Shri Kshetra Vyaghreshvar :
In Hindu Vedas, Puranas and in daily worshipping, worshipping of Kulswami is accorded utmost importance. It is quite evident from the etymology of the word Kulswami. It means the master of Kul–family God. Every community in Hindu religion has accepted the concept of Kulswami. Some castes have God ( like Bhagwan Shankar, Khandoba, Vitthal) as their Kulswami whereas a few others have Goddesses as Kulswamini like Ambabai, Bhavani, Shantadurga etc. In Maharashtra, All Chitpawan Brahmins have both, God and Goddesses as their Kulswami and Kulswamini.
There are various schools of thoughts regarding the origin of Chitpawan Brahmins (CB for short). According to the inscription dating back to Satavahan era, CBs came from North India for Yadnyakarma and settled near present day Guhagar. Traditionally it is believed that Shri Parashuram forced sea to retreat by shooting an arrow towards it and the land thus reclaimed, is known as Aparant Bhumi or Konkan. He put life in 13 dead bodies and after purifying (Chit-Pawan) allowed them to perform Yadnyakarma. One anthropologist, after studying the shape of the skull, came to the conclusion that they came from Middle East. One thing is certain that by their complexion, colour of eyes, general body frame and intelligence they stand out in comparison to the locals of that time. Majority CBs have Shiva as their Kulswami (barring a few who have LaxmiKeshav or Keshavraj as the Kulswami). The Kulswamini or Family Goddess is Yogeshwari in district Beed. Quite a few families with surnames Ranade, Manohar, Phaphe, Kandrap, Aakhave, Vaishampayan, Sahasrabuddhe, Dharap, Vidwans, Marathe, Ketkar and Joshi (Kashyap Gotra) have their Kulswami Shri Vyaghreshvar from village Asud. Asud is situated 8 kms from Dapoli, a hill station in Konkan.
Shri Vyaghreshvar Mandir is just 2.5 kms away from the sea shore. It is no surprise that whoever visits this spot, falls in love with its scenic beauty. All the tiredness wents away when travelling from Dapoli to Asud with tall trees standing on both sides of the road, providing cool breeze. The old and new Bhakt Niwas are waiting to readily greet you. By the side of the Bhakt Niwas, one can climb down the stony steps to cross the river by a steel bridge, built by civil engineer, a member of Shri Vyaghreshvar Parivar, late Shri. S. J. alias Bapusaheb Ranade. Before this bridge was constructed, the villagers had to go through an ordeal of crossing the river on a delicate wooden bridge called ‘sakav’ in Marathi or wading through water. When you go down the steps, you will come across an arch, built in stone. This is the entrance to Shri Vyaghreshvar temple. On the right and left, you will see Deepmala’s, structure made out of stone. Straight ahead is the East facing Shri Vyaghreshvar temple. The Deepmala is a feature associated with temples of the era. In the evenings, 21 to 50 oil lamps are lit in ascending spiral form. During the festive season, a ‘Tripurdeep’ is placed right on top of the Deepmala. The lamp is a symbol of knowledge which dispels the darkness of ignorance. Step by step, one attains a higher level of knowledge. This assurance of gaining knowledge right at the entry point of the temple is given only in Hindu temples. The giver of knowledge is sitting ‘inside’ the sanctum sanctorum and seeker has to have enough strength to attain it. If you surrender to him, the seeker is assured of this strength. While entering any Hindu temple, you body has to be cleansed thoroughly.
Body cleansing is the first step towards soul cleansing. There is a well “Pushkarani” in Shri Vyaghreshvar temple premises. Water is drawn from the well to wash hands and feet before entering the sanctum sanctorum and is followed by all devotees. This rectangular shaped Pushkarani is the life saver of the villagers.
When other sources of water dry up, villagers turn to Pushkarni for the water supply. It has sweet taste and is considered to be holy. During the festivals, this water is used for abhishek on Shri Vyaghreshvar. In the premises, there are two very old temples. One is Lord Ganesha’s and the other houses Kalbhairava along with Mother Yogeshwari. By the side of the main temple, there is a small temple of Village Goddess Zolaimata. The boundary walls around the temples are built from stones called “Chira”. This very old wall is in dilapidated condition because stones have come out of the wall at many places. Shri Vyaghreshvar Kulswami Parivar and Shri Vyaghreshvar Devasthan Trust have undertaken the task of restoration of the temple and its surrounding, thereby bringing back the glory it had once enjoyed. They solicit support of all the devotees in this divine task.
It is a custom to enter the assembly hall in front of the sanctum sanctorium from East. At first you have to meet Nandi, which acts as a carrier of Lord Shiva and also as watch guard of the temple. This Nandi is an exact replica of Nandi in Shri Mahabaleshwar temple except in size. It stands two feet tall and is studded with ornaments. Nandi in Shri Mahabaleshwar temple is 2.5 times the size of the Nandi here. Nandi has caught Rishi Agasti in his mouth. Rishi Agasti, in his anger, gulped entire sea which caused havoc all over the earth. The devotees prayed to Shiva who ordered Nandi to capture the Rishi. Nandi searched and found the Rishi and brought him before Shiva. This story is inscripted on Nandi’s idol. The Rishi, Nandi’s body curvature and the ornaments have been beautifully inscribed in this single piece of stone maintaining right proportions. It looks pleasant to the eyes. Till 1982, the Nandi and its canopy were isolated from the main temple. Now they are connected to the temple, thanks to the new assembly hall built by Shri Vyaghreshvar Kulswami Parivar. From the assembly hall you come to the “inner hall” once you cross the wooden arch.
The structure of the temple is built in stone. There are beautiful carvings depicting nymphs (Apsara), Gandharvas. Goddesses and sacred animals like Elephants. Based on the type of artwork and forms of idols, historian Late Mr. G. H. Khare estimated that the temple must 1000 to 1200 years old. The ceiling of Inner Hall however is estimated to be built in Chhatrapati Shri Shivaji Maharaja’s time. Before this time, the Abyssinian Muslims ruled southward of Janjira. In order to protect the temples from the invasion by them, the Hindus made the roof from tiles. To balance the load, wooden trusses were used. The feature if this wooden structure is that no nails nor any wedges were used. No bolting is seen anywhere to join two parts. It is a pleasure to watch the intricately intertwined design. One gets totally engrossed in watching the artwork. You may not find it anywhere else. The pillars of the Inner Hall are wooden and their base is made from stone. You will find beautiful carvings on the pillars. The Inner Hall is a masterpiece of architecture. From here you start the “pradakshina” to Shri Vyaghreshvar. You go three fourth of a circle in clockwise direction, return, continue the remaining one fourth in anti-clockwise direction and return to the starting position to complete one pradakshina. This practice is followed in all Shiva temples. The idea is not to cross the TeerthNali. The shape of the “Pindi” resembles shape of the Atomic Reactor anywhere in the world. Lord Shiva is usually calm; but whenever he gets angry, he causes havoc. He is the symbol of destroyer from the Trinity. There is a science behind what to ask for and from which deity. You pray to Brahmadeva for new creation, ask for peace & spiritual state with Shri Vishnu and you pray Lord Shiva for eradication of all that is evil. From the Inner Hall you go down five steps, passing through under a lowly placed stone arch. You have to bow down your head before the Lord. Probably it is symbolic! The five steps are ‘PanchMahabhutas’. By bowing your head, you leave all your ego aside and only then you can enter my court! The “Garbhgruh” is a 7’x7’ square shaped hall. The entrance here is reserved only for males and that too with wet dhoti. This is the custom followed since a few centuries ago. The garbhgruh is built according to Hemadpanthi style of architecture.
The dome above the Garbhagruh represents the Hemadpanthi style with step by step rise upto ‘Kalas’. It is inside of the tiled roof. The Pindi of Shri Vyaghreshvar is from a black stone. It is surrounded by “Shalunka” also made from black stone and is connected to TeerthNali. The Nali opens on the outside in a shape of ‘Gomukh’or mouth of a cow. Below the Gomukh is a tank, about 6 feet deep. The Gomukh was carved out 1000 to 1200 years ago along with the other idols. Whoever comes here, does not go empty handed. To experience knowledge of the highest level, one has to totally surrender to “Him”. Leave everything to “Him” and you experience the joy coming from within. In the olden times there was no electricity; hence A “Nandadeep” would be burning 24x7 all throughout. This tradition along with a few others, is still maintained by Shri Vyaghreshvar Kulswami Parivar and local devotees. In the month of Shravan, on last Monday, “Maharudrotsav”, "Tripurotsava" on Kartik Pournima and "Mahashivratri" in Magh are celebrated with great enthusiasm. The devotees gather in large numbers. The Parivar arranges Yoga Shibir, Medical camps, Eye care camps, Blood donation camp etc for villagers in Asud and surrounding villages. From the generous donation given by Air Commodore (Rtd)Shri Shripad Ranade, programmes like Gram Saksharta Abhiyan, Library and distribution of Schooling material for children are conducted. “To serve, To devote and to spread knowledge” is the guiding principle of the Parivar. Of course “He” is behind all of us. This is an humble attempt to briefly describe the story of the master Shri Vyaghreshvar.
-Shri Dhananjay Shrikrishna Ranade: 9822295610 / 9423138365