Goddess Vinayaki or Ganeshani, also known as Gajanani, Ganeshari or Vigneshwari, is the feminine form of Lord Ganesh. 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.
Vyaghrapada Ganeshani - Enigma Of Lord Ganesha’s Female Form:
Perhaps the most famous Ganesha temple in India is the Uchi Pillaiyar Koyil at Trichy. Uchi means “at the top”. This large temple (also known as the Rock Fort Temple) is built on a hilltop and commands a breathtaking view of the city and of the river Kaveri. Another large Ganesha temple is the Pillaiyarpatti Temple near Karaikudi in Ramanathapuram District, also in Tamil Nadu. In New Delhi there is the Siddhi Buddhi Vinayagar temple situated in Vinayanagar. The Mukkuruni Pillaiyar inside the huge Meenakshi Temple complex in Madurai, India, is also quite famous. This murti is ten to twelve feet tall. Mukkuruni refers to a large measure of rice (about forty pounds). Here the priests cook a huge modaka ball for Ganesha using this measure. Hence the name Mukkuruni Pillaiyar.
Also in Madurai, Lord Ganesha is worshiped as Vyaghrapada Ganeshani, in female form with tiger feet. Some say that this form belongs to the Rudra Ganas. We also see the description of the female form of Ganapati in the Mantra Shastras. This form is called as Vallabha Ganeshaani. This form has not gained much popularity. The Ganeshaani murti in sukhasana pose resides at Suchindram. There are two other temples in India with the female Ganesha form. One is at a tenth-century temple dedicated to sixty-four yoginis in Bheraghat, a village near Jabalpur. The other is the Tanumalaya Swami Temple in Suchindrum, Kerala. In Tibet She is worshiped as Gajanani.
Vainayaki or Ganesani, the Sakti of Vanayaka or Ganesa, is a comparatively less known goddess in Indian iconography. Even as the female energy of Vinayaka, one of the five major gods of the Hindu pantheon, her worship was not much popular in ancient India. It was probably due to the rise of the Ganapatya cult, Yogini worship and Tantricism that Vainayaki also came to be regarded as an important female deity during the early mediaeval period. Some Puranas and other scriptures mention Vainayaki in the list of the Yoginis and other goddess. Several Jaina and Buddhist literary works also enumerate interesting details about the goddess.
The well-known Chaunsatha-Yogini temples at Rikhian, Bheraghat, Hirapur and Ranipur-Jhariyal enshrine the images of Vainayaki along with other Yoginis. A few sculptures and bronzes discovered in various parts of India prove beyond doubt that she was also worshipped as a cult divinity by her devotees. Besides these, Vainayaki as a Buddhist Tantric goddess Ganapatihrdya has also been found represented in the Tantric paintings from Nepal.