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Vishalakshi Temple (Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh)

About

The Vishalakshi Temple or Vishalakshi Gauri Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Vishalakshi (an aspect of goddess Parvati/Gauri) at Mir Ghat on the banks of the Ganges at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, India. It is generally regarded as a Shakti Pitha, the most sacred temples dedicated to the Hindu Divine Mother. The eyes and perhaps earrings of the goddess Sati are said to have fallen on this holy spot of Varanasi. Vishalakshi Temple is known for its temple festival on Kajali Tij, held on the third day during waning fortnight in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada (August).

Vishalakshi Temple is dedicated to the Vishalakshi Maa (means wide eyed Devi) or the Goddess Parvati, the consort of the Lord Shiva. Vishalakshi Temple is also known as the Vishalakshi Gauri Temple. It is a most famous Hindu temple located at the Meer Ghat on the bank of the holy River Gange in the Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. The Vishalakshi Temple is considered as a Shakti Pitha, the most holy temples devoted to the Hindu Divine Mother, Adi Shakti.

Vishalakshi Manikarnika or Vishalakshi Manikarni Shakti Peeth is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas mentioned in the Puranas.  It is said that karna kundala (earring) of Devi Sati fell here. Hence Devi Maa here is also known as Manikarni or Manikarnika. The Puranas say that this city exists even after the Pralaya. The famous place ‘Manikarnika’ is located here and named so because the earring of Goddess Sati was like a pearl (Mani). Goddess worshiped here as Maa Vishalakshi & Lord Shiva as Kala or Kaal Bhairva. Some pundits feel that karna kundala is merely an ornament and not part of the body. Therefore this place can at best be considered as an upapeetha, a minor or sub-centre. Another version says that this is a shakti peetha only because one of the three eyes (Akshi) fell here. As the divine eye can perceive the entire universe, Mother here is called Vishalakshi, the vast-eyed.

The Vishalakshi Temple of Divine Mother Sati, wife of Lord Shiva stands at Meer Ghat just behind Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, India. Vishalakshi Devi temple is a powerful Shakti Peeth and any pooja, charity, recitation of devi mantras performed in this premises is considered to yield very high results. Unmarried girls worshiping Vishalakshi Devi are sure to get married, childless couple will certainly be blessed with a child, even the most unfortunate ladies will find all fortunes coming their way.

Vishalakshi or Varanasi figures in most standard lists of Shakti Peethas. The Tantric work Rudrayamala, composed before 1052 CE, mentions 10 principal Shakti Peethas, which includes Varanasi as the fifth one. The Kularnava Tantra mentions 18 Pithas and mentions Varanasi as the sixth one. The Ashadashapitha (18 Peethas) ascribed to Shankaracharya (interpreted as Adi Shankara, however probably Shankara Agamacharya, Bengali author of the Tara-rahasya-vrittika) enumerates 18 names along with their presiding deities or Pitha-devis including Vishalakshi of Varanasi as the fifth Pitha. In the Kubjika Tantra, Varanasi is third in 42 names. There are the two lists of Pithas in the Jnanarnava, one with 8 names and the other with fifty names. The 8-name list does not mention Varanasi, but the other list names Varanasi in the second spot. Vishalakshi of Varanasi is mentioned as first of 108 Shakti Pithas in the list in the Devi Bhagavata Purana. The face of Sati is described to have fallen here. This is only instance where a body part is related to the Shakti Pitha in the text. The Devi Gita within the same text gives a long list of Pithas, where Vishalakshi is mentioned as dwelling in Avimukta (Varanasi). No body part is related to the Pitha in this list. In the non-scripture 16th century Bengali work Chandimangal, Mukundaram lists nine Pithas in the Daksha-yajna-bhanga section. Varanasi is the last Pitha described to be the place where Sati’s chest fell and the presiding goddess being Vishalakshi. Lakshmidhara also includes Vishalakshi in his 12th century list.

The Pithanirnaya or Mahapithanirupana section from the Tantrachudamani originally listed 43 names, but names were added over time making it 51 Pithas. It details the Pitha-devata or Devi (name of goddess at the Pitha), the Kshastradishas (Bhairava) and the anga-pratyanga (limbs including ornaments of Sati). Manikarnika at Varanasi with Vishalakshi as the presiding goddess comes in at number 23. A kundala (earring) is the anga-pratyanga and Kala-Bhairava (Kala) is the Bhairava. In some later versions of the text, Varanasi is not included in the chief 51/52 Pithas. In one of the versions, it is demoted from a Pitha to an upa-Pitha (subordinate Pitha). Here, the kundala is said to be

anga-pratyanga, but two Pitha-devatas and Bhairavas are mentioned. First, Vishalakshi with Kalabhairava and secondary Annapurna with Vishweshvara. Vishweshvara is the presiding deity of Kashi Vishwanath Temple, the most important temple in Varanasi and the Annapurna temple is nearby.

According to the scholar Jones, the Shakti Pithas were originally part of cult worship by the tribals as local deities, which over the centuries were syncretised to Shakthi Peethas under the influence of the Brahmins, and have now a permanent influence on the psyche of the people. In the syncretism of various religious beliefs in the country, as many as 108 goddesses were assimilated in the Shakti Pitha list.

Annapurna, the goddess of food and form of Shiva’s consort Parvati, is given the epithet Vishalakshi, the “wide-eyed”. Her most famous temple stands at Varanasi, where patron goddess she is considered. The Skanda Purana narrates the tale of the sage Vyasa cursing Varanasi, as no one in the city offered him food. Finally, Vishalakshi appears in the form of a house wife and grants food to Vyasa. This role of Vishalakshi is similar to that of Annapurna, who offers food to her husband Shiva, whose hunger can be satited by her food. Shiva gratified by Annapurna’s food, establishes Varanasi and appoints her as its presiding goddess. The goddess Vishalakshi of the Varanasi temple may have been identified with Annapurna in early times, however over time became a distinct goddess, resulting in the goddess temples.

Vishalakshi, the “wide-eyed” goddess is often associated two other goddesses: Kamakshi, the “love-eyed” goddess of Kanchipuram and Minakshi, the “fish-eyed” of Madurai, prominently due to their similar names. Together the three are regarded the most important Goddess temples by South Indians. While Vishalakshi dwells in North India, the other goddess temples are in Tamil Nadu, South India. South Indians venerated Vishalakshi for ages and have strong ties with the temple. South Indian Tamil people also helped renovate the temple in 1971.

It is considered that the earrings or eyes of the Mata Sati have fallen in the Varanasi at this sacred spot. Kajali Tij, the most important Hindu festival for the Indian women, is celebrated at the Vishalakshi Temple very happily. This festival is held at the third day of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada (August) during fortnight.

Sati was the daughter of the Prajapati Daksha and She got married to the Lord Shiva against Her father wishes. Once, Prajapati Daksha had organized a great yagya but he did not call his daughter and his son in law. Sati was very sorrow from Her father’s such behavior. She reached there but got insulted from Her father as he ignored the Sati. She could not bear insult of his husband (Lord Shiva) and She had jumped into the fire of yagya and committed suicide. She died but Her dead body did not burn. Lord Shiva became angry and had taken His Virabhadra Rupa. He cut the head of Daksha but finally He forgave him by reviving his life again. The heartbroken Lord Shiva had wandered in the universe by taking the Sati’s corpse. Finally, Lord Vishnu dissected the corpse of the Sati into 52 parts by His Chakra. Each of the body part became Shakti Pitha. At the place where body piece had fallen on the earth had changed into the temple. Lord Shiva had created 52 Bhairava for each Shakti Pitha as a guardian to secure the Shakti Pitha. It is considered that Her eyes or earrings had fallen in the Varanasi that’s why the temple in Varanasi called as the Vishalakshi Temple.

There are six points as a temple in the Varanasi which symbolizes Shastanga (six-fold) yoga. These are the Vishwanath Temple, the Vishalakshi Temple, the holy River Gange, the Kala Bhairava Temple, the Dhudiraj Temple (this temple is devoted to the Lord Ganesha) and the Dandapani temple (dedicated to Lord Shiva).

At the time of creation when no one was there, only Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu were present. They both started to fight for supremacy. They both used their most powerful weapons against each other after thousands of years fighting. When the two weapons were about to hit each other causing total destruction, an endless pillar of fire rose between the two absorbing their weapons.

Both Brahma and Vishnu wanted to known the end. Brahma assumed the form of Swan and flew up and Vishnu assumed the form of Boar and went down to find their ends and declared that whoever finds the end first would be the winner. Both couldn’t find the ends and came back after 100 years. Vishnu told that he couldn’t find the end whereas Brahma along with false testimony flower Kewada and cow told that he found the end of the pillar.

This angered Lord Shiva and he emerged from the fire and declared that All the three are forms of same Omkaar and Brahma is Creator, Vishnu is Preserver and Shiva as Destroyer. Since Brahma had told lies, Lord Shiva cursed him that no one will worship him and He gave Lord Vishnu the title of Purushottam being the Supreme being.  The pillar of fire vanished from then and small portion of it remained at Varanasi as jyotirlinga called Kashi Vishwanath. Lord Shiva being the last to complete the cycle is called Mahadeo or great God and giver of Moksha. Those who have bath in Ganges and worship Kashi Vishwanath, Lord Shiva utters Tarak mantra in his ears at the time of death which gives Salvation.

Devotees take bathe in the holy water of the Gange just before offering worship to the Vishalakshi Maa. The devotees believe that offering puja, Jal, chanting songs to the goddess is highly profitable as Goddess provide success and wealth. Unmarried girls worship the Goddess Vishalakshi to find their groom, childless mother for getting a child and unfortunate people for their bright fortune.

Devotees celebrate Navaratri at this temple in the month of October as well as celebrate the triumph of the Goddess Durga over the buffalo demon (Mahishasura). They celebrate other Navaratri in the fortnight of the Chaitra (March). At each nine days they worship Navadurga (nine Durgas). According to the Puranas, Vishalakshi Manikarnika or Vishalakshi Manikarni is one of the 52 Shakti Peethas. It is considered that the karna kundala (known as the earring) of the Sati fallen here that’s why known as the Manikarni or Manikarnika. In the Puranas, it is clearly mentioned that the Varanasi city will exist even after the Pralaya. Vishalakshi Temple is a powerful Shakti Peeth and is considered to bless to devotees a lot.

Timing

The Temple is open from 04.30 a.m. in the morning to 11.00 a.m. and from 05.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m.

Distance

  • From Delhi it is 798 KM away.
  • From Mumbai it is 1552 KM away.
  • From Kolkata it is 674 KM away.
  • From Chennai it is 1856 KM away.

Location

Sri Kasi Vishalakshi Devi Temple,
Lahori Tola, Varanasi,
Uttar Pradesh 221001