Saturday, January 10, 2009

64 yogini Temple, Hirapur-A detailed view inside

With the thoughts from the previous blog, we move towards the details of the temple.


There are nine oblong niches on the outer perimeter wall of the temple as is eveident from the above picture. There are 9 Katyayanis in these niches in various forms.

Katyayani-1: one of the Katyayanis on the outer perimeter wall
Katyayani-1 Katyayani-2

Similarly there are 7 more such katyayanis on the outer perimeter wall.

If one observes very carefully, at the base of these statues, one would see a severed head, sometimes a jackal or a dog or a pig-normally interpreted to be the animals found near dead bodies or carcasses, and almost all the Katyayanis hold different types of blades as if raised to dismember or behead. The significance of this is beyond my comprehension as I write this document but I some how have a hunch that they had been installed to act as directional notional security points of what was intended to take place inside the temple.

As one apporaches the entrance facing east, it is evident that the entrance is a very narrow entrance which opens up inside into a circular structure.On both sides of the entrance, one finds the Dwarapalas and on the inner walls of the entrance, there are statues of Kala and Mahakala.


I am not sure if there is any connection to the following or whether the identification of the statues as Kala and Mahakala is correct.

In this myth, Brahmâ and Vishnu, the other two members of the Hindu trinity, were disputing with each other for the status of supreme God. They appealed to the testimony of the four Vedas, which unanimously proclaimed Rudra-Shiva as the Ultimate Truth of the universe. But the disputants were unable to accept that Rudra, endowed with so many revolting symbols of impurity and degradation, could be identical with the Absolute Reality of Brahman, the formless metaphysical Reality behind all phenomena. It was at this juncture that Shiva appeared as a fiery pillar of light (jyotir linga) uniting the netherworlds and the heavens. The fifth head of Brahmâ taunted Shiva who, overflowing with anger, created a blazing Bhairava in human form. Addressing this Kâla Bhairava as "Lord of Time-Death" (Kâla), for he shone like the god of Death, Shiva ordered him to chastise Brahmâ, promising him in return eternal suzerainty over his sacred city of Kâshî (Benares). Seeing Bhairava rip off Brahmâ's guilty head, the terrified Vishnu eulogized Shiva and devotedly recited his sacred hymns, followed in this by the now repentant Brahmâ. They thus acknowledged the supreme reality of Shiva. The severed head immediately stuck to Bhairava’s hand, where it remained as the skull destined to serve as his insatiable begging bowl. Enjoining him to honor Vishnu and Brahmâ, Shiva then directed Bhairava to roam the world in this beggarly condition to atone for the sin of Brahmanicide. "Show to the world the rite of expiation for removing the sin of Brahmanicide. Beg for alms by resorting to the penitential rite of the skull (kapâla-vrata)." Creating a maiden renowned as ‘Brahmanicide’ (brahma-hatyâ), Shiva instructed her to relentlessly follow Bhairava everywhere until he reached the holy city of Kâshî to which she would have no access. Finally absolved, the criminal god was immediately promoted to policeman-magistrate (Kotwal) entrusted with barring the entry of other evil-doers into this city of death and final liberation. There are three basic iconographic representations of Bhairava which derive from this myth.
a) As Brahma-shiras-chedaka, he grasps by its hair the severed head whose dripping blood is greedily lapped up by his dog, and thus becomes a Kapâlin or ‘skull-bearer’.
b) As Kankâla-mûrti, he is shown spearing a man or already bearing the latter’s corpse (or skeleton) on his shoulder. This illustrates that episode in Bhairava’s wanderings when he slays Vivaksena, the Brahman guardian who tries to bar his access to Vishnu’s abode. In both cases, he is either naked or wearing a tiger or elephant skin, a garland of human skulls, snakes around his neck and arms, and is grotesque with dark-skin and monstrous fangs.
c) Third, as the milder Bhikshâtana-mûrti, he roams begging for alms from the wives of the Seven (Vedic) Sages in the Daru forest. In this episode, the women are so seduced by his naked beauty that they abandon all shame.

Even the iconography also maps few symbols like the begging bowls, dog like creature sitting at the bottom, snakes which are normally associated with Lord Shiva, can these statues be corressponding to "Brahma-shiras-chedaka" and "Kankâla-mûrti"? And if two forms are depicted-that of "Brahma-shiras-chedaka" and "Kankâla-mûrti", why is the third form-"Bhikshâtana-mûrti" not depicted anywhere?

Also, while doing the research for this article on the structure, I had come across an interesting interpretation. Mr Prithwiraj Misra, in his article, "Shiva and His Consorts-The Yoginis of Hirapur" mentions that the narrow entrance to the peeth is not dissimilar to the passage of the yoni, constricted at the opening, but widening into an open circle (a womb) that embraces urdhvalinga Shiva Bhairava at the centre. A perusal of some of the texts written by experts leaves one surprised by the total absence of any such observation of the structure in terms of yoni-linga union, even though the shape quite naturally suggests this. He also differs from Dr Vidya Dehejia on this point. He says, regarding the shape of the shrine, Vidya Dehijia’s contention that the circularity has something to do with Buddhist (stupa) symbolism, is way off the mark. See her preface to Yogini Cult and Temples : A Tantric Tradition. Even Thomas Donaldson in his monumental Kamadeva’s Pleasure Garden: Orissa seems to have ignored this aspect of the yogini shrines altogether. I somehow get inclined to go with Mr Mishra's interpretation on the structure. After having perused through multiple documents, iconography and pictures about Budhism, I can say that a hypaethral temple with idyphallic (urdhvalinga) Shiva statues has nothing to do with Buddhist symbolism. With Jainism too, taking the digambara beliefs into consideration, it is still a long shot.

Coming back to the temple structure- directly infront, one would see the square structure in the middle of the circular structure. One would immediately see three statues: One of Mahamaya: the presiding deity of the temple bang in the centre, placed on an oblong niche of the inner wall of the temple perimeter. There are two niches on the east facades of the pillars of the central cuboidal structure. This holds the statue of Ajaika Pada Bhairava to your left as you enter and the statue of Swacchanda Bhairava on the right.

East Facing Ajaika pada Bhairava East facing Swacchanda Bhairava

With a look at the south facdes of the pillars to the central cuboidal structure, one comes across two more statues of Swacchanda Bhairava.

South facing Swacchanda Bhairava-1South facing Swacchanda Bhairava-2

All the Swacchanda Bhiaravas are ten-armed seated figures, each placed on a lotus seat, with a recumbent male body below accompanied by a small dancing female who is brandishing a knife in one hand and holding a skull cup in the other. All tour Bhairavas are depicted with erect phalluses (idyphallic/urdhva linga), standard for Shaiva images in Orissa. As per Probing the mysteries of the Hirapur Yoginis, Gadon, Elinor W., When the temple was rediscovered in 1953, a free-standing image of Shiva stood within the mandapa but was stolen shortly thereafter.

Currently, the research on the Bhiaravas is underway. I shall update this section in more detail shortly.

Now as one turns towards the inner perimeter, as per the nomenclature followed in the temple (yes all the statues are numbered), one has to start from the left side of the entrance as one enters. All yogini statues are exquisitely carved from black chlorite, a material that has preserved all details of jewelry and ornamentation, forming a striking contrast to the smooth areas that denote naked skin. Their gleaming, polished beauty seems pristine despite some smashed faces and broken limbs, the depredations of vandals over the centuries. Carved in the classical medieval Kalinga style (ninth to thirteenth century), they represent the Indian ideal of feminine beauty, with full breasts, narrow waists, and ample hips, their bodies gracefully posed to enhance their sensuality.Each Yogini stands in her own niche. All stand side by side on their vahanas, the celestial mounts depicted on their pedestals. The vahanas include animals such as the ass, alligator, bull, boar, buffalo, camel, crow, cock, crab, deer, elephant, scorpion, tortoise, and snake; vegetable symbols such as the lotus and other kinds of flowers; and inanimate objects such as a table, vase, or wheel, as well as human heads and corpses. All these symbols must have originally been keys to the identification of the Yoginis by their votaries. The esoteric meaning of these symbols of their powers is now apparently lost in most cases. However, it may still survive in oral tradition.

Most Yogini images at Hirapur are two armed, although others are four armed. However, one image-Mahamaya, enshrined in niche 31, directly opposite the entrance and larger than the others, is ten armed. As the presiding deity, she stands on a full-blown lotus. Iconographically this image conforms to the description of Mahamaya in the fourteenth-century Kalika Purana. Kali was identified with the maya principle, the power of cosmic delusion emanating from the god Vishnu, and personified as Mahamaya as far back as the sixth-century Devi Mahatmya (Hymns of Praise to the Great Goddess) and is still in worship by the locals as their gramadevi under that name.

Now lets look at the images of the Yoginis in detail:

1/2: Chandika on corpse/ Tara on Corpse

3/4: Narmada on Gaja (Elephant)/ Yamuna on kurma (turtle)

5/6: Mananda on padma (Lotus)/ Baruni on water

7/8:Gauri on Iguana/ Indrani on Airavata (Elephant)

9/10: Varahi on varaha (Boar)/ Padmavati on Sarpa (Snake)

11/12: Oshtagriva on Camel/ Vaishnavi on Owl

13/ 14: Panchavarahi on Varaha (Boar)/ Badyarupi on Dhol (drums)

15/ 16: Charchika on Asura (Demon)/ Betali on Fish

17/ 18: Chinna Mastaka on chinna-mastak(severed head)/ Vindhyavasini on hills

19/ 20: Jalakamini on frog/ Ghatavaraha on Lion

21/ 22: Kakarali on Dog / Saraswati on Lotus with Snake entangled

23/ 24:Virupa on water/ Kuberi on Puspaka (lotus)

25/ 26: Bhallooki (Form of Bear)on Tree branch full of flowers/Narasinghi(Female energy form of Narasingha) on flowers on ground

27/ 28: Biraja on Lotus/ Bikatanayana (means Ferocious Eyes) on (not known)
27- Biraja28-Bikata Nayana

29/ 30: MahaLakshmi on Lotus/ Kaumari on Peacock
29-Maha Lakshmi30-Kaumari

31/32: Mahamaya on Full Lotus/ Rati on archer (probably denoting Kamadeva's bow and arrow)

33/ 34: Karkari on Crab/Sarpasa on (not known)

35/ 36: Jasa on stool/ Aghora on Goat

37/ 38: Rudrakali on Crow/Vinayaki on Donkey (This part is doubtful since Vinayaka, other wise called Lord Ganesha, rides the Mouse)

39/ 40: Vindhyavaliki on mouse/ Virakumari on scorpion

41/ 42: Maheshwari on Bull/ Ambika on Mongoose (Why are there two ribs' sets on the back of the mongoose is not clear yet)

43/ 44:Kamakshi on hen/ Ghatobari on Lion

45/ 46: Stutee on Sandal Pot/Kali on shiva
45-Stutee 46-Kali

47/ 48: Uma on flowers/ Narayani on Kalash (Pot)

49/ 50: Samudri on Conch/ Brahmani on Book (probably Vedas)

51/ 52: Jwalamukhi on Cot/ Agnihotri on sheep

53/54: Aditi on Parrot/ Chandrakanti on stool

55/ 56: Vayuvega on Yak/ Chamunda on Musk

57/ 58: Maruti on Deer/ Ganga on Makara (Crocodile)

59/ 60: Dhumavati on Duck/ Gandhari on Donkey

61/ 62: (empty)/ Ajita on Deer
Niche 61 is empty 62-Ajita

63/ 64: Suryaputri on horse/ Vayuveena on Deer

All the Ashtamatrikas (8 prime divine mothers) covered as 8-Indrani (Also Called Aindri), 9-Varahi, 12-Vaishnavi, 26-Narasinghi, 30-Kaumari, 41-Maheshwari, 56-Chamunda

With these details, I would like to conclude my series on 64-Yogini Temple at Hirapur, Bhubaneshwar, Orissa. I would update the blog as and when more points from the research crop up. Hope you enjoyed the jouney as much as I did while making it.

Just in case, you want to refer to some more articles on the topic:
1. In Odia: An Article by Pt Antarjyami Mishra