Generally at home the one who is useless, ill lucked and personified with laziness and characters of dumbness are scolded by elders as ‘Moodevi’ meaning useless in all senses. Goddess Moodevi is elder sister of Goddess Lakshmi, but in contrast to Goddess Lakshmi who is beautiful and considered to be Goddess of prosperity, Goddess Moodevi is uncouth and ugly in appearance and found to live in unclean, dirty and ruined places and considered to be Goddess of indigence and ill luck. But remember she is not to be ignored, but to be worshiped to get away sixty four kinds of indigence including poverty and misery as she is the Goddess who show the path to bliss and prosperity in one’s life. Though the word ‘Moodevi’ is used as a word of abuse, those who utter Moodevi are actually worshiping the Goddess Moodevi unknowingly. Who is Goddess Moodevi? 
As per Puranas, she is elder sister of Goddess Lakshmi and was created by none else than Lord Vishnu himself to show to universe the effects of performing good and bad acts in life and the resultant effects. Till 10th century she has been worshiped as Goddess Moodevi during the Pallava and Chola Kingdoms, though ignorantly many of us consider her to be Goddess of indigence. However in Northern India she is still revered in high esteem in the name of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi). Goddess Jhesta Devi and Goddess Moodevi are one and the same and called in the name of Goddess Jhesta Devi in North and Goddess Moodevi in South India.
Idol of Goddess Jhesta Devi(Goddess Moodevi)
in a temple in Kancheepuram

During Pallava and Chola Kingdom the rulers ensured that in the temples they constructed, Goddess Moodevi occupied separate sanctum or she was prominently placed inside the temple in such a manner that the devotees can offer worship to her. One such famous temple includes the Tiruvanaikkovil temple established for Goddess Parvathi in Tiruchy district in Tamilnadu. It has been constructed during Chola Kingdom. Since Goddess Moodevi appeared before Goddess Lakshmi came out of the nectar while churning the ocean, she was called ‘Mooththa devi’ in Tamil meaning elder of the Devis. However while addressing her as Mooththa Devi, in twist of tongue people began to address her as Moodevi in southern belt. Jhesta in Sanskrit refers to elder and because she appeared before Goddess Lakshmi appeared she was called Goddess Jhesta (elder of the two) Devi. Now read the story of Goddess Moodevi who will henceforth be referred as Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) in the history of hers given below.
Though several folklores are available on Goddess Moodevi, as per Padma Puran, when Devas and Asuras churned the ocean for release of nectar, the first to come out was the most deadly poison. In order to save the mankind, Lord Siva swallowed the poison. Next to appear from the nectar was an ugly female (who was later called Goddess Moodevi) followed by Goddess Lakshmi and other deities.
As per another folklore, when Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) came out of nectar, shocked devas assembled there sought to know from Lord Vishnu who the ugly female was, and he revealed that the female was none else but elder sister of Goddess Lakshmi and though she was ugly in appearance, she has been created by him for certain purpose and therefore she would be called as Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi). He further said that she was the eldest amongst the female deities manifested.
The spiritual masters suggest that since Goddess Parvathi was the supreme and eldest in female deities, Lord Vishnu’s revelation that Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) was the eldest amongst the female deities confirmed the fact that she was an aspect of Goddess Parvathi only. After the nectar was collected and when everyone prostrated before Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu an anxious Narada Muni asked Lord Vishnu as to why when he was to marry Goddess Lakshmi who was ordained to appear first, an elder sister to Goddess Lakshmi was created? Lord Vishnu began unravelling the mystery.
Lord Vishnu explained ‘When Lord Brahma began the process of creation, organisms both with good and bad qualities were created and put into the first Yuga named as Satya Yuga , lest if everyone with only good qualities in all respects were created then all those born will automatically reach heaven after death at the end of the same Yuga and subsequent Yugas ordained cannot appear to absorb those moving from the first Yuga created. The very purpose of creation of Universe will become defunct and meaningless. Like day and night that follow each other, unless the mankind experience both the good and bad aspects in life they will not understand the principle philosophy of spiritual liberation and ways and means to attain it, which ultimately lead one to the path of heaven. Though Lord Brahma created the universe consisting of humans, animals, amphibians, trees and plants each with biotic of their own within the principles of creation, I had to induce various aspects especially in the biotic of humans namely good and bad moral qualities.
Lord Vishnu continued, ‘When Universe was created it was ordained that of the four Yugas created, each shall be accommodated only with specific quantity of biotic organisms. The organisms created in the first of the four Yugas were ordained to cross over to the next three Yugas at certain proportions and in different forms based on the good and bad acts performed by them at the end of their life circle in the previous Yugas.
Though the basic principle in creation of Universe was that the first of the Yugas namely Satya Yuga shall have specific quantum of active and inactive biotic organisms in different forms like humans, animals, insects, trees and plants and those living under earth, not the entire creatures in the same proportion will move to the next Yuga. Based on the good and bad acts performed in Satya Yuga they move to the next Yuga either in human form or any other form as destined based on the performance of their good and bad actions in the Yuga they lived’.
After a pause Lord continued, ‘It was Paramathman’s principle that once Universe got created, Lord Brahma shall not have power to further create new biotic of any sort in the next three Yugas and only those in the Satya Yuga which were created shall keep moving to the next Yugas that followed, but again not in the same form and proportion as they existed in Satya Yuga. The biotic created in Satya Yuga shall move to the next Yugas by taking new births (new bodies) either in the same form or in different other forms based on their acts in previous Yugas and some may not even get birth at all in the next Yuga and will have to wait for the next Yuga to appear. A human from Satya Yuga may become a plant, animal or insect in the next Yuga depending upon the acts performed by them even though to get birth as human is considered to be sacred than all other biotic.
The souls in each of the organisms created in Satya Yuga with specific life span will complete their full life circle either in the first Yuga itself or by moving over to the next Yugas until the life span prescribed in Satya Yuga got completed which will happen when only good deeds exist in their balance sheets to permit them attain a status of no birth anymore. Whenever any soul reached the point of no return they shall again appear with newer cycle of life only in the next Satya Yuga which will re-appear at the completion of the fourth Yuga when newer Universe will again get created by Lord Brahma with different other equation. This is the basic principle set forth by Paramathman. In order to attain the status of no birth, each one should engage in the act of good deeds and therefore in order to experience the resultant effects of performing good and bad acts I had to create two aspects in life, each aspect to be controlled by two divine forces. However each and every soul shall not attain the status of no birth in Satya Yuga itself. There are many rules attached to attain such a status’.
Everyone listened to Lord Vishnu in rapt attention as he continued ‘Therefore I split the soul of Goddess Lakshmi into two halves and ensured that a Goddess controlling the uglier aspects of life come out first to teach the universe how and why the miseries occur, the mental and physical torture and discomfort that the miseries caused and how to get rid of them etc and finally to show the path to prosperity which is to be controlled by another Goddess. Thus Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) appeared first to take care of sixty four indigence followed by her sister Goddess Lakshmi herself to govern the aspects of prosperity and mental bliss. Both those aspects were opposite to one other to show to mankind the effects of engaging in good and bad acts. Though Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) may be uncouth in appearance and initially viewed with contempt by mankind she will command respect in due course when one will realise that only she can lead them to the path of prosperity and spiritual liberation. However she will ensure that those abusing divine and engage in destroying good virtues are afflicted with misfortune, misery and perish ignominiously. When the one who is engaged in evil act begin to realise their follies and surrender to her to get relief, it is again she who show the way to reach her younger sister Goddess Lakshmi to get her grace for abundance prosperity and mental bliss.
Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) will not go away from those who continue to commit sins and engage in evil acts and instead she will continue to cause more and more agony till they realise their follies and attempt to transform. Only when the sinners reach the stage of realization and attempt to transform themselves will she begin to loosen her grip on them to give them the chance to mend their ways from past actions which were evil in nature. One need not therefore get frustrated on the manifestation of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) who is attached with misery’.
Kashmir Doomra Kali temple lore mentions that after Paramathman created three deities, the drama to release nectar from the ocean began. When the forces of Deva and Asura began churning the ocean, a huge ball of cloud arose encompassing the divine powers and energy of three Devis. A female, black in colour, emerged first and was instantly adapted by Lord Siva as his Parivara devatha (Parivar in Sanskrit means family). Since she came out of dense black cloud in fierce form she was called Doomra Kali. Doomra refers to cloud of smoke while Kali meant the fierce form of Devi. Thus she was named ‘Goddess Doomra Kali’. When Goddess Doomra Kali came out of the cloud of smoke, she immediately absorbed the entire smoke around the region to allow the ocean and sky appear clear and transparent as they were originally created.
When Devas inquired from Lord Vishnu who Doomra Kali was, Lord Vishnu explained to them ‘Know that the female who is my creation and appeared from the nectar amidst huge pall of dark clouds, will to be called Goddess Doomra Kali and shall remain immortal. Her absorbance of entire thick black smoke paving way for the ocean and sky to appear clear and transparent will reveal that she was created by me to remove the darkness (meaning evils) from the universe’. Those who carefully followed the sermon of Lord Vishnu, realized that since the Devi was stated to be immortal, she could only be an aspect of Goddess Parvathi who created the Universe along with Lord Siva in the form of Paramathman.
An interesting folklore told for generations suggest that the name of the guardian deity of Goddess Parvathi was Alakshmi. But she was none other but Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) only and called as Goddess Alakshmi by some. In Tiruvanaikkovil temple a sanctum for Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) has been established centuries ago. During the period of Chola Kings the temple site of Tiruvanaikkovil was surrounded by several thousand Jambaka trees and Goddess Parvathi reportedly stayed in tapas in the midst of the forest worshiping Lord Siva and Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) stood guarding the forest to ensure that Goddess Parvathi remained protected and undisturbed. Therefore being guardian deities to Goddess Parvathi both Goddess Alakshmi and Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) were same.

Ravan looses the powers when he met 
Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) face to face

There is an interesting lore to demonstrate the power of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi). Once in a war waged against Devas, the demon King Ravan not only defeated them, but also drove them out from their settlements. Further in an act of humiliation he pent the steps of the throne with the powers and energy of nine Navagrahas and daily walked over them with his slippers to insult them. Unable to gulp the insult, power lost Navagrahas sought counsel from Narada Muni who advised them to approach Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) who was in Tiruvanaikkovil guarding Goddess Parvathi, and request her to redress their grievance. Narada Muni explained that only she was capable of attaching misery to demon King Ravan, which when done will weaken him and destroy the extraordinary power that he possessed because of Lord Siva’s boon. Once he lose the extraordinary power gained from the boon from Lord Siva, all the powers and energy of Navagrahas lost to him will be restored back to them.
As advised by Sage Narada, the Navagrahas worked out a strategy to drag Ravan before Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi). As per their plan Lord Sani in disguise of someone began to tease demon King Ravan. When Ravan began chasing the teaser in anger, Lord Sani deliberately ran hither thither to finally reach the temple site of Tiruvanaikkovil where Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) was guarding Goddess Parvathi in tapas. Ravan did not know the hidden agenda of Devas in drawing him to the temple site. When he entered the temple he had to confront Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) face to face. The moment he met her face to face, he began to tremble because as a learned Pundit he could realise that she was emanation from Goddess Parvathi and is not conquerable and therefore began to retreat back but not before angry over his unauthorized intrusion into the area, Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) brought him under her grip casting misfortune on him. Instantly when Ravan lost all his extraordinary powers that he enjoyed he became weak. Lord Sani wasted no time to catch him to affiliate him further with 7½ years Sani Dosha which laid the foundation for the destruction of demon King Ravan at the hands of Lord Rama.
She ensures that those abusing divine powers and destructing good virtues are afflicted with misfortune, misery and perish ignominiously, the classic example being the fall of demon King Ravan at the hands of Lord Rama. The very fact that she was deployed as guardian deity of Goddess Parvathi in Tiruvanaikkovil also establishes that she remains one of the most important deity amongst female Goddesses. One need not therefore wonder the logic behind her creation or worshiping Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) though she is attached with misery in the drama being enacted by Paramathman.
Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) is one of the main Devi worshiped by those engaged in Tantric sadana. The spiritual gurus point out that the Tantric Sadana has too many branches and one such branch takes the sadanathvik to self liberation. Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) is the main source of energy that leads the Sadanathvik to attain Tantric sadana followed by self realization.
In Dasa Vidya Tantric practices, she is worshiped in the name of Goddess Doomra Kali along with her carrier vehicle animal Varahi though they consider her to be Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) because her carrier vehicle is also the same animal Varahi.
In some parts of India, people worship Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) in the name of Goddess Alakshmi also in belief that she manifested to destroy evils and show the path of prosperity and bliss in life in her own way of teaching. This is one of the principle reasons why in some places the Sadanathvik who perform Sadana to attain tantric power, first worship Goddess Alakshmi to please her. But all the three Goddesses namely Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) , Goddess Alakshmi and Goddess Doomra Kali are same and appear in different names in different parts.
It will be interesting to note that during the Chola Kingdom those who were affiliated with 7½ years Sani dosha reportedly visited Tiruvanaikkovil to get rid of the ill effects and offered prayers to Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) along with Lord Sani both enshrined in the same temple and then distributed new clothes to poor people. This belief and practice were widely prevalent during 8th and 9th centuries and lasted till 10th century.
In ancient days, Raja gurus (Chief adviser in the court of King) of the rulers reportedly ensured that the Kings regularly performed worship of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) for the welfare of their nation. The rulers prayed to Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) that their nation should be free from the sixty four kinds of misfortunes. There is an interesting lore over centuries that out of five Pandava brothers only Sahadeva remained unaffected by the fury of 7½ years Sani dosha as he regularly and ritually worshiped Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) while other brothers did not practice it. Hence they had to face lots of personal problems during the bad periods of 7½ years Sani dosha.
In the 8th century during Pallava Kingdom in South, Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) was the tutelary deity of many families. Even she was the family deity to the Pallava King Nandi Varman. One famous Pallava Kings Rajasimman reportedly enshrined Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) in the Kailasanatha temple in Kancheepuram. Kudaivarai temple in Vallam taluk of Kancheepuram district in Tamilnadu has big statue of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) enshrined in a sanctum. The temple was established during Pallava King Mahindra Varman’s rule in 7th Century. Following the practice of Pallava Kings, the Chola Kings too continued the worship of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) in the temples constructed by them. The historians point out that even some sects of Jains (who were followers of divine incarnate Samana) worshiped her. Brahmapureeswarar, an ancient temple in Kancheepuram is known for Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) worship along with Lord Vinayaga (Motta Ganesha).
It is also stated that in many shrines of Lord Siva, Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) is enshrined as his Parivara Devatha. There are guidelines in Shilpa Shasthra to suggest as which direction entrance of Goddess Jhesta Devi’s (Goddess Moodevi) sanctum should face. Though decline in the worship of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) began from 10th century, still worship of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) continued in scattered parts till 11th Century. The reasons are many as analyzed in the concluding part of this article.
It will surprise the readers to know that though she has been considered to be Goddess associated with misery and misfortune, the extent of her worship was far and wide spread. She occupies an important position in the hierarchy of female deities who grace tantric Sadanaviks attain spiritual energy and tantric power. Every aspect of hers has high philosophy and messages of spiritual importance behind them.
Various aspects and appearance of divine forces have been drawn as paintings, or sculpted or engraved strictly conforming to the descriptions and features as prescribed in one of the Puranas called Vishnudarmothra. Goddess Jhesta Devi’s (Goddess Moodevi) appearance too has reportedly been mentioned in the same compilation. This Purana is reportedly based on the clarification given by Sage Markandeya to another sage called Vajra when he queered on the aspects and appearances of various divine forces. Sage Markandeya perhaps was one of the greatest sages who had seen God and Goddesses in person, in several forms and appearances and therefore the spiritual gurus are of the opinion that the appearance of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) may have been cast based on the description given by sage Markandeya.
The story on Goddess Jhesta Devi’s (Goddess Moodevi) manifestation differs slightly in each Puranas. As per the version in Linga Puran, when an ugly female appeared out of the ocean during churning for nectar, the big question stood before everyone was who would marry her? It was decided that sage Dutchaga would marry her. Lord Vishnu was ordained to marry the Goddess who would first appear from the nectar. However when an ugly female came out, Lord Vishnu revealed that the female deity uncouth in appearance was none but sister of his wife Goddess Lakshmi and that he intentionally made her to appear first for certain cause. Therefore though she appeared first, Lord Vishnu did not marry her but arranged for her marriage before marrying Goddess Lakshmi who too appeared from the same nectar after Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) came out.
As decided by Lords, sage Dutchaga married her but soon discovered that his ugly wife cannot tolerate the sound or sight of any auspicious things and complained to Lord Vishnu on the behaviour of his spouse, but Lord Vishnu counseled them to say that since she was created intentionally to be associated with inauspicious places and sinners, the sage will have to adjust himself with her as she cannot be left to remain unmarried after she was created. Unwilling to accept the counseling of Lord Vishnu, the sage left her (Goddess Moodevi) and went away. In another version of folklore the name of her husband is mentioned as sage Prabhavan. After her husband deserted she had no other option but to go and live in those places which were unclean like litter zones, drainage, dumping depot, places where the dogs, animals and asses strayed. Again the reference of dirty places actually refers to the mind and heart of humans who are evil and impure in nature.
Though she was ordained to stay in unclean, dirty and ruined places it does not mean that she is Goddess unwanted. On an outer level, she seems to create poverty, destitution, suffering, and misfortunes all that lead one’s life to misery and indigence. Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi), creation of Trinities as a package of creation was assigned the task of controlling one’s life by staying within. The philosophy behind her portrayal in dirty areas as said earlier represent the state of one’s mind and heart which is clogged with evil thoughts as dominated by sixty four misfortunes in the world. In order to bestow progress and prosperity in one’s life, she intrudes into the mind bank of devotees to audit their feelings so that the Maya which is illusion and negativity is eliminated and they are protected from the adversities of nature, misfortune and other harmful forces.
She has fearsome look, appears ugly, found wearing unclean clothes, unruly, dishevelled  hair flying from head, sagging breasts, a broom in hand, and symbol of a crow in the banner flying on her chariot. In some other portraits she is shown sitting on the chariot pulled by a pair of crows. Goddess Dhumavathi another name for Jhesta Devi is also shown with the same aspects in Dasa Vidya and therefore the pundits are of the opinion that both Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) and Goddess Dhumavathi are one and the other same with two different names. Goddess Moodevi is addressed as Goddess Jhesta Devi, Goddess Alakshmi, Goddess Doomra Kali and Goddess Dhumavathi in different parts even though they are all same Goddess Moodevi and therefore one need not get confused over the names. She is also shown in some portraits as an old hag riding an ass with a broom in her hand. A crow adorns her banner. In some portraits she is shown surrounded by poisonous snakes. What do all her aspects shown in the portraits reveal?
Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) was created to eradicate sixty four kinds of extreme indigence by staying in those places. In a way the creation is meant to destroy sins, clean up the space, and remove ignorance (spiritually meaning clean up the inner feelings and emotions in one’s life) by staying within. This is reflection of spiritual Vidya wherein one is made to relinquish all kinds of negativity before turning positive to tread the path of spiritual liberation. She is the goddess who shows one that within disappointment lies the secret boon of true freedom.
What does the donkey represent? The launder used to take the fardel of dirty clothes on the back of a donkey (it was in olden days and not now except in interior villages as several kinds of transport facilities have sprung up everywhere) to the river bank or lakes and bring them back after washing and drying. Those who take additional responsibilities in addition to their own are jokingly called ‘working like a donkey’ (one who besides his own work perform unrelated work of him is compared with the donkey carrying fardel of baggage). The philosophy behind the donkey being shown as the carrier vehicle of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) is to show that Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) when worshiped absorbs the mental burden of her devotees to relieve them of the pain besides leading them into the righteous path in life which ultimately help them tread the path of spirituality automatically. The poisonous snakes surrounding her indicate that the evil and wicked minded people remain surrendered to her and ready to travel along with her in the path of spiritual bliss.
Besides holding a broom in one of her hands, in some portraits Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) can also be seen holding a winnowing basket in hand with rice in winnow or the rice flowing down from the winnow. The freshly harvested paddy always has husks and unless the husk is removed it cannot be cooked and eaten. Therefore the harvested rice grain (Paddy) is put in the winnow and tossed in the air to remove the impurities i.e husk to get clean grain. Once upon a time there used to be no stove or electric oven and people used to make small pits on ground and put small pieces of wood or charcoal inside and flame them up with fire stick for use as cooking medium (Stove). The regular cooking stoves and Gas came much later. The husk removed from the grain is also put into the burning pit to step up the fire flame. This reflects the philosophy of soul resting inside the body. The paddy with the rice grain is similar to soul resting inside a body. Like the clean grain which is likened to soul is released from husk, the husk likened to physical body is put to fire and burnt (cremation of dead bodies relieved off the souls).
What does the rice in the winnow she has in her hand show ? Rice is the only grain, but not other pulses are used when one is dead even though while one is alive it is consumed as food along with other pulses. A knuckle full of rice is put into the mouth of dead bodies before cremation to suggest that rice is the only grain used even to feed those who are dead. Rice mixed with Ghee is offered in Yagna and Homa kund whenever any ceremony or ritual is performed. Thus rice is considered to be divine grain and occupies an important position of offering in any forum. No wonder rice in the winnow of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) strengthens the belief that she satiates the hunger of dead souls by feeding them till they reach Yamalog.

Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi)
and Rice Goddess Devi Shree

The rice grains covered by husk called paddy is similar to the soul in a body and remain in it till the soul gets released from the body after death. The paddy is like a womb with rice grain growing inside. The rice grain slowly matures to reach plenary stage comparable to the growth of a baby inside the womb before getting born. This is the reason why the paddy (with rice grain inside) is considered to be female in humans and form part of Rice Goddess Devi Shree. Rice God is called Devi Shree in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Greece etc and worshiped by the farmers there. Everything born on earth has soul of its own kind. Once the soul gets released, the body becomes dead. Similarly the husk covering the rice grain called paddy when released of the rice grain becomes useless and therefore the paddy with rice is compared to soul and body and like winnowing the paddy to release the rice grain for cooking, Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) ensures that the souls released from the body is cleansed well, spiritual thoughts infused in them and sent to them to Yamalog for rebirth. Rice is extensively used as food in Orissa, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Tripura besides the four other southern states. Perhaps, this is why the Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) worship has been extensive in those areas.
What does the winnow indicate? The freshly harvested or grains used for cooking are removed of impurities and small stones clung with them. In the villages such grains are put into a winnow and tossed into the air to blow off the impurities and extraneous material. Like winnowing to clean the grains, Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) cleanses the mind and heart of her devotees to remove impure and evil thoughts to pave way to prosper. Her portrayal with a winnowing basket in hand or act of winnowing represent the act of her  removing evil thoughts from mind of humans similar to freeing the grain from husk and other impurities.
Prior to winnowing, the rice grains are pounded or milled to loosen the tough husks and then only placed on the winnowing basket and tossed into the air to remove the impurities. The impurities get blown off while tossing in the wind while the winnowed rice grains fall back onto the tray below ready for cooking. Similar to this act, Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) takes into her grip the human who are with impure and evil mind and pound them with numerous problems and miseries and when they begin to realise their follies and fall back to the feet of divine she releases her grip on them to lead them into the path of prosperity.
Like the launderer beating the clothes on a rocky stone to clean them in the process of washing the clothes, Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) deliberately cause several kinds of indigence to the sinners with impure mind and heart to make them suffer the life of agony before freeing them from their sins. Unless one personally experience the pain of misery they will not surrender to divine seeking solace or even attempt to correct themselves. Only when one undergoes the ordeals of suffering, the feeling of self realization of follies begin. When the indigence in life becomes acute and cause unbearable mental pain, he surrender before divine for their intervention. Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) has been created to push the sinners and wrong doers to such agonized position so that they will enter into the path of morality and realise the spirit of divine interventions. When the agonized begin to shed away the evil qualities by self realization of their follies and enter into the path of morality, Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) slowly frees them from her grip and show them the path of morality thus leading them to prosperity. Thus it is Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) who lead one towards Goddess Lakshmi for prosperity and bliss. However the uncorrectable amongst them remain clad in misery and ruined. Every one born is not altogether bad or impure in mind and it is the circumstances that mould them. One cannot see any divine holding winnow as one instrument or aspect.
Goddess Jhesta Devi’s (Goddess Moodevi) stay in dirty places and the word dirty represents the miseries and obstacles caused to impure and evil minded persons in whom she resides to correct them. At the same time environmentally clean place represent prosperity i.e. one freed of miseries and obstacles in which Goddess Lakshmi resides. Spiritually speaking Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) and her sister Goddess Lakshmi thus remains the signboards of two aspects- evil minded persons and spiritually awakened ones.
However without realizing the internal philosophy of the divine aspects, people suffering from several ordeals are generalized as ‘Moodevi’ thinking that they have become useless for any and everything. They fail to realise that the indigence deliberately caused to them by Goddess Moodevi is meant to correct them and to prevent them from continuing evil acts further the act for which she has been created.
Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) is also projected in the form of Goddess Dhumavathi, holding the head of a slain buffalo with a symbol of a crow on the banner of the Chariot. The Chariot is seen drawn by a pair of crows. Goddess Dhumavathi {Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi)} relishes the smell of dead bodies from cemetery where the dead bodies are burnt. Some say that she enjoys eating dead bodies from cemeteries. Why then is the Devi worshiped in this form in the Tantric rituals in Dasa Mahavidya? The belief that she eats dead bodies in cemeteries is a symbolic gesture of absorbing into her the sins of the souls which are on way to Yama log though physically it does not happen.
The bird Crow is seen in one way or the other in all forms of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi). The Crow has always been considered the messenger of Yama and therefore when the srartha ceremony for the dead are performed, the pundits who perform the ritual tells that the Crow be ceremoniously prayed and called to eat the Pinda Daan offered to satiate the hunger of the wandering souls for whom the ritual were underway. The crow is supposed to transport the Pinda and give it to the hungry soul which again is a symbolic gesture as believed in spiritual world.

It is Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) who is believed to be sending the Crow (Carter of her Chariot) to accept the Pinda daan offered to the dead. By this act she ensures that the hunger of the souls is satiated even though they have been taken away by Lord Yama. It is interesting to note that the Crow has direct links with Lord Yama and Lord Sani who are stated to be brothers, and also serve Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) as carter of her Chariot. This strengthens the belief in the spiritual world that closer link exists between Lord Yama, Lord Sani and Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) and perhaps the reason why Lord Yama ganas does not torture those souls which were her devotees prior to death for fear of her fury. The world of tantric believes that Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) is indeed supreme master of both Lord Yama and Lord Sani who act to her dictum. This is one of the reasons why the tribes worshiped Crows considering it as divine bird in the past.
The carrier vehicle of Lord Sani has been a Crow similar to Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) who not only has Crow as Carter of her Chariot, but also the banner on her Chariot has the Crow as symbol. This strengthens the philosophy that in order to get relief from obstacles of Lord Sani, Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) should be worshiped. According to the opinion of the learned Pundits, it was Lord Sani who deployed a Crow to remain the Carter of the Chariot of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi). This again confirm the theory that Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) has control over the activities of Lord Sani as well. It is therefore not difficult to believe that the actions of Lord Yama, Lord Sani and Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) are inter connected and in sync.
The dead bodies are cremated in the Cemeteries by burning. The souls released from the bodies wander above the burial ground and worship Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) who also stay in the same place watching them. When the wandering souls pray her to pardon their sins unwittingly committed by them during their stay on earth, in an act of benevolence Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) cleanses the state of the souls and sends them to devaloga to get better treatment at the hands of Yama Ganas. The Pundits who put forth this opinion however are cautious to add that not each and everyone of the souls are graced by her, but only those ordained by Brahman to get her audience were able to get her audience to seek to get remission in their sins based on the good deeds performed by them during their stay in earth.
What is the philosophy behind Goddess Jhesta Devi’s (Goddess Moodevi) stay in the Cemeteries? As per one folklore Lord Siva is often called Smasanavasi, liker of the Cemeteries and therefore Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) as emanation from Lord Siva’s consort Goddess Parvathi too stay there to guard and assist the Lord in many ways. Since Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) is emanation of Goddess Parvathi, when she appeared out of the nectar while churning the ocean, Lord Siva did not let her down and accepted her as Parivara devatha (Angel with godly attributes) for Goddess Parvathi in his temples. This is why the statues of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) can be found in most of the Sakthi temples and temples of Lord Siva.
She is also depicted as widow without ornaments in many portraits. Her figurative attribute as widow is expression of detachment from the worldly desires (In earlier era, those who became a widow were shunned from all family and social functions and compelled to wear only white dress and not to wear any ornaments. They were also not allowed to indulge in any enjoyments including taking rich food and were compelled to keep the heads fully shaven to forcibly make them look less attractive to keep their sensual passion controlled from male genders). Thus portrayal of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) in the form of a widow and offering worship to her in the same form especially in the world of Tantric to is to show that the sadanathvik should first shun away the worldly desires to reach the mind of void, free of feelings etc before seeking tantric power and energy from her.
The general perception that it is inauspicious if one face widows, destitute, uncouth beggars and persons of ill luck who were all considered being the aspects of Moodevi, a word for indigence, while proceeding for some important work . But this assumption has absolutely no basis. On the other hand Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) has been worshiped extensively during 10th centuries for success of any work. The Meru Yanthra has nine steps and they are called Navabarana or Navakavacha meaning nine protective shields. Goddess Bhuvaneswari stays on top of the Chakra which is representative of Mount Meru where Lord Siva resides. In Sakthi upasana (also called Saktha upasana) the Meru worship forms an important aspect. The nine steps are well guarded by sixty four ferocious female deities called Yoginis who have all been created by Parasakthi. One important deity amongst them have been Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) who stand guard in the second steps leading to Meru. One of the rituals in the Meru Yanthra Pooja to gain mystic powers involves Yoga and Gnana worship in which the Yoginis are first pleased. Then only they will allow the the Saktha mantras to enter in each of the nine steps to reach Goddess Bhuvaneswari, the ultimate supreme power. The Saktha mantras are chanted by the Sadhaviks. The very fact that Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) finds place in Meru Yanthra reveals the importance of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi).
In some of the portraits or statues of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) one will find two more figures out of which one looks like that of a bull. Some pundits opinion that the bull is Lord Nandi Deva, the carrier vehicle for Lord Siva while others opine that it is one of the demi gods called Madasami, who in some villages are worshiped as a village deity, and who has bull’s face. As per the village lores Madasami has been Lord Siva’s creation and generally worshiped by a sect of washer men. Curiously in the interior villages some unknown statues of female deity can also be seen with a donkey standing by her side and Pundits opine that she is the same Goddess Moodevi (Goddess Jhesta Devi) in different appearance.
The second figure is that of another demi god called Vak (speech) devatha controlling ones rhetoric. The Vakvathini mantra is very powerful mantra that bestows the power of elocution. It is believed that the same Vak devatha bestowed the power of elocution to Kalidasa in Ujjain because of which he became a popular and a powerful orator. Vak Devatha is also referred as Goddess Mathanga, considered to be the nineth Goddess in Maha Vidya. The very fact that she is in the company of Goddess Mathanga establishes the importance of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) and her powers in the hierarchy of female deities.
Considering all these factors the Rishi, sages and other learned Pundits in earlier era may have highlighted the importance of worshiping Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) to the rulers, and therefore the convinced rulers may have enshrined Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) as important female deity in the shrines and temples that they had established. This perhaps is the reason why in the seventh and eighth centuries, under the control of Chola and Pallava Kings, the worship of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) were highly practiced in the southern belts of India. Before the end of 10th century in many villages, Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) has been worshiped as village deity under various other names though the appearance in all were similar.
Goddess Jhesta Devi’s (Goddess Moodevi) idol is also enshrined in the Ujjinathar temple in the district of Trichy in Tamilnadu. It was customary in those days for those who undertook long journey to offer prayers to Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) seeking her protection before commencing the travel. Even to this day, the same practice is continued by some especially in the villages in and around Tiruchy district in Tamilnadu. Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) in Tiruvanaikkovil temple is considered to be Adi Parasakthi. Two more images are also found along with her in the statue in the same temple.
In Tiruvarur Pasupatheeswarar temple too Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) can be seen enshrined in-between the sanctum of Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathi. She is called as Devi Moodevi here and offered new clothes and Abishekam performed to her seeking her grace.
In the Kadambavaneswarar temple in Karur district of Tamilnadu where the Saptha Mathrikas got rid of their curse, Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) is worshiped in separate sanctum. This temple is as old as 1000- 2000 years.
In Hari Theertheswarar temple of Puthukottai district in Tamilnadu which is also as old as 1000- 2000 years, besides Saptha Mathrikas, 63 Nayanmars, Kasi Vishwanatha, Visalakshi, Bhairava, Surya, Chandra, Saraswathi, Lakshmi, Muruga, Navagrahas, separate sanctum also exist for Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) thus confirming that she has been worshiped extensively in past era. The two images found chiselled on both sides of her is reported to be her son Kuligan and daughter Mathi while in other places Nandi Deva and Vak Devatha are found chiselled along with her image.
The 10th century Veerateeswarar temple of Mayiladuthurai district in Tamilnadu has Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) in a sanctum who has been worshiped seeking relief from stomach ache and ladies related monthly problem. In northern parts of India Goddess Seethal Devi is worshiped seeking her grace to get cured of dreaded diseases like small pox and chicken pox. She is also worshiped by some in the name of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) .
In Veerapuram Lord Siva temple of Tirukazhukundram in Tamilnadu too Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) is worshiped on the bank of a water tank in whose steps her image is found chiselled. This temple tank has been reportedly constructed during Pallava period.
In one of the eulogium consisting of 108 lines of praise for Goddess Lakshmi the name of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) too is found as Jhesta Lakshmi. The salutation goes thus :
Om Soundarya Lakshmiyae namaha
Om Swarga Lakshmiyae namaha
Om Shinenya Lakshmiyae namaha
Om Jaya Lakshmiyae namaha
Om Jagal Lakshmiyae namaha
Om Jyothi Lakshmiyae namaha
Om Jhesta Lakshmiyae namaha
Om Shatabuja Lakshmiyae namaha
Another peculiarity in her aspect is that though she has been reportedly created by Lord Vishnu, she is identified with Lord Siva and find a place of worship in his temples instead of in Lord Vishnu temples. Why has she been relegated to the backward position of deities from 10th century? It is difficult to say.
The worship of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) began to decline after 10th century onwards for unknown reasons. If we desire to know the possible reasons that led to decline in the worship of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi), we have to understand the ground situation that existed few thousand years ago. Most of the Chola and Pallava Kings who ruled the southern parts of India were non Brahmins. Therefore they had the full support of the majority of public who were poor, lived in the villages and also non Brahmins. Those were the days when the social order remained deeply remained divided. Since much of the state’s population lived in the interior villages the rulers whenever they established temples or shrines preferred to place them in the villages. Most of the villages were also forested. If we read Puranas we will find that the divine forces which came to earth to get rid of their curses stayed in the forest and sat in tapas under trees and river banks which were also deserted. Such places were in plenty in the villages. The places where the divine forces supposedly chose to perform tapas became sanctified as they had been infiltrated with divine energies and were identified by the Pundits only after several and advised the rulers to raise small shrines. Some of the divine statues were also recovered from such places. Thus small shrines called worship places were established in smaller forms, some of which became huge temples in later centuries when the importance and history of the divine power intruded areas were realized and divine idols and statues were recovered from the ground below those shrines.
Those were the days when the domination of Brahmins was high. Vedic scholars and Pundits were needed were to perform rituals of many sorts as they were held in esteem and respected by the rulers, no matter to which caste the rulers belonged. In the temples and shrines certain restrictions began to be imposed like except priest, others should not enter sanctum etc. The chanting of mantras were in Sanskrit language. However in the shrines which were in the open, anyone in the village went near the statues or idols and performed puja by garlanding or showering flowers on them, placing food offerings on the platform etc. Being most of them poor, they could not afford to daily change clothes and wore the same clothes and reached the open shrines to offer prayers. Some of the food offered in the name of Prasad was also non vegetarian food. No mantras were chanted while offering Prasad or performing puja. Therefore Brahmins avoided going to such worship places.
This reflected in the emergence of two groups of temples like Vedic and non Vedic ones. In Vedic temples the entire puja and rituals were performed by Brahmin priests conforming to Agama and in Non Vedic temples no such system were followed. Those temples in the Villages were began to be addressed as Village deities temples.
The Village deities were projected as second group of deities or subordinate deities or Parivara devathas of the first in command Gods. Some of them were even projected as solders in the army of divine. It was systematically spread that only the first in command Gods and Goddesses like Siva, Vishnu, Brahma, Parvathi, Lakshmi and Saraswathi were divine as they inherited with divine powers.
While in the initial stages the Brahmins worshiped various forms of Lord Siva, Lord Vishnu, Lord Vinayaga, Lord Datthathreya, Lord Narasimma, Lord Anjaneya, Goddess Parvathi, Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Saraswathi and their sub deities (all of the female sub deities were emanations with various aspects of Goddess Parvathi only), non Brahmins worshiped Lord Muruga , Lord Krishna, Parasurama, various forms of female deities called Amman (all of them were emanations with various aspects of Goddess Parvathi only), Renuga devi, Ellamma, Kali, Mariamman, Yoginis and village deities like Kathavarayan, Sooli, Peyandi, Kuthirai veeran etc. Initially the Brahmins did not consider even Lord Muruga, Lord Krishna, Goddess Valli, Mariamman etc treating them as non agama gods, centuries later they began accepting them too for worship. In respect of female Goddesses division was made in such a manner that although all female deities were emanations of the three Goddesses Parvathi, Lakshmi and Saraswathi, the female deities worshiped by Brahmins were called Ambal and the same female deities worshiped by Non Brahmins were named as Amman.
Since Goddess Jhesta Devi(Goddess Moodevi) was also considered non agama, and belonged to tantric and yogic group, she was not accepted for worship by Brahmins and they began to discourage her worship.
Many of the rulers practiced the Tantric, mantra and Yogini worship to gain more and more power and to conquer the enemies. Therefore the worship of Yoginis and Mohinis began to increase. Since Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) was considered to be an important Goddess in the Tantric forms of worship he fame began to spread far and wide relegating the importance of Vedic divine forces worshiped by the Brahmins. This was viewed with jealousy by the Brahmins and in several ways they began to discourage the practice of worshiping Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi).
As Brahmins dominated in the King ships, after the fall of Pallava and Chola Kings by the end of 10th century, they ensured that the worship of relegated the worship of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) to the background by projecting her to be Goddess in the group of Yogini and Mohinis enjoying mystic tantric powers instead of true divine powers that gave bliss. Thus the decline in the worship of Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) began in the 10th century. However the fact of the case is that it is Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) who lead one into the path of prosperity and bliss, being sister of Lakshmi devi the Goddess of prosperity and the powers and grace of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) can not be underestimated. The worship of Goddess Jhesta Devi (Goddess Moodevi) has again begun to surface slowly in several parts.