Annapurna Devi (sitting on throne) giving alms to Shiva (left), a scene from Annada Mangal, colour lithograph, 1895.
|Affiliation||Devi, Durga, Parvati (Adi Parashakti) |
Annapurna or Annapoorna (Sanskrit: अन्नपूर्णा, IAST: Annapūrṇa, lit. filled with or possessed of food) is the goddess of food and nourishment in Hinduism. Worship and offering of food is highly praised in Hinduism and therefore, the goddess Annapurna is regarded as a popular deity. She is an avatar (form) of Parvati, the wife of Shiva. and is eulogized in the Annada Mangal, a narrative poem in Bengali by Bharatchandra Ray. The Annapurna Sahasranam is dedicated to the goddess and praises her one thousand names while the Annapurna Shatanama Stotram is dedicated to her 108 names.
A few temples exist that are dedicated to her, the most prominent being the Annapurna Devi Mandir and the Kashi Viswanath Temple in Varanasi. Since Akshaya Tritiya is considered to be the birthdate of the goddess Annapurna, the day is believed to be very auspicious for buying gold jewellery.
Annapurna is derived from Sanskrit meaning the giver of food and nourishment. Anna (अन्न) means "food" or "grains" and pūrṇa (पूर्ण) means "full, complete and perfect".
It is believed that Mount Annapurna in the Himalayas is named after her as she is believed to be one of the daughters of Himavat, the king of the mountains. The Western world name her the "Hindu God of Cooking" considering her association with food items.
The other names of Annapurna are:
- Viśālākshī (Sanskrit: विशालाक्षी) – she who has large eyes.
- Viśvaśakti (Sanskrit: विश्वशक्ति) – world power.
- Viśvamātā (Sanskrit: विश्वमाता) – mother of the world.
- Sṛṣtihetukāvaradānī (Sanskrit: सृष्टिहेतुकावरदानी) – she who is a boon granter for the sake of the world.
- Bhuvaneśvarī (Sanskrit: भुवनेश्वरी) – goddess of Earth.
- Renu – goddess of Atom.
- Annadā (Sanskrit: अन्नदा) – donor of food.
One day, Shiva and Parvati got into an argument about the importance of Prakriti, which Shiva denied, stressing on superiority of Purush (male) over Prakriti (Mother Nature). Enraged, Parvati abandoned him and disappeared. With Parvati's disappearance, the world was deprived of food and there occurred a famine. When Shiva's followers started begging him for food, Shiva took a begging bowl and went from door to door begging for food. But no one had anything to offer, for those whom Shiva begged from themselves were affected. Shiva and his followers came to know that on earth, there is only one kitchen in the city of Kashi where food is still available. Shiva went to Kashi to beg for food, but to his surprise, the kitchen was owned by none other than his wife Parvati, but in a different form. She wore celestial purple and brown garments and was lightly adorned with ornaments, and she was seated on a throne, serving and distributed food to starving Gods and hungry inhabitants of earth, one after another. She also offered food to her sons Kartikeya and Ganesh as well. This beautiful form of Parvati was none other than Goddess Annapurna Devi, she who is full and complete. Annapurna offered her food as alms to Shiva and made Him realize that as Brahman, Shiva might have outgrown hunger; but his followers haven't. There is another legend which says Trimurti once had heated argument who among them is greatest each saying his achievements when Mahadevi heard their argument she decided to teach them a lesson and disappeared causing severe famine as a result no yajnas were done and devas started growing weak and asked Trimurti for food then Lord Vishnu said to Lord Shiva " O Mahadev it was true what you said after Devi disappeared universe became weak ; I heard a lady in Kashi started donating food for people." At once Lord Shiva understood that the lady was none other than Jagadamba and went to Kashi in disguise of mendicant and begged food from Devi for devas. Devi happy that Devas had learnt their lesson said to Mahadev "I shall reside here in Kashi in form of Annapurna."
The Agamas (religious texts) describe the iconography of Annapoorna as a youthful goddess having red complexion with a face round like full moon, three eyes, high breasts and four hands. The lower left hand is depicted holding a vessel full of delicious porridge and the right with golden ladle adorned with various kinds of jewels. The other two hands depict the Abhaya and Vrata poses. She is depicted with wristlet and golden jewellery which rest on the chest. She is seated on a throne with a crest of moon adoring her head. In some depictions, Shiva is shown standing to her right with a begging bowl, begging her for alms. Shankara in Annapoorna Stotra described the deity always holding a scripture, akshamala and opener of doors of Moksha in her hands in place of vessel and ladle, indicating his prayer to Annapoorna being spiritual perfection rather than food.
The goddess mentioned in Hindu religious texts such as the Rudrayamala, Sivarahasya, Annapurnamantratsava, Maha Tripurasiddhanta, Annapurna Kavacha, Annapurnahavamti, Annapurnamalininaksatramalika and Bhairvahyantantra. Kumara Sambhavam by Kalidasa makes vivid mention about Varanasi and the deity Annapurna. The goddess is also described as the source of knowledge and the main deity in the Annapurna Upanishad, which is considered a minor Upanishad among the 108 Upanishads. In this text, praying to Annapurna is the means by which the sage Ribhu attains knowledge.
Devi Bhagavata written during the 3rd and 4th centuries CE refers Annapurna as goddess of Kanchipuram and Visalakshi as goddess of Varanasi. Skanda Purana written during the 7th century states the sage Vyasa was led to Varanasi by a curse and Annapurna came as a housewife and offered him food. Lingapurana mentions that Siva was begging for food for his children as he could not get food in the world due to a miracle created by his consort Parvati. Parvati came out as Annapurna and offered food to Siva at his doorsteps. The legend of Kasi Viswanath Temple in Varanasi is associated with the story that Siva built the temple there in her honour. Adi Sankara (8th century), the proponent of Advaita school of Hinduism, has written Annapurna Stotra, a book glorifying the deity.
The mention of Annapurna is also found in Kumara Sambhava, a Telugu literature, by Nannechola, a Saiva poet of the 12th century. There is also a mention about the deity in Kasikhanda by Srinatha, a Telugu poet of the 13th century.
Food is considered sacred as per Hindu Mythology and prayers are offered before consuming it. The person who identifies the importance of Annam (food) within the five layer of body helps carry life in the worldly process and subsequently seeks to identify Brahman, the enlightenment. Annadhanam, the donation of food, is highly praised in Hinduism. The importance of Annadhanam is prescribed in Vishnu Dharamottara, Agni Purana, Padma Purana, Kurma Purana, Nandi Purana and Vayu Purana.
She is worshipped through the recitation of her thousand names and her one hundred and eight names. The Sri Annapurna Ashtakam composed by Shankaracharya is chanted by several devout Hindus around the world as a prayer for nourishment, wisdom, and renunciation. Before partaking of any food, Hindus chant the following prayer:
|“||Oṃ Annapūrṇe sadāpūrṇe Śaṇkara prāṇa vallabhe jñāna vairāgya siddhyartham bhikṣām dehī ca pārvatī.
Māta me Pārvatī devī pitā devo Maheśvara bāndhavāḥ Śiva bhaktāsca svadeśo bhūvanatrayam.
|“||Oh Annapurna, who is forever complete, more beloved to Lord Shiva than life. Oh Parvati give me the alms of Your grace to, awaken within me spiritual knowledge, inner freedom, prosperity, and spiritual attainment.
My mother is Goddess Parvati, my father is the Supreme Lord Maheshwara (Shiva). My relatives are the devotees of Lord Shiva, wherever they are in the three worlds.
The Annapurna Vrat Katha containing stories of her devotees are also recited by her devotees.
In Marathi weddings, the bride is given with an metal idol of goddess Annapurna and Balkrushna by her mother, which before the wedding hours she worships by offering rice grains to her; this viddhi is known as Gauri Harap. She takes the idols to her husband`s house and the idols are placed in the house temple.
Though Annapurna is a popular deity, there are few temples dedicated to her.
- The most well-known temple (Annapurna Devi Mandir) dedicated to Annapurna is in Varanasi, U.P.. Annapurna is the Goddess of the city of Kashi (Varanasi) where she is regarded as the queen of Varanasi alongside her consort Vishweshwar (Shiva), the King of Varanasi. In the temple, at noon time, food offerings to the Goddess are distributed to the elderly and disabled daily. During the Autumn Navaratri food is distributed on a larger scale.
- In West Bengal her temples are found in Barrackpore . It was founded by Rani Rashmoni
- in Madhya Pradesh one temple is situated in Indore Annapurna near lal bag fort
- The other famous temple is Annapoorneshwari Temple, situated at Horanadu in the Western Ghats CHIKKAMAGALURU of Karnataka, where afternoon and evening prayers are held after the devotees are fed.
- In Kerala there is temple in Chalappally village by the name Kunnam Annapoorneswari Devi Temple.
- Another famous temple of the goddess is situated in Cherukunnu, Kannur, Kerala by the name Annapurneshwari Temple, Cherukunnu.
- In Puducode town of Kerala, there is Puducode Annapoorneswari Temple, where the grand celebration of Navaratri held yearly with grand feast, which is crowded by thousands of devotees from all around the globe, those who have migrated and settled elsewhere.
- In Thodupuzha town, there is Thachukuzhikavu Annapoorneswari-Bhadrakali-Navagraha Temple.
- A temple for Annapoorna has been constructed near Watrap, on the way to Saduragiri. The temple is in the shape of eight-sided pyramid. Annapoorni temple named Andakasieswari is under construction at Achangudi near to Tiruvadanai Town in Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu and another temple is under construction at Pathikonda, Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh.
- In Hyderabad, her temples are found in Jafferguda. Her temples are there in Jalandhar and Bhatinda in Punjab.
- In Maharashtra her tempes are found in Bhandara and Akola.
- Her temples are also found in Gujarat. In Unjha, Gujarat, she is worshipped in as Umiya Mata. Some people in Gujarat and Rajasthan also consider Ashapura Mata as an incarnation of Annapoorna Mata. In Rajasthan, her temples are found in Mishroli village in Jhalawar district, Kagdara village in Pali district, There is one temple of Annapoorna Mata in Chittor Fort. It was built by Maharana Hamir Singh. There are other temples in the fort near the Annapoorna Mata temple which are dedicated to Baan Mata, Charbhuja and Lakshmi-Narayan. On the top of the Ramgarh hill, Rajasthan, Kisnai and Annapurna Devi temples are situated in the natural cave. Other temple is in irinjalakuda kunjilikattil annapoorneswari temple. This is a family temple of local exhaust community were the rituals are done by Brahmin priests
- Williams, Monier. "Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary". faculty.washington.edu.
annapūrṇa : pūrṇa mfn. filled with or possessed of food; (ā), f. N. of a goddess, a form of Durgā
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