Hinduism is believed to be one of the most ancient religions on Earth. It has been practised for thousands of years and continues to be supported by new generations and will be for centuries to come. Hinduism is filled with numerous Gods and Goddesses who are worshipped by millions of devotees.
In Vedic literature, these Devas and Devis are known to stand for the forces of nature and a couple symbolizes moral value, each representing the essence of specific knowledge, creative energy and extraordinary powers. One such Devi whose story deserves to be talked about is Goddess Bhavani.
Who is Goddess Bhavani?
As per Hindu legends, Goddess Bhavani is believed to be a violent and ferocious incarnation of Goddess Shakti. She materialized in this form during the war against Mahishasura. Bhavani Devi is believed to also personify Aadi Parashakti. The Bhava of Bhavani is meant to be the internal power of Lord Shiva. In that context, Bhavani is Goddess Parvati. She is also regarded as ‘swayambhu’ or self-born when worshipped as Lord Shiva’s consort. It is also assumed that the Goddess emerged in the form of Bhavani and bestowed blessings on Lord Ram and Hanuman before the great battle in the Ramayana to free Goddess Sita.
The name ‘Bhavani’ implies ‘giver of life’. This suggests the power of nature or the root of creative energy. Another name for Goddess Bhavani is Karuna Swaroopini, which alludes to ‘filled with mercy’. She is regarded as a mother who takes care of the needs of her worshippers and also plays a significant role in administering justice by slaying asuras. A couple of other names for this Devi are Tulaja, Turaja, Tvarita and Amba.
The great Maratha Chhatrapati Shivaji was a massive devotee of Goddess Bhavani and named his sword Bhavani Talwar. Several Marathi folk stories honor her. Shivaji’s mother was believed to be a massive devotee of Goddess Bhavani. She is believed to be a source of inspiration for Maratha warriors during battle as they derived strength and courage from her. Due to this, she is immensely venerated and held in high regard all over Maharashtra.
The yearly Tulja Bhavani fair during Navratri (September – October) and the location of the Tulja Bhavani temple are in the town of Tuljapur in Maharashtra. The shrine houses a granite icon of the Goddess, about three feet in height with eight arms carrying weapons as well as the head of the slain demon Mahishasura. In Gujarat, Goddess Bhavani assumes the form of Keshar Bhavani.
Origins of Goddess Bhavani in Hindu Scriptures
As per the Siva Purana, Bhavani is believed to be the supreme goddess and the consort of Lord Bhava (Sadasiva). Devi Bhagavatam mentions that Bhavani Devi is the true form of Aadhi Parashakti. She is considered to be Lord Krishna’s sister. Lord Vishnu performed penance to seek Devi’s assistance for the Krishna avatar. This led to Devi being born to Yashoda as Sri Krishna’s sister. Goddess Bhavani symbolizes her connections with both Vishnu and Krishna by holding a Conch and Chakra. There are strong links alluding to a brother-sister relationship with Vishnu’s avatar of Krishna. Lalitha Sahasranamam talks about how Goddess Bhavani is the deity that consistently helps her worshippers get Mukti.
Iconography of Goddess Bhavani
Goddess Bhavani is showcased with eight arms which are used in holding weapons and carrying the head of the slain demon Mahishasura. The lowermost right hand clasps a trident, the next one clutches a dagger, the hand above holds an arrow and the uppermost right hand handles a chakra. The uppermost left hand grasps a shankh, next one a bow, the third one holds a bowl and the lowermost left hand carries the granny knot of hair on the head of the demon. The right leg of Bhavani Devi is fixed resolutely on the body of Mahishasura and the left one is found on the ground. Between these two legs, the head of the demon is caught by the lower left arm. Since the vahana of Goddess Bhavani is believed to be a lion, she is showcased alongside the King of the Jungle. On the backrest, you can see the sun and the moon carved on the right as well as the left sides of the Goddess.
The idol of Goddess Tulja Bhavani in the Tulja Bhavani temple is about 3 ft in height and 2 ft in width. She is carved out of black stone and is gorgeous and smiling. She is portrayed with eight hands and her long flowing hair is observed coming out of the crown. The Goddess is portrayed with a quiver on her back. Both the sun and moon are shown behind the Goddess. Her mount is a lion and is portrayed beside her. Beneath the lion, Sage Markandeya is observed reciting the Durga-saptashati shlokas. The lady sage Anubhuti is portrayed on the left side of the Devi where she is observed in a hanging position and is meditating on the Goddess.
Legends surrounding Goddess Bhavani
According to a legend, a demon called Matang caused chaos and mayhem upon the devas and humans. They contacted Lord Brahma for assistance. Upon his counsel, they approached Mother Goddess Shakti. She assumed the form of the destroyer and along with the aid of the other Saptamatrikas (Brahmaṇi, Vaishnavi, Maheshwari, Indraṇi, Kaumari, Varahi and Chamunda), annihilated the asura and brought peace upon the universe.
There is another tale that discusses how Goddess Bhavani slayed another demon, who had manifested into a wild buffalo, Mahishasura. This is why she is often referred to as Mahishasura Mardini or the ‘slayer of Mahisha the demon.’
The majestic ruler of the Maratha Kingdom - Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was a great devotee of Goddess Bhavani and was a prominent visitor at the Tulja Bhavani temple. Worshippers believed that the Devi presented him with a sword – ‘The Bhavani Talwar’ – to be victorious in his excursions.
The legend of the temple goes back to the days of ‘Skanda Purana’ as it is cited in the sacred text. As per this story, there was a sage going by the name ‘Kardam’ and his consort ‘Anubhuthi’ with an infant, living in the Yamunachala Hill, where the temple is now located. After the death of the sage, his wife Anubhuti carried out a penance on the banks of the river Mandakini and appealed to the Goddess to take care of her child.
There was an asura called Kukur who tormented her. Then the Devi materialized to rescue Anubhuti and slayed the asura (who had assumed the form of a ferocious buffalo) by chopping off his head. After he showed up in his original form, the Goddess pierced the trident in his chest and killed him. Since that time, the Mother Goddess came to be known as Bhavani of Tuljapur or Tulja Bhavani.
Characteristic Attributes of Goddess Bhavani
Tulja Bhavani is depicted as a remarkable and imposing Goddess in Hindu Puranas. She is renowned for defeating asuras who endanger the balance of the universe. The Goddess is regarded as a compassionate mother who monitors the welfare of women and children. She is renowned for shielding her worshippers from the sins of envy, self-centered attitude, evil desires, hatred, fury and ego. At the same time, she is the epitome of the Supreme Being that upholds the moral order and righteousness in the universe. She plays a significant role in delivering justice by slaying demons. But, she is also a Goddess who is filled with mercy and strives to provide for her worshippers.
Vahana of Goddess Bhavani
The vahana (mount or vehicle) for Goddess Bhavani is the lion. She is often depicted alongside a lion in various images. Why a lion? The ferocious animal is believed to stand for the power, the unvanquished spirit and the great determination that the Goddess herself possesses as well as blesses her worshippers with.
A lion is regarded as the epitome of forte, valor and leadership, characteristic traits showcased by the Goddess. Along with the lion, she works to bring about Dharma and slay the asuras attempting to disturb the peaceful cosmos. The lion connected with the Devi represents triumph and bravery.
Interesting Anecdotes about Goddess Bhavani
- As per the Hindu Puranas, Goddess Tulja Bhavani demonstrated her divine presence through all the Yugas (ages). She directed and steered Lord Ram in the right direction in the Treta Yuga and bestowed blessings on Yudhishthira in Dwapar Yuga in the epic battle of Mahabharata. She proved to be an infinite source of incredible inspiration to Shivaji Maharaj in the Kali Yuga.
- Tuljabhavani Temple is regarded as one of the 51 Shaktipeethas devoted to Goddess Shakti. Tulja Bhavani is venerated as Bhagwati, Durga, Ambabai, Tukai and Jagadamba in the Osmanabad district of Maharashtra, India.
Temples dedicated to Goddess Bhavani
There are numerous temples devoted to Goddess Bhavani all over India. But two of the most popular temples dedicated to the formidable Goddess are the Tulja Bhavani Temple in Maharashtra and the Kheer Bhavani Temple in Jammu and Kashmir.
Tulja Bhavani Temple
It is a Hindu temple devoted to Goddess Bhavani. Located in Tuljapur in the Osmanabad district of Maharashtra, it is regarded as one of the 51 Shaktipeethas. The temple was constructed in the 12th century CE. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the ruler of the Maratha Kingdom, used to visit this shrine to seek the blessings of the Goddess. According to a legend, the Devi presented him with a sword to use so he can be victorious in his expeditions. Animals are sacrificed to pay homage to the Goddess during Khandenavami and Dussehra festival.
Kheer Bhavani Temple
The Kheer Bhavani temple is regarded as an ancient Hindu shrine housed in the state of Kashmir, India. Located 22 km east of Srinagar, the temple is nestled amongst scenic surroundings covered with Chinar trees. It is built above a holy spring, believed to change its colours with the arrival of each new season.
This temple is cited in numerous sacred Hindu scriptures and several legends are connected to it. It is believed that Lord Ram had commanded Hanuman to reposition the temple from Sri Lanka to India as the Goddess was upset with Ravana’s heinous behavior and did not wish to be a spectator of his violence. One of the unique features of the temples is the ongoing tradition of offering kheer to the presiding deity in the spring, with several pilgrims making the dish themselves. It is a popular and renowned pilgrimage center for Hindus and numerous devotees visit the temple to seek blessings of the Goddess.
Festivals Dedicated to Goddess Bhavani
At the Tulja Bhavani temple, the festival devoted to Goddess Bhavani that is of special significance is Gudi Padwa, falling on the month of Chaitra. Some of the other occasions that are celebrated in the temple with grand pomp and fanfare are Shriral Sashti, Lalita Panchami, Makar Sankranti and Ratha Saptami. Navaratri is also observed grandly at the holy site and it concludes with Dussehra.
Shukla Paksha Ashtami is a festival celebrated at the Kheer Bhavani temple. Worshippers keep a fast on this auspicious day and assemble at the shrine to offer their prayers and seek blessings. Jesht Ashtami is another occasion when devotees visit the temple to have a glimpse of the Goddess. The festival ends with a Maha-Yagna, performed to make the Goddess happy.
How to Worship Goddess Bhavani( Maa Bhavani Puja Vidhi)?
Devotees can observe a ritual known as Bhavani Utpatti during the Chaitra Navratri. Bhavani Jayanti is an auspicious day devoted to the Goddess. Worshippers can perform Basanti Durga Puja on this occasion.
Benefits of Worshipping Goddess Bhavani
As per Adi Shankaracharya, worshippers who chant Goddess Bhavani’s name daily with utmost sincerity will not suffer from sorrow, illness or unexpected death. She is also a deity who is commonly invoked by women in labor. The Goddess is renowned for bestowing her devotees with valor and strength. She blesses them with prosperity, success and wisdom.
The Goddess protects her worshippers from sins such as selfishness, wrath, envy, ego and evil desires. With the grace of Goddess Bhavani, devotees will be able to eliminate their hurdles and negativity as well as get rid of Pitru Dosha.