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Goddess Bhavani – Giver of Life

DateMay 14, 2024

One of the most potent manifestations of Shakti, the primordial force of the Universe, is Goddess Bhavani. She is the Goddess of power, courage, and victory. She is widely worshipped as Amman or Shakti (Power), Durga (Strength), Kali (Fierceness), Ram Rajya Lakshmi (of Sri Rama’s reign), and Devi Mahatmyam (Goddess of Greatness). She is a Devi who embodies spiritual knowledge, moral values, extraordinary powers, and creative energy. Bhavani means ‘Giver of Life’.

Goddess Bhavani: The All-Powerful Incarnation of Adi Parashakti

Goddess Bhavani is a fiery and aggressive incarnation of Mother Goddess Shakti, who emerged during the battle against the demon Mahishasura. ‘Bhava’ is Shiva’s internal power and feminine energy and is worshipped as his consort in his form of Sadashiva, the ultimate form of God. She is an embodiment of Ugra or ferocity.  She is a form of Goddess Durga and is worshipped as Parvati, Sati and Kali.  Adi Shankara, the revered Indian saint, initiated her worship. She is also a merciful Mother, a Karuna Swaroopini who protects her devotees and fulfils their needs.

The Maratha warrior king, Chhatrapati Shivaji, was an ardent devotee of Goddess Bhavani and named his sword the Bhavani Talwar after her. The Marathas drew great inspiration from her for courage and strength during battle.

Origin

According to the Devi Bhagavatam, Goddess Bhavani is a valid form of Adi Parashakti. Vishnu sought her assistance for his Sri Krishna avatar, and she symbolises this relationship between Vishnu and Sri Krishna in the Universe by depicting the conch and chakra. According to the Lalita Sahasranamam, she helps her devotees attain Mukti (Salvation).

Iconography—Goddess Bhavani has eight arms holding weapons, including a trident, dagger, arrow, chakra, conch, bow, bowl, and the head of the demon caught by his hair. The Sun and the Moon are on her right and left sides, and her Vaahan (Vehicle) is the majestic lion, which embodies leadership, power, unwavering spirit, courage, and triumph.

Legend

According to legend, Goddess Bhavani came to the rescue of the Devas, who were harassed by a demon named Matang. On Brahma’s advice, they approached Mother Shakti for help. She assumed the form of a destroyer and annihilated the demon aided by the Saptamatrikas (Seven Divine Mothers).

Goddess Bhavani slayed the demon Mahishasura, who had assumed the form of a buffalo. She came to be known as Mahishasuramardini (Slayer of Mahishasura).

According to the Skanda Purana, Anubhuthi, Sage Kardam’s wife, performed penance and prayed to the Goddess on the banks of the river Mandakini to take care of their child after his death.  A demon named Kukur troubled Anubhuthi, and Goddess Bhavani slew the demon, who appeared as a fierce buffalo and chopped off his head. When he assumed his original form, she pierced his chest with a trident and destroyed him. The Goddess came to be known as Tulja Bhavani after this incident.

Power of Goddess Bhavani

According to the Puranas, the Goddess is a formidable force who created a balance in the Universe by slaying the demons that created havoc. She is the Upholder of justice and order across the Universe and a compassionate Mother of Mercy to her devotees. She protects her worshippers from the internal negativity of sins, ego, envy, hatred, evil desires, and anger.

Puranic Significance of Goddess Bhavani

Goddess Bhavani made her indomitable presence felt through the Yugas. In the Treta Yuga, she blessed Sri Rama and Hanuman before they went to war against Ravana in the epic war of Ramayana. The Dwapara Yuga witnessed her blessing the eldest Pandava, Yudhishthira, during the Kurukshetra war, the great battle of Mahabharata. She was a great inspiration to Maharaj Chhatrapati Shivaji in Kali Yuga. Goddess Bhavani is also worshipped as Amba, Tvarita Tulaja, Turaja, and Jagadamba.

Seven Forms of Goddess Bhavani

The Banjara community worship seven forms of Goddess Bhavani.

  • Manthrali Bhavani is a goddess of prosperity and wishes fulfilment, Worshipped in Maharashtra and Karnataka. ‘Manthrali’ means having the power to grant wishes.
  • Kankali Bhavani is worshipped in Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra. ‘Kankali’ means fierce and powerful. She gives strength and protection.
  • Hinglaj Bhavani is a goddess Worshipped in Gujarat and Rajasthan. ‘Hinglaj refers to a sacred site. She is the Goddess of healing and purification.
  • Meerama Bhavani- Worshiped in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. This Goddess is also worshipped as Mariamma Bhavani, the Goddess of fertility and childbirth.
  • Thulja Bhavani- Worshipped in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Telangana. ‘Thulja’ means one who provides balance. She is the Goddess of knowledge and wisdom.
  • Sheetla Bhavani- Worshiped in Haryana, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. She is the Goddess of health and well-being.
  • Dhavalagar Bhavani- Worshiped in Gujarat. ‘Dhavalagar’ means one who resides in a white castle.  She is the Goddess of purity and holiness.
  • Divine Abodes of Goddess Bhavani

Tulja Bhavani Temple, Maharashtra

The Tulja Bhavani temple is in the Osmanabad district of Maharashtra in Tuljapur. It is one among the 51 Shakti Peetas constructed in the 12th century CE. The Maratha Warrior King Chhatrapati Shivaji was her devout follower. He visited her shrine several times, seeking her powerful blessings before he went to battle. According to legend, the Goddess appeared before him and gave him a sword, which gave him victory in battles. The Goddess is the family deity of the royal Bhosale family, the Yadavs, and other communities.

A second Tulja Bhavani temple was built in Chhattisgarh between 1537 and 1540. There is a third temple in the village of Patnakuva Gandhinagar in Gujarat, which, according to the priest, came from Tuljapur during the 14th century and was a Swayambhu (Self-Manifested).

Kheer Bhavani Temple, Kashmir

The Kheer Bhavani temple is an ancient shrine dedicated to the Goddess in Kashmir amidst scenic nature and surrounded by Chinar trees. The temple stands above a sacred spring, which is believed to change colours every season. According to legend, Sri Rama asked Hanuman to re-position the temple from Lanka as the Goddess was enraged by the atrocities of Ravana. A unique tradition in this temple is offering Kheer (Sweetened Milk Pudding) to the Goddess as a sacred offering in spring.  It is a revered place of worship, bringing many devotees to seek her blessings.

Festivals Observed for Goddess Bhavani

The Tulja Bhavani temple celebrates Gudi Padwa, which is especially significant to the Goddess in the Chaitra (March-April) month. The temple also observes Lalita Panchami, Makar Sankranti, Ratha Panchami, Sriral Shashti, and Navratri, which ends with Dussehra.

The Kheer Bhavani temple celebrates Shukla Paksha Ashtami, with devotees fasting on this auspicious occasion and offering prayers at the temple. Jyeshta Ashtami is another festival observed and ends with a Maha Yagna.

Bhavani Jayanti is an auspicious day for worshipping the Goddess and celebrating Basanti Durga Pooja on this occasion. A ritual called Bhavani Utpatti is observed during Chaitra Navratri.

Blessings of Goddess Bhavani

The mighty Goddess Bhavani is a fierce protector and bestower of blessings to her devotees. According to revered saint Adi Shankara, just chanting her name with pure devotion can remove sorrow, ill health, or sudden death. Women invoke her for strength during labour. She alleviates inner negative traits of ego, anger, jealousy, and negative desires. She helps overcome obstacles and negativity and grants relief from Pitru Dosha (Ancestral Afflictions). She bestows courage, wisdom, success, and prosperity.

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