the blessing of attracting a good and loving partner for young girls. She blesses Her devotees with a harmonious family life. Even Shri Krishna’s Gopis had worshipped Ma Katyayani.

What Maa Katyayani’s grace brings upon us

🌸The worship of Ma Katyayani Devi resolves delay in marriages.
🌸She removes all obstacles for marital harmony.
🌸Her worship is said to alleviate the effects of Mangalik Dosha from one’s horoscope.
🌸She promotes a happy, fulfilling and successful married life.
🌸She helps to remove all misunderstandings between couples. Her grace purifies the heart, purging all resentment and hatred, resolving lifetimes of unresolved karmic issues.
🌸She presides over the planet Jupiter. Worshipping her strengthens the Guru Tatva, bestows the power of attraction, fame and opulence in the field of politics and regulatory/administrative positions, financers, and investors.
🌸Her grace offers social development, extension of power, confidence, optimism, intuition and ability to take appropriate decisions in life.
🌸With her Abhaya mudra, She envelops Her devotees in the power of Her embrace.

The worship of Ma Katyayani is said to bestow the blessing of attracting a good and loving partner for young girls. She blesses Her devotees with a harmonious family life. Even Shri Krishna’s Gopis had worshipped Ma Katyayani.

She is also associated with Devi Kanya Kumāri as seen in her Gāyātrī mantra in the Taittirīya Āraṇyaka:

Kātyāyanāya vidmahe kanyakumāri dhīmahi |

tanno durgiḥ pracodayāt  | 10.1.6

Ma Katyayani’s worship is mentioned in the Bhagavata Purāṇa. During the first month of hemanta season unmarried girls undertake a vow (vrata) to beget a supportive and loving husband. They eat only unspiced khichri and worship Goddess Katyayani. (Bhagavata Purana 10.22.1).

They wake before sunrise to bathe in a sacred river and for one month they perform Nitya Puja of their handmade clay image of the goddess with sandalwood paste, flowers, ornaments, beautiful clothes, the fresh tips of plant leafs, fruit, flower garlands, lights (dīpa) and incense as they pray to the Goddess for a perfect husband.

Today, take a vow to lay your ego at Her feet. The centre of your being is the abode of Divine Mother, seek Her refuge there.

Ma Katyayani and Kundalini

Devi Katyayani presides over the Agyna Chakra, the seat of your inner Guru, located at the brow centre in the human body. The human mind is divided into ego (ahankara) and superego (manas).

Everything which passes into the left side; memories, conditioning, all that is past, accumulates in the super-ego on the right side of the brain. Like the ego, the superego is a dead end and so overactivity of the left side makes it swell up like a balloon. This is caused by a self -destructive negative thought process and misdirected emotions.  The superego is in the subconscious realm, where all your past knowledge and experience is stored. 

The ego, (ahankara) is on the left side of the brain. As we deplete our energy in overworking, overthinking, scheming, plotting, planning and losing our temper, the subsequent heat generates fumes of ego ballooning on the right side as in a furnace/chimney. 

To deflate the balloon and pull the ego back into proportion, we have to prick it with the pin of humour. By watching the ego as a witness, you begin to see its subtle tricks and manipulations of the mind. We can only fight the ego and bring it down with our laughter, love, humility and inclusiveness. The heart can then break through ego’s stranglehold and the divinity rises to balance the superego, in order to create the space for the Guru tatva to awaken within and guide all our actions.

The Tantric invocation of Devi Katyayani

Tantric invocation: Mahachandi, Durmukhi or Malini

The Tantric forms of Devi Durga are invoked as Malini, Mahachandi, and Durmukhi as per the Durga Tantra and Vamkeshvara tantra on the sixth day of Navatri. Malini and Durmukhi are part of the 64 Tantric Yoginis (companion energies) of Devi’s royal entourage. 

Satkoti MaHadivyayogini PritikAranAth | TivrasphurtipradAnnAncha Shaktityabhidhiyate || – Kularnava Tantra, Chapter 17, Verse 32

She is the reason behind the bliss of hundreds of crores of great and divine yoginis, and as she gives intense energy, She is called Maha Shakti. She grants the sweet fragrance of knowledge. Emerging from Devi Herself, yoginis assisted the Divine Mother in slaying the army of demons while Goddess Parvati fought and killed the demons Shumbha and Nishumbha.

Tantric invocation of Devi Malini brings the grace of the energies of Mahalakshmi as per the Lakshmi tantra, a pancaratra text. Mother Divine says, “These are my three supreme forms, as classified by the three gunas. O Sakra, during the reign of Svayambhuva (Manu), for the benefit of all worlds, I, Mahalaksmi, appeared as Mahisamardini. The elements of my shakti inherent in each god combined to constitute my dazzlingly beautiful form (of Mahishamardini). O king of gods, the shaktis belonging to the special weapons of each god turned into my weapons without undergoing change of form.” – Lakshmi Tantra.  This mantra is particularly useful for a householder who wishes to have a peaceful family life with material and spiritual abundance of Devi’s grace. 

“Vidyassamastastava Devi bhedah Striyassamastah sakala jagatsu Tvayaikaya puritamambayaitat Kaa te stutih stavyapara paroktih” – Durga Saptashati

Meaning : ‘Mother, all arts and sciences, all branches of knowledge, are your modifications, all women in the world are your manifestations. You alone pervade the entire creation.’

May the grace of Devi Katyayani descend upon you!

⛰️Om Devi Katyayinyai Namaha⛰️
🌸Jaganmatruke Pahimam! 🌸
🔱Om Namashchandikaye! 🔱



Get the app