Sarvamangala Devi

Introduction

Sarvamangala Shakthi Peeth is one of the Astha Dasha Shakthi Peeth. Devi Sati is worshipped as Sarvamangala and Lord Shiva in the form of Linga is worshipped along with the Devi. Devi Sati’s breasts had fallen here.

Location

Sarvamangala Shakthi Peeth is located in Gaya, on the banks of the river Phalgu, Bihar. Gaya is about 100 Kms from South of Patna. Motorable roads lead to the temple. Nearest bus stand is from Gaya which is 3- 5 kms. Nearest railway station is from Gaya. Nearest Airport is from Bodh Gaya which is about 8-10 Kms. Gaya is the second largest city of Bihar.

There is also a flight of steps in between the houses leading to the temple. While ascending the steps, there is a Bhīma temple (one of the five Pandavas). He is said to have performed the Shraddha Karma at this place, thus the place is called as Bhīma Gaya. Bhīma’s knee impression can be seen in the temple.

Other places of tourist interest

Bodh Gaya about 11 Kms from Gaya, where Buddha attained salvation is an important tourist attraction.

The places around Gaya- Rajgir, Nalanda, Vaishali Patliputra, once the centres of knowledge can also be visited.

The temple

Sarvamangala Shakthi Peeth is an ancient temple located on Mangala Gauri hill top facing east. The temple dates back to 1459 AD. The temple has beautiful carvings of gods and goddess in stone.  In the courtyard is the place where Havan is conducted. There is a small Mandap leading to the Garba Griha. There are two small shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva and images of Mahishasura and Mardinigaya in the temple complex. Gaya is surrounded by Mangala Gauri, Rama Shila, Brahmayoni and Shringa Sthan hills on three sides and the river Phalgu  flowing on the fourth side all of which make Gaya a beautiful place.

Vishnu Pada temple is the place where Vishnu’s right foot imprint can be seen.  Vishnu Pada is also considered as the footsteps of Gautam Buddha (who is considered as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu).

Lord Ganesha temple is in front of the main temple. There are other temples dedicated to Lord Janardhana Swamy, Kali Maa, and Lord Shiva. There is a Bilva tree to which people offer puja. Tantrics offer Bali to the goddess.

Gaya is also an important place for doing the last rites or Shradda Karma of the departed souls. Gaya is considered as one of the Sapta Mokhsapuras.

The present temple is rebuilt by Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar, the Indore ruler during 18th Century.

The Deity

The deity in the temple is in the form of two rounded stones signifying breasts of Devi Sati, a symbol of nourishment.

Puranic Reference

Sarvamangala Shakthi Peeth is mentioned in Padma Purana, Vayu Purana, and Agni Purana and Tantric works.

According to Vayu Purana, Gayasura was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. He performed rigorous penance and was blessed by Lord Vishnu. He had such powers that anyone who came in contact with him would be absolved of his sins. Gayasura wanted everyone to attain Mukthi. This got Indra worried. So they decided to teach Gayasura a lesson. The Trimurthis (Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Ishwar) came to Gayasura in the guise of three Brahmins. They wanted to perform Yagna and asked Gayasura for a piece of land. The Trimurthis decided to perform the Yagna on his body as no place was as sacred as his body for the Yagna. The Yagna would be completed in seven days. Gayasura agreed and started counting the days with the crowing of the cock in the morning. On the sixth day, Lord Shiva, with the intention of spoiling the Yagna crowed in the middle of the night. Gayasura mistook it for morning and began to shake his body. The Yagna could not be completed. Thus the Trimurthis made him realise that it is not possible for him to carry the sins of everybody. They granted a boon to him that this place would be as sacred as he was. Thus Gaya is considered as a very sacred place. The body got transformed into several rocky hills which form the topography of the area. The gods decided to sit on these rocks, thus there are several temples on these hill rocks in Gaya.  Thus the place gets its name from the demon Gayasura.

Another version is that Lord Vishnu asked Gayasura to go beneath the earth. Lord Vishnu placed his right foot on Gayasura’s head so that it could go into the earth. The imprint of the right foot of Lord Vishnu is seen in Vishnu Pada temple. When Gayasura pleaded for food, Lord Vishnu granted a boon saying that everyday some one or the other would offer him food. The day he does not get food, he will come out.

According to Ramayana, Lord Rama along with Sita came to Gaya to perform the Shraddha Karma of his father, King Dasharatha. While Lord Rama was taking bath in Phalgu River, a pair of hands (that of King Dasharatha) appeared and a voice spoke asking Sita to prepare the Pindam (rice balls) herself as he was very hungry. Moved by the request, Sita Mata prepared the pindams out of sand and offered it to the pair of hands which received it. Later Lord Rama came back and began doing the Shraddha Karma. When he offered Pindam to his father, he was pained to see that his father was not receiving it. Sita Mata then explained the miracle that had occurred. She called the Phalgu river, a Brahman, a cow and the Banyan tree as witness to what had occurred. Only the Banyan tree supported her story and all the other three denied her story. Brahman denied as he had greed for money, the Phalgu River expected more offerings from Lord Rama and the cow was in awe on seeing Lord Rama. Sita Devi angered at the Brahman, the river and the cow cursed all the three and blessed the Banyan tree as Akshayavat (meaning Akashya immortal, and Vat is Banyan tree). Thus the Banyan tree which usually sheds its leaves during autumn and gets its new leaves by spring season never sheds its leaves here. The tree has evergreen leaves even during drought. Phalgu River lost its water due to the curse and the river is only a stretch of sand dunes.

Gaya is an important place for Buddhists as Buddha attained enlightenment here. Brahmayoni (formerly known as Gayasisa) is the hill where Buddha preached the Fire sermon (Adittapariyaya Sutta) to a thousand fire worshipping ascetics who got enlightenment while listening to Buddha’s discourse.

Rituals, Festivals and Fairs

There are several Banyan trees, Pipal trees which people worship.

Several fairs are organised in Gaya.  Animals fair is held twice in a year on the banks of river Phalgu opposite the Vishnu pad temple.

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