The Shree Vajreshwari Yogini Devi Mandir is a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Vajreshwari, located in the town "
Vajreshwari", 75 km away from Mumbai. The town, earlier known as "Vadvali", was renamed Vajreshwari in honour of the presiding deity of the temple.
The town of Vajreshwari - on banks of river Tansa - lies in Bhiwandi taluka,
Thane district, Maharashtra, Indiaand 31 km away from the nearest railway station of Vasai. The temple is located near the post office of Vajreshwari town, on the Mandagiri hillock, which was formed out of a volcanic eruption and is surrounded by hills on all sides.
The region of "Vadvali" is mentioned in the
Puranas (Hindu scriptures) as visited by Avatars (incarnations) of Vishnu(Hindu god of preservation): Ramaand Parshurama. The legend has it Parshurama had performed a yajna(fire offering) at Vadvali and the hills of volcanic ash in the area are its residue.
The primary deity of the temple, "Vajreshwari" (IAST|vajreśvari), also spelled "Vajreshvari", also known as "Vajrábái" and "Vajrayogini", is considered as incarnation of goddess "
Parvati" or "Aadi-Maya" on earth. Her name literally means "the lady of the Vajra( thunderbolt)". There are two legends about the goddess' origins, both associated with the Vajra.
Thousands of years ago, a
Rakshasa(demon) named "Kalikala" or "Kalikut" troubled the rishis (sages) and humans in the region of Vadvali and waged a war against the devas (gods). Distressed the gods and sages headed by Vashishtaperformed the "Chandi yajna", a fire offering to the Goddess, to please Her. An aahuti (offering of gheein yajna) was not granted to Indra(king of devas). Enraged, Indra hurled his Vajra - one of most powerful weapons in Hindu mythology- at the yajna. The terrified gods and sages prayed to the Goddess to save them. The Goddess appeared in all her glory at the glory and not only swallowed the Vajra and humbled Indra but also killed the demons. Rama requested the Goddess that she should stay in the region of Vadvali and be known as Vajreshwari. Thus, the Vajreshwari temple was established in this region.
Another legend says that
Indraand other devas went to goddess Parvatiand requested her to help slay demon Kalikala. Goddess Parvati assured that she will come to their aid at the right time and ordered them to fight with the demon. In the battle, Kalikala swallowed or broken all weapons thrown at him. Finally, Indra threw the Vajra at the demon, which Kalikala broken into pieces and from the Vajra, emerged the Goddess, who destroyed the demon. The devas extolled her as "Vajreshwari" and built her temple.
The 7th canto of "Navanath Kathasar" states that
Machindranathserved that goddess "Vajrabhagawati" (Vajreshwari) for a month by giving her a bath of the water of hot springs.
The original temple of Vajreshwari was at
Gunj- five miles (8 km) north of Vadavli. It was moved to Vadvali after it's destruction by the Portuguese. [ Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency By Sir James MacNabb Campbell, Reginald Edward Enthoven. Published 1882, Govt. Central Press, p.105 ]
Chimaji Appa- the younger brother and military commander of Peshwa Baji Rao I- had set camp in the Vadvali region on his way to capture the Portuguese held Bassein Fortof Vasai. The fort was unconquerable even after a three-year war. So Chimaji appa prayed to goddess Vajreshwari that if he could conquer the fort and defeat the Portuguese, he would build a temple to the goddess. According to legend, goddess Vajreshwari appeared in the dream of Chimaji Appa and told him the way to conquer the fort. On the 16 May, the fort fell and defeat of Portuguese in Vasai was complete. To celebrate his victory and to fulfill the vow taken in front of goddess Vajreshwari, Chimnaji appa ordered the new "Subhedar" (governor) Shankar Kasav Phadke to build the Vajreshwari temple. The temple' architecture is based on Bassein Fort.
The "Nagarkhana" in main entrance gate was built by the
Gaikwads, Marathadynasty of Baroda. The stone steps leading to the temple and the "Dipamala" (A tower of lights) in front of the temple were built by Nanasaheb Chandavadakar, a moneylender from Nashik.
The main gate entrance has a "Nagarkhana" or drum house and is built similar to Bassein fort entrance. The temple is also surrounded by a stone wall like a fort. Fifty-two stone steps are to be climbed to reach the main shrine. A golden tortoise is carved on one of the steps and worshipped as
Kurma, the tortoise incarnation of Vishnu.
The main shrine has three sections: the main inner sanctum ("
Garbha gṛha"), another sanctum and a pillared " mandapa" (assembly hall). The Grabha-griha houses six idols. The saffron murti(idol) of goddess Vajreshwari with a sword and a gada (mace) in her right and left hands respectively and a trisula(trident) besides her, stands in the centre. Murtis of goddess Renuka(Parshurama's mother) with a sword and a lotus in her hands, goddess SaptashrungiMahalakshmi of Vani and a tiger, goddess Vajreshwari's vahanaor mount; are to the left of goddess Vajreshwari. On her right are the murtis of goddess Kalika(the village goddess) with a lotus and a "kamandalu" (water pot) and Parshurama armed with a parshu (axe). The goddesses are adorned with silver jewelry, crowns and stand on silver lotuses and are sheltered by silver umbrellas. The sanctum outside the Garbhagriha has idols of Ganesha, Bhairava, Hanumanand local deities like Moraba devi. The assembly hall has a bell, which devotees ring when entering the shrine and a marble lion, also believed to be the goddess' mount. A "Yajna kunda" (a structure in which a fire offering is done) is outside the assembly hall.
Smaller shrines in temple premises are dedicated to "Kapileshwar Mahadeva" (
Shiva), Datta, Hanumanand saints of Giri Gosavi sect. A peepal tree in front of the Hanuman shrine, has assumed a form of Ganesha and is worshipped as the deity. The samadhi(tomb) of the 17th century Giri Gosavi saint Godhadebuwa is further atop the Gautam hill, behind the Mandagiri hillock.
The temple celebrates
Navaratri(nine nights dedicated to worship of Hindu Goddesses) once from the first day of fortnight of waxing moon of Hindu month of Chaitra(March) to the ninth day of Ram Navamiand then from the first day of the bright half of the Hindu month of Ashwin(October) to the 10th day Vijayadashami.
A huge fair in honour of Goddess Vajreshwari is held on Amavasya (new moon day) in the month of Chaitra. The fair commences on the 14th day of fortnight of waning moon of the month with ceremonial worship of the Goddess. On Amavasya at night, lamps are worshipped. On the next day, the first day of Hindu month
Vaisakha, the ceremonial procession with a " Palkhi" (palanquin) carrying an image of the goddess, is taken out.
Other festivals the temple celebrates are Shiva worship in Hindu month of
Shravana; Kojagiri Poornima - full moon day of Hindu month Ashwin; Diwali(festival of lights); Holi(festival of colours); Datta Jayanti (birthday of the deity Datta); Hanuman Jayanti (birthday of monkey god Hanuman) and Godhadebuwa Jayanti (birthday of the saint Godhadebuwa).
The temple is taken care of by the "Shree Vajreshwari Yogini Devi Public Trust". The members of the Giri
Gosavisect are members of the trust and have being responsible for worship and maintenance of the shrine since it's establishment in 1739.
There are around twenty-one hot water springs, in a five-kilometer radius of the temple. According to tradition, the hot water is the blood of demons and giants, slain by goddess Vajreshwari. [ Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency By Sir James MacNabb Campbell, Reginald Edward Enthoven. Published 1882, Govt. Central Press, p.373 ] Though according to scientists, their proximity to the former volcano in the region accounts for their creation. Pilgrims who visit the temple also have a holy bath in the springs, which are referred to as "kundas" in
Sanskritand are named after Hindu deitieslike Surya(sun-god), Chandra(moon-god), Agni(fire-god), Vayu(wind-god), Rama (Vishnu's incarnation), Sita(Rama's wife and incarnation of goddess Lakshmi- wife of Vishnu) and Lakshmana(Rama's brother).
Other temples of goddess Vajreshwari
* A small shrine at Gunj and Katai in Wada taluka, Maharashtra, where the original temple stood
* Vajreshwari temple,
Kangra, Himachal Pradesh: A Shakti Peetha, where a part of the body of goddess Sati (first wife of Shiva, who was reborn as Parvati - Shiva's nominally second wife) fell.
* Vajreshwari Temple,
Chamba, Himachal Pradesh
* [http://www.vajreshwariyogini.org/index.htm Website about the Vajreshwari temple]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coF71vdjNZg] Photo slide show of Vajreshwari temple at Youtube, by Dey alexander
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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