Thursday, February 5, 2009


Dr. G.S. Tripathy

In ODISHA there are numerous SAKTA shrines of which the shrines of DAKHINA KALI at Jalasara KHANDI, TARATARINI at Raipur over Rushikulya, Ramachandi at Jhadeswar in the foot of the Krishna Giri hills, Mangala at Kakatpur, Sambaleswari at Sambalpur, Charchika at Banki, Ramachandi at Konark, Sarala at Jhankada, Tarini near Anandapur, Siddha Vairabi near Berhampur, Viraja at Jajpur, Chamundas on vindu Sarovar at Bhubaneswar, Bhuasuni near Sisupalagarh, Chamunda at Khiching in Mayurbhanja, group of Saptamatruka at Parsurameswar, Sree Jayadurga at Bilaspur, a Brahmin sasan in the Southern Ganjam District near so called Samapa, the capital of the then Kalinga along with a Jantaramurti in the same village, Manikeswari at Bhawanipatna, Dwarbasini over Bindusagar at Bhubaneswar, with Devipadahara tank nearby, having about a large number of small temples, Narayani near Barakula, Singhasani near Panchabhuti, Bhagabati at Banapur, Ugratara in Bhusandapur, Bimala in the precincts of Sri Jagannath temple, Cuttack Chandi at Cuttack along with Gadachandi, Mahurikalia near Berhampur Ganjam, Khambeswari in Aska, Byaghradevi in Kulladaha, Shayama Kali at Hinjili, Bhairavi at Chikiti and Budhi Thakurani at Berhampur, sixty fouryoginees near Bhubaneswar etc. attract our attention.

Saktism established it self as a separate cult in the early part of Orissa History with the emergence of famous Brahmin and non-Brahmins worshippers of Devi Bhavani with Gurumantra. After some time it merged in Saivism so much so that its separate entity is hardly discernible.
As is evidenced by the Mahabharat, the Harivansha and Vayu Puran etc. the Sakta Shrine of Viraja existed at Jajpur in the pre-Christian era.
In the then Kalinga on the river Vaitarani, Viraja Tritha was situated as it is stated in the Vana Parva of the Mahabharat. Sakta Pitha of Viraja at Jajpur is a very ancient shrine for which there is no doubt about it.
The Sakta Shrine of Viraja seems to have been dominated by Budhism before the Ganga period in ODISHA. Guhasiva of the Dathavansa tradition was probably the ruler of Kalinga in the pre-gupta period was a staunch follower of Budhism and his predecessors were also the Budhists. When there was a revival of Brahmincal Hinduism in ODISHA, there was therefore the necessity of reforming this Sakta Shrine during the Gupta period. The great Brahmincal shrine sprang up with the well known tradition that Gayasura was killed by Vishnu and that the head of the dead body fell at Gaya, the navel portion at Viraja or Jajpur. During the Gupta period the Buddhist influence in the Viraja Shrine seems to have been eliminated and later on it has been reconverted into a pure Brahmincal shrine with Viraja as its presiding deity.
Viraja Mahatmya which forms a part of Skanda Purana describes that there was a great Brahmincal sacrifice at Jajpur performed by Brahma and Viraja was born from the sacrificial pit as per the tradition already recorded. A two handed Mahishamardini is the image of Viraja now under the worship in the temple. The image of Mahisamarddini is four handed depicted on the Gupta Temple of Bhumara..
Budhism during Bhauma period was a mixed form of religion in which Bhuddhism , Saktism, Saivism Trantrism had become strangely amalgamated as a result the Sakta shrine at Viraja might have been influenced by the mixed religion as Bhaumas were the rulers with their capital at Viraja. At Jajpur there are several Sakta images, particularly of Chamunda which were worshipped by Saktas, Saivas, Buddhist and Tantrikas.
There are a number of Sakta Temples in the great Saiva centre of Bhubaneswar which shows an amalgamation of Saivism, Saktism and Tantrika Buddhism.
During Bhauma period these temples were mostly built. The most ancient Sakta shrine of Bhubaneswar is the temple of Vaital. Its sculptures prove clearly that the strange esoteric rites were being performed inside the temple by the so called Tantrikas. Four Sakta Shrines sprang up on the four sides of Vindu Sarovar during the Bhauma period. They are now known as Vaital, Mohini, Utteraswar temples. On the east of the tank, the name of the Sakta shrine which still exists, has been lost. Either the images of Chamunda or Mahisamardini is found inside the shrine of which Vaital is the most prominent. It is told that human sacrifices were being performed in this Vaital temple with the strange esoteric rites in the dead of night. The study of its architecture and sculpture of this shrine gives us an indication to this effect and nature.
From the word Vetal, the name Vaital has been derived. Vetal indicates a spirit. Kapalikas and the TANTRIKAS wanted to attain Siddhis with the help of this so called Vetal. ‘Svarnadri Mahodaya’ gives a description that the venerable goddess Chamunda garlanded with human skulls exists on a spot on the west in the vicinity of the tank Vindu-Sarovara. She is known as Kapalini and is of dreadful and terrific form. In this context, the shrine of Vetals, is referred to. The adorable deity of worship of the Kapalikas was this terrific Kapalini with dreadful eyes. Generally these Kapalikas were Shiva worshippers but most often the deity of their worship was a Chamunda. Malati Madhab Drama of Bhavabhuti provides us an information that a Kapilaka wanted to sacrifice Malati to Chamunda who had been brought for that purpose only. There was a faith that Kali praises Kapalika who is ever collecting human skulls for the garland. In Dasakumar Charita, the story of Kanakalekha also gives an example of this nature. These are the proofs that the Kapalikas use to sacrifice human beings to goddess Chandi to attain Siddhis.
From a study of Vaital Temple, the form of Saktism that we find is not an independent one. It is certainly allied itself with Saivism and Buddhist-tantrism. The Vaital temple not only bears the Sakta images but also Saiva and Buddist-tantrik deities as it has been seen. The mixed form of religion was an extreme sect of Saktism or Saivism or Tantrism that was followed by Kapalikas. Some revolting practices such as wearing skulls, sacrificing human beings eating food and drinking in human skulls and keeping alight sacrificial fire with the brain and lungs of men were indulged by the kapalikas in senseless conditions.
Bhuasuni, in the vicinity of Sisupalagarh and the presiding deity at Khiching in Mayurabhanja have the same characteristics and are depicted in terrific forms with sunken bellies and emaciated sinewy bodies garlanded with skulls, seated on corpses with jackals by their sides. Another form of Saktism is the worship of Saptamatrukas which can be traced back to the 6th / 7th century A.D. or may be earlier also. In the Parsurameswar, Vaitala and Muketeswar Temple at Bhubaneswar, the groups of Saptamatrukas are to be found.
At Jajpur two groups of these deities are to be found being worshiped on different locations. On the bank of Markendeswar tank at Puri the Sapta Matrukas are to be found. All these groups contain the images of Ganesh and Virabhadra besides containing the images of Varahi, Indrani, Vaishnavi Kumari, Sivani, Brahmi and Chamunda. The babies are not found in the arms of earlier Matrukas but in the arm of later Matrukas babies are invariably found. In ODISHA and in the then Kalinga the worship of Matrukas formed an essential part of Saktism and it had been widespread throughout.
Out of the group, some times Chamunda and Varahi were selected and worshipped as single deities. In the Prachi Vally of Puri district, a Varahi temple still exists at Chaurasi . It is not unlikely that similar esoteric rites were followed here also.
In the Balasore district another Varahi shrine is to be found at Narendrapur near Gadi. In a thatched house the presiding deity was being worshipped previously, now being enshrined in a temple. In the Raja Bagicha of the Nila Giri Town in the same district a single image of Varahi was lying and it seems originally to have belonged to a shrine. In ODISHA, the Varahi worship was wide-spread. It was believed by the people that to ward off all the epidemics it was necessary to propitiate her as she was to be the cause of all epidemics.
Taratarini now on the top of hills at Raipur on Rusikulya were remaining as daughters of the great Tantrik Basu Praharaj in the 18th Century A.D. in Kharida in the district of Ganjam and after his death they were enshrined in the temple. Basu Praharaj was a very famous Devi Bhakta in Ganjam.
Shri Jayadurga, now worshipped in Bilaspur in the district of Ganjam in the house of a Brahmin was brought from Bhawanipatna in the 19th Century A.D. by punya Sloka late Bhubaneswar Tripathy over his head by walking from Kesinga through the dense forest of Parvati Pura now in Andhrapradesh to Bilaspur in the district of Ganjam in ODISHA. Devi Jantra Murti is now in the same village in another house hold worshipped by Bhatka Tantrik the late Baidhar Tripathy in early 18th Century A.D. was very prominent at that point of time. It is said that she was in talking terms with Bhakta Siromani Baidhar Tripathy who did miracles.
Banapur Bhagabati, Ugratara at Bhusandapur are very famous through the worship of Bhakatas even now along with Tarini at Anandpur, Dhakhina Kali at Jalasarkhandi, and Maa Mangala Kakatpur.
The well connection of Mangala of Kakatpur with Sri Jagannath shrine Rathajatra is very famous through out the world. No Rathajatra would be conducted unless Bhaktas of Jagannath get Swapnadesh from the Devi Mangala at Kakatpur.
During Ganga period in ODISHA worship of Sakti images had not been patronized and encouraged by Ganga kings as it seems. Chodaganga Dev banished all goddesses from ODISHA as per the traditions recorded in Madalapanji. In Madhyparba in Mahabharata another tradition recorded by Sarala Dash points out to the fact that the king was responsible for the removal of Ramachandi from her original shrine at Konark to the sea shore at Liakhia Muhana. Excepting a few like Viraja, Paravati etc. Chodaganga was antagonistic to Sakta images in his kingdom. All these traditions points out to the fact that the king was not in favour of Sakta worship at all. In this period all male deities were provided with consorts or female counter parts.
Originally no separate temple for Parvati was their at the shrine of Lingaraj of Bhubaneswar. During the Ganga period temple of Parvati etc. was built as it seems. Its three chambered porch, its archectcture and sculpture clearly indicate that it is a Ganga monument.
Saktism in ODISHA took a different turn during the Ganga rule.

Dr. Gouri SHankar Tripathy
847, Kapil Prasad,
P.O. Sundarapada,
Bhubaneswar-751 002
Tel: 9861290007