Mahaganapati Temple at Ranjangaon

The Mahaganpati at Ashtavinayak is the most powerful representation of Lord Ganesha. His name itself suggests about his huge appearance. Mahaganpati is depicted as having eight, ten or twelve arms. It is after invoking this form of Ganpati that Shiva vanquished the demon Tripurasur and so he is also known as Tripurarivade Mahaganpati.

Location of the Temple – The temple of Mahaganapati is situated in the village of Ranjangaon which is on the Pune-Nagpur highway. The temple of Maha Ganpati is very close to the centre of the town Ranjangaon.

Temple Architecture – The temple has a distinct resemblance to the architecture style of the 9th and 10th centuries. It is eastward facing. While entering the temple, its main gate – guarded by Dwarapalas (two statues of Jay and Vijay) – grabs all attention of the visitors. The temple is designed in such a way that, during the sunset period, Dakshinayan sunrays is directly shone on the Lord’s idol.

The temple was erected during the rule of the Peshwas. The temple was built by Sardar Kine. Later in 1790 AD Peshwa Madhavrao had constructed the Garbhagriha (the sanctum in stone), to house the swayambhu statue of Lord Ganesha.

Idol of the deity – The idol faces the east, is seated in a cross-legged position with a broad forehead, with its trunk pointing to the left. The deity has Riddhi and Siddhi on both sides.

It is said that the original idol is hidden in the basement, having 10 trunks and 20 hands and is called Mahotkat, however, the temple authorities deny the existence of any such idol.

Legend of the Temple – According to legend, this is the place where Shiva worshiped Lord Ganesha before starting a war against the demon Tripurasura. The temple was built by Shiva where he worshipped Ganesha. Also, the town he had set up was called Manipur which is now known as Ranjangaon.

One day, a young boy was created from the sneeze of Sage Gritsamad and the Sage brought him up as his own son. He was named Tripurasura. The sage wanted to transfer all his knowledge unto Tripurasur. When Tripurasur was young, the sage taught him Gananam Twam and Ganesha Mantra.

The young Tripurasura had utmost faith in the teachings of his father and he decided to meditate intensely on Lord Ganesha. Pleased with the young boy’s commitment, the Lord blessed him. He was gifted three puras (towns) made up of three metals viz. gold, silver and iron. After this episode the boy was named Tripur – the one with three puras. Along with this gift, Ganesha also blessed him to be the most powerful and influential in the world.

This boon made Tripur proud and mighty. As a result he started creating havoc in the world. He began attacking the gods and goddesses unreasonably. In a fierce fight he defeated the king of heaven, Lord Indra. As his aggression surpassed every limit, other gods started taking refuge in secret locations. Lord Brahma entered the safe harbor of the lotus flower, while Lord Vishnu took refuge at Shirsagar. Tripurasur’s mission was accomplished when he took over Lord Shiva’s Mount Kailash. He was then at the helm of all three worlds. Under the guidance of Narada, all the gods decided on meditate on Lord Ganesha. Since Ganesha had granted this powerful boon to Tripurasura, he could only save other gods from his atrocities. Lord Ganesha finally considered the situation and agreed on helping the gods.

Lord Ganesha visited Tripurasura in a disguised form of a Brahmin. He cajoled Tripurasura into accepting the three flying planes made by Ganesha. The Lord also told him that these planes could help him achieve whatever is still left to be achieved. Ganesha set a condition that only when Tripurasura will get the idol of Chintamani from Kailash Mountain, he would hand over the three planes to him. A string of ceaseless fights took place between Lord Shiva and Tripurasura at Kailash. Being unable to defeat Tripurasura, Lord Shiva took temporary refuge in Girikandar. In order to propitiate Lord Ganesha, Shiva began reciting Shadakshara Mantra to meditate on Lord Ganesha. While reciting the Mantra, Gajanan emerged from the mouth of Shiva. Gajanan guided Shiva to first recite Sahasranama and then target the three puras of Tripurasura with an arrow. Lord Shiva thus got successful in defeating Tripurasura and freed other gods as well.

Festivals celebrated in the Temple – Residents of the Ranjangaon village do not invoke idols of Ganapati at home during Ganesha Chaturthi. Instead, on this festival everyone comes to the temple to celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi. In the month of Bhadrapad, a six day festival is celebrated in the temple.

On the fifth day there is ‘Mahaprasad’, a huge offering to Lord Maha Ganesha. A procession of the deity’s palanquin is conducted on these days. Other celebrations including wrestling matches are also held.

References

Mahadeva Shastri Joshi. 1974. Bharatiya Sanskruti Kosha, Vol. VIII. Pune. Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh Mandal.