The Shri Shani temple at Rakshasbhuvan (Beed District) established
by Shriramachandra is one out of the three and a half peeths of Shani
At Rakshasbhuvan in Beed district of Gevrai taluka on Poush Shukla Paksha 8, at the Shri Shani temple is celebrated the birthday of Shani Maharaj. Details about this temple are given further.
1. Information shared by the priest of the Shani temple
at Shri Kshetra Rakshasbhuvan, Shri. Nagesh Chauthaiwale
This temple has a spiritually active and ancient Idol of Deity Shani. The importance of this temple is that ritualistic worship of Shani cannot be performed without worship of Kal. Here Kal or Yama and ghati or time has been installed along with Deity Shani. Idols of Rahu and Ketu are on each side of Deity Shani. An Idol of Deity Bruhaspati (Guru of Deities) also can be seen.
2. History and greatness of the Shani temple
as told by priest Padmakar Dattatreya Pathak
The Idol of Deity Shani in the temple was installed by Deity Ramachandra. In the Tretayug when Rama was affected by bad planets (71/2 years of distress), Sage Agasti got the Idol of Deity Shani installed from Him. The words inscribed in the Idol are ‘I shall protect the devotee who visits this place’. That is why its name was rakshobhuvan (Giving protection (raksha)). Mere distortion has changed it to Rakshasbhuvan. In the Dwaparyug Shrikrushna asked Yudhisthir to perform ritualistic worship at this place. In the recent times Shivaji Maharaj and Saint Namdev performed ritualistic worship here.
2A. To prevent their annihilation grandsons of the demon
Hiranyakashyapu namely Vatapi and Ilwal performed severe
austerities and on the occasion of the death anniversary of
their forefathers slew ascetics and hermits after offering them a meal
Hiranyakashyapu had four sons – Prahlad, Rad, Anurad aand Surad. Out of them Rad had two sons Vatapi and Ilwal and they lived in Dandakaranya (now a part of Chhattisgarh). They were angry that despite their grandfather performing severe austerities and receiving a boon from God that he would not be killed in the day or night, in the house or outside, Shri Narsinha had annihilated him. To prevent being annihilated in similar manner, they performed more intense austerities than their grandfather. They would offer a meal to ascetics and hermits who come on a pilgrimage to the banks of River Godavari or for performing austerities, stating that it was the death anniversary of their ancestors and would then kill them.This continued for many years.
2B. This is how Sage Agasti annihilated Vatapi and Ilwal
Then the Sages prayed to Sage Agasti who explained that it was difficult to annihilate them and that only Deity Shani would be able to accomplish it. All the sages then surrendered unto Deity Shani who said, ‘Only Sage Agasti should annihilate them, I would only be a medium for it.’ Deity Shani waited till 8 appeared in the rashi (house of planets) of their horoscopes and then struck. As per norms Sage Agasti was invited to their ashram. Vatapi assumed the form of food and Ilwal assumed the form of a Brahman (priest) and invited Him to their ashram. Partaking of Vatapi and assuming the fire form of Deity Shani in His stomach, Agasti annihilated him. Seeing this Ilwal began to run southwards and took refuge in the sea. Sage Agasti requested the sea to hand him over to Him but the sea refused. Then performing the ritual of achman (Sipping water from the palm) thrice, Agasti took Ilwal into His custody and annihilated him. After that Sage Agasti created water and restored the sea to its original state.
Agasti asked Deity Shani what would be the plight of the common man in Kaliyug when the condition of a seeker who had opposed Him in the Tretayug had become pitiable ? In response Deity Shani asked Him to install His idol in sandstone. This is a place where on worship of Deity Shani distress is eliminated.
2C. Creation of the Navagraha mandal and the Kalashodbhav place of pilgrimage
Of the three and half peeths of Deity Shani three are at Ujjain, Nastan near Nanda village and Rakshasbhuvan. Half peeth is at Beed.The nine planets actually manifest here. Vidnyan Ganesh, Narsinha and Datta are the Deities which have materialised here. As the nine planets are installed here, the defects in the horoscops pertaining to marriage can be overcome. As Kal too is installed here, rituals such as Kalasarpa shanti and shraddha for deceased ancestors are performed. As Sage Agasti was leaving after installing Deity Shani He saw the suble bodies of those hermits that Vatapi and Ilwal had killed hovering there, therefore He prayed for their liberation. According to the Purans, Agasti established the Atmatirtha place of pilgrimage. Since Agasti was born in a kalash (Pot) this is famous as Kalashodbhav place of pilgrimage
Since these places of pilgrimage are at the 19 seats of Vishnupad in Bharat, all rites for liberation of deceased ancestors are performed on the banks of River Godavari. Since this the seat of worship of Deities Dattatreya, Vidnyaneshwar Ganesh and Mahadev this is an excellent place of pilgrimage for self-realisation.
2D. Shani amavasya and birthday celebrations of Deity Shani
Ritualistic worship performed on Shani amavasya is of special significance. Pilgrims especially from Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka flock here in lakhs. Celebrations are held from Paush Shukla paksha pratipada to dashami. From the first day of the fortnight consecration with oil continues. Birthday of Deity Shani is celebrated in the evening on the 8th day with chanting of the Name of Hari and kirtan (singing the glories of God through prose and poetry). The festival concludes the following day with offering of food and kala (mixture of rice and curd) to devotees.
3. Samadhi of Shri Vitthal Sundar
Mausoleum of the treasurer of the Nizam, Vitthal Sundar, one out of 3½ wise men of those times, is situated here. He was killed by Madhavrao Peshwa. As it was a sin of killing a Brahman (knower of Brahman) Madhavrao Peshwa performed his funeral rites and built his mausoleum here.
4. A golden Holy fig tree and Kalunkai
Deity Indra asked Sage Dadhichi for His bones to be able to annihilate the demon Vruttasur. A thunderbolt was created from Sage Dadhichi’s bones and Vruttasur was annihilated with it. Dadhichi gave His bones to Deity Indra and then gave up His body. As His wife Suvracha was pregnant, to be able to jump into His funeral pyre, she placed the foetus from her womb at the foot of a golden Holy fig tree (peepal) where it grew and later became Sage Peeppalad. Now the tree no longer exists; only the spot where it stood is there. Peeppalad was the nephew of Sage Yadnyavalkya. He grew in the foot of the Holy fig tree and was nurtured by Kalikamata. That spot is famous as Kalunkai.