Jīvdāni Mātā Mandir

Jivdani2-Amazing MaharashtraLocation:  80kms from Mumbai (map).

Timings: All day.

Khetra Purāam: Once Pāndavas, during tīrtha yātra, came to the banks of vaitariṇī river, which even today flows near this sacred place. On the banks of this river and near Tungareśvar hill, they worshipped Ekavīra Devī. (This ancient temple of Ekavīra Devī was destroyed by Moghuls and Portugese and now one can only see remains of this destruction). Inspired by the Devī, they then worshipped Her in the mountain caves near by in the form of invisible Goddess by the name Jīvadhani Mātā. Even today, one can see a small passage just beside the newly consecrated idol, where the Goddess resides in invisible form.

Till the advent of kaliyuga and Buddhism, this sacred place was visited by many yogīs and thereafter was forgotten. Infact, many ancient temples and caves around vasai were destroyed by the portugese (see this). To a large extent, the Śankarcharyas of Pū have played a key role in reversing the damage done by Buddhists as well as Portugese to this place.

Not surprisingly, Jīvdāni Mātā Mandir was re-discovered because of the 7th Śankarcharya of Pū, Śrī Svāmī Padmanābha Tīrtha. The story goes as follows. Once when Śankarcharya visited this place, a mahar came to Him and expressed his desire to have darshan of invisible Jīvdāni Mātā, who is his kuladevī. Śankarcharya blessed him and asked him to do go-seva on the Jīvdāni Hill. The mahar followed His instructions very carefully and ultimately indeed got darshan of the Devī . When Devī appeared before him, he with his conversation impresses the Devī. Devī then asks him how he being a mahar has such great knowledge of Vara-āśrama-dharmas. The mahar, with humility, says it is all the blessings of Śankarcharya. Devī impressed by mahar, says: “with the puya of serving this cow, who is none other than kāmadhenu, you can cross this un-crossable vaitariṇī and attain Mokha“. This amazing story throws light on how true followers of Hinduism and Guru’s of Hinduism like Śankarcharya did not discriminate mahars and infact helped them attain Mokha itself! On contrary, it is unfortunate that modern activists consider mahars to be of low-caste and victims of social injustice.

This entire episode of mahar getting Mokha was witnessed by a barren woman. Impressed by the woman’s stotrams, the Devī blessed her with a child. The barren woman replied saying, she would be happier if the Goddess blessed all barren woman rather than her alone! The Devi then gave a boon that any barren woman who offers beetle nut near my cave will be blessed with children. Thus the ancient cave and the Goddess once again became famous due to Gurus like Śankarcharya and great bhaktas like the mahar and the barren woman.

About the Temple: The temple and idol that exist now are recent constructions. The cave temple itself is on a hill and one needs to ascend around 1700 steps to reach the temple. There is rope-way facility intended for elderly people. For young people, the waiting time for rope-way will be more than hill-climbing time. The present cave temple is beautiful with idols of Devi and Shri Krishna in marble. The small passage, where the devi resides in invisible form, can also be seen near the main temple. The temple is visited by a large number of locals and pilgrims from near-by villages. On holidays and holy days, there will be long queues for seeing the Goddess. From the temple, the view of vasai is very beautiful.

Near-by temples: Agashi Bhavani Shankar, Tungareśvar, Chakreśvar, Chaṇḍikā Devi.

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Prabhāvatī Devī Mandir (Prabhadevi, Mumbai)

  Location: In prabhavati area, Mumbai (map).

  Timings: All day.

  Kṣhetra Purāṇam: The idol of the main deity, Prabhāvatī Devī, belongs to the 12th century. At that time, the Goddess was known as Śākambarī Devi and was the kuldevta of the Yādava king Bimba rāja of Gujarat. Unfortunately, due to the attacks of the Mughals, the Goddess was shifted to Karnataka. Later on, it was shifted to Mahim creek and subsequently, put in a well that used to exist opposite the present temple. Perhaps the people of Mumbai were fortunate, the following miracle happened in the 18th century.

Goddess Śākambarī Devi appeared as Prabhāvatī Devī in the dream of Shyam Nayak, a rich Pathare Prabhu. He then retrieved the idol from the well and constructed the temple in 1715. It is this ancient idol one can have darśan of in this temple.

  About the Temple: The garbhālayam has idols of three Goddesses Prabhāvatī Devī, Chanḍikā Devi (right) and Kālikā Devi (left). To the right of Chanḍikā Devi, there is an ancient Śiva lingam. The Goddess has four arms with Padmam, Japamālā, varada, abhaya hastams. There are other small temples of: Lakṣhmī Nārāyaṇa, Śiva, Hanumān, Śītalā Devi and Khokalā Devi. Every year in the Puṣhya month, a ten day Jātra is held, beginning on the full moon day (Śākambarī Pourṇima). The locality is now known by the Goddesses name as Prabhadevi.

Mahālakṣhmī Temple (Mahalakshmi, Mumbai)

  Location: Mahalakshmi area, Mumbai (map).

  Timings: 6am-10pm.

  Kṣhetra Purāṇam: The story of this temple is connected to the Hornby Vellard project, where the goal was to block the Worli creek and prevent the low-lying areas of Mumbai from being flooded at high tide. However inspite of multiple attempts, many portions of the sea wall collapsed. Then one night, Goddess Mahālakṣhmī appeared in the dream of the chief engineer, Śri Rāmjī Śivjī, and instructed him to find three idols of Mahālakṣhmī, Mahākālī, Mahāsarasvatī lying in the seabed and build a temple for them. She gave a boon that the sea-walls will then not collapse. Śri Rāmjī Śivjī did as instructed by the Goddess and built the present temple, in around the year 1785. One can now have darśan of the three swayambhū idols of the Goddesses. Needless to say, the sea-wall never collapsed subsequently.

  About the Temple: The idols of the Goddesses are covered with beautiful golden masks. However, one can have darśan of the swayambhū idols either in the morning during abhiṣhekam at 6am or at around 9:30pm in the night. The swayambhū idols are covered with sindhūr, as is common in Maharashtra. One has to ascend around 25 steps to reach the temple. The temple is located on the banks of the Arabian sea. One can even reach the sea by descending around 50 steps from the back of the temple. This place is very beautiful especially during sunrise and sunset. There small temples of Gaṇeśa and Hanumān near this sea-side area of the temple.

Śrī Devī Padmāvatī Temple (IIT-Powai, Mumbai)

  Location: Inside the IIT Campus in Powai, Mumbai (map).

  Timings: 6am-12pm and 4pm-9pm.

About the Temple: This is an ancient temple dating back to around 10th century, according to śilāśasanās (stone inscriptions) retrieved from the near-by Powai lake. The main deity of the temple was Lord Śiva, in the name of Nagajeśvara Svāmi (Lord of daughter of Himalayas). The temple was later maintained by Simhappa, a mahāsāmant under the Silhara kings. An agricultural land (the present IIT campus) was also donated by him to the Temple. Chattrapati Śivāji, later installed Goddess Padmāvatī‘s idol and from then the temple became famous after Her name. Padmāvatī Devi, though an incarnation of Goddess Lakṣhmī, has many striking resemblances with Mumbādevi: Devi does not have a mouth and the idol is covered with sindhūr. Also, the Devi’s chālīsa mentions Her name as Pavaīsvarī, based on which the locality is known as Powai. Perhaps this shows that Mātā Śakti is the same whether called as Pārvatī or Lakṣhmī or Sarasvatī. Currently, inside the temple premises there are three temples: Padmāvatī Devi, Nagajeśvara Svāmi and a new temple of Lord Ganeśa.

Links: Temple website.

Mumbādevī Temple (Bhuleshwar, Mumbai)

  Location: In Bhuleshwar area, Mumbai (map).

  Timings: Though open all day, since the place is a marketplace and is extremely crowded, it is advisable to visit in early morning or on Sunday. Also you might want to visit the temple during special arti at ~7:30am, ~7:30pm.

  Kṣhetra Purāṇam: Once upon a time, a rākhasa by name Mumbarāka lived in this area. He was very cruel and used to terrorize the locals. Not able to tolerate, the locals pleaded Lord Brahma to save them from the rākhasa. The Lord then created the eight-armed Mumbādevī from His body to slay the daemon. Mumbādevī  then vanquished the rākhasa and saved the locality. From then Mumbādevī was worshiped by the locals and is considered as their grāma-devata.

  About the Temple: The ancient temple was originally located at the present Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). The Britishers demolished the temple around the 1730s and built a railway station there in the name of Queen Victoria. Because of this, unfortunately, Mumbādevī was moved to an Annapūrna devi temple located at the current Mumbādevī temple location in Bhuleshwar. Currently, the temple has both the idols of Mumbādevī  and Annapūrna devi. The idol of Mumbādevī, covered in sindhūr, dressed in a beautiful robe, with the distinctive nose-ring (a mango shaped one called ‘nath’ worn by Maharashtrian women), a silver crown and a golden necklace is the one which draws everybody’s attention. Interestingly, the Goddess does not have a mouth, representing her tolerance and being a form of Bhūdevi. There are idols of other Gods like Ganeśa, Hanumān and Lord Indra in the temple premises. Because Mumbādevī  is the grāma-devata and is the protector of the area, this place is called as Mumbai.

Ekvīrā Mātā (Kārla Caves, Lonāvla)

Location: ~110kms from Mumbai (map).

Timings: Since the temple is located on hill, visiting during day is preferable.

Kṣhetra Purāṇam: This temple was constructed by the Pāṇḍavās during their Araṇyavāsam. Once when Pāṇḍavās visited this holy place, Ekvīrā Mātā appeared before them. She instructed them to build a temple for her. To test the kārya dīkṣha of the Pāṇḍavās, the Goddess laid a condition that the construction must be done overnight. The great Pāṇḍavās then indeed built this beautiful temple in one night. Impressed by the bhakti of Pāṇḍavās the Goddess blessed them and granted the boon that they will not be discovered by anybody during their ajñātavāsam. The Goddess is an avatār of Goddess Reṇukā Devi.

About the Temple: The temple is located on a hill. One needs to ascend around 500 steps to reach the temple. The temple is surrounded by ancient caves known by the name Kārla caves, which are now protected by the Archeological dept. While the main deity is Ekvīrā Mātā, to her left is Jogeśvarī Devi. One gets a excellent view of the surrounding from the hill top. Half way down the hill, there is a temple for the holy feet of the Goddess (shown in the picture on left).

Chaṇḍikā Devī Mandir (Naigaon, Thane)

Location: ~55 kms from Mumbai (map).

Timing: All day.

Kṣhetra Purāṇam: This is the divya kṣhetram where Goddess Mangala Chaṇḍikā, after slaying the Sumbha and Nisumbha rākṣhasas, came here in her ugra rūpam. The Goddess here appears in three forms: Mangala Chaṇḍikā, Mahiṣhāsura Mardini and Kālikā Devi. After being pacified here, the Goddess went to Nāśik and appeared as Saptaśṛuṅgi devi.

About the Temple: Though the Goddesses here are svayambhu, the temple structures are renovated and are fairly new. The three Goddesses appear on a rock of a hill inside a cave. One needs to ascend around 200 steps in order to reach this cave temple. It is very interesting that the honey bees here, many times, naturally construct their honey combs in the form of Śiva liṅga (see picture on left). Perhaps even the bees know that the place is sacred!

Near by Temples: Tungareśvar Mahādev Mandir (11kms;map), Chakresvar Mandir (20kms;map).

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