Mahisasura Mardini



Durga Puja is the foremost Hindu religious festival in eastern India. Goddess Durga, the embodiment of supreme power who visits earth to annihilate evils, is worshipped every autumn.

Mahalaya is observed seven days before the start of the Durga Puja. This is the day that Goddess Durga begins her journey with her children from her husband Shiva’s abode in Mount Kailas in the Himalayas, to her parental home in the plains.

On this auspicious day, early in the morning, at 4 am, a 2-hour long programme in Bengali is broadcast by All India Radio, Calcutta. Titled Mahisasura Mardini (i.e. the slayer of the demon in the guise of a buffalo), this programme narrates why and how Durga was conceived, how she was armed with a plethora of weapons by the gods to destroy the buffalo-demon, Mahisasura, who was causing havoc in the cosmos; and how she achieved her goal by annihilating him and ushering in peace and happiness in the world.

One man who will remain immortal is Birendra Krishna Bhadra, the magical voice behind the narration of Mahisasura Mardini or the Chandi Path in Sanskrit. The programme was first aired live on the radio way back in 1932. Birendra Krishna Bhadra was only 28 years old then. He is no more, but his recorded voice forms the core of the Mahalaya programme to this day. In a sonorous, reverberating voice, Birendra Bhadra renders the Mahalaya recital, mesmerizing every household with the divine aura of his narration.

The Chandi Path, in Sanskrit, also known as the Devi Mahatmyam or the Durga Saptashati (700 verses), can be downloaded (in the Devanagari script, together with Roman transcription) from here.

The Mahalaya programme can be downloaded, in 2 parts, from here and here. It is also available here.

Here's Birendra Krishna Bhadra reciting the concluding section of the Chandi Stuti (Praise of Durga).


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Namo deviyai mahadevyai shivayei satatam namah
Namah prakrityai bhadraya niyatah pranatah sma tam


Reverence to the Devi, to the Devi of the Great, To her who is auspicious, for ever reverence. Reverence to Prakrti who maintains. Setting our minds wholly upon Her, we make obeisance to Her.

Raudraye namo nityayai gauryei dhatrayei namo namah,
Jyotsnaye chenduroopinyei sukhayei satatam namah


Reverence to Her who is eternal, Raudra, To Gauri, and Dhatri, reverence and again reverence, To her who is moonlight and in the form of the moon To her who is supreme bliss, reverence forever.

Kalyanei pranatam vriddhayei kurmo namo namah,
Naitrityei bhoobhritam lakshmye sharvanyei te namo namah


Bending low, we make obeisance to the auspicious One Who is prosperity in the form of wealth, To Siddhi, Nairiti, and to the good fortune of Kings To Sarvant reverence, and again reverence.

Durgayei durgparayei sarayei sarvakarinye,
Khyatyei tathaiva krishnayei dhoomrayei satatam namo namah


To Durga, to Her who enables men to cross the ocean of the world, Who is the life and strength and cause of all Knower of the distinction between Purusa and Prakrti And who is both black and grey, reverence for ever.

Atisaumyatiraudraye natastasyei namo namah
Namo jagatpratishthaye devyei krityei namo namah


We prostrate ourselves before Thee, who art at Once most gentle and formindable, Reverence to Her and again reverence; Reverence to Her who is the material cause of the world, To the Devi, who is in the form of action, reverence, and again reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu vishnumayoti shabdita,
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi who is all things is called Visnumaya, Reverence to Her, reverence to Her Reverence to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu chetanetyabhidheeyate,
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi, who is known as intelligence, in all beings, Reverence to Her, Reverence to Her, Reverance to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu buddhiroopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi who dwells in the form of Buddhi in all beings. Reverence to Her, Reverence to Her, Reverence to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu nidraroopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi who is in the form of sleep abides in all beings Reverence to Her, reverece to Her, Reverence to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu kshudharoopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi who exists in all beings in the form of hunger, Reverencec to Her, reverence to Her, Reverence to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu chhayaroopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi who exists in all beings in the form of Caya Reverence to Her, reverence to Her, Reverence to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu shaktiroopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi who exists as energy in all beings, Reverence to Her, Reverence to Her. Reverence to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu trishnaroopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi who exists in the form of thirst in all beings Reverence to Her, Reverence to Her. Reverence to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu kshantiroopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi who in the form of forgiveness exists in all beings Reverencec to Her, reverence to Her, Reverence to her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu jatiroopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi who exists in the form of race and species in all beings, Reverence to Her, reverencec to Her, Reverence to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu lajjaroopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi in the form of modesty in all beings, Reverence to Her, reverence to Her, Reverance to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu shantiroopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi existing in the form of peace in all beings Reverence to Her, reverence to Her, Reverance to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu shraddharoopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi who exists in all beings in the form of faith Reverence to Her, reverence to Her, Reverance to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu kantiroopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi existing in the form of beauty in all beings Reverence to Her, reverence to Her, Reverance to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu lakshmiroopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi who exists in all beings in the form of prosperity Reverence to Her, reverence to Her, Reverance to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu vrittiroopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi who in all beings exists in the form of their respective callings, Reverence to Her, reverence to Her, Reverance to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu smritiroopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi who in the form of memory exists in all beings Reverence to Her, reverence to Her, Reverance to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu dayaroopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi who in all beings exists in the form of mercy Reverence to Her, reverence to Her, Reverance to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu tushtiroopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi who exists in the form of contentment exists in all beings Reverence to Her, reverence to Her, Reverance to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu matriroopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi who exists in all being as (their ) Mother, Reverence to Her, reverence to Her, Reverance to Her, reverence, reverence.

Ya devi sarvabhooteshu bhrantiroopen sansthita
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi who in the form of error exists in all beings Reverence to Her, reverence to Her, Reverance to Her, reverence, reverence.

Indriyanamadhishthatri bhootanam chakhileshu ya
Bhooteshu satatam tasyei vyaptidevyei namo namah


Reverence to the Devi Who is the Presiding Deity over the sense of all beings Who is ever in all beings And who pervades all things.

Chitiroopen ya kritsnametadvyapya sthita jagat,
Namastasyei namastasyei namastasyei namo namah


To the Devi who in the form of consciousness, Having pervaded all the world, exists therein, Reverence to Her, reverence to Her, Reverance to Her, reverence, reverence.




Another hymn in Sanskrit to Mahisasura Mardini Durga, Ayi Girinandini, composed by Sankara. A work of compositional genius, Ayi Giri is sung everyday in vast numbers of south Indian homes. The cadence of its resonant words, and the strident rhythm of its metre are forever imprinted in the memory of children.

Here is the first stanza:

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Listen to the whole hymn, Ayi Girinandini, in a fine rendition by by the Belluru Sisters, Radha Tandeshwari and Rama Sadashivan, which can be heard on-line. The song is prefaced by an invocation to Goddess Durga. Click here (select the 2nd item. Real Audio format).

ayi giri nandini, nandita medini, visva vinodini, nandinute

giri vara vindhya shirodhini vasini vishnuvilaasini jisnunute
bhagavati he shitikaNthakutumbini bhoorikutumbini bhoorikrute
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

Oh, Daughter of the Mountain, Who makes the whole World happy, Who makes all the Universe rejoice, Who is praised by Nandin, Who dwells on the peaks of the great Vindhya Mountains, with radiance reaching far and wide, Who is praised by those desirous of victory, Oh Goddess, Wife of blue-necked Shiva, Mother to many families, Doer of many deeds,Victory, victory to You, Oh Slayer of the Buffalo Demon! Victory, Daughter of the Himalayas, with beautifully plaited hair!

suravaravarshiNi durdharadharshiNi durmukhamarshiNi harsharate

tribhuvanaposhiNi shankaratoshiNi kilbishamoshiNi ghosharate
danujaniroshiNi ditisutaroshiNi durmadashoshiNi sindhusute
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

Who bestows boons upon the Gods, Who defeats the undisciplined, Who tolerates the ignorant, Who is ever rejoicing, Who nourishes the three worlds, Who pleases Shankara, Who removes sins, Who inhabits the sound of AUM, Whose wrath befalls the progeny of the demons Danu and Diti, Who destroys those drunk on the evil intoxicant of pride, Who is Daughter of the Ocean! Victory, victory to You ...

ayi jagadamba madamba kadambavanapriyavaasini haasarate

shikharishiromaNi tungahimaalaya shringanijaalaya madhyagate
madhumadhure madhukaitabhaganjini kaitabhabhanjini raasarate
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

Oh, Mother of the World, my Mother, Who loves Her Kadamba tree forest, Who is always smiling, Whose dwelling is in the tallest peaks of the Himalayas, the greatest of all mountain chains, Who is so very sweet, Who keeps the treasures of Madhu and Kaitabha, Who slayed Kaitabha, Who is ever dancing,Victory, victory to You ...

ayi shatakhaNda vikhaNditaruNda vituNditashuNda gajaadhipate

ripugajagaNda vidaaraNachaNda paraakramashuNda mrigaadhipate
nijabhujadaNda nipaatitakhaNda vipatitamuNda bhataadhipate
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

Who splinters demons' heads into hundreds of shards, Who severs the trunks of their great battle elephants, Whose great Lion mount exhibits terrifying valor, as he tears apart the temples of the enemy's elephants, Who shatters the skulls of enemy chieftains with the strength of her own arms, Victory, victory to You ...

ayi raNadurmadashatruvadhodita durdharanirjara shaktibhrute

chaturavicharadhuriiNamahasiva dutakrita pramathaadhipate
duritaduriihaduraashayadurmati daanavaduta krutaantamate
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

Oh, it is You Who possesses the invinceable force that vanquishes hard-to-subdue enemies in battle, Who promoted Pramatha, the great attendant of Shiva, a master of subtle thinking, to be Her general in battle, Who destroyed the messengers of the demons, who were sinful, with evil intention in their thoughts and minds, Victory, victory to You ...

ayi sharaNaagata vairivadhoovara viiravaraabhayadaayakare

tribhuvanamastaka shoolavirodhishiirodhikritaamala shoolakare
dumidumitaamara dundubhinaada mahomukhariikrita tigmakare
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

Oh, it is You Who gives protection to the wives of heroic enemy warriors when they seek refuge; Who aims a flawless spear at the head of the demon who causes great pain in all the three worlds, Who burns like a blazing hot sun, inflamed by the resounding din of the war-drums of the Gods, Victory, victory to You ...

ayi nijahunkriti maatraniraakrita dhoomravilochana dhoomrashate

samravishoshita shoNitabeeja samudbhavashoNita biijalate
shivashivashumbhani shumbhamahaahavatarpita bhutapishaacharate
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

Oh, it is You Who, with a single roar, disperses the streams of smoke flowing from the eyes of advancing demons, Who thrives like a vine on the blood that falls on the battleground, Who delights alike in the company of the auspicious Shiva, inauspicious Shumbha and Nishumbha, and the ghoulish spirits who feed on the battle carnage, Victory, victory to You ...

dhanuranusangaraNakshaNasanga parishphuradanga naTatkaTake

kanakapishanga prishatkanishanga rasadbhatasringa hataabaTuke
krutachaturanga balakshitiranga ghatadbahuranga raTadbaTuke
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

Who decks Her tender limbs with fine dancing ornaments at the moment of battle, as She readies Her bow, Who slays huge enemy soldiers with Her shining sword and arrows from Her golden-brown quiver, Who plays with the vast enemy forces arrayed on the battlefield as if they were screaming toy soldiers, Victory, victory to You ...

jaya jaya japyajaye jayashabda parastutitatatpara vishvanute

jhaNa jhaNa jhinjhimijhinkritanoopura sinjitamohita bhootapate
natita nataardhanatiinatanaayaka naatitanaatyasugaanarate
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

Victory to You! Victory to You! Whose victory need be sung and praised by all the Universe, Who attracts Shiva's attention with the tinkling of Her bells and ornaments as She dances, Who delights in Her own beautiful singing, and Her dance in the form of Ardhanari (i.e. male and female harmonised as half man- half woman), Victory, victory to You ...

ayi sumanah sumanah sumanah sumanoharakaantiyute

shrita rajanii rajanii rajanii rajanii rajaniikaravakravrute
sunayanavibhra marabhra marabhra marabhra marabhra maraadhipate
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

Oh, it is You Whose flowerlike complexion attracts all good-hearted souls, [The meaning of the next two lines is unclear], Victory, victory to You ...

sahitamahaahava mallamatallika mallitarallaka mallarate

virachitavallika pallikamallika shrillikabhillika vargavrute
sita kruta phullisamullasitaakruNtallaja pallavasallalite
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

[The meaning of this verse is unclear.]

aviralagaNda galanmadamedura mattamatangajaraajapate

tribhuvana bhooshaNa bhootakalaanidhi roopapayonidhiraajasute
ayi sudatiijanalaalasamaanasa mohanamanmatharaajasute
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

Who effortlessly steers huge royal elephants in their fury, musk streaming in rivers down their temples, Oh Great Princess, Daughter of the Ocean, Who has the beauty of the Moon, Who is Ornament of the triple world, Princess of Love, whose beautiful smile enchants the minds of those entrapped by desire, Victory, victory to You ...

kamaladalaamalakomala kaantikalaakalitaamala bhaalatale

sakalavilaasakalaanilayakrama kelichalatkala hamsakule
alikulasankula kuvalayamaNdala maulimiladbakulaalikule
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

Whose flawless forehead displays Her beautiful complexion, pure and delicate like lotus petals, Whose flocks of swans follow Her with the fluid grace that is the mark of all beautiful arts, Whose swarms of bees sail down from the bakula trees to light with other bees atop the lotus flowers, Victory, victory to You ...

karamuraliirava viijita koojita lajjita kokila manjumate

militapulinda manoharagunjita ranjitashailanikunjagate
nijaguNabhoota mahaashabariigaNa sadguNasambhruta kelitale
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

Who so sweetly plays Her flute that its music puts the Kokila bird to shame, Who always has sweet thoughts, Who dwells in colorful mountain groves that echo pleasantly with the bustle of mountain folk, Whose playground is filled with breathtaking tribal women, who are manifestations of Her own great qualities, Victory, victory to You ...

katitatapiitadukoolavichitra mayookhatiraskrita chandraruche

praNatasuraasura maulimaNisphuradamshulasannakha chandraruche
jitakanakaachala maulipadorjita nirbharakunjara kumbhakuche
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

Who outshines the brilliance of the moon with the colorful rays flashing from the yellow silks around Her waist, Whose toenails shine like the moon as well, reflecting the crest jewels of the gods and demons who bow at Her feet, Whose breasts outshine the temples of wild elephants and the high peaks of golden mountains, Victory, victory to You ...

vijitasahasra karaikasahasra karaikasahasra karaikanute

krutasurataaraka sangarataaraka sangarataaraka soonusute
surathasamaadhi samaanasamaadhi samaadhi samaadhi sujaatarate
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

Who surpasses the thousand-rayed sun with the brilliance of Her own thousand hands, and Who is in turn praised by a thousand suns, Who does battle to save the Gods, and Whose sons fought the demon Taraka and are Saviors, [Meaning unclear], Victory, victory to You ...

padakamalam karuNaanilaye varivasyati yonudinam sashive

ayi kamale kamalaanilaye kamalaanilayah sakatham na bhavet
tava padameva param padamityanushiilayato mama kim na shive
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

Oh Benevolent Goddess, accompanied by Shiva, when one daily cherishes Your lotuslike feet, Then, Oh lotus-dwelling Lakshmi, how will one not become wealthy? Oh Auspicious Goddess, what riches will not be mine, if I earnestly believe that Your feet are the highest goal to be achieved? Victory, victory to You ...

kanakalasatkala sindhujalairanusinchinute guNarangabhuvam

bhajati sa kim na sachikuchakumbha tatiiparirambha sukhaanubhavam
tava charaNam sharaNam karavaaNi nataamaravaaNi nivaasisivam
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

If one bathes You, the playground of virtues, in the shining golden waters of the ocean, Will one not experience in Heaven the joy, equal to that of Indra, of embracing the full bosom of Sachi? Oh Goddess worshipped by the Gods Themselves, I take refuge at Your feet, which are also the abode of Shiva. Victory, victory to You ...

tava vimalendukulam vadanendum alam sakalam nanu koolayate
kimu puruhoota puriindumukhiisumukhiibhirasau vimukhiikriyate
mama tu matam sivanaamadhane bhavatii kripayaa kimuta kriyate
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

When one sufficiently dedicates oneself to Your entire moonlike visage, brighter than a host of perfect moons, How will one be turned away in heaven by the moon-visaged beauties of the city of Indra? [Meaning unclear], Victory, victory to You ...

ayi mayi diinadayaalutayaa krupayaiva tvayaa bhavitavyamume

ayi jagato jananii krupayaasi yathaasi tathanumitaasitare
yaduchitamatra bhavatyurariikrutaadurutaapa mapaakrurute
jaya jaya he mahishaasuramardhini ramyakapardini shailasute

Oh Uma, please look kindly upon me, because of your virtue of compassion toward the meek, [Meaning unclear], But you may do as You wish with me, Oh You who removes the pain of Her devotees. Victory, victory to You , Oh Slayer of the Buffalo Demon! Victory, Daughter of the Himalayas, with beautifully plaited hair!

1 comment:

Ilona Broeseliske said...

Jai Mata Di!
Dear Sir,
Thank you so much! for writing in english meaning as well. This recitation is so pure