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    Mahabinayaka Temple: Where Five Deities Unite

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    There are lakhs of Ganesha temples spread across India, but the Mahabinayaka Temple in Chandikhol in Jajpur district of Odisha is absolutely unique. Here, five main gods of the Hindu pantheon – Ganesh, Surya, Vishnu, Shiva and Shakti are worshipped together as one, a tradition quite unprecedented in Hinduism. Each year, thousands of devotees visit this unique temple to seek divine blessings here.

    Jajpur district of Odisha is famous as the Biraja Kshetra or the land of Goddess Biraja, thanks to the Biraja Mata temple present here. But traditionally, this fertile land watered by the Baitarani and the Brahmani rivers is known for the numerous sacred temples that dot the region.

    What makes Jajpur fascinating is that it is home to not one by two of the most sacred Kshetras or regions of Odisha. As per Hindu belief, Odisha is divided into ‘Pancha Kshetras’ with each Keshtra dedicated to different deities. The most important is the Jagannatha Kshetra at Pura, followed by Biraja Keshtra at Jajpur, after them come the Shiva Kshetra at Ekamra and the Surya Kshetra at Konark. The last among them, is the ‘Vinayaka Kshetra’ which is also situated at Chandikhol in Jajpur.

    The Legend of Mahavinayaka Temple

    The Mahabinayaka or the Barunavanta Hill is located on one of the numerous hill ranges that surround Jajpur. Till as late as the early 19th century, it was a thick forest inhabited by the Savara tribe. The Barunavanta Hill finds mention in the ‘Sarala Mahabharata’, the first Odia Mahabharata written by Saint Saraladas in the 15th century. The Sarala Mahabharata is an exquisite poetic rendition of the classical Mahabharata tale. According to the Sarala Mahabharata, Kunti offered one lakh ‘Swarna Champa’ flowers to Mahabinayaka after Pandavas came out victorious in the Mahabharata war.

    Another very popular story is related to the emergence of Lord Ganesha. The Hindu mythology is replete with fascinating tales of gods and goddesses, and the legend of the birth of Ganesha is one such story that is steeped in religious lore. According to the legend, Ganesha was born to Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva, the supreme deity of the Hindu pantheon.

    The story goes that Parvati created Ganesha out of sandalwood paste to guard her while she took a bath. When Lord Shiva returned home, Ganesha refused to let him enter, resulting in a fierce battle between the two. In a fit of rage, Shiva beheaded Ganesha, which left Parvati inconsolable.

    To rectify his mistake, Lord Shiva ordered his followers to bring him the head of the first creature they saw, which happened to be an elephant. Shiva then attached the elephant head to the dead body of Ganesha, reviving him and declaring him as the lord of new beginnings, wisdom, and remover of obstacles. As per local religious beliefs, when Lord Shiva beheaded Ganesha, his head fell on the earth at the exact spot where the Mahabinayaka Temple is located.

    The Mahabinayaka Temple and the Legend of Rati Kamadeva

    In the sanctum of the main temple, a large natural stone resembling a Shiva Linga is worshipped as ‘Pancha Devata’. As per local beliefs, this unique stone is connected with the story of Rati, the wife of Kamadeva, the Hindu god of Love.

    According to the legend, Kamadeva, the god of love, was cursed by Lord Shiva after he disturbed his meditation to make him fall in love with Parvati. As a result, Kamadeva was burnt to ashes by Shiva's third eye.

    Rati, who was devastated by her husband's demise, devoted herself to Lord Ganesh and prayed for his resurrection. During her prayers, five hands stretched out towards her to receive her offering, putting her in a dilemma. To resolve her confusion, Rati prayed to Lord Brahma, who explained that the five gods - Ganesh, Sun, Vishnu, Shiva, and Durga - were pleased with her devotion and simultaneously reached out to receive her offering.

    As a result of her prayers and devotion, Kamadeva was released from the curse and brought back to life. On that day, a large granite stone emerged from the earth, containing the divine power of the five gods. As per belief, it is this very stone that is worshipped in the sanctorum of the Mahabinayaka temple.

    History of Mahavinayaka Temple

    Although much of the temple's history remains lost in the pages of time, it is believed to be one of the oldest temples in Odisha. The temple is said to have been constructed during the reign of the Somavanshi rulers in the 12th century CE and underwent renovations during the Eastern Ganga dynasty in the 14th century CE. The original temple is believed to have been built during the reign of King Anangabhimadeva III (1202-1238).

    Over time, the temple fell into disrepair until it was partially restored by Vaidyanatha Pandit, a local zamindar in 1860. However, it was during the 1930s that the temple gained significant religious prominence, when a seer named Bhairabananda Bramhachari arrived from Rajasthan and established a shrine dedicated to Goddess Chandi in the area. This led to the region being known as ‘Chandikhol’. The growing religious significance of the area also led to the establishment of the present-day Maa Chandi temple, located near the Mahavinayak temple.

    Today, devotees from all over Odisha come to the Mahabinayaka temple, to take divine blessings from five deities worshipped as one.

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