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The most fundamental of Hindu deities, is the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - popular deities include Ganesha, Krishna, Hanuman and goddesses like Lakshmi, Durga,Saraswati.

Ashtavinayak Shrines

Of these the most important to Ganesha devotees are the eight Ganesha shrines, the Ashta Vinayak. (Several of the legends pertaining to these shrines are given in Chapter III - Ganesha in Puranic Lore).

These eight forms of Ganesha are swayambh, self-made, and not made by man. This gives added religious significance for Ganesha worshippers. These images are large single pieces of stone (monoliths) in which traces of an elephant-head, trunk and Ganapati's form can be discerned. To the faithful, the powers of these icons is limitless.

These eight shrines are located in Maharashtra. The most popular is the one at Morgaon, south-east of Pune, where Ganesha,riding a peacock and taking theform of Mayureshwar or Moreshwar, is believed to have destroyed the demon, Sindhu.

Close to Pune, at Theur, is the image of Ganesha as Chintamani. Ganesha is believed to have got back the precious Chintamani jewel from the greedy Guna for Sage Kapila at this spot.

At Ranjangaon is the shrine of Ganapati as Mahaganapati, The legend here refers to Shiva worshipping Ganesha before fighting the demon, Tripuraasura.

At Siddhatek stands Ganesha as Siddhivinayak. It was here that Vishnu was reminded to pray to Ganesha before his fight with the demons, Madhu and Kaitab. By doing so, he achieved success, or Siddhi. This icon has a right-turned trunk.

At Ojhar is the shrine of Vighnahara or Vighneshwara, a form taken by Ganesha to destroy a demon named Vighnaasura c shining since 1892.

The Mudgala and Ganesha Puranas, which have glorified Ganapati as the Ultimate Reality, have mentioned many forms of Ganesha images. The former mentions 32 forms befitting the various roles taken by the godreated by Indra.

At Lenyadri nearby is Ganesha in the form of Girijatmak or Girijatmaja, son of Girija (Parvati). It is believed that Parvati performed penance here to beget Ganapati as her son.

At Pali near the Bombay-Goa road is the shrine of Ballaleshwar, where Ganesha saved his devotee, a boy, Ballal, who was beaten up by villagers for his single-minded worship of Vinayaka.

At Mahad, near Khopoli, is the form of Ganesha as Varad Vinayak, the giver of bounty and success. A lamp Nandadeep is kept permanently lighted here and has been




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