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|Goddess of Power|
A shrine to Bhavani
|Weapon||Bow and Arrow|
Bhavani is a ferocious aspect of the Hindu goddess Parvati. Bhavani means "giver of life", the power of nature or the source of creative energy. In addition to her ferocious aspect, she is also known as Karunaswaroopini ("filled with mercy").
Bhavani was the tutelary deity of the Maratha leader Shivaji, in whose veneration he dedicated his sword, Bhavani Talwar. A temple to Bhavani at Tuljapur in Maharashtra dates back to the 12th century. The temple contains a one-metre-high granite icon of the goddess with eight arms, holding weapons. She also holds the head of the demon, Mahishasura, whom she slew in the region which is known in the present day as Mysore.
The Tulja Bhavani temple in Tuljapur in the Osmanabad District of Maharashtra is considered one of the 51 Shakti Pithas. This temple was built close to the 12th century CE. Another Tulja Bhavani temple was constructed between 1537-1540 CE in Chittorgarh. It is located at coordinates .
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Worship of the primeval energy, Shakti, in the form of the mother Goddess is seen in the four Shakti Peethas of Maharashtra: Bhavani with her seat at Tuljapur, Mahalakshmi at Kolhapur, Mahamaya Renuka at Mahur and Jagadamba at Saptashrungi, and also in Tamil Nadu (Periyapalayam) Sri Bhavani Amman. Other Shakti temples in the state are those at Ambejogai and Aundh.
Goddess Bhavani is held in great reverence throughout the state of Maharashtra. She is considered to be an embodiment of ugra' or ferocity, as well as a Karunaswaroopini, an embodiment of mercy. A number of castes, sub-castes and families from Maharashtra consider her their family deity or Kuldevta.
The Bhavani temple in Tuljapur is located on a hill known as Yamunachala, on the slopes of the Sahayadri range in Maharashtra near Sholapur. The temple entrance is elevated and visitors need to ascend a flight of steps to reach the shrine. Historic records speak of the existence of this temple from as early as the 12th century CE. Bhavani is worshipped in the form of a 3-foot-high (0.91 m) granite image, with eight arms, holding weapons, and bearing the head of the slain demon, Mahishasura. Bhavani is also known as Tulaja, Turaja, Tvarita, and Amba.
Legend says that a demon by the name of Matanga wreaked havoc upon the devas and humans who approached Brahma for help. Upon his advice, they turned to the Mother Goddess Shakti, who took up the form of the destroyer and, powered by the other Saptamaataas (Varaahi, Bhrahmi, Vaishnavi, Kaumaari, Indraani, and Saambhavi), vanquished him allowing peace to reign again. Legend also describes how Bhavani vanquished another demon who had taken the form of a wild buffalo, Mahishasura (hence her name Mahishasura Mardhini or 'the slayer of Mahisha the demon'). Later, she took abode on the Yamunachala hill, which is now home to the temple.
Four worship services are offered each day here. The festivals of special significance here are Gudi Padwa in the month of Chaitra, Shriral Sashti, Lalita Panchami, Makara Sankranti, and Rathasaptami. The deity is taken out in procession on Tuesdays. Navaratri is also celebrated with great fanfare, and it culminates in Vijaya Dasami.
Sri Bhavani Devi is said to be Adhi Parashakti herself and the name Bhavani has several meanings. According to Lalitha Sahasranamam, 'Bhavani' means the deity who always helps devotees gives mukti.
Adi Shankara said, "A Person who recites the name Bhavani with true devotion thrice every day will not acquire Sorrow, Sin, Illness & Unexpected Death."
People occasionally confuse Bhavani devi with Renuka devi; however, the story of Bhavani devi is different from Renuka devi.
The Devi Bhaghavatam Puran says Bhavani Devi is the original form of Aadhi Parashakti and Sister of Shri Krishna. Maha Vishnu is said to have undergone penance to get Devi's help for his Krishna Avatar as a result of which Devi is born to Yashoda as Maha Maaya devi. This is why Bhavani holds a conch and chakra in her hands, thus resembling Vishnu.
The image (murti) of Tuljabhavani is made up of black stone. It is around 3 feet in height and 2 feet in width. The face of goddess is beautiful and smiling. The goddess has no clothes carved on her upper body. The goddess is asta-bhuja (with 8 hands) Mahishasura Mardini Durga. As she is Parvati, she has a swayambhu (self manifested) Shiva lingam in her crown. She has an arrow holder on her back. Her long hair is coming out of the crown. The sun and the moon are present as witnesses of her victory over Mahishasura. Her lion stands near her. The image is self manifested and movable. It is moved three times a year from its place to the bedroom of Maa Bhavani. Below the lion, sage Markandeya is chanting the Durga-saptashati shlokas. The lady sage Anubhuti is on the left side of the goddess. She is in a hanging position and is meditating on the goddess. It is chala murti. It is moved thrice a year during the long sleeping periods of maa Bhavani. The face of Sati had fallen in Tuljapur because of which the goddess is decorated in such a way that only her face is visible after covering her with sarees and ornaments. Bhavani came here to save Anubhuti from the demon known as Kukur. In a battle with the goddess, Kukur took the form of a buffalo. Bhavani cut his head, then he started coming in his original form. At that time, she penetrated her trident in his chest. Hence, she is in form of Mahishasura Mardini Durga.