The Mahishamardini Stotra, from the Kulachudamani Tantra, is a beautiful hymn meant to be recited by the sadhaka (Tantric practitioner) to glorify Devi. In this hymn, the violent struggle represents the struggle within, the necessary battle with ahamkara, literally the “I-maker,” and often referred to simply as the ego. It is that function of the mind which creates the illusion of separateness. The ego is a wily creature, constantly taking on different forms, as the buffalo demon Mahishasura does in the mythology. But step for step, Chandi (Durga, Mahamaya, Mahadevi) transforms along with him, chasing right behind him and outwitting the demon at every turn, until she finally defeats him with a stroke of Her sword.
We must be similarly vigilant in our pursuit of crushing and defeating the ego. It will rear its ugly head in surprising ways, whether in smugness, righteous anger, or even in self-pity. The Mahishamardini Stotra reminds us that with Devi on our side, and with a fierce commitment to the path with guidance of guru and Kula, these things can be overcome.
By Whom the act of the wicked and formidable Asura (demon) was shattered,
Do Thou wander in my heart!
Destroy my selfishness and the calamities which deeply pierce me,
Arising from the mass of malice and fears (which assail me),
So that, free from danger,
And protected by the lotus cluster of Thy feet,
My swan-like mind may swim and rejoice in the Ocean of Bliss.
What fear of his enemies has he who worships Thee?
The Devas who worship Thy feet
Having abandoned the form of Narasimha (lion-headed avatar of Vishnu)
Whose towering mane rivals in splendour and height towering Mouth Sumeru,
And whose fingers are outstretched to tear Hiranyakashipu (the demon),
Now worship (the lion), the enemy of the elephant,
Server of Thy feet which destroy the bonds of the Pashu.
O Chandi! When the syllables, the letters of which speak of Thee,
Reach the ear, then Brahma and other Devas
Sing the truth, touching Purusha and Prakriti.
O Devi! Be today gracious to me.
Devoted as I am to the kissing of Thy sacred lotus feet,
The one and only glittering abode of the essence of the nectar of all Devatas.
If, because of my following Your way of Kula,
I suffer reproach, better is it that I shall thus be without fame.
Let me not have that which comes of the worship of Keshava (Vishnu) and Kaushika (Indra);
Rather O Mother! Let my heart rest in meditation on Thy lotus feet,
Worshipped by Brahma, Hari and the Enemy of Smara
By the Eater of oblations and the Enemy of the Daitya.
O Mother! If I be engaged in the constant contemplation of Thy lotus feet,
Then what is there which Siddhas have which I have not?
May Thy lotus feet be ever present to my blissful mind,
Thy feet from which exceeding mercy flows.
O propitious Mother! Do Thou forgive me.
Verily and without doubt, even the Lord of Bhutas would have perished,
Maddened as He was with the joy of the embrace of (Thee Who art) His own self,
Had He not been freshened by the lotus fragrance of Thy feet.
Bathed in the honey which flows within
From the union of Shiva and Shakti.
O Mother! Let the stream of heavy showers of holy devotion towards Thee
Be ever shed upon me,
Struggling and drowning, alas!, as I am in the endless Ocean of Illusion,
Without taste of the water of the Bliss of Brahman
Which devotion dispels the weight of anguish from numbers of Devas.
May the glory of Thy feet dark as a rainladen cloud,
Be ever in my heart
Dispelling by its lulstre as of ten million suns
The darkness which overspreads my mind.
From its glittering womb were born the three Devatas,
Who create, maintain, and destroy the world.
Whose substance is pure consciousness and bliss.
May Devi Durga Who gives victory and happiness
Dispeller of fear, Victrix of fortresses and ill-fortune
Who had power to destroy the proud enemies of the Devatas,
And Who strikes terror into the hearts of thousands (of Her foes)
She it was Who, having severed the head of the Asura Mahisha,
Crushed and killed under Her feet him who assumed the form of a buffalo
Now bellowing, now charging, and again retreating
And from whose mouth the Asura issued.
In the red ocean vast and surging
Danced the great shields, weapons and streamers of the enemy,
(An ocean) clouded by the flight of discus
And the arrows of the heaving multitude of soldiers
There lay the heads of the proud and wicked Asuras
Broken and cut to pieces, tossed about by the storm of battle,
(The sight of which) sharpened the thirst and hunger of the birds of carrion.
I meditate upon Devi Mahishamardini,
Rushing in frenzy now here, now there on that wondrous field of battle,
Attended by eight companion Matrikas,
And on the Mantra and Badhu Vija in the lotus of eight petals,
Within the two horns of the fierce and terrible, restless and challenging head
Bent low and slanting, of the maddened buffalo.
Let the Sadhaka meditate on the dark Shiva (feminine; Mahishamardini herself).
Holding in Her hands discus, lance, axe, shield, arrow, bow and trident,
Making the gesture which dispels fear;
Her mass of hair is like a bank of cloud entwined up on Her head,
Her face, most formidable, awes (Her foes),
Making even the defiant falter,
Her laugh is loud and terrible.
O Devi! Such as in this manner
Meditate upon this Thy faultless form
Or upon Thee as Durga or other form of Thine
Worshipped by Indra and other Devas,
To them it is given to attack the cities of their foes,
And conquering their enemies, to gain a kingdom;
They too acquire the nectar of the knowledge of poesy,
And power to arrest, banish and slay.
Whosoever reads or hears this Hymn
Made by me in rapt meditation upon Thy lotus feet,
Wherein is said Thy Kula worship and Mantra in hidden form,
In the palms of the hands of all such
Are forthwith wealth, fulfillment of desire and liberation.
O Mother! Salutation to thee!
May You conquer!
(translation by Arthur Avalon, et al.)
Within the stotra is contained in code the secret mantra for Mahishamardini, also known as Mahishasura Mardini, She Who Defeats the Buffalo Demon. The mantra is to be given by a qualified guru to an initiated disciple in order to reap the rewards of the mantra.