(Last Updated on : 27/01/2014)
Khandoba is a deity, who is also known as Makhari, Mallari, Martand, etc. This deity is a form of Lord Shiva and is popular in western India. There is a pilgrim shrine constructed for him at Jejuri, near Poona, not far from Pandharpur.
The deity Khandoba can often be seen with the elements such as a sword, trident, drum, and bowl. The vehicle (vahana) of the deity is a horse and he may be seen associated with a dog. The sect of Khandoba is not regarded to be very old. The first record of the Jejuri temple of Khandoba belongs to the late fourteenth century which is probably later than the beginning of the cult itself.
The early appearance of Khandoba is related with at least two mythological stories. As per one such legend, he made himself known to a number of cowherds who were resting in a field but went away again when one of his most pious worshippers approached. This devotee was disappointed very much by this and the village elders also became suspicious about the significance of a linga that was found on the spot where Khandoba appeared.
A strange contest was conducted to end such doubt, which involved cutting lines in the earth. The pious devotees won and a shrine of Khandoba was constructed at the place where he appeared. This particular story involves all the elements of a rustic myth projected to impress villagers and also contains historical material about clashes between prominent local families.
The second story is more sophisticated and connects Khandoba more directly to Shiva and even brings reference of Lord Vishnu. This story is more or less like some other stories, which speak about the interference of Lord Shiva against the devastation done by the demons against the worlds of gods and men. In this second story related to the appearance of Khandoba, the reincarnation of two demon kings are told, who were reborn after they had been killed in a battle. This fight involved the participation of Lord Vishnu as the opposition of these demons. Finally, Shiva had to take the form of Khandoba or Martand so as to lead the winner army. This encounter took place on Jayadri Mountain, which is now known as Jejuri.