Shree Mayureshwar Ganapati Temple




Shri Mayureshwar Mandir or Shri Moreshwar Mandir is a Hindu temple (mandir) dedicated to Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of wisdom. It is located in Moragaov in Pune District, about 80 kilometres (50 mi) away from Pune city in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The temple is the starting and ending point of a pilgrimage of eight revered Ganesha temples called Ashtavinayaka.

Moragaov is the foremost centre of worship of the Ganapatya sect, which considers Ganesha as the Supreme Being. A Hindu legend relates the temple to killing of the demon Sindhu by Ganesha. The exact date of building of the temple is unknown, though the Ganapatya saint Moraya Gosavi is known to be associated with it. The temple flourished due to the patronage of the Peshwa rulers and descendants of Moraya Gosavi.
The Morgaon temple is the starting point of the pilgrimage of eight revered temples of Ganesha, around Pune. The temple circuit is known as Ashtavinayak (“Eight Ganeshas”). The pilgrimage is considered incomplete if the pilgrim does not visit the Morgaon temple at the end of the pilgrimage. The Morgaon temple is not only the most important temple in the Ashtavinayak circuit, but also is described as “India’s foremost Gaṇeśa (Ganesha) pilgrimage” (IAST original).

Morgaon is the adhya pitha – foremost centre of worship of the Ganapatya sect, which considers Ganesha as the Supreme Being. It attracts the greatest number of pilgrims in the Ashtavinayak circuit. Both the primary scriptures of the Ganapatya sect praise Morgaon. While Mudgala Purana dedicates 22 chapters to Morgaon’s greatness, Ganesha Purana states that Morgaon (Mayurapuri) is among the three most important places for Ganesha and the only one on earth (Bhuloka). The other locations are Kailash in heaven (actually Kailash is a mountain on earth in the Himalayas, believed to have the abode of Ganesha’s parents Shiva and Parvati) and Adi-Shesha’s palace in Patala (underworld). According to a tradition, the temple is without beginning and without an end. Another tradition maintains that at the time of pralaya (the dissolution of the world), Ganesha will enter yoganidra here. Its holiness is compared with Kashi, the sacred Hindu city.
According to the Ganesha Purana, Ganesha incarnated as Mayuresvara or Mayureshwar (Mayūreśvara), who has six arms and a white complexion. His mount is a peacock. He was born to Shiva and Parvati in the Treta yuga, for the purpose of killing the demon Sindhu.

Sindhu was the son of Cakrapani – the king of Mithila and his wife Ugrā. Ugrā conceived due to the power of a solar mantra, but was unable to bear the extreme heat radiating from the foetus, so she abandoned it in the ocean. Soon, a son was born from this abandoned foetus and the ocean returned him to his grieving father, who named him Sindhu – the ocean.

The caves of Lenyadri, where the Mayuresvara form of Ganesha is believed to have been born
Parvati underwent austerities meditating on Ganesha – “the supporter of the entire universe” – for twelve years at Lenyadri (another Ashtavinayak site, where Ganesha is worshiped as the son of Parvati). Pleased by her penance, Ganesha blessed her by the boon that he would be born as her son. In due course, Ganesha was born to Parvati at Lenyadri and named as Gunesha by Shiva. Little Gunesha once knocked an egg from a mango tree, from which emerged a peacock. Gunesha mounted the peacock and assumed the name Mayuresvara.

Sindhu was given the ever-full bowl of amrita (elixir of life) as a boon from the Sun-god. The demon was warned that he could drink from the bowl as long as it was intact. So to protect the bowl, he swallowed it. Sindhu terrorized the three worlds, so the gods asked Gunesha for help. Gunesha defeated Sindhu’s army, cut his general Kamalasura into three pieces and then cut open Sindhu’s body, emptying the amrita bowl and thus killing the demon. The creator-god Brahma is described as having built the Morgaon shrine, and marrying Siddhi and Buddhi to Ganesha. At the end of this incarnation, Gunesha returned to his celestial abode, giving his peacock mount to his younger brother Skanda, with whom the peacock mount is generally associated.

Because Ganesha rode a peacock (in Sanskrit, a mayura, in Marathi – mora), he is known as Mayureshwar or Moreshwar (“Lord of the peacock”). Another legend says that this place was populated by peacocks giving the village its Marathi name, Morgaon (“Village of peacocks”), and its presiding deity the name Moreshwar.

A Ganapatya legend recalls how the creator-god Brahma, the preserver-god Vishnu and the dissolver-god Shiva, the Divine Mother Devi and the Sun-god Surya mediated at Morgaon to learn about their creator and their purpose of existence. Ganesha emerged before them in form of an Omkara flame and blessed them. Another legend records that when Brahma created his son Kama (desire), he became a victim of desire and lusted for his own daughter Sarasvati (Goddess of learning). Upon invocation by all of the deities, the sacred Turiya Tirtha river appeared and Brahma bathed in her waters to cleanse his sin of incest. Brahma then came to Morgaon to worship Ganesha, carrying water from the river in his water pot. Entering the Ganesha shrine, Brahma stumbled and water fell from the pot. When Brahma tried to pick it up, it was turned into the sacred Karha river, that still flows at Morgaon.
Morya Gosavi (Moroba), a prominent Ganapatya saint, worshipped at the Morgaon Ganesha temple before shifting to Chinchwad, where he established a new Ganesha temple. The Morgaon temple and other Ganapatya centres near Pune, enjoyed royal patronage from the Brahmin Peshwa rulers of the Maratha Empire during the 18th century. The Peshwas, who worshipped Ganesha as their kuladaivat (“family deity”), donated in land and/or cash and/or made additions to these Ganesha temples.

According to Anne Feldhaus, the Morgaon temple does not pre-date the seventeenth century, when Morya Gosavi popularized it. However, even the dating of Morya Gosavi is disputed and varies from the 13th–14th century to the 17th century. The descendants of Morya Gosavi – who were worshipped as Ganesha incarnates at the Chinchwad temple – often visited the Morgaon temple and controlled the finances and administration of many Ashthavinayak temples. The 17th-century saint Samarth Ramdas composed the popular arati song Sukhakarta Dukhaharta, seeing the Morgaon icon.

Currently, the temple is under the administration of the Chinchwad Devasthan Trust, which operates from Chinchwad. Besides Morgaon, the temple trust controls the Chinchwad temple and the Theur and Siddhatek Ashtavinayak temples.

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