This Goddess makes me so very happy. Finding her started last Yule when my husband gave me a statue of Ganesha. I was surprised because my spirituality is Goddess-based only. I placed him amongst my Hindu Goddesses. A couple of months later, looking at Him, it occurred to me that there just HAD to be an elephant-headed Hindu Goddess. Frantic research ensued, and voila……I give you Vinayaki.
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Little is found in Hindu scriptures about Vinayaki and just a few images exist of Her. She is most generally associated, of course, with Ganesha and is assumed to be his Shakti. She is also said to be the 5th of Ganesha’s 32 forms. In this form, She would be the protector of the householder, vanquishing evil and bringing peace to the home.
She is known by various names, such as Sri Ganesha, meaning female Ganesha; Vainayaki; Gajanana, meaning elephant faced; Vighneshvari, meaning Mistress of Obstacles and, in Tibet, Ganeshani.
She is very often seen as part of the 64 Yoginis. The 64 Yoginis was a cult of mystical, female dakinis, now usually called yoginis, between the 9th-13th centuries. It is thought that their worship was a blending of Shaktism and Tantric. A yogini is used to refer to the forms of Devi, the Great, Supreme Goddess, and/or different parts of Her body. A dakini is most often thought to be a messenger or attendant to Devi. Devotees of Devi were also called Shaktas. There are believed to be nine 64 Yoginis Temples located in India.
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At the 64 Yoginis Temple in Chausath, She is the 41st of the 64 Yoginis and is named here as Sri Aingini. She is slender, with full breasts. She is also depicted in Chitrapur Math Shirali, holding a sword and a noose.
In Satna, there is an image of five Goddesses, one of which is the cow-headed Vrishabha, who is holding the infant, Ganesha. Vinayaki is portrayed holding an elephant goad, or bullhook, much like the adult Ganesha. This could indicate that Vinayaki and Ganesha are siblings.
One myth tells us that the demon Andhaka wanted the Goddess Parvati for his wife. Shiva fought Andhaka, but each drop of his blood made another demon. Parvati called on all of the Shaktis, which included Vinayaki, to drink the demon’s blood before it hit the ground and Andhaka was destroyed. At this time, Vinayaki became a handmaiden to Parvati.
Some see Her as part of the Matrika or Divine Mother Goddesses, a group of Hindu Goddesses always depicted together, which may or may not be the same group of Shaktis called upon by Parvati in the above story. In this stone tableau of the Matrikas, you can see Vinayaki on the far right.
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The fourth day after a new moon is called Vinayaki Chaturi. Even though this day is sacred to Ganesha, it is named after Vinayaki.
In Buddhist traditions, She is an independent Goddess and is called Ganapatihrdaya, which means “heart of Ganesh”.
Whatever Vinayaki may be – Yogini, Dakini, Matrika, or independent Goddess, She is more than welcome into the pantheon of Hindu deities.
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Goddess Blessings to All!