I have been to Mysore couple of times and also to Chamundi hills but I never really carefully looked at the statue of Mahishasura. It rang little bell inside my head.
Until till yesterday, when i was reading this book from RK Narayana, about Gods, Demons and legends of India, that I read the full story of Mahishasura, and was able to connect Durga Pooja, Mahishasura and everything.
Mahisha means a "Buffalo", and asura ofcourse means Rakshasha (Demon). Apparently it seems that Mahishasura father who was a great Asura, married a she-buffalo, hence their son was called Buffalo-asura. Metaphorically it is supposed to mean that Mahishasura was physically all powerful but maybe not that blessed on the mental front.
As the legend goes, Mahishasura performed rigourous penance for years and Brahma, being pleased, appeared before him. Mahishasure asked the boon that neither any man or God should be able to conquer him, only a woman could conquer him. This way he thought he would remain undefeated since it was highly inconceivable that any woman would dare to challenge him for a battle.
So as it happened, he waged battle with Indra and swarga loka, and none of the gods were able to defeat him. He conquered the Swarga Loka and Gods went in to hiding. In the hiding, all Gods combined all thier powers and created a devi called Durga, who was unmatched in beauty and power. Durga challenged Mahishasura and after 10 days of fierce battle killed him.
Sometimes it amazes me that there are so many stories, legends in Indian mythology, and the way they have survived through the ages. When I had been to Uttrakhand, (if you have never gone, do go, it is heaven) there were so many temples, stones, shrines, lakes all along the way, and each of them had a story associated with it, each had a significance of its own, some stories that I had heard, some were completely unknown. I have to blog about it as well :).
Anyways, a happy Dashera :)