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Mahavidya Devi: Nanda Baba’s family deity

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Mathura, 2018.03.20

29511443_2089324154441861_3073475040784678912_n.jpgOn the fourth day of Navaratri, we take you to Mahavidya Devi in Mathura, who is said to be the Kul Devi (family deity) of Nanda Baba. The deity of Mahavidya Devi is highly decorated, and her beautiful, yet fearsome, eyes are so splendid that they attract the attention of all those who are lucky enough to have her darshan.

It is believed that the Pandavas stayed here during their vanavas (exile) and worshiped the Goddess.

This present temple was built by the Marathas and renovated by the Tantrik saint Sheelchandra in 1907.

This temple is situated half a mile from the back of Shri Krishna Janmabhumi. The temple building is topped by a  single plain dome and is of fairly recent construction, having been built in the late 18th century by a Peshwa. The ancient Deity, however, is said to have been installed by the Pandavas or their descendants.

The temple sits atop a lonely hillock. An eight minute walk must be undertaken to reach the temple.

vidyadhara.gifSome sources name this as Ambikavana, the place where Nanda Maharaja and the cowherds came to observe the Shivaratri celebration out of curiosity. In the Shrimad Bhagvatam, Ambikavana is described as being located near the bank of the River Saraswati. The presence of several tirtha (pilgrimage sites) in the area, including Saraswati Temple, Saraswati Nala (bridge), Saraswati Kunda, and Saraswati Sangama make this statement very plausible, although the Saraswati river is no longer visible here.

There is another Mahavidya Devi Tirtha in Saurashtra Province of Gujrat State and the Saraswati River also flows there. The Saraswati flows sometimes as a visible river and sometimes secretely or gupta (as at Prayaga).

Mahavidya Devi (or Durga) is worshiped as Krishna’s sister, especially here in Mathura. She is pure devotee of the Lord and, remembering this, we are duty bound to respect her. Her name Mahavidya Devi indicates “great spiritual knowledge” such as the science that Krishna’s son Pradyumna used to defeat demon Shambara, who was a master of all vidya (knowledge) except Mahavidya.

Some scholars claim that this is a Shakti Peeth marking the site where Sati’s hair fell to earth. Other Shakti Peeths are said to be at to Pataleshwari Devi at Bhuteshwar, Chamunda Devi opposite the Gayatri Tapobhumi on the Mathura Vrindavan Road and Vrindavan’s Katyanani Devi temple.

There are dozens of prominent Shakti Peeths around India, and they are held very sacred to worshipers of goddess Durga. Yet, surprisingly little notice is paid to Braj Shakti peeths, due to the Vrajabasis attachment to Lord Krishna, the Lord of all energies.

Behind the Mahavidya Mandir is the Mathura parikrama Marg. Nearby is a field called the Ramlila Grounds, where Ramchandra Vijayotsava (Dussera) is celebrated. Dussera commemorates Lord Rama’s victory over Ravan and is also connected to Durga Ma as Lord Ram prayed to her before for victory before entering into the battle with Ravan, but, she refused to accept the credit, saying that he won ‘because he is Lord Ram’.

Mahavidya Devi is particularly known to bless women who want to marry or are married but have problems in their lives. Women also seek the blessings of the Mother for husband’s well being.

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