Creation of Durga

R. Soneji rsoneji at
Sat Jan 18 03:05:40 UTC 1997

Tobias Grote-Beverborg wrote:
> Dear Members of the list!
> I have a question concerning the creation of the goddess Durga.
> The myth is that she was created by Shiva who was so enraged about the demon
> Mahishasura terrorizing heaven and earth that his face flushed with anger.
> Out of that light emmanating from his face a young woman, Durga, was created.
> Can anyone please tell me where I can find that story in the scriptures?
> I believe it's in one of the Puraanas.
> Thank You very much.
> Yours
> Tobias
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> ~~~~~~~~
> Tobias Grote-Beverborg
> Theodorstr. 370, 40472 Duesseldorf, Germany
> ph/fax: 0211-6581306
> e-mail: grotebev at
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> ~~~~~~~~

The story as you have described it is told in the "Devi Mahatmya", a part 
of the Markandeya Purana.  The actual "becoming" (the verb used is 
"bhu")of the Goddess is described in the dvitiya adhyaya, 9-19.  
Excellent translations/analyses of the text have been written on the 
subject by Thomas Coburn:

Devi Mahatmya - The Crystallization of the Goddess Tradition.  Delhi: 
Motilal Banarsidass, 1984.

Encountering the Goddess - A Translation of the Devi Mahatmya and a Study 
of Its Interpretation.  Albany: SUNY, 1991.

Recently, Carmel Berkson has studied the myth and its motifs 
(particularly in relation to the rituals of Maharashtra):

The Divine and Demoniac: Mahisa's Heroic Struggle with Durga.  Oxford: 
Oxford University Press, 1995.

Perhaps the best scholarship on the text as a "living" phenomenon is by 
Kathleen Erndl, who has studied the text in relation to the Vaisnodevi 
cult of Northwestern India:

Victory to the Mother - The Hindu Goddess of Northwest India in Myth, 
Ritual and Symbol.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Other general comments are to be found in David Kinsley's "Hindu 
Goddesses" (Berkley: Univeristy of California Press, 1986).

Reference to similar myths concerning Durga are also found in the earlier 
Visnu Purana (5.1.93) as well as in the Skanda Purana, Devibhagavata 
Purana.  Hope this information is helpful.

Devesh Soneji
University of Manitoba
rsoneji at

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