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Sanskrit transliterationRénûka/Renu
Personal information
ChildrenParshurama, Vasu

Reṇukā, also referred to as Renuga and Renu, is a Hindu goddess worshipped predominantly in Karnataka, Maharashtra and southern Indian states of, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh.[1] ancient Renuka Yellamma Devi temple at Savadatti is one among the prominent shakthi peetas in Karnataka, Renuka's temple at Mahur in Maharashtra is one of the shakti peethas.

Different names[edit]

Renuka/Renu or Yellamma or Ekvira or Ellai amman or Ellai amma (Marathi:श्री. रेणुका/ येल्लुआई (Shree Renuka/ Yelluai), Kannada: ಶ್ರೀ ಯಲ್ಲಮ್ಮ ರೇಣುಕಾ, Tamil: ரேணு/Renukai ambal/ரேணுகை அம்பாள், Telugu : శ్రీ రేణుక/ ఎల్లమ్మ) is worshipped as the goddess (devi) of the fallen, in the Hindu pantheon. Yellamma is the patron goddess of Karnataka, Maharashtra and the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh, . Her devotees revere her as the "Mother of the Universe" or "Jagadamba".


The legends of Renuka are contained in the Mahabharata, the Harivamsa and in the Bhagavata Purana.

Early life[edit]

King Reṇu (father of Reṇukā) performed a yajna — a ritual performed to maintain peace and good health. He was blessed with a daughter, who originated from the fire of this yajna. Reṇukā was a bright and active child and became the most beloved child of her parents.

When she was eight, Agastya, who was the guru of king Reṇu, advised him to have his daughter married to Jamadagni when she reached maturity. Jamadagni was the son of Ruchik Muni and Satyavati and had obtained the blessings of the gods by performing severe penance. Renuka and Jamdagni Muni lived in the Ramshrung mountains, near the present day Saundatti area of Belagavi district. Renuka helped the Jamdagni Muni in all of his tasks of performing various rituals and puja. Gradually she became close and dear to Jamdagni. After a while Renuka was blessed with another daughter called Anjana (Anjana Devi). Renuka would wake up early in the morning to bathe in the Malaprabha River with complete concentration and devotion. Her devotion was so powerful that she was able to create a pot to hold water made only of sand, one fresh pot every day. She would fill this pot, on the bank of the river and would use a snake which was nearby, turning it into a rope-like convolution and placing it on her head, so that it supported the pot. Thus, she brought the water to Jamdagni for his rituals of oblation. ("Renuka" is derived from the Sanskrit for "fine grain of sand".) Another temple of Renuka is situated at near Zamania, Ghazipur.[citation needed]. There is another temple in Tamilnadu near vellore (padaiveedu) where the goddess is in the form of swayambhu ( the Murti itself originated from the land).

Married life[edit]

Renuka gave birth to five sons: Vasu, Viswa Vasu, Brihudyanu, Brutwakanwa and Rambhargav. Rambhargav was the youngest and most beloved, gaining the favour of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Bhargav Ram did severe penance and was bestowed with an Axe (Parshu) and henceforth called as Parashurama, (the sixth incarnation of Vishnu).[2] One day when Renuka went to the river, she saw Gandharva and Apsaras dwelling over the pond. She was captivated by the sight for a moment as a result of which she lost her concentration and devotion to her husband for a moment. As she was distracted, she lost her power of collecting water in unbaked pots, which she had gotten from her chastity. She lost the water which she had collected. Disappointed by this, she returned to the ashram in worry. Jamadagni had seen these events through his yogic power and was furious when she came back to the Ashram.

After being cursed by her husband, Renuka went east and sat in the forest to meditate. In her penance, she met with the saints Eknath[citation needed] and Joginath; she requested to them and asked to gain the mercy of her husband. They first consoled her, then instructed her to follow their advice exactly as told. They told her to purify herself, first bathing in a nearby lake, and then to worship a Shivalinga, which they had given to her. Next, she should go to the nearby town and beg for rice from the houses (this ritual, called "Joga Bedodu", is still carried out by women during a particular month in Karnataka/ "Jogawa" in marathi, "Yellamma Jogu" in Telangana).

After collecting the rice, she was to give half to the saints and cook the remaining half, adding jaggery, partaking of the cooked rice with full devotion. They said that if she performed this ritual for three days, she would be able to visit her husband on the fourth day.

Yellamma temple at Badami.

Knowing the anger of Jamadagni, they warned her that she may not be fully pardoned by him, and that she would have to experience the most difficult time of her life for a few minutes. "After that," they said, "you will be eternally revered and will be blessed with your husband. You will be worshiped by all the people henceforth." After blessing her this way, they disappeared. Renuka followed their instructions with devotion and worshipped the Shivalinga with full care and reverence. On the fourth day, she went to see her husband.

Punishment and resurrection[edit]

Jamadagni was still furious with Renuka and ordered his elder four sons to kill Renuka Devi but all of them refuse to kill their mother. Jamadagni, cursed his four sons and reduced them to ashes for disobeying his order. Then Jamadagni called his fifth son Parashurama who was meditating on Lord Shiva and ordered him to behead Renuka Devi. Parashurama immediately obeyed his father's words and beheaded his mother with his axe. Jamadagni was pleased by Parashurama's devotion and obedience towards him.

Renuka temple at Yallammagudi, Saundatti (Belgaum District ). North Karnataka, Karnataka

He then offered a boon to Parushurama, who wisely asked for his mother and brothers to be brought back to life. Jamadagni was impressed by Parshuram's intelligence and brought Renuka and her four sons back to life. Jamadagni felt a strong remorse for what he had done to his beloved and compassionate wife. He then vowed not to get angered ever again and gave up krodha forever.

Renuka vs. Yellamma[edit]

Historical evidence shows that Yellamma is a tribal deity. Just like many other local deities found in the history and culture of countryfolk, yellamma or ellai amma could possibly be a woman who guarded the village or one who is believed to be.[3]

Temples and related places[edit]

One of the famous temples of Renuka Yellamma Thalli is located at Balkampet in Hyderabad where every year in Ashadha month Yellamma Kalyanothsavam is celebrated with thousands of pilgrims performing special rituals to get the blessings of Renuka Yellamma Thalli. The Murti of the goddess, interestingly, is 10 feet deeper than the ground level. There is also a well in the Balkampet Yellamma temple complex and some devotees believe that the water in the well heals all ills. Therefore, a bath here is supposed to purify you of all disorders and skin diseases. This holy water is called ‘Theertham’. An Akhand Jyoti is also present in the temple that was lit during the renovation. In fact, Nita Ambani wife of India's richest person Mukesh Ambani visits the temple whenever she is in Hyderabad to express her faith in the deity.

Every year, there is a gathering of 200,000 to 600,000 devotees at the Yellamma Gudi temple (Yellamma Temple) in Saundatti[4][5]

Two other very famous Temples of Renuka Yellamma are located in Bidarahalli, Gadag, and Chaandragutti, Shivmoga, Karnataka, India. Many devotees from different region come to temple in the month of kartik to celebrate Karthik of Renuka-Yellamma. It is believed that after marriage with the sage Jamadagni, Renuka devi lived in this place. Renuka used to wake up early in morning and have bath in the holy Tungabhadra River. With complete concentration and devotion to fill the pot, which she used to prepare out of the sand on the bank the river and would hold the snake which was there and turn it into a convolution and place it on head so that it supported to the pot. She bought the pot to Jamdagni for performance of rituals.

Another temple Renukambe [Yellamma] is atop a hill in Chandragutti, Soraba Taluk in Shimoga. This temple is an example of ancient architecture and dates back to the Kadamba period. Another temple is in Mahur, Maharashtra, the supposed birthplace of the goddess, which finds mention in Devi Gita, the final chapter of Devi Bhagawatam as, "Matripura in the Sahyadri mountain; here the Devi Renuka dwells ...".[6]

One of the temple of Renuka Devi is Chandwad in Nasik. The temple was constructed by her highness Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore. The second place is Matripura in the Sahyadrî mountains.

Another Temple of Devi is at Dhamnand-Posare, Taluka Khed, District Ratnagiri, Maharashtra known as "Devi Yalubai".[7] Another temple becoming famous is Nalgonda, Telangana where Tuesday is main auspicious day.

Renugambal Amman Temple Padavedu, Thiruvannamalai District

In Tamil Nadu, Renugambal Amman Temple (it is Kuladaivam for Jambu Maharishi (Jamadagini) gotra Vanniyars), Senguntha Muthaliyars and other communities' people tracing their origin in that locality. The temple is situated in Padavedu, Thiruvannamalai District and it is one of the most important Sakthi Sthalas.[8]

Renuka Lake in Himachal Pradesh

Renuka Lake in the Renuka Sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh is named after the goddess. According to one legend, the Haihaya King Sahasrarjuna (Kartavirya Arjuna) wanted the Kamadhenu cow from Jamadagni and Renuka. So for this he killed Jamadagni, and Renuka became sati along with Jamadagni at Mahurgadh, Maharashtra.[9]

Another famous temple for Renukambal is situated in Serampattu Village near Cheyyar in Tiruvannamalai district. Thousands of people gather here during Pongal festival. Another powerful temple of Renuka Parameshwari is located in Tiruchampalli near Sembanarkoil in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu.

One more temple of Ellamma is situated at a village of Ragupathi Naicken Palayam of Erode, Tamilnadu. Ragupathi Naicken Palayam can be reached from Erode - Poondurai Road as well as Erode - Vellode Road. Although it is unclear when the temple was constructed, it is understood from the inscription placed at the temple that the temple was renovated by Late Mr. Duraisamy Naicker in 1923. He is said to belong to community of Banajiga (or Balija) of Lingayat Society which has origin in Karnataka, but settled in Tamilnadu in 19th century. The temple is maintained by people of the Banajiga community now. Maha Shivarathiri in the month of Maasi and Full Moon day of Karthigai are celebrated by the Banajigas in this temple.

Goddess Renuka and Lord Jamdagni Muni are worshiped in villages around yamuna river in Rawain valley of Uttarkashi district in Uttaranchal. Many ancient temples in the region are dedicated to the divine couple – the famous being the Jamadagni temple at Thaan village near the bank of yamuna and Renuka temples in uphill village of Devadokhri, Banchangaon, and Sarnaul. The region has an age-old tradition of celebrations in commemoration of the local deities, and managing the temple affairs and customs. The priesthood is claimed on the basis of ancestry and merit both, and mainly held by Khanduri, Semwal, and Dimri Brahmins of Uttaranchal. The week-long annual festivities in the month of June are main attraction for the devotees around the region.

In Sri Lanka[edit]

In ancient Sri Lanka, "Renuka" was the name of a minor goddess of wanton death and destruction, although at certain times was also a symbol of creativity and vibrancy[citation needed].

Further reading[edit]

  • The Village Gods of South India (London, 1921) by H. Whitehead
  • Yellamma: A Goddess of South India (1995) by Channappa Uttangi
  • Given to the Goddess: South Indian Devadasis and the Sexuality of Religion (2004) by Lucinda Ramberg
  • Melissa Hope Ditmore, ed. (2006). Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work: A-N. Vol. 1. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 103–104. ISBN 9780313329685.


  1. ^ "Sri Renuka Amman Parameswari". Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  2. ^ Sunil.A.Shah (May 2010). "ચિરંજીવી, શૌર્યતા, જ્ઞાનના સંગમ સમાન ભગવાન પરશુરામ" [Ciran̄jīvī, śauryatā, jñānanā saṅgam samān Bhagavān Paraśurām]. Divya Bhaskar (in Gujarati). Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  3. ^[bare URL]
  4. ^ "Six lakh devotees throng Yellamma temple". The Hindu. Special Correspondent. 12 January 2017. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 30 May 2021.CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ "Lakhs visit Yellamma temple on Bharat Hunnime fair". Deccan Herald. 30 January 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  6. ^ "Chapter XXXVIII: The Vow and the Sacred Places of the Devi". The Devi Gita [Song of the Goddess]. Excerpt from the Srimad Devi Bhagawatam. Translated by Swami Vijnanananda (Hari Prasanna Chatterji). 1921. O King of Mountains! Still I am now telling something out of My affection to My Bhaktas. Hear.
  7. ^ "Devi Yalubai". Verses: 3-10. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2013.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  8. ^ "Arulmigu Renugambal Amman Temple, A.K. Padavedu". Archived from the original on 8 January 2014.
  9. ^ Kohli, M.S. (2002). Mountains of India Tourism, Adventure, and Pilgrimage. Indus Publishing. p. 303. ISBN 978-81-7387-135-1.