Lost and found, how Hirapur Yogini temple reappeared decades back unraveling a mystery behind a centuries old cult

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | February 22, 2024 IST

‘Tantrik’ cult has been there for centuries in India reflecting its (Shakti) nuances in certain forms at different times.

By D N Singh

 

‘Tantrik’ cult has been there for centuries in India reflecting its (Shakti) nuances in certain forms at different times.

 

Let’s say for many years the cult was believed to have been lost but some people who studied it deeply hold the view that, not lost but it just remained hidden and that too for its sheer power.

 

Spiritual essence and quest for peace were few of the cardinal goals of this cult going on for time immemorial.

 

In India there were many Yogini temples but as on date there are just four surviving in the country one of which is located about 20 kms from state capital Bhubaneswar in a place called Hirapur.      

 

Of the remaining three, one is located in the Bolangir district of Odisha while the other two are in Madhya Pradesh. The shrine is locally known as Chausathi Yogini, meaning 64 Yoginis (incarnations of Goddess Durga).

 

At Hirapur shrine the presiding deity is Mahamaya, one of the principal Yoginis.

 

The others are Yogini , Tara, Narmada, Yamuna, Shanti/Kanti ,Laxmi , Vridhi/ Kriya/ Varuni and Ajita/ Gauri,

 

Hence, the shrine is also called the Mahamaya Temple. The daily prayer and rituals in the temple includes the worship of Bhumandala that is the five elements of nature - water, sky, fire, earth and ether. The Yogini practice has been known to include Yoga along with the practice of tantrism, having a strong connection with tribal and rural traditions also.

 

Circularly structured open air Yogini temple at Hirapur houses 64 sculptures carved on the wall/ gallery also in a circle centered by a four pillared ‘mandap’ which is the citadel of Goddess Mahamaya.

 

Rest other Yoginis are on the circular wall or gallery and most of them over a period had suffered damages to a great extent which ultimately was handed over to the Archaeological Survey Of India (ASI) in late 50s.

 

Even there was a time when the shrine remained physically hidden and subsequently in 1953 a famous historian of that time Kedarnath Mohapatra discovered it and played a key role in restoring it to its present shape.

 

Good news that after that the shrine underwent a massive repair internally and externally.   

 

History

 

This temple is believed to have been built by Queen Hiradevi of the Bhaumakar dynasty in the 9th Century AD. However, with time, the temple had lost its glory before it was discovered and restored by renowned historian Kedarnath Mohapatra in 1953, to its present form.

 

Every year in the month of December, the Chausathi Yogini Mahotsav is organized near the temple. Nrutya Prativa, a city-based cultural organization, with support from the Odisha Tourism Department conducts this three-day event, in which classical dance and vocal artists from across the country perform and mesmerize the audience.

 

When one asks about ‘tantra vidya’ i.e. knowledge, then yes it exists, both in written manuscripts as well as in practice. In which the patronage  of the then rulers helped the cult to flourish.

 

Hence, it is given to a disciple only when he or she fulfills certain conditions. It is practised with devotion. And above all, it is kept in its pure tradition.

 

With time many have earned bad names to this ancient and pious vidya, by being fraudsters, and showcasing themselves as Tantriks. The real practitioners of tantra never showcase their siddhis in public, because they know its real meaning. It is not something to sell for a price.

 

Yogini 1 – Maya / Bahurupa / Chandika.

 

Yogini 2 – Tara.

 

Yogini 3 – Narmada.

 

Yogini 4 – Yamuna.

 

Yogini 5 – Shanti / Kanti / Laxmi / Manada.

 

Yogini 6 – Vriddhi / Kriya / Varuni.

 

Yogini 7 – Ajita / Gauri / Ksemankari.

 

Yogini 8 – Indrani / Aindri.

 

About Yoginis

 

Interestingly, the yogini idols in the gallery represent female figures standing on an animal, a demon or a human head (known as Vahanas) depicting the victory of Shakti (Eternal power).

 

Hindu mythology, aadishakti is the eternal power which came into existence on its own and then created everything by its will. Aadishakti (recognized as the goddess because of its motheristic character) is the supreme power.

 

It is amply visible that idols express everything from rage, sadness, pleasure, joy, desire and happiness.

 

According to legends as learned from the old priests at Hirapur the creation of the Yoginis was an effort by the aadi-Shakti Godess Durga, She herself accepted the form of 64 Yoginis to defeat a demon and subsequently, they were all commemorated inside such temples in several temples in India.


About the Author: DN Singh is a Bhubaneswar-based senior journalist.

DISCLAIMER: This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with www.prameyanews.com.

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