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Shri Tuljabhavani - Historical Background

Tuljapur, the one amongst three and half Shakti Peethas  (abodes of cosmic powers) of the state, is situated in Maharashtra, wherein resides the Mother Goddess Tulja Bhavani.  She is also fondly revered as Aai (mother) Ambabai, Jagdamba, Tukai  by her devotees who throng in millions to Tuljapur for her Darshan and for seeking her blessings. As a divine Mother, she protects her children from the sins of evil desires, selfishness, jealousy, hatred, anger and ego.  At the same time, TuljaBhavani symbolizes the power of the Supreme Being that maintains moral order and righteousness in the universe.
TuljaBhavani is also described as the impressive and formidable goddess in Hindu Puranas.  She is known for combating demons who threaten the stability of the universe. She killed the Demon (asur) called Kukur, who, endowed with supernatural powers, had become arrogant and a great menace to the social and moral order of the day. When the Goddess appeared to kill him, the demon assumed the form of a ferocious buffalo (mahisha) and challenged her for a combat. She vanquished him in the battle and killed him and from then onwards, she became popularly known as “Mahishasur Mardini”, the one who killed the demon called Mahishasur.
In Maharashtra, TuljaBhavani worship is of great antiquity and innumerable royal houses and their nobles have been devotees. She is the Family Deity ( Kuldaivat) of most of the  Maharashtiran families, including the great Bhonsla dynasty , whose most celebrated progeny was Great Shivaji, the founder of Hindavi Swarajya. Legend has it that it was Tuljabhavani who gifted the Bhavani sword to Shivaji to vanquish his opponents in the battlefield.

According to Hindu Puranas, She manifested her divine presence through all Yugas (ages). She guided Lord Rama in the Treta Yuga; blessed Yudhishtir in Dwapar Yuga in the epic war of Mahabharata, and in the Kali Yuga, she was an eternal source of great inspiration to King Shivaji and according to legend, she gifted the most celebrated Bhavani Sword to him.  

Mythological References

Highly venerated mythological references about The Goddess Tuljabhavani are found in the great epics of all times, the Puranas. In Markendeya Purana, there are thirteen chapters (Adhyays) in Sanskrit, under the title “Durga Saptshathi”, containing seven hundred Shlokas or rhymes, describing the supreme powers of the deity.
The story of how the Goddess vanquished Mahishasura and put him to death was first effectively narrated in the Devimahatmya or Saptashati, which is contained within the Markandeya Purana. Thorough out the ages, the divinity of TuljaBhavani has been described and narrated in contemporary legends, folklores, bards and poems that have become the source of motivation for an entire nation – spiritually, socially and politically. From Dnyaneshwar to Aurobindo, the divine heroics of TuljaBhavani provided untold inspiration. While Saint Dnyaneshwar and other contemporary philosophers revered TuljaBhavani as ‘destroyer of human weaknesses, Shri Aurobidno regarded the Goddess as the prime mover for nationalistic rejuvenation.

Holy Idol of Tuljabhavani

In the Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum)  is the Holy Idol (Murti) of the goddess Tuljabhavani, which is believed by the devotees to be the self manifested idol (Swayambhu Murti). This is a stone image about three feet in height, made of granite.  The Idol of Devi has eight arms which carry various ayudhas (weapons) in the following order. The lowermost right hand holds a trident, the next one a dagger, the one above this an arrow and the uppermost right hand wields the chakra.  In the uppermost left hand is a shankh, next is a bow, the third one carries a bowl and the lower most left hand holds the knot of hair on the head of the slain Asur (Demon). The right leg is planted firmly on the body of Mahishasur, the Demon she killed, and the left leg on the ground. Ornaments like earrings, kundalas, necklaces etc. are, carved on the image. The Goddess rides a lion who is her vahan (carrier) 

It is said that the installation (Pratishtapana) of the Holy Idol of the Goddess was done by Adi Shankaracharya and the idol is rested on the ShriYantra. The most unique feature about TuljaBhavni idol is that, unlike in other temples, the idol is non-static. This is a Chala murti, which means it can be moved from its position. Thrice in a year the Holy Idol is ceremoniously removed from her place on the auspicious days and taken out for the Parikrama or the ritualistic encircling of the Temple.

 
 
 
 
 
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