The Triumph of Good vs. Evil
The slaying of Demon Mahisha ... by a goddess named Shakti
by Heidi M. Pascual
   There's nothing more gratifying than witnessing an expression of a belief that the good always wins. The beauty of this expression lies in the creative work that weaves a story and the elegance of its execution.
      On Sept. 17 at the Middleton Performing Arts Center, the Natyarpana Dance Company presented such a "high definition"  Indian classical performance based on Indian mythology. The story was about a demon king named Mahisha whose passion was conquering the world and spreading his evil deeds. In the end, he was slain by a beautiful goddess named Shakti, whose powers came from the combined strengths of all good gods.
      Played by Indian guest artist Sri Pasumarthi Venkateswara, Mahisha was an impressive form onstage. He was a power-hungry man who tried to please Lord Brahma, the four-headed lord of creation and one of the Hindu Trinity (with Shiva and Vishnu),  through penance. In this state, Mahisha deprived himself of any worldly pleasures and went into deep meditation to contact Lord Brahma. Brahma (played by Pratibha Nandagudi) appeared to him and asked "What is your wish?" Mahishasura first asked for immortality, but Brahma turned him down, explaining that death is always certain and that he cannot do anything about it. (Note: Lord Brahma's unpopularity among Hindu devotees reportedly stemmed from his "granting boons" to numerous demons who damaged the world's noble virtues.)
      Mahisha, thinking that ?women are weak and helpless,? then asked Brahma to grant his wish that only a woman can kill him. His wish was granted, and from then on, Mahisha became very powerful./In one of his exploits, Mahisha confonted Indra (played by Radhika Muralidharan) -- the king of gods, god of war, and god of thunder and storms. Indra ruled the heavens; he rode a white elephant,
Airavatta, and his weapon was the Vajra, the thunderbolt. Although Indra was considered the greatest warrior who had killed many demons, his power was no match to Mahisha's. Indra was defeated and driven out from the heavens.
      Indra went to Brahma and asked for help so that all other gods would be protected from Mahisha's evil scheme of wiping them out. Brahma admitted that he was unable to do it. They brought the matter to the other gods. The Hindu Trinity got together and decided that since only a woman can defeat and kill Mahisha, they will put their powers together to create Shakti, a goddess.
      Shakti (played by Kripa Baskaran) projected an image of a woman, whose extraordinary beauty could, by itself alone, launch "thousands of ships," so to speak. But there was more to her physical beauty than met the eye. Shakti represented the collective, unbeatable power of good over evil -- a belief that most of us in the audience share.
      When Mahisha saw Shakti's physical beauty, his worldly desires overcame his lust for more power over all the gods, and professed his "love" through a marriage proposal. Shakti turned him down; and it angered Mahisha no end that he decided he should kill Shakti.
      The united power of the good gods in Shakti defeated Mahisha. What can be a sweeter victory than that?
     Congratulations to the Natyarpana Dance Company for a great performance; and thank you for sharing a beautiful story whose message will forever endure.  --
Asian Wisconzine
There is more to her physical beauty than meets the eye. Shakti represents the collective, unbeatable power of good over evil -- a belief that most of us in the audience share.-- Ed.
(L-R) Lord Brahma, Sage Narada, and Indra
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