Goddess Vinayaki or Ganeshani, (Gajanani, Ganeshari or Vigneshwari), is the feminine form of Lord Ganesha. Goddess Vinayaki is the idol worshipped in Tamil Nadu. Goddess Vinayaki or Ganeshani is considered as a form of Shakti rather a Yogini Devata.
Appearance of Goddess Vinayaki:
While the Ganapati appears with elephant head and human body, Vinayaki appears with the elephant head and a woman body. In Madurai, Vinayaki is worshipped as ‘Vyagrapada Ganapati. Vyagrapada Ganapati appears with female body and tiger feet (Vyagra = Tiger; Pada = feet).
Vigneshwari or Ganeshani – Feminine Ganesha in Suchindram:
In Suchindram, a feminine Ganesha in Sukhasana pose is worshipped. In Tibet, the feminine Ganesh form is worshipped as Gajanani. Some Puranas and ancient scriptures mentioned the female Shakti of Ganapati as Vainayaki or Ganeshini. Several Puranas referred Ganeshani or Vinayaki as one of the Yogini Shaktis. But the worship of Ganeshini is very less known in ancient rituals and pujas.
A village called Cigar in Rajasthan, the feminine form of Ganesha called Vigneshwari is worshipped in an ancient Shiva temple. In the Vedas, the appearance of Vidhya Ganapati is described as feminine form of Ganapati.
Vinayaki is an elephant-headed Hindu goddess. Her details are not clearly defined. Only few details are available about her in Hindu scriptures and very few images of this deity exist.
The goddess is generally associated with the elephant-headed god of wisdom, Ganesha. She does not have a consistent name and is known by various names such as Vinayaki, Vighneshvari and Ganeshani.Vinayaki is sometimes also seen as the part of the sixty-four yoginis. In the Jain and Buddhist traditions, Vinayaki is an independent goddess.
Elephant-headed females appearing in the Puranas are demons or cursed goddesses. Vinayaki, not related to Ganesha, also appears in the Puranas. In the Matsya Purana, she is one of the Matrikas, created by the god Shiva to defeat the demon Andhaka. In this connection, she may be considered as a shakti of Shiva, rather than Ganesha. She also figures in a list of shaktis in the Linga Purana.
However, the Devi Purana identifies Gananayaki or Vinayaki as the shakti of Ganesha, based on her elephant head and the capacity to remove obstacles like Ganesha, and includes her as the ninth Matrika. Though generally the number of Matrikas is seven in sculpture, nine Matrikas became popular in eastern India.
Apart from the classical seven, Mahalakshmi or Yogeshvari and Ganeshani or Ganesha were added as eighth and ninth Matrika respectively.
Shilparatna describes a female form of Ganesha (Ganapati) called Shakti-Ganapati, who resides in the Vindhyas. The deity has an elephant head and two trunks. Her body is of a young woman, vermilion red in colour and with ten arms. She is pot-bellied and with full breasts and beautiful hips. This icon probably belongs to Shaktism, the Hindu Goddess-worshipping sect. However, this form is also interpreted as a composite of Ganesha and his shakti, due to the presence of the twin trunks.
In a Buddhist text, the goddess is called the siddhi of Vinayaka. She contains many of Lord Ganesha’s characteristics. Like Ganesha, she is the remover of obstacles and has an elephant’s head with only one tusk. She is also called the daughter of the god Ishana, an aspect of Shiva.
It can be concluded, that Goddess Vinayaki, whether relates to Vinayaka or Parvathi, is a powerful goddess possessing all the features of Lord Vinayaka. She is having the power equivalent to that of Lord Vinayaka. Let us pray to Goddess Vinayaki and be blessed.
Let us chant the nama ‘OM SREE VINAYAKIYE NAMAHA’.