Goddess… or Demon? Hidden History of Vinayaki, the Mysterious Elephant-Headed Woman of Hindu Myth | Ancient Origins Members Site


Goddess… or Demon? Hidden History of Vinayaki, the Mysterious Elephant-Headed Woman of Hindu Myth

Goddess… or Demon? Hidden History of Vinayaki, the Mysterious Elephant-Headed Woman of Hindu Myth

In one of the shrines of the Thanumalayan temple in Kanyakumari district, India, is the stone sculpture of a four-armed deity sitting cross-legged in Sukhasana (“easy pose” - similar to sitting in a simple cross-legged position) holding a battle-axe, a large shell, a vase and a staff around which the deity entwines a long trunk. At first glance, one would think that this is the famous elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha, except that this deity is clearly female.

Elephant-Headed Goddess: Black Stone, Circa 10th Century CE (Biswarup Ganguly/CC BY 3.0)

Every year, Hindus across the country celebrate the birth of Ganesha, revered as the remover of obstacles, in the Bhadrapada month of the Hindu calendar which usually begins at the end of August. But the same level of adulation has never been given to this goddess - Vinayaki.


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