Who is Ashtavinayak?
Mayureshwar Temple at Morgaon
- Location of the Temple
- Legend of the Temple
- Temple Architecture
- Idol of the deity
- Festivals celebrated in the Temple
Who is Ashtavinayak?
The Sanskrit meaning of ‘Ashtavinayak’ is ‘Eight Ganesha’. Lord Ganesha is a Hindu devta (deity) propitiated for removing obstacles, and bringing intelligence and prosperity to his devotees. In the western state of Maharashtra, Ganesha is the most eminent amongst all Hindu deities. The eight major pilgrimage centers of Lord Ganesha, collectively known as Ashtavinayak, are present in this state. There are separate meanings and legends attached to each of these temples. The idol features of the eight Ganeshas also bear different symbolic interpretations. Pilgrimage to Ashtavinayaks hold special significance in Hindu religion as most of these temples are described as ‘Swayambhu’ – the one created by the nature rather than the humans.
Pilgrimage to Ashtavinayak is carried out in a sequential manner. However, it should always begin and end with Moreshwar temple at Morgaon. The sequence starts with Mayureshwar (Moreshwar)and then it proceeds towards Siddhatek, Pali, Mahad, Thevur, Lenyandri, Ozar, Ranjangaon and finally it ends after revisiting Mayureshwar.
The eight temples of the Ashtavinayak Yatra that are to be visited in sequence are –
1. Mayureshwar Temple at Morgaon
2. Siddhivinayak Temple at Siddhatek
3. Ballaleshwar Temple at Pali
4. Varadavinayak Temple at Mahad
5. Chintamani Temple at Theur
6. Girijatmaj Temple at Lenyadri
7. Vighnahar Temple at Ozar
8. Mahaganapati Temple at Ranjangaon
All the eight temples find mention in the Ganesha and the Mudgala Puranas.
Mayureshwar Temple at Morgaon
Introduction – At Mayureshwar Temple, Lord Ganesha portrays peacock as his vehicle. In the local language ‘Mayura’ or ‘Mora’ means ‘peacock’. Both the temple and the village have derived their names after the bird peacock.
Again, the shape of the Morgaon village resembles that of a peacock and in ancient days there was an abundance of peacocks in the village and it began to be known as Morgaon village, where Morgaon means peacock in Marathi.
Location of the Temple – The Mayureshwar or Moreshwar Temple stands beside the Karha River, at the centre of Morgaon village. Situated at a distance of around 55 km from Pune, the village falls under Baramati Taluka, Maharashtra. The temple gives an impression of a tiny fort from a distant vision.
Legend of the Temple – Legend has it that there was a king named Chakrapani reining the Gandaki city of Mithali. His wife was Queen Ugra. The king and the queen were childless for many years and after their heartfelt worship to god Surya (Sun), Ugra conceived a child. But, the brilliance and radiance of the fetus was such that Ugra failed to nurture it within her embryo for long. As a result, after few months of conceiving she released the whole embryo into the sea.
A brilliant and dominant child was born from the embryo. The guardian of the child, the Sea, disguised as Brahmin, went to Chakrapani and handed the child over to him. The child was named Sindhu and he grew up to become one of the strongest human beings on earth. Under the guidance of Guru Shukracharya, Sindhu worshiped god Surya wholeheartedly. The god, in return, gifted Sindhu the nectar and said as long as the nectar remains near his naval he will be immune to death. Unfortunately, Sindhu’s blessing turned into a curse for the other gods as he started misusing his immortality. He indulged in excessive fights with other gods and also held Lord Vishnu and Indra as captives in his kingdom. The other gods then started praying to Lord Ganesha to escape the atrocities committed by Sindhu.
Lord Ganesha, in return, promised the gods to take birth as goddess Parvati’s son and kill Sindhu who was actually a demon in human form. As part of the story, Parvati worshiped the clay idol of Lord Ganesha on the day of Bhadrapada shuddha Chaturthi before the idol assumed a real form. When Ganesha was a boy of ten years, Shiva and Parvati left Mount Meru and decided to resettle at Mount Kailash. On their way to Kailash, Ganesha entered into a series of fights with demons and defeated all of them with the help of Siddhi (Shakti) and Buddhi (Intelligence).
He first killed Kamalasura and next he found out the Gandaki Nagari of King Sindhu and framed an action plan along with Lord Shiva’s army. In a powerful fight, Ganesha first killed the two sons of King Sindhu and then proceeded towards killing the king. Sindhu’s confidence on his nectar was such that he neglected the warnings given by his father, Chakrapani. Lord Ganesha came riding on a peacock and with his Parashu he killed Sindhu in one go. Ganesha was thus named ‘Mayureshwar’, the one riding a peacock. After the fight was over, Ganesha decided to reside at Morgaon in his Mayureshwar form for the sake of his devotees.
Temple Architecture – The temple is believed to have been built by Mr. Gole, one of the soldiers from the court of Bidar’s Sultan, during the Bahamani reign. A fifty feet tall wall encloses the whole temple. The temple has four gates and the building is covered from all corners with the help of four minarets. The temple was originally built from black-stones, and during later times it was renovated using marbles.
The temple is northward facing. From a distant place, it gives an impression of a mosque. Historians have applied the logic that this was done to save the temple from the plunderers of the Mughal era.
Idol of the deity – The idol of Lord Ganesha is in the form of Mayureshwar who is riding on a peacock. The leftward trunk of Ganesha here is protected by a cobra (Nagaraja) coiled on it. Similar to other Ashtavinayaks, the Mayureshwar idol of Lord Ganesha is accompanied by his two wives, Riddhi (Intelligence) and Siddhi (Capability).
The vehicle of Lord Ganesha, mooshaka, can be seen in the premises, holding two ladoos between its paws. Just opposite the main gate there is a tortoise and a Nandi, facing the deity in the sanctum.
A unique feature of Mayureshwar Temple is the statue of Nandi at the entrance of the temple. As per the Hindu tradition, Nandi is the primary vehicle of Lord Shiva. The story has it that when the Nandi idol was on its way to Shiva temple, the vehicle carrying it collapsed midway and as the sign of auspiciousness, it remained here and got installed at the Mayureshwar temple.
Again, Hindu Mythology experts are of the opinion that the current Nandi idol is not the one originally consecrated by Lord Brahma. The original one was much smaller and made up of diamond, sand and iron particles. It was the one apparently wrapped in the copper sheet by the Pandavas and placed behind its current location. The original idol was consecrated by Lord Brahma twice; first, during its original installation; and second, after being destroyed by Sindhu, the demon king.
Mayureshwar Temple has a couple of more resemblances with a Lord Shiva temple. The Ganesha here is three eyed and the fangs of Nagraj (snake) are seen on the head of the deity.
The sanctum where Lord Mayureshwar is installed is a place where only one priest can enter at a time. The deity is sitting facing eastward, with his trunk turned to left. Precious stones like diamonds are engrained in the eyes and naval areas of the deity. The brass idols of Riddhi and Siddhi are also flanking Ganesha idol while at his front a peacock and a mouse are found standing.
Other idols in the premises – Beside Ganesha, there are many other idols present in the complex of Mayureshwar Temple. The idol of Yogindracharya is put in the right corner of the temple. Other idols present in the complex are of Shiva, Durga, Parvati, Vishnu, Lakshmi etc. Different forms of Ganesha are also present including Mandar Ganesha, Moda Ganesha and Pramod Ganesha. Besides, statues of Shami Devi, Shukla Chaturthi Dev, Bhrushundi, Krishna Chaturthi Devi, and Moraya Gosavi are also beautifully decorated here.
However, amongst all the subsidiary deities, the image of Nagna Bhairava –as the guardian of Lord Mayureshwar – has utmost significance. It’s said that one’s visit to Mayureshwar Temple is incomplete without propitiating Nagna bhairava.
Festivals celebrated in the Temple – Mayureshwar’s puja is done thrice a day. In the morning at 5 a.m. Prakshal Puja is done. This puja is performed by Gurava pujari (priest). Shodopachar Puja is done at 7 a.m. in the morning and at 12 p.m. in the afternoon. A Brahmin priest is appointed for performing this puja.
While performing the puja, Ganesh Atharvashirsha is recited rhythmically. Ganesha at Mayureshwar Temple is offered Naivedyam on a daily basis. In the morning puja, Khichadi and Chapati are offered; during the vesper service, Naivedyam includes a full meal. Finally, at night, the Lord is offered milk and rice.
Bhadrapad Shudh Chaturthi and Magh Shudh Chaturthi are celebrated in the temple. On Magh Shuddh Panchami, Anna santarpana is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm. On this occasion food is collected from every house of the village and the food offering is prepared at the temple. Finally, this prasad is distributed amongst all the devotees.
On the night of Vijayadashmi, i.e. Dasara, a procession carrying Mayureshwar idol (votive) goes around the village. The Palkhi (palanquin) of the deity is brought to the Someshwara temple in the morning.