1. Birth of Khodiyar Maa
1.1 Humiliation of Mamaniya Gadhvi
The story of Khodiyar Maa goes back to around 700A.D. It begins from a village called Roishala. Roishala was a part of Vallabhipur province near the now Bhavnagar city in Saurashtra (Gujrat, India).
Maharaj Shilbhadra was the ruler of the Vallabhipur province. Mamaniya Gadhvi lived in the small town, Roishala in his kingdom. He used to be Maharaj Shilbhadra’s best companion and a close confidant. Honest by heart, the humble and eloquent Shiv bhakt, Mamaniya Gadhvi was appointed as a Rajgadhvi by his friend. The king would talk to him for hours at his palace and consult him for important governance issues.
This alliance between Maharaj Shilbhadra and Mamaniya was envied by many ministers in his council. They disliked his presence at the palace and Mahraj’s personal chamber. Often found helpless, they could dare not reveal their hatred to the king. They did it to the queen (Maharaj Shilbhadra’s wife). One of the king’s men pointed out to the queen that Mamaniya and his wife were ‘baanj’ as they didn’t have a child since years after being married. This as explained by him made his presence inauspicious for the king, the kingdom and queen’s prospects of having a child.
The brainwashed queen had to but order the king’s men to refrain Mamaniya Gadhvi’s entry to the palace. Next day the modest soul was stopped at the doors of the court. He was told by the doormen that the king didn’t want to see his inauspicious face. Shocked Mamaniya sought for a reason for the changed attitude of the king who also has been his best friend. The doorman told him that the king finds it ominous to see a man without kids to be present in the court or king’s palace.
Lightning struck at first, Mamaniya’s heart was in fragments. He leaves the palace without much of debate trying to swallow the humiliation caused after years of friendship and selfless service.
1.2 Mamaniya’s prayers answered
Mamaniya goes home from the capital. The displeased look on his face could not evade his wife, Minalde’s eye. After probing for reasons, she learns about his humiliation at the king’s palace for the fact that they did not have kids. She could do little to please her husband who was still reeling under the shock.
Mamaniya decides to go to Shiv temple and make a demand to Lord Shiv for kids. He decides to perform Kamal pooja (a type of Hathyog to please God by hook or by crook). Finally Mamaniya decides to give his life to the unmoved Lord Shiv.
Just when he was about to make his final sacrifice Lord Shiv appeared. Lord asked him for a wish and knowing the same he rejected it saying that it weren’t in his destiny to become a father. Later he took him to ‘Naglok’ (the snake kingdom) to see if ‘Nagdev’ (the king of snakes) could help. On hearing his case, Nagdev’s daughters (Nagputris) decide to rescue helpless Mamaniya from his emotional crisis. 7 nagputris (daughters) and 1 nagputra (son) agree to take birth at his place. They promise to arrive on Mahasudh Aatham (debated as Ashadi Beej in some versions).
Mamaniya and his wife, as informed, keep 8 cradles ready in anticipation of the great event. As promised 8 snakes crawl in to their house and occupy each cradle. In no time they take form of a baby. One amongst the 8 babies born is Janbai (Khodiyar Maa).
2. Shilbhadra’s suspicion
2.1 Native rumours
Mamaniya and his wife celebrate the miracle of their life by distributing sweets. The announcement of having fathered 7 daughters and 1 son reach every nook and corner of the town.
They name their daughters as Aaval, Jogal, Togal, Janbai, Holbai, Beejbai, Sosai and the son, Mehrak (Mehrakiya with love).
Some fellow villagers knew that Minalde was not pregnant and to have delivered 8 kids could not have been less than a miracle as they claim. Some suspected the overnight turnout to be a result of a black-magic trick practiced by Mamaniya and his wife. These rumours found their way to Maharaj Shilbhadra’s ears who was as rejoiced as anybody else on knowing that Mamaniya was no longer a ‘baanj.’ Hence it made him reluctant before he paid his visit to Mamaniya charan’s celebrations.
2.2 Mataji and her siblings float on water
King’s men grab this occasion in wake of rumours to plan king’s assassination and blame Mamaniya charan for the same. One of the plants secretly poison the sweets specially brought by Mamaniya charan to offer to the king.
A happy Shilbhadra takes his look at all the babies. When he takes little Janbai in to his arms from the cradle, Mataji extends her hands over his head to bless him. To protect the innocent king from his assassination attempt, Mataji performs another miracle from the cradle. When Shilbhadra is about to eat the poisoned sweets they disappear suddenly.
This annoys the king adding to his doubt of black magic trick being involved. He orders killing of the babies by immersing them in water in iron boxes. To his disbelief the iron boxes floated on water and everyone on the banks could still hear the babies crying in the boxes.
3. Khodiyar Maa derives her name
Mamaniya’s young kids were playing in the field when brother, Mehrak was bit by a venomous snake. His sisters rushed to him. Aaval suggests bringing of ‘Ami’ (Elixir of life) from the ‘Naglok’ underneath the sea. It had to be brought before the sunset in order to save Mehrak’s life. Janbai volunteers to bring Ami from Naglok before the sunset.
She gets ‘Ami’ from Naglok. While hurrying her way back to the surface of water she injures her foot in the hostile rocks beneath. She is rescued by a crocodile who escorts Mataji on its back to the surface of water.
Limping with discomfort Mataji happens to reach the accident site on time. Seeing her in this state, Aaval guesses she must have injured her foot. Feet injury is known as Khodi and that’s when she hears one of them saying, ‘Khodati aavechhe’ (She is limping on her way). For this feat of her to save her brother, Aaval decides to name her Khodiyar and declares that she would be in future known and worshipped as KHODIYAR Maa.
This particular event gives us an idea of how quick and impatient Khodiyar Maa is when it comes to answering the prayers of her followers.
This event also made ‘magar’ (crocodile) her ‘vahan’ (vehicle). Crocodile is an amphibian reptile. Maa Khodiyar on a crocodile symbolizes her supremacy over both land and water.
4. Khodiyar Maa’s leela
Maa Khodiyar then assumed the role of protecting the king, the kingdom and the subjects. Several events of her having saved people from troubles, evil and mishaps occurred. She would treat ill children on the verge of death with a mere touch of her hand.
There are tales of Khodiyar Maa protecting the king from the wrong doings in his own palace. She punished the evil doers. Her blessings saw the King and queen, a prince after years of married life.
In some time she was being recognized as the goddess of the province and her stories went far and wide in all pockets of Saurashtra and Sind. Rajdoots (ambassadors) and traders would carry her tales back home to their kingdoms. People from distant places would travel to get her darshan. Other kings were willing to invite Khodiyar Maa to grace their kingdoms. People worshipped her as a goddess and she blessed all her followers like one.
5. Khodiyar Maa in Junagadh
5.1 Birth of Prince Navghan
In around 1000A.D. the queen of Junagadh was being misguided by her ministers. She didn’t have kids for long and she was asked to perform some trick of black magic for the same. These tricks backfired and her pregnancy lasted beyond the natural term of 9 months. Her pain would only suggest that a delivery was due any moment but the backfired evil force would not allow it to happen. With the pain and the kid within her she survived another term of 9 months. Things were getting unbearable when she realized that bad means can only have bad consequences. She had heard of Khodiyar Maa and this name was her final hope. With the repentance in mind she prayed Khodiyar Maa from the bottom of her heart for freedom from eternal pain.
Maa Khodiyar appeared right before her to see her deliver a baby boy. Since the prince was born after a series of 9 month terms he was named as Navghan.
5.2 Khodiyar Maa at Galdhara
Young Prince Navghan was on his way through the jungle of Gir. He stopped by a lake (Galdhara) to clean his horse. Khodiyar Maa appeared before him at the lake. She blessed Navghan and chose to assist him during all his battlefields.
Hence there came upon the oldest shrine of Khodiyar Maa at the Galdhara in Gir.
6. Khodiyar Maa comes to Kathiyawar
6.1 Navghan’s battle of Sind
Khodiyar Maa would sit over Prince Navghan’s javelin in the form of a sparrow to help him in his battles. He would go on war only if he found the sparrow sitting over his javelin.
Sind’s Sumra abducted Prince Navghan’s sister Jahal. Navghan prayed Khodiyar Maa to be on his side in his march to Sind to rescue his sister. Mataji once again appeared on the javelin to shield Navghan from the mighty Sumra. Sind’s Sumra was killed in the war.
Khodiyar Maa happened to meet the native deities namely, Sikotar Maa, Pathapir and Bhutda. Sikotar Maa and Bhutda decide to stay back in Sind (along with Aaval maa as per some versions. She is there known as Raangni Maa). Pathapir decided to come to Saurashtra.
6.2 Khodiyar Maa in Aiyavej
After the battle of Sind, Khodiyar Maa insists Prince Navghan to return to his kingdom. Navghan vows to make a temple of Khodiyar Maa in Aiyavej (near Palitana) in Kathiyawar.
Navghan ordered each of his armymen to carry a brick from Sind to be used to construct Khodiyar Maa’s temple in Aiyavej. This order was taken casually by the commander-in-chief (Senapati) hence he failed to carry his brick. He was punished for his disobedience. His chopped head still lies dangled to the wall of the temple that was originally built by the bricks from Sind.
Pathapir dada settled at the Aiyavej shrine of Khodiyar Maa.
7.1 Shepherd’s discovery
Maa Khodiyar revealed her splendid self at Matel (42kms. from Rajkot) in around 1400A.D. A young innocent shepherd once began to notice an increase in the number of cows that he used to take grazing for fodder. He spotted the cow that didn’t belong to his herd. To discover whose cow it was, he once chased the cow all the way back holding her by her tail.
The cow entered the lake under the water, so did the shepherd. To his surprise he discovered a temple of gold and a goddess with a trishul in her hand on a golden swing. Dumb shepherd didn’t know it was Khodiyar Maa. He inquired if it was her cow and asked for compensation for caring for her fodder. Khodiyar Maa gave him a few leaves as a matter of compensation which the disinterested shepherd disposed off in water.
When he came home he found his blanket having stuck to itself one of the leaves that didn’t drop when he shed them away. The leaf had already turned in to gold. The shepherd rushed back to the lake but in vain.
7.2 Temple of Matel
The shepherd informed of his experience to the king. He told them about the golden temple he saw under the water. The king ordered hundreds of hand pumps to evacuate the water from the lake. The tip of a golden egg surfaced.
It is then believed that there was a flood that rose in no time in the town. The king and his men realised that it was a divine power and that the shepherd had seen Khodiyar Maa under the water.
The golden egg is believed to be the one placed on the top of the temple.
8. Khodiyar Maa in Rajpara (Bhavnagar)
Thakur Sahib Wakhatsinhji Akherajji [Atabhai] Gohil, the ruler of Bhavnagar state (late 1700 / early 1800) was a Khodiyar bhakt (follower of Khodiyar Maa). He paid regular visits to Galdhara(Matel temple as debated in some versions) for her worship.
He insisted Khodiyar Maa to come down to Shihor (the then capital of Bhavnagar) from Galdhara temple. Khodiyar Maa agreed to follow him to Bhavnagar provided he does not turn around all the way.
To test his faith in Khodiyar Maa’s word, at a few kilometers before Shihor, the sound of Mataji’s footsteps and her anklets ceased. Atabhai Gohil turns around to see if Mataji is following him and Mataji decides to end her journey. She and her sisters settle at a point now known as Rajpara.