Sri Mahishamardini or Durga
Sri Mahishamardini or Durga, the Goddess of the Universe, possesses different forms and aspects. She is a powerful aspect of the feminine Goddess in Hinduism. Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva is a form of Durga. She is also called Shakthi, the Goddess of Energy/Power.
She is best known for destroying the Buffalo demon Mahishasura. When Mahishasura drove the Gods out of their heaven, they appealed to Durga to help them, and each God gave her his weapon. Durga's slaying of Mahishasura, was why she is also called the Mahishamardini, the slayer of Mahishasura.
Besides the literal interpretation of Mahishamardini establishing righteousness and removing evil through Her pastimes of war, there is an esoteric interpretation wherein the demons are regarded as the baser qualities of human kind such as lust, greed, anger, covetousness, dishonesty, etc.
Worship of Mahishamardini dates back to more than seven thousand years.
Kadiyali Sri Mahishamardini Temple
Udupi is an important town on the west coast of India. It is famous for the Lord Sri Krishna Temple. There are four Temples dedicated to Goddess Durga in four corners of this town. Sri Mahishamardini Temple of Kadiyali in Shivalli, 2 miles west of Udupi, is one of them, Sri Mahishasuramardini Temple in Byloor, Udupi, Sri Kannarpaadi Jaya Durga Temple, in Kannarpaadi, Udupi and Sri Durga (in the form of a Linga) Temple in Puttoor, Udupi are the other three temples.
Kadiyali Mahishamardini Temple of Udupi, South India, is one of the oldest temples in the Udupi district and has a history of more than 1200 years. According to the famed archaeologist, Late Dr. P. Gururaja Bhatt, this Temple is as ancient as Sri Ananteshwara Temple of Udupi, established as early as in the 7th Century and is thus more ancient than the Lord Sri Krishna Temple. He based this opinion on the style of sculpture of the Vigraha (statue) of Kadiyali Mahishamardini, which resembles the style of Chalukyas of Badami. The unique features of the statue are as follows:
The statue of Mahishamardini is in a standing posture. She has four arms. In Her upper right hand, She holds the Prayaga Chakra (the discus) and in Her upper left hand, the Shanka (conch shell). She is piercing the head of Mahishaasura, the Buffalo shaped Demon, who has fallen at Her feet, with the Trishul (Trident) held in Her lower right hand. She is pulling the tail of Mahishaasura with Her lower left hand. This emphatically portrays the helplessness of the Demon whose abdomen is bulging due to the pressure exerted by the pulling of his tail.
The bearing of the Goddess in the standing posture, Her facial expression and the casual way of Her holding the weapons shows that it is but a child's play for Her to vanquish evil. This is a sculpture of unique beauty, devoid of any ornamental trappings. One falls under Her divine spell the moment they lay eyes on Her.