|Vajreshwari is Thane district in Maharashtra and is situated some 75 kilometers from Mumbai in the bosom of nature. There are regular S.T. bus service between Vajreshwari and Thane, Kalyan on the cental railway line and vasai, Nalasopara and Virar on the western line.
We have already narrated the mythological story of Shree Vajradevi. To protect Rishi Vashistha had from the Vajra sent down by Indra, Mata Parvati took ‘Avatar’. Parvati swallowed the Vajra therefore is called Vajreshwari. She made Vajreshwari her permanent abode, on the request of Shree Ramchandra. An imposing temple has been raised there. This temple is very old but the construction we see there today was carried out during the Peshwa rule. Vajreshwari forms part of Thane district. suchas Vashi, Arnala, Kalyan and Bhiwandi are in the vicinity of Vajreshwari.By the year 1560 A.D.the Portuguese had acquired the possession of forts at Vasai,Tarapur, Mahim, Daman and Chaul.
The Portuguese were more aggressive in their proselytizing activities than the Muslims. They indulged in looting peoples belongings, in massacers, in molesting their women. Even Aurangzeb would have felt ashamed before the tyranny of the Portuguese. They destroyed temples and forced thousands of Hindus by just dropping a piece of bread into their wells. Thus, the Hundus became Christians without even being baptized. Our forefathers too were beguiled into believing that the forced Christianity is irrevocable and that such a person is permanently lost to Hinduism. There were countless of them in those days. When the Peshwa – Prime Minister of Maratha Empire learnt this, it was decided to put a stop to thePortuguese mischief. Chimaji Appa, a wellknown sardar of the Peshwas set out with a large Maratha Contingent. Chaskar – Joshi was about to perform the ritual of “Gondhal” at his house Grabbing this opportunity the Peshwa sardars (Patwardhan, Biwalkar, Mankar and Naik Jsohi) assembled there and discussed a secret-plan. In those days, the road from Pune to Vasai passed through Thane, Bhivandi and Vadavli (Vajeshwari). Probably, it was a convenient route. Vadvali is situated at the foot hill and is at the bank of river Tansa(Tejaja).
Chimaji Appa decided to pitch the tents of the Martha army nearby. The tents, big and small, lay spread between Akloli and Ganeshpuri. Temporary horse stables were raised. At some places, horses were seen tied to the trees. It was the day of dark moon light, Amavasya crept in. The dinner was over. Everybody was enjoying either “pan” or smoke of “vidi”(desi cigar) The night – guard sepoys were readying them selves for the duty. In the tent of Chimaji Appa, the informers were busy giving their information. Everything was in its place. The night was ripening.The night guards took up their positions. Activity within the tent came to halt. The smoking was over. The cicadas began to chirp in shrill – pitch. The movements of the nocturnal bats stopped. Only a stray sound of horse intermittently heard. The night – guards were signaling to each other in their typical style. At a distance wolves were heard calling. Dogs were barking, but otherwise there was silence. In his tent, Chimaji Appa was still awake. The thoughts of the imminent expedition had made him rather uneasy. He immensely needed a sound sleep but it gave him a slip. The night was half way through.
It was now, the first hour of dawn. The sleepless Chimaji Appa decided to go out to inspect the night- guard. As he approached a hot water spring (Kunda) he saw a ‘sadhu’. Chimaji Appa was curious about this holy man with an earthen pot in his hand walking in quick strides. “Who could be this man?”, asked Chimaji Appa to himself. “Could he be a spy?”. He called his officers and guards and sort explanation from them. They told him that this sadhu was seen going towards the hills in front of them for the last eight days, both in the morning and also in the evening. What he does there, was not known. Next day evening accompanied by his officers and clerks, Chimaji Appa himself set out and followed the footsteps of the holy man. After covering some distance Chimaji Appa saw a shed made of drysticks and leaves. Underneath it were some idols smeared with ‘shendur’(red lead). The sadhu gave them a bath with the water brought in an earthen pot and worshipped them with wild flowers. He then sat in the ‘Padamasana’ posture.
Chimaji Appa was religious minded and had utmost faith in the Almighty. He too sat in ‘Dhyan’ position before the deity with his head bowed down in reverence in order to invoke her blessings for the task he has undertaken. Unknowingly, his palms closed together and he saluted the deity offering sincere prayers. He said “O mother, I do not know your name, but I offer prayers to you as a divine power. I set out on this military expedition with blessing of Shree Ganesh. If u bless me, I am sure that I will be successful. Suddenly, Appa experienced a queer feeling within and his hair stood on their ends. Appa was hearing some unknown voice within himself. In this state of ecstasy Appa was hearing (and dictating) and the pen of the clerk was noting it on the paper. “I am Vajreshwari. I have come here, at the suggestion of Shri Ramchandra. As I am a ‘Yogini’ I shall not enter anybody else’s body. To those who have faith in me will get my blessings. I shall always bless the ‘Sadhakas’ and the devotees of Yogavidya. My original adobe lies beyond the Mandagani Mountain. But a great yogi would come here after one hundred and fifty years and enhance the importance of this place. Thereby my devotees would find it easy to offer their prayers. “Appa was a little apprehensive.
He thought that he was a stranger to the land and was ignorant about it. There upon the Goddess herself comforted him and told him that he should pray her whenever he felt insecure or uneasy. She would guide him and show him the way. Appa now had coe out if the ecstasy almost after an hour. He returned to his tent. He asked his clerk to prepare a note on action to be taken once the expedition successfully concludes. It said that the original adobe of the goddess should be traced. A temple should be erected for the deities and a grant should be provided for its maintenance. After this episode Chimaji Appa had a very sound sleep. He got a vision while in sleep. He was told that he would get a symbolic message as soon as he would approach the front attack on the fort. The goddess then disappeared. Appa then woke up and then sat in his bed and ‘Namaskar’ with both the hands to goddess Bhagavati.
He had the darshan of the goddess in the morning. Emotionally moved, he profoundly thanked her for having shown him the way to success and promised that if he became victorious in his armed expedition, he would built a fort like temple to Her. The blessed sardar of Peshwa then launched a formidable attack on the fort with all his might.Appa saw a flying flock of pigeons when he came in front of the fort, and he was once reminded of the hint given to him by the Goddess in the vision last night. He was convinced that this was her symbolic message, and he intensified the attack from that side. The air was filled with shouts “Jaya Bhavani”. Grim battle ensued. Appa attacked the main bastian of the Portuguese, Silvera the officer of the fort was killed in the encounter. Chimaji Appa scored a decisive victory. In the process however, he lost too many of his chosen commanders and also soldiers. Appa had vowed that either the Maratha flag or my head blown from the canon would flutter atop the fort, the Portuguese flag was replaced by saffron ‘Jari – pataka’ The people were last freed form the tyranny and fear forcible conversion. They were happy. The Peshwas valour was written in golden lettersIn due course, Appa redeemed pledge and buite a fortlike temple, in Vajreshwari, As memorial to his Victory, as vasai he also built a ‘Dipastambha’ and a ‘Dipamala’ Since the time people have come to belive that the goddess fulfilles their wishes if they pray her.
The temple became a sacred kingdom-a ‘Sansthan’. Seven to eight surrounding villages were given to the Sansthan as maintanance grant. The original name of village Vajreswari was Vadavali. The village deity was Kalikamata. Even today, there is a tradition to take out the procession with someone wearing the mask of the village deity on a ‘Rangapanchami’ day every year. The original abode of Vajreswari is in wada taluka beyond the Mandagini mountain. Gunja and katai are the two villages where there is an ancient temple belonging to the pandav era. The temple which is still there houses Parshuram, Renuka, Vajreswari, Bhagirathi etc.
On the 8th day of the bright fortnight of ‘falgun’ month every year, people perform worship and preyar with full ceremonial rite to the goddess. Chimaji Appa could have the vision of the goddess because Godhada baba whom he had mat on that day was having the idol of kalikamata with him. Appa placed the idol made of the Gandki stone with all the sacred rites at the very location where he had got the vision of the Goddess. An auspicious moment was chosen for the occasion. Fairs in honour of various deities at different placed in Maharashtra are generally hald on the full moonday i.e. poornima but the one at Vajreswari is held on Amavasya the dark moonday, in the month of Chaitra. The fair commences on the 14th day of the dark half of the month.
A grand ceremonial worship take plac on that day. On Amavasya the dark moonday, at night there is a worship of the lamps and on the first day of Vaisakh month, the ceremonial procession of the Goddess is taken out.Godhadebuwa, the staunch devotee of the Goddess formaly belonged the ‘Dashnam Giri’ sect. Once opon a time a locality in pune was known as ‘Gosavipura’. Today it is known as Somvarpeth. The seffron-clad Gosavis ( of this sect) used to wander through this region. Interestingly enough, some of them were appointed in the peswa court on important designations. When the temple was completed, the peshwa government sanctioned an annual grant of Rs. 890/- Gradully Vadavali assumed importance. The administration of the temple and the villages granted to it passed to the Giri Gosavis. Godhadebuwa alwayes lived on the Gautam hill. Knowing fully that Godhabebuwa was instrumental in bringing grandeur to this abode well that of the Goddess people entreated him to stay in vicinity of the temple, and offred to build a ‘Matha’ for him.
The selfless ascetic declined. People wanted the administration of the temple to be assigned to one of his disciples. When this become known Mahantas of various sects thronged around him claiming the coveted post. In order to get out of this predicament, it was decided to hold on ordeal-test. All those Mahantas desirous of the type appointment had to perform a fire ordeal. It was rather a unique type of fireordeal. The hot-water ‘Kundas’ contained water which was hot to the boiling point. Rice could be cooked in it within seconds. The Mahanta of each sect was asked to take a thorough dip in this hot water. Whoever came out of the ordreal unscathed was to be appointed. Godhabebuwa alone succeeded in the ordeal. The Mahanta of ofther sects, who were falsifiers and selfish by nature, utterly failed to complete the ordeal. The administration of the Vajreshwari Sanashthan was thus assigned to the Gosavi sect. But Godhadebuwa ascented the Goutam hill never to come down again. He chose ‘Nivrithi path’ (geven up all worldly things) people used to go to him for having a glimpse of him and to enuire about his well being. Blessed in his soul. He stopped even going for the ‘Darshan’ of Vajreshwari. His shrine has been built on the gautam hill behind the temple of the goddess at an elevation. People reverrently pay visit to this shrine. Since that time on, the heir of the Giri Gosavi sect have been the custodians of the Vajreshwari temple. Their present generation is the 14th and is represented by Shri Hemendra Giri Gosawi who is at present the heriditary trustee of the trust. Vajreshwari is Thane district in Maharashtra and is situated some 75 kilometers from Mumbai in the bosom of nature. There are regular S.T. bus service between Vajreshwari and Thane, Kalyan on the cental railway line and vasai, Nalasopara and Virar on the western line. In the vicinity of the temple there are ‘Dharmasalas’ and private lodge well equipped with all amenities.
Facilities are further improving at Vajreshwari day by day. Ganeshpuri and Akloli which are near Vajreshwari have beautiful temples and ancient hot-water springs. This land chosen by sage Vashista for his ‘Yagnya’ has now become secred by the touch of the feet of Swami Nityanand. His shrine in the land symbolises his immortal memory. Every grain of soil there embodies all the anecdotes of his diving powers. Nityanand was not just one person, he was a diving entity. Though a naked sage himself, he used to feed hundreds of orphan children everyday and showered his affecation on them. By his own example, he inspired others to practise humanitarian religion by giving selfless love to all irrespactevec of the differences such as caste, religion, colour, the poor or the rich. He spent most of his time in the temple. He built school, ‘Dharamasala’ and hospitals in a village and later handed them over to the Government. He also rennovated the temple of Gorakhanath-Machhindranath whom he adored as his Guru. This temple know as ‘Nathmandir’ holds the ‘padukas’ ( foot prints on stone) of Nath and Bhagawan Nityanand. The 7th canto of Navanath Kathasar contains a lot of information about Shri Vajrubhagawati. Its mantioned there that after worshiping the Saptashringi Goddess at Vani, Machhindra came to Vajreshwari. Here he served the Goddess for a month by daily giving her bath of hot water procreated by himself. The hot-water springs of those times, are the specility of Vajreshwari. As referred to earlier, those hot-water springs which were procreated to ward off the calamities thrust upon the people by Indra have their own value from the mythological point of view. And in today’s world of science too they command public attention and interest. The sage Vashistha had then made use of medicinal plants found in the thick forest around. The scholars and practitioners of Ayurveda ought to take advantage of these plants today. Some local people there do use them by using the triple-remedy of medicinal plants, bath in the hotwater springs and prayers simultaneously. Many have been cured of thair skin-diseases, polio and physical disabilities. I, however, feel that there is a need in conduct further research in this respact and to start a Nature Cure Centre here so as to reap maximum benefits.
14NOV2010Leave a comment
Location: 80kms from Mumbai (map)
Timings: 5:30am to 8:30pm (not closed in afternoon)
Kṣhetra Purāṇam: This is an very ancient temple from times unknown. Since the main deities are Vajreśvarī Devi, KālikāDevi and Renukā Devi, thesthalapurāṇam describes stories related to all three of them. Firstly, regardingVajreśvarī Devi: A rākṣhasa by nameKalikāla used to trouble the mahaṛṣhis,munis and used to destroy their yajñas. They together, with Indra-adi devatas, pleaded Parvati Devi to rescue them from the terrible rākṣhasa and got Her blessing. In the war between Devatas and the rākṣhasa, Kalikāla swallowed all weapons thrown at him. He even broke the Vajra-ayudham of Indra. Then from the Vajra-ayudham emerged the Goddess and slayed Kalikāla. Hence the Goddess was called by the name Vajreśvarī. The story behind Kalikadevi needs no introduction. The Goddess Renuka devi (Yellamma, the mother of Parasurama) appears here because of the close connection of this region to Parasurama: according to the Puranas, this region was blessed by the visits of various incarnations of Lord Mahavishnu. Parasurama, one of the 10 main incarnations of Lord Vishnu, performed many Yajnas here and the mountains in this region are believed to be the Yajna-bhasmam!
The original temple at Gunj was destroyed by the Portugese and was reconstructed in the present place by Peshwa Bajirao I, in 1739, by the encouragement of his brother and senāpati Chimaji Appa. After the invasion of the Portugese, the Vasai fort was under the control of them. Bajirao, with the help of Chimaji fought a war for releasing Vasai from the clutches of the Portugese. However, even after a fierce three year war they were not able to win over the Portugese. Chimaji appa then prayed to the Goddess Vajreśvarī and took a vow that if they defeat the Portugese and free the motherland, then he would re-construct the temple. The Goddess pleased by the Bhakti of Chimaji, appeared in his dream and revealed him the way to conquer the Vasai fort. On 16 May 1739, Chimaji won the battle and released Vasai fort. As per his vow, he immediately got the Vajreśvarī temple reconstructed.
About the Temple: The temple is mid-way on a hill with 52 steps leading to the temple. On the 27th step from the top, is a Golden Kurmam worshipped as the Kurma-avatar of Lord Vishnu. The temple is surrounded by a fort-like stone wall. The main entrance resembles a Nagarkhana and the main temple has three sections: the garbha-grha, grha with dome shaped top and a pillared mandapam. The deities in the garbha-grha are: Vajreśvarī Devi, saffrom coloured murti with khadgam, gada and trisulam; to the left are Renuka Devi (Yellamma) with khadgam and padmam; Saptashrngi Devi; and Vyaghram (tiger, vahanam of Devi). To the right are the murtis are: Kalikadevi with padmam and kamandalam; Lord Parasurama with parsu and dhanus. The second grha with dome-shaped top has the murits of Ganesh, Bhairava, Hanuman and Morbadevi (Devi on peacock vahanam). The pillared mandapam has the murto of Vyaghra vahanam of Devi and Ghanta.
Other Main Deities: There are many Siva lingams and a small shrine of Kapilesvara. There are also shrines of Dattatreya and Hanuman. A peepal tree in front of the Hanuman shrine, has assumed a form of Ganesha and is worshipped as the deity. Further above on the hill is the samadhi of the first pujari of the reconstructed temple Sri Giri Gosavi Godhadebuva.
Near-by Temples: Somesvaralayam is at a walkable distance (1km) from Vajreśvarī temple. It is known by the name Akloli kund and has hot water springs outside the temple. There are around 21 kunds (Surya, Chandra, Agni, Vayu, Sita, Lakshmi, Lakshmana etc.), which are hot water springs, near by this place, which are believed to be the blood of the rākṣhasa killed by the Devi.