"Lose Yourself in the Song"
18 March 2005 — Amritapuri
Someone had put a note on Amma's peetham before
the start of the evening bhajan, requesting Her to
sing the Mahishasura Mardini Stotram, a 21-versed
hymn in praise of Durga. Amma read the note aloud to
the ashramites and devotees who were seated before
Her and then told them all to close their eyes, imagine
that they were dancing with Amma and lose themselves
in the song.
And that is exactly what they did, as for the next
15 minutes, the bhajan hall resounded with the fast-paced,
hypnotic hymn that Amma has only sung a few times before.
The lyrics say that Durga "burns like the blazing
sun, inflamed by the resounding din of the drums of
the gods," and indeed that is what the song sounded
like when Amma sang it.
The Sanskrit stotram, which is often attributed
to Sri Adi Shankaracharya, details Durga's slaughter
of Mahisha Asura, the Buffalo Demon, who, according
to the Devi Mahatmyam, persecuted even the
gods during his reign of terror.
Mahisha means "buffalo," and is thus a symbol
of tamas, the element of creation associated
with darkness, lethargy and ignorance. Mahisha Asura
should be taken as the demonic tendencies born of ego
that reside in every one of us—hatred, jealousy, lust,
In the end, Durga is of course, victorious, earning
the title that is thrust upon Her every fourth line: jaya
jaya he mahisha-asura-mardhini ramya-kapardini shailasute. "Victory,
victory to You, Oh Slayer of the Buffalo Demon! Victory,
Daughter of the Himalayas, with beautifully braided
The ashramites have been singing the stotram as part
of their morning archana, along with the 108
names of Amma and the 1,000 names of the Devi.