18 SHAKTI PEETAS: Shakti Peethas


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Kukkuteswara swamy temple is present in the outskirts of the Pithapuram village towards Kakinada. It is a big temple. Just entering in to the temple we’ll see a pond which is called as Padagaya sarovaram (Pada Gaya Sarovar). Pilgrims will take holy bath in this pond. Main temple of Kukkuteswara swamy is present towards the right side of the pond. Puruhutika devi temple is present in the North-East corner of the Kukkuteswara swamy temple. It is constructed facing South. Puruhutha temple is small but looks very nice with the carvings of Ashtadasa Shakti peethas on it’s walls.

Idol of Puruhutika devi
The idol of Puruhuthika devi has four hands. They contain bag of seeds (Beeja), axe (Parashu), lotus (Kamala) and a dish (Madhu patra) from lower-right to lower-left in order.
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Previously there were two sects of Upasakas in Pithapuram worshiping Puruhootika devi. The first one calling her as Puruhootha Lakshmi (Meditating on Kamala and Madhu patra) and worshiping in Samayachara and the second one calling her Puruhoothamba (Meditating on Parashu and Beeja) and worshiping in Vamachara. There is also a tale that the original statue of Puruhutika devi was buried under the temple which was worshiped by them.

History: Once Indra has cheated Ahalya (wife of Gautama maharshi) in the form of Gautama and was cursed by the Maharshi. Indra lost his testes and got the symbols of Yoni all over his body. He felt very sad and prąyed Gautama a lot. Finally the Rishi accepted and told that the Yoni symbols will look like eyes, so that Indra will be called as Sahasraksha there after. But Indra lost his testes. He wanted to regain them. He left his kingdome, came to Piithika puri and did Tapasya for Jaganmata. After a long time Jaganmata appeared before him and blessed him with wealth and testes. Indra was very happy and prąyed her as Puruhutika devi (One who was worshiped by Indra).

After a very long time Jagadguru Sripada vallabha took birth in Pithapuram. He too worshiped Puruhutika devi and realized his self. He is an incarnation of Dattatreya.

11. BIRAJA DEVI, Jajpur(Odisha)

The Biraja Temple, or Girija is located in Jajpur (about 125 kilometres north of Bhubaneswar), Odisha, India. The present temple was built during the 13th century. The principal idol is Devi Durga, who is worshiped as Viraja (Girija), and the temple gave Jajpur the nicknames “Viraja Kshetra” and “Biraja Peetha”.

The Durga idol has two hands (dwibhuja), spearing the chest of Mahishasura with one hand and pulling his tail with the other. One of her feet is on a lion, and the other is on Mahishasura’s chest. Mahishasura is depicted as a water buffalo. The idol’s crown features Ganesha, a crescent moon and a lingam. The temple covers a large area, and has several shrines to Shiva and other deities. According to the Skanda Purana it cleanses pilgrims, and it is called the Viraja or the Biraja kshetra. Jajpur is believed to have about one crore of Shiva lingams.
In Tantra
The Brahmayamala Tantra has a hymn, “Aadya Stotra”, dedicated to Shakti. In the hymn, Vimala is the goddess of Puri and Viraja (Girija) is the goddess worshipped in the Utkala Kingdom, which became Odisha.
According to the Tantra Chudamani, Sati’s navel fell in the Utkala Kingdom, also known as “Viraja kshetra”. Adi Shankara, in his Ashtadasha Shakti Peetha Stuti describes the goddess as Girija. In Tantra literature, the Oddiyana Peetha (Devnagari:ओड़्याण पीठ) is located in eastern India near the Vaitarani River (an Oddiyana is an ornament worn by a woman around her navel).
12. MANIKYAMBA DEVI, Draksharamam (Andhra Pradesh)
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There are two stories related to Pancharama temples. One story related to Pancharama temples is in Bheemeshwara Puranam written by Shree Nathudu. The Story goes like this…
Devatas and Asuras (Rakshasas) stirr the sea to get nectar (Amrit). After getting the Amrit, Devatas meet Lord Vishnu to avoid distributing the nectar to Asuras as it may lead to problems. Lord Vishnu takes the birth as Mohini and distributes Amruth only to Devtas. Asuras get angry and worship Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva gets satisfied by their worship and blesses Asuras with lot of powers.

With these powers Asuras start torturing people and Devtas. Again Devtas worship Lord Shiva to avoid this. Lord Shiva gets angry and starts punishing Asuras. During this war, a Shivalingam worshipped by Thripurasura (Tripurasura) remains un damaged even though all Asuras die. Lord Shiva (Mahadeva) makes this Lingam into five pieces and makes this installed in five different places. These five places (Prathishtapana) are now famous as Pancharama.

The second story begins from Hiranya Kashipu and his son Simuchi. The son of Simuchi, Tharakasura worships Lord Shiva and gets his Atma Linga. Then, Tharakasura starts troubling people and Devatas. As per blessings, Tharakasura dies only by a boy. Devatas go to Lord Shiva to find solution for finding a solution to punish Tharakasura. Lord Kumara Swamy Avtar thus happens and and boy kills Tharakasura. After when Tharakasura dies, the Athmalinga gets divided into five. Each one gets installed by Devatas in five different places. These places are called Pancharama Kshetras.

Below are the details of Pancharama Kshetras and the five faces of Lord Shiva

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The temple of Lord Amareswara located on the banks of river Krishna, is rich in Dravidian and Buddist architectures. The Lingam is 15 feet high, carved out of marble. The city was named Amaravati after Indra’s capital here. Tradition says that Indra and Devas had worshipped the Lord here. Goddess Shakthi is worshipped as Bala Chamundika Devi.
The white Linga is quite unique and the priests have to ascend the steps for offering abhishekam. As the name Amaravati implies, legend has it that Amaravati was once the abode of the Gods – the Devas, the yakshas and the kinnaras, who performed penances to Shiva to request him to rid the earth of the mighty demon Tarakasura.
Legend has it that Shiva’s son Subramanya vanquished the demon. It is believed that the Shivalingam that shattered Into five pieces was a huge one, and the biggest of the five pieces is a fifteen foot long column of white marble which is worshipped as Amareswara at the Amaravati temple (this is very similar to the Shivalingam at the Draksharama temple). Legend has it that it was installed by Indra the king of the Devas, Brihaspati the guru of the Devas and Sukra the preceptor of the Asuras.
http://18shaktipeetasofdevi.blogspot.com/ The Amaravati temple is located on a small hillock referred to as Krouncha Shaila, alongside the river Krishna which flows for a short distance in a North-Southerly direction, although for the most part, the river heads eastwards towards the ocean. The river Krishna is held in reverence at this pilgrimage site, and a ritual dip in this river here is considered to be meritorious.
The temple has ancient origins, however the structural foundations as seen today, seem to date back to the 11th century CE. The Vijayanagar kings did provide grants to maintain the temple. However it was the local kings of the 18th century CE that provided vast endowments to this temple. The temple is decorated with four lofty gopurams in its outer circumlocutory path.
How to reach Amaravati:
Amaravati is at 35kms distance from Guntur. There are so many non-stop buses from Guntur. It takes about 45 minutes journey. Buses will leave us at temple. In Karthika masam APSRTC maintains special Pancharamas tour buses to cover them all in a single day.

2. Draksharama – Draksharamam (Sri Bhimeswara Swamy)
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The Bhimeswara temple at Draksharama has two prakaras. The inscriptions here suggest that the temple was built by Bhima, the Eastern Chalukyan King of Vengi(9th -10th centuries), when his kingdom was under attack by the Rashtrakootas. The temple art thus shows the influence of a blend of sculptural traditions of Chalukya and Chola styles.
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The temple has four entrances in the outer prakara each marked with a gopuram, facing the four cardinal directions. On the south is the entrance to the inner prakara, which is lined by a pillared two-storeyed verandah.
The main temple is twin storeyed. Two flights of stairs lead us into the upper level of the sanctum. This has a pillared pradakshina on three sides and a Garbhagriha. Bhimeswara is enshrined in the form of a ten feet high Shivalingam in this Garbhagriha. Another feature of the temple is the narrow mantapam that is seen in the premises. Shiva’s consort here is Manikyamba. The temple walls and pillars are decoratively carved with mythological figures.
Legend has it that the Saptamaharishis (Seven Sages) to achieve the ends of their penance divided the akhanda (unbranched) Godavari river into seven different streams at Draskharama. Bharadhwaja, Viswamitra and Jamadagni streams known as Antarvahinies, were believed to have gone under ground. There is Sapta Godavari Kundam (Seven river pond) near the temple where the devotees bathe. Sivarathri attracts huge crowds of pilgrims.
http://18shaktipeetasofdevi.blogspot.com/ Once Daksha Prajapathi decided to perform a Yaga. In pursuance of the same, he had been to Kailasa to invite Gods and Goddesses to sanctify his ‘Yazna’ and accept his hospitality. But when he had been there, Lord Siva was in his Court immersed in his spiritual splendour. But Daksha Prajapathi out of his ego of being the father-in-law of Lord Siva, mistook the Lord’s trance as indifference towards him. So, being put out at the difference of his Son-in-law he came back without inviting the Lord and the Lady to his sacrifice.
Sati in her womanish nature requested Siva to permit her to attend, the sacrifice at her parental home, even uninvited and have the pleasure of the performance and the association of her kith and kin. But Siva explained her the tragic implications that she might have to face at her parental house and let her to at her own wish. But, when she actually stepped into her parental home, none greeted her or even just asked her a mutual exchange of her well-being. Then Sathi was put out with the humiliation she had to face amidst her own blood and then and there, decided to give up her body instead of facing her beloved husband with a fallen face. So, she gave up her body then and there and fell down dead. Siva having come to know of the tragic end, sent his son ‘Veerabhadra’ to boot down the ego of Daksha.
Siva in his pangs of separation with Sati came down to her dead body and shoultered the corpse over his shoulders and danced in ‘Pralaya Thandava’. At this juncture, the Lord Vishnu, the presenting, force of Universe, sent his ‘Chakra’ to cut down the body of Sathi and redeem the grief of Lord Siva. The Chakra came and cut the body of Sati into eighteen pieces feel in eighteen parts of this ‘Punyabhoomi’ of ours and came to be known as ‘Ashta Dasa Peethas’ and out of these eighteen Sri Manikyamba of Draksharama is the Twelfth.
It is said that Kartikeya, the son of Lord Shiva has killed the demon Tarakasura, on the request of the gods. The Shivalinga in the throat of this ardent devotee of Shiva, Tarakasura, is said to have fell in five different places that became the “Panchaarama Kshetras”. They are Draksharama, Komararama, Ksheerarama, Bheemarama and Amararama. It is also said that the linga here was later installed by Vedavyasa.
Another legend says that the three demons Taarakaaksha, Kamalaaksha and Vidyunmaali, who were the children of Tarakasura, have obtained the boon of death by the arrow that could set afire their three cities at once. Finally after the Tripura Samharam, when they were killed by Lord Shiva, all that is said to remain was the Panchaarama lingas.
Famous Telugu poet Srinatha is said to have written Prabandha Kavya Bhimakhanda about this sacred place.

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Samalkot is located at a distance of 12 km from Kakinada, 52 Km from Rajahmundry in East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh, which now forms part of Samalkot town, is known as Bhimavara Kshetram with its famous temple of Kumararama – Bhimesvara. The village was known in the past as Chalukya Bhimavaram according to the inscriptions found in the temple.
The temple known as Kumararama at Bhimavaram in Samalkot is one among the five important and popular ‘Pancharama’ temples of Andhra. The other four temples dedicated to Siva are Amararama at Amaravati (Dist. Guntur), Daksharama at Daksharama (Dist. East Godavari), Kshirarama at Palakollu and Somarama at Gunupudi – Bhimavaram (both in Dist. West Godavari). There is an episode on the origin of these ‘Pancharamas’ which is also found in ‘Bhimesvarapurana’ written by Srinatha (AD 14th – 15th Century).
According to it, Lord Vishnu, in his charming and fascinating incarnation of Mohini started distributing the nectar (amrita) obtained after the hazardous churning of the ocean to both the demons (asuras) and divined (devas) Dissatisfied with the injustice meted out to them in the manner of distribution of nectar, the asuras lead by the lords of Tripuras resorted to severe penance on the advice of the celestial sage Narada and were blessed with boons by Lord Siva. Thus with the power newly acquired through the boons, they inflicted atrocities on the devas, who sought refuge with Lord Siva.
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According to the inscription at Pithapuram, it is very clear that the temple of Kumaram Chalukya Bhimesvara was constructed by the famous Eastern Chalukya king Chalukya Bhima-I towards the end of the 9th century AD and the presiding god Siva, in the form of tall Sivalinga, was named after the monarch as Chalukya Bhimesvara. The inscription states that Chalukya Bhima, the son of Vikramaditya having been victorious in three hundred and sixty battles ruled the earth for thirty years.
The Bhimesvara temple at Samalkot is similar in architecture to that of the Bhimesvara temple at Daksharama. The temple is surrounded by two prakara walls built of dressed sand stones. The outer prakara wall is pierced by gopura – entrance on all the four sides. The four gopura – dvaras have ardha – mandapas on either side. The inner enclosure wall is divided horizontally into two sections separated by a cornice. It has a two storeyed pillared mandapa running all the inner side.

Picture gallery:

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Bhimavaram is located 107 Kms from Vijayawada & 270 Kms from Visakhapatanam. Bhimavaram is famous for the Gunupudi Someswara (Somarama) temple, which is considered to be one of the holy Pancharamas. Built during the 3rd century A.D., the Shivalinga in the temple is believed to assume a black-cum-brown colour on no-moon day and a kind of white on full-moon day.

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Another unique feature here, is that the temple of Goddess Annapurna was built on top of the Shiva temple, something that cannot be seen anywhere in the country. Surprisingly, the Goddess has the sacred thread around her neck and a baby near her feet.
http://18shaktipeetasofdevi.blogspot.com/ This temple is an old temple but looks like new one because of colored paintings on the walls and sculptures. In front of the temple there is a pond called
Chandrakundam. It is fully covered with lotus flowers. There is a big Gopuram as the entrance of temple. In the left side of temple there is a big hall in which temples of Lord Srirama and Hanuma are present. In the right side of temple there is an open hall above the temple office. When crowd is present, pujaris / Pandits conduct puja here for individuals. The temple has so many sculptures which are giving a nice look. In the hall of temple there is a big statue of Nandi. After crossing hall there is a room in front of sanctum. In that room there is a temple of Annapurna mata. In the sanctum we can see Lord Shiva in the form of a beautiful Shivaling. Shivaling in this temple is small unlike in other Pancharamas. There is a speciality in this temple ie. Shivaling will change its color according to Lunar aspect. At the time of Pournami (Full Moon nights) shivaling will be in white color and in Amavasya days (Dark nights) it’s color shades black.
Lord Someswara swamy was first worshipped by Moon god here after Tarakasura vadha. Hence in the name of Moon god, came the names Somaramam and Someswara swamy.

5. Ksheerarama – Paalakollu (Sri Ksheera ramalingeswara swamy)
Ksheeraramam, also known as Paalakollu is located near Narasapuram in the West Godavari belt of Andhra Pradesh. It is considered to be one of the five pancharama Shiva shrines of Andhra Pradesh. the five pancharama temples are Draksharama, Kumararama, Ksheerarama and Bheemarama and Amararama.
Legend has it that Upamanyu, the son of Kaushika muni requested Shiva that he be granted the desired quantity of milk for the performance of his daily rituals and that Shiva caused the Ksheera Pushkarini tank to overflow with milk from the mythical Ksheera Saagaram (the milky ocean). Hence the names Paalakollu, Dugdapovanam and Ksheeraramam.
Legend has it that Shiva was worshiped by Rama at this shrine as in Rameswaram.
The white marble Shivalingam worshiped in the sanctum is referred to as Ramalingeswara Swami as well as Ksheeraraameswaraswamy. Built during the 10th-llth centuries A.D. by the Chalukyas, it represents the south Indian style and has a 9-storey gopuram that soars 125 feet, one of the tallest in Andhra Pradesh. Colourful images and sculptures of various deities are engraved on the walls and can also be seen inside the temple complex.
20 Kms from Palakollu is the Natta Rameshwaram temple, where the Lingam is made of shells & conchs is worth a visit.

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The shrine of the goddess Kamakhya is situated about three miles from the present town of Gauhati and about fifty miles from the range of hills inhabited by two aboriginal matriarchal tribes, the Khasis and the Garos, the former belonging to the Austro-Asiatic and the latter to the Mongolian stock.

The name of the hillock where the shrine stands is Nilachala (blue mountain). According to the K.P. the genital organ of Sati fell here when her dead body was carried hither and thither in frantic sorrow by her husband Siva. The mountain represented the body of Siva and when Sati’s genital organ fell on it, the mountain turned blue. The goddess herself is called Kamakhya, because she came there secretly to satisfy her amour (kama) with him. Thus the derivations of the K.P. make the mountain both a graveyard and a scene of the secret love-tryst of the goddess.

Variety of Names
Other variants of the name are Kama, Kamada, etc. The element-akhya often appears as a phonastic derivative after other less known names of the goddess, e.g. Sivakhya, Nadakhya, Brahmakhya, etc.–(Kurma Purana). Thus the goddess might be called either Kama or Kamakhya.

The temple is unique among the temples of the Devi in different parts of India, in that it enshrines no image of the goddess. Within the temple there is a cave, in a corner of which stands a block of stone on which the symbol of Yoni has been sculptured. The stone is kept moist from the oozings of a natural spring within the cave. The offerings of flowers and leaves are made to the Yoni. In other respects the daily rites and ceremonies are those of the goddess Kali with sacrifices of various animals. Ordinarily, the females of all animals are exempted from sacrifice.

If the K.P. gives an amorous interpretation of the origin of the Yoni-goddess, the Y. T. takes no notice of the myth and gives a different account, stressing the creative symbolism of the Yoni. In answer to a query by the Devi as to who Kamakhya was, Siva replies that Kamakhya is the same as Kali, the eternal in the form of Brahma. Then Siva tells the story about the origin of Kamakhya.

In primeval times, Brahma after having created the universe arrogated to himself the supreme creative force. The goddess noticed this arrogance of Brahma and created out of her own body a demon named Kesi. As soon as born, the demon rushed towards Brahma to swallow him up. Brahma fled in terror in the company of Vishnu. The demon then built a city called Kesipura and began to harass the three worlds. There was all around the echo of a sound, “Kill Brahma”. Brahma cast aside his vanity and in the company of Vishnu offered a hymn of propitiation to Kali for the relief of the worlds from the tyranny of Kesi. The goddess was satisfied and confessed that the demon was her creation for the punishment of Brahma for his arrogant ignorance. She then uttered the syllable of destruction (hum) and burnt up the demon to ashes. Then she gave directions to Brahma for his deliverance from the sin of arrogance and ignorance. Brahma was to create a mountain out of the ashes of the burnt demon. The mountain should not be too high nor too low. It should be covered over with edible grasses for cattle. Brahma’s sin would be diminished in proportion to the quantity of grasses consumed by the cattle. She went on further to say that on the Spot wherefrom they had offered her prayers for the destruction of the demon there was springing up, in their very presence, a Yoni circle out of her own creative energy and it should be regarded as the source and origin of all things. In future Brahma should create after having contemplated the Yoni. But just then Brahma was debarred from seeing the Yoni until, by his penance and purification, he had brought down a luminous light from the sky and placed it on the Yoni circle. For his good as well as for the good of the world, she had created the Yoni circle and placed it in Kamarupa. Brahma accordingly created a mountain by sprinkling holy water from his jug and called it Govardhana (cattle nourisher) and also planted a Tulasi grove and called it Vrinda-Vana according to goddess Kali’s direction (Y. T.).

The noticeable points in this myth are: (a) Kamakhya was a new goddess, unknown to the Devi herself. Siva established the identity of Kali and Kamakhya in the symbol of a Yoni; (b) the supreme creative force of Brahma is challenged. He could thenceforth create only with the blessings of the Yoni as the sole creative principle; (c) in both the accounts of the K.P. and the Y.T. there is mention of a burial or cremation ground.

Thus the two scriptures put divergent interpretations about the Yoni circle as a symbol of sex and as a symbol of creation. These may embody the views of two different sets of people in different periods of time.

The K. P. harmonises the amorous conception of the goddess with the dread goddess Kali by presenting the picture of a goddess in three-fold aspects which she assumed in different moods. In her amorous mood, the goddess holds a yellow garland in her hand and stands on a red lotus placed on a white corpse. When her amour is gone, she takes up the sword and stands on a bare white corpse. In her mood of benevolence (Kamada), she mounts upon a lion. So she assumes one form or another according to her whims (Kamarupini).

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The Temple
The original Kamakhya temple was destroyed during the Moslem invasion early in the sixteenth century, and the present temple was rebuilt in 1565 A.D. by King Naranarayana of Cooch Behar and fitted with all the paraphernalia of a medieval Hindu temple. What the original forms and features of the temple worship were, it is difficult to say. There is a tradition amongst the local priesthood, who were imported from abroad by the Koch king, that the former worshippers of the goddess were Garos, and pigs were offered as sacrifice.

When Naraka, an adventurer from Mithila, founded a kingdom in ancient Assam (prior to the fifth century), he established himself as a custodian of this Yoni-goddess, and perhaps in conformity to her name he changed the name of the kingdom from Prag.Jyotishapura to Kamarupa. The people whom he conquered were Kiratas–strong, ferocious, ignorant and addicted to meat and drink. They had shaven heads and their skin was yellow as gold (K.P.). As they were the original inhabitants, the goddess might have been in their keeping or belonged to some sub-tribe amongst them.

According to the K.P. a cosmopolitan mode of worship prevailed in Kamakhya. Foreigners could worship the goddess according to the practices current in their own localities. In other countries, conformity to local customs was compulsory, but in Kamarupa foreigners were exempted from conformity to local rites and ceremonies in worshipping the goddess (K.P.). The Y.T. raises the Yoni-symbol to the height of something like a pantheistic conception in describing all temples and places of worship in Assam as so many Yonis. It characterises Kamarupa as a land of nine Yonis which include vithi (avenue); upa-vithi (sub-avenue); Pitha (holy site), etc., etc.

The Y. T. has also recorded certain local customs prevalent in different parts of ancient Assam. It characterises the local religion as being of Kirata origin. It prohibits asceticism, celibacy and protracted vows, and enjoins fish and flesh eating, free association with women and sexual contact after puberty. The teeth of the women are not white, and they are constantly addicted to betel-nut chewing. In a place called Saumara in the east of Assam, people eat everything and sell everything. Women are well cantented. In another place called Kolvapitha further east, people follow laws determined by their own tribesmen (Y.T.).

In the myth of the Y. T. there is nothing to show that the Yoni circle or Kamakhya had any connection with Durga or Parvati. The etymology of K.P. refers to a later fable based on imported ideas.

Goddesses Kamakhya and Durga
Competent authorities have held that the existence of an independent powerful goddess has been recognised first in the Mahabharata and the Hari vansa. In the Virata Parva (6) a powerful goddess, Durga, receives a pray of supplication from Yudhisthira and in the Bhishma Parva (23) from Arjuna. She was addressed as the killer of the buffalo-demon, a dweller in the forest and as a permanent resident in the Vindhya mountains. She was fond wine, flesh and beasts. She was the favourite of Narayana and sister of Vasudeva. She was born to Yasoda, was dashed against a stone by Kansa, and went to heaven. In the Harivansa she is referred to as having been worshipped by barbarians, Sabaras and Pulindas. All these scattered references seem to have been gathered up first in the Markandeya Purana which builds up a complete myth about the origin of the goddess and her fight with the buffalo-demon and other demons. The seven centuries about Durga (Durga Saptasati) form the basis of the worship of the goddess amongst her followers.

Once her existence was recognised and her worship formulated, all local and independent female deities began to be identified with her as her local manifestations. Thus Uma, Kali, Karala, Chamundi, originally independent goddesses, came to be regarded as manifestations of Durga in different circumstances. The process of assimilation went on until, in the Devi Bhagavtai, it came to be declared that all village goddesses should be regarded as partial manifestations of the Devi (9). Thus the concept of the Mother Goddess assumed a cosmic proportion and all unconnected and independent loc nomena were affiliated to her. The myth about the carrying of Sati’s dead body was an attempt in this direction. But the story differs in different documents in point of details. Places that came into prominence later in point of time have been left out of reference in the story of Sati’s dead body. Thus the Devi Bhagavata refers to Kamakhya as a place dear to the goddess. No part of her body is said to have fallen there. When Kamakhya rose to importance, the Kalika Purana rehandles the myth and makes the sex-organ of the goddess fall here. Since then Kamakhya came to be looked upon as a vital organ of the Devi’s body.

It has now been held as almost conclusive that the cult of the Mother goddess was introduced into India by Aryans, who seem to have adopted it from the Babylonians when they still inhabited the countries in the neighbourhood of Mesopotamia. In Babylon she was known as Ishtar. She is called the gracious mother of creation and the mother of the gods and mankind. She became also terrible in her wrath and struck down the people with wasting diseases. Her sacred mount was the lion and her most favourite sacrificial animal was the buffalo. In other respects also, the resemblance between Ishtar and Durga is so striking that it cannot be disregarded as superficial (Dr. Venkataramanayya: Rudra-Siva). The Kurma Purana gives Sinivali as one of the thousand names of the Devi. It has now been shown that the word is connected with Babylonian Sinn, the moon god.

As the innumerable names of the goddess are mostly names of local goddesses, both Aryan and non-Aryan, it may be suspected that the formation Kama in Kamakhya is of extra-Aryan origin. There is a strong suggestion of its correspondence to Austric formations like the following: Kamoi, demon; Kamoit, devil; Kamin, grave; Kamet, corpse (Khasi); Kamru, a god of the Santals. By analogy the name of the kingdom Kamarupa may be equated to Kamru pau, a hill.

The formations in the Kamoi category suggest varied associations with the grave and its spirits. The Kama goddess might have been originally a spirit of the graveyard and represent ancestor spirit in the form of an Ancestral Mother. Whether Kama has any relationship, both in sound and meaning, with Japanese Shinto gods called Kami cannot be determined for want of sufficient information. Shinto Kami is a wide term and includes nature-gods, godmen, ancestors.

Japanese Parallels
In connection with the Kami-gods, another noteworthy point is that simple Shinto temples contain no images but only symbols like a mirror, symbolic of the shining of the sun-goddess. The Kamakhya temple also contains no image, but a symbol, a Yoni, representing the procreative force of the Mother Goddess. The Yoni-symbol is regarded as a source of potent magic influence in Japan. “The richly attired Japanese make a point of Placing cowry-shells with their clothes, when they put them away, for luck. If a cowry-shell happens to be unobtainable, a pornographic picture representing the female genital organ serves as a substitute.” (Briffault: The Mothers). Again, “near Yeddo in Japan is a grotto in which there is a colossal but realistic sculpture of a Yoni to which pilgrims pay attention now as they have done for ages past. (Wall: Sex and Sex Worship). Further, “the Japanese believe that the spirits of mothers look from the other world after the welfare of the children.” (Briffault).

Another common custom is the blackening of teeth by women. The non-white teeth of Assamese women have been referred to above. It has to be added that Assamese women even now blacken their teeth in the countryside. In Japan the fashion of blackening the teeth is still common in some parts among peasant women and was practised by the Emperor himself until recently. This is a mark of the decidedly matriarchal legend of the origin of the Imperial family traced back to goddess Amaterasu (Ehrenfels: The Mother-Right in India). In the Malay Archipelago also women blacken their teeth. (Westermarck: The History of Human Marriage).

Feminine Predominance
In this connection reference may also be made to the legends and facts of female predominance. There is a belief amongst the Naga tribes of Assam that a village in the north-east is entirely peopled by women who are visited by traders from surrounding tribes and thus enabled to keep up their numbers. (The Imperial Gazetteer of India: Provincial Series: Eastern Bengal and Assam). With reference to Japan it has been said that it is a remarkable and unexampled fact that a very large and important part of the best literature produced by Japan was written by women…feminine chieftains are frequently mentioned in the old histories and several even of the Mikado were women. Indeed the Chinese seemed to have thought that the monstrous regime of women was the rule in Japan at this time. At least they styled it–“The Queen Country” (Aston: Japanese Literature).

In connection with the ethnic affiliations of the Japanese people, The Encyclopaedia Britannica (14th edition) has the following: “Recent discussions tend to emphasise the importance of a Malayo-Polynesian element in the Japanese language and customs. Malayan types also are found amongst the people.”

On the basis then of similarities in mere sound and sense in the formations, Skt. Kama, Austric Kamoi, Shinto Kami, and also on the basis of correspondence of certain rites and customs, it may be tentatively assumed that the Yoni-goddess sprang up amongst peoples with leanings towards ancestor worship and believing in the protective powers of an Ancestral Mother, and that she migrated into Assam and elsewhere with the migrations of the Austric peoples. There are two contradictory theories about the migrations of the Austric peoples, from the East to the West and from the West to the East. But from whichever direction they might have migrated, linguistic evidences show that Indo-China was one of their strongholds in North-East Asia, with their representatives in the Khasis within about fifty miles of the temple of Kamakhya.

To sum up: the features that are associated with the Worship of the goddess are the absence of an image, worship in a symbol, and freedom about the mode of worship to foreigners. The religion of the land has been frankly admitted to be of Kirata origin. Fish and flesh eating has been canonically enjoined, and celibacy and connected vows prohibited. The goddess was of purely local origin, but later on she was identified with goddess Durga and the rites and ceremonies of Durga worship were fastened on her. There was a further attempt to affiliate her to Tripura Bala, the eternal feminine, the symbol of beauty and sex. The Worship of Tripura Bala is highly sensual, involving the worship of the sex organ of a virgin girl. This cult did not originate in Kamarupa but was imported from outside. Because goddess Kamakhya was worshipped in the symbol of a Yoni, the Tripura cult found a congenial soil here.
14. MADHAVESHWARI DEVI

Prayaga Madhaveswari is one of the 18 Shaktippethas. She is also called as Alopi mata / Lalita

Sthala Purana of Prayaga : Prayaga means Prakrishta Yaga, that means it is the place where Lord Brahma did a very great Yaga. Hence its name became Prayaga. Prayaga is considered as one of the Sapta mokshapuras. This place is also called as Theertharaj, that means king of all theerthas. Another important point is, this is the place of Triveni Sangamam. Generally we consider the confluence of two water flows as a holy place. But, here we can see the confluence of three holy rivers, Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati. All the three rivers have their importance individually. Hence the confluence became very very holy place. One should take a holy bath here when visited this place. Here Kumbhmela will be conducted for every 12 years.

Sthala Purana of Alopi Shaktippeth:

There are mainly three stories about the word Alopi. They are,

1)Alopi means the one who disappeared. After Sati dahana and Dhaksha Yagna destruction, Lord Siva disturbed mentally and lifted Satidevi’s body and roaming without any destination. Lord Vishnu cut Sati devi body parts by using Sudarshana Chakra. Every place, where Satidevi’s body part fell, became a Shaktipeeth. Prayaga is the last place, where last part of Sati devi’s body fell on ground. Here Sati devi body became disappeared, hence the name Alopi.

2)There are some other stories about Alopi mata. In every temple, at least one idol or one symbol will be there for worshipping the goddess. But here, there is no idol or symbol. We have to imagine the goddess present on a wooden jhula. Hence the name Alopi.

3)According to a local story, Alopi mata is a newly married bride. She disappeared from pallaki, when robbers attącked the marriage troop. As the bride disappeared as a miracle, she is worshipped as Alopi mata.

Swami Brahmananda(Rakhal), first president of Ramakrishna math, spiritual son and one of the best student of Sri Ramakrishna paramahamsa, saw the goddess here as a small child with three Jatas. Trijata.

How to reach the Prayaga: Prayaga is well connected by Road, Railway and Air routes.

It is about 130 km distance from Varanasi. So many Buses, Taxis are available to travel from Varanasi to Prayaga(Allahabad) or from Prayaga(Allahabad) to Varanasi.

Allahabad is very big railway junction which is at 6 km distance from Alopi temple:

Important places to visit in Prayaga:

1)Alopi Shaktippeth

2)Triveni Sangamam

3)Akshayavata vriksha

4)Veni madhav one of the Pancha madhava temples is another temple to see in Prayaga.

15. VAISHNAVI DEVI

Dedicated to Goddess Jwala Devi epitome of Shakti or Immense Power. Located at a distance of 34 kilometers to the south of Kangra in Himachal Pradesh. The temple was built by Raja Bhumi Chand Katoch. Jwala Devi is also referred to as the Flaming Goddess or the Jwalamukhi Devi

About Jwala Devi

: The Jwala Devi is one of the most popular Hindu temples. It is situated on a small branch line on the Shimla to Dharamashala road and at a distance of twenty kilometers from the Jwalamukhi road. . The temple is in a town known as Jwalamukhi in Kangra district. This temple is visited by lakhs of devotees every year. Many curious people also visit this place to view the nine jwalas or flames that have been burning for centuries without any fuel. This temple also has a copper pipe through which natural gas is pushed out continuously.

The Jwala Devi Temple is one of the fifty one Shaktipeeths in India. The beautiful temple is set against a cliff. The dome of temple is aureate is of gold and has pinnacles. It also has a picturesque folding doorway of silver plate which was gifted by Sikh Raja Kharak Singh. The temple has an Indo-Sikh feel to it.

The Legend

: There was once a time when devils dwelled over Himalayas and hassled the gods. Lord Vishnu and other gods decided to defeat and destroy them once and for all. The gods transformed their energy into huge flames of fire. The devils were destroyed but a girl was born from the fire. The girl came to be known as Goddess Parvati or Sati. After death the pieces of Sati’s body fell in 51 places. Her tongue fell at Jwalaji and the deity manifested itself as tiny flames that burn blue through cracks in the ancient rocks. The Pandavas have been known to visit the holy shrine on their voyage.

Main Features

:

The aarti sessions at the temples are so beautiful and serene that it takes ones bredth away. The Aartis are essential rituals in all the temples in the country. Five Aartis are performed by Pujaris in worship of Goddess.One aarti is performed in early morning, one at sun rise, one at mid noon, one in the evening and one at the bed time of the Goddess. The names of the aartis are as under :-

1. Mangal Aarti ( Morning 5.00 A.M)

2. Panjupchaar Pujan (After Aarti )

3. Bhog Ki Aarti ( 12.00 A.M)

4. Aarti (Evening 7.00 P.M)

5. Shaiyan Ki Aarti (Evening 10.00 P.M)

However, the Shaiyan Aarti performed at Jawala Ji before bed time is unique. The bed of Goddess is decked up with rich dresses and ornaments during aarti. First part of it is done in the main temple of Goddess and the second part is done in the ‘Sejabhavan’ Salokas from ‘Sondarya Lahri’ by Shri Shakracharya are recited.

There is no idol in the temple. The goddess is believed to be present in the fire flames. The temple has 9 incessant fire flames that are known as Mahakali, Annapurna, Chandi, Hinglaj, Vindhya Vasini, Mahalakshmi, Saraswati, Ambika and Anji Devi.

The festival at Jwala Devi

: During the festival of Navratra thousands of devotees visit the temple to make offerings and receive blessings. Many colorful and joy filled fairs are organized during Navaratri in the months of March-April and September-October.

How to reach: The nearest airport from Jwala Devi temple is at a distance of fifty kilometers at Gaggal. The next closest airport is at Chandigarh at a distance of two hundred kilometers.

The closest railroad track terminal is at Jawalaji road Ranital situated at a distance of twenty kilometers from the temple. One can easily reach Jwala Devi Temple from Kangra by road. Frequent buses or cabs can be hired. The way from Kangra to the shrine is flanked by beautiful hills on both sides.

16. SARVAMANGALA DEVI

The Mangalagauri temple in Gaya (Bihar) has been mentioned in Padma Purana, Vayu Purana and Agni Purana and in other scriptures and tantric works. The present temple dates back to 1459 AD. The shrine is dedicated to Shakti or the mother Goddess in the predominantly Vaishnavite pilgrimage center of Gaya. Mangalagauri is worshiped as the Goddess of benevolence. This temple constitutes an Upa-Shakti Pitha – where it is believed that a part of the body of Shakti fell – according to mythology. Here Shakti is worshiped in the form of a breast symbol, a symbol of nourishment.The temple is facing east, and is built on top of the Mangalagauri hill. A flight of steps and a motorable road lead to the temple. The sanctum houses the symbol of the Goddess and it also has some finely carved ancient relief sculptures. A small hall or mandap stands in front of the temple. The courtyard also houses a fire pit for the home. There are also two minor shrines dedicated to Shiva and images of Mahishasura MardiniGaya is one of the most famous spiritual destinations in India. Gaya is located in Bihar and stands on the bank of Falgu River. Gaya in India is held holy and pious by both Hindu and Buddhists. The narrow by lanes with age old buildings, beautiful natural surroundings with rocky hills on the three sides and river flowing by the city on the western side makes the city look beautiful and elates the spiritual atmosphere of the place.

The city derived its name from the demon, Gayasur who is said to have resided in this area. It is said that Lord Vishnu killed the demon by crushing him under his feet. On his being crushed, the demon got transformed into numerous rocky hills that form the topography of the city today. Then the deities decided to sit over the dead demon and that is the reason why one can find numerous temples over these surrounding rocky hills. It is said that any one who touched him or looked at him were fred of all sins. Mangla Gauri, Rama Shila, Brahmayoni and Shringa Sthan are the places where one can find temples on the hill tops and which comprise of the pilgrimage circuit of the city.

The Mangla Gauri shrine in Gaya, one of the most holy sites has two rounded stones which symbolizes the breasts of the Goddess Sati, who is regarded as the first wife of Lord Shiva.

Vishnu pad Temple is marked by a footprint of Vishnu. This footprint is the significance of the act of Lord Vishnu crushing Gayasur under his foot. The temple that stands today was rebuilt by Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar in the 18th century. As per the Buddhist tradition and culture, this footstep mark is regarded that of Lord Buddha who is said to be the avatar of Vishnu.

The temples and the Ghats that are present by the River Falgu are also of great spiritual significance. Some trees are also held sacred by the Hindus and in Gaya one would find Pipal trees, Akshayavat and the undying Banyan which are also offered prayers and offerings in huge numbers by the pilgrims coming into the city.

Gaya is held as an important spiritual center by Hindus as a site which offers salvation to the souls. Buddhists hold Gaya as an important pilgrimage center because of the presence of the Brahmayoni or the Gayasia hill where Buddha preached the Fire Sermon or the Adittapariyaya Sutta.

History

: Sati killed herself by self-immolation after her father insulted her husband, Lord Shiva. arrived a little too late upon hearing the news, after his wife’s body was already burning. He took the body from the fire and started his dance of cosmic destruction. The other gods wanted to stop his dance and they requested Lord Vishnu to convince him. Lord Vishnu with the help of his sudarshan chakra cut Sati’s body into 51 pieces and made Siva stop the dance. It is said in Gaya Sati’s breast fell, and hence here Sati is worshiped in the form of a breast symbol, a symbol of nourishment.

17. VISHALAKSHI DEVI

Vishalakshiti vikhyata varanashyam shivaparshve /

Niratannapradatri cha nirbhagyajanatoshini //

Some pundits feel that karna kundala is merely an ornament and not part of the body. Therefore this place can at best be considered as a upapeetha, a minor or sub-centre. Another version says that this is a shakti peetha only because one of the three eyes (Akshi) fell here. As the divine eye can perceive the entire universe, Mother here is called Vishalakshi, the vast-eyed. Vishalakshi Devi temple is a powerful Shakti Peeth and any pooja, charity, recitation of devi mantras performed in this premises is considered to yield very high results. Unmarried girls worshiping Vishalakshi Devi are sure to get married, childless couple will certainly be blessed with a child, even the most unfortunate ladies will find all fortunes coming their way.

visalakshi devi is present on the bank of the river Ganges.The temple is very small.An idol of Gauri is present in front of Visalakshi.

Sthala purana

: The word Visalakshi means the one who has big eyes.She is described as the one who rules the world.Tantras tell that she will be in the form of Mahakali. She will break the Karma bandhas after the death. Lord Vishwanath, in the form of Mahakala will give Moksha.

Nearest Bus station: Varanasi(Benaras).

Nearest Railway station: Varanasi(Benaras).

Nearest Air port: Varanasi(Benaras).

The temple of Visalakshi is present near the temple of Annapurna.


18. DANTESHWARI DEVI

Danteshwari Temple is temple dedicated to Goddess Danteshwari, and is one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas, shrines of Shakti, the divine feminine, spread across India. The temple built in 14th century by the Chalukyas of the South, is situated in Dantewada, a town situated 80 km from Jagdalpur Tehsil, Chattisgarh. Dantewada is named after the Goddess Danteshwari, the presiding deity of the earlier Kakatiya rulers. Traditionally she is the Kuldevi (family goddess) of Bastar state,

The temple is as according legends, the spot where the Daanth or Tooth of Sati fell, during the episode when all the Shakti shrines were created in the Satya Yuga.

Every year during Dusshera thousands of tribals from surrounding villages and jungles gather here to pay homage to the goddess, when her idol was taken out of that ancient Danteshwari temple and then taken around the city in an elaborate procession, now a popular tourist attraction part of the ‘Bastar Dussehra’ festival.

19. SARASWATHI DEVI

The temple is so vital to Kashmiris that Kashmiri language has the script of Sharda, which is little similar to Devanagari. Kalhana in Rajatarangini has said, devotees of Durga and Shiva from all over the country would flock to the temple of Sharda which can be approached from Bandipur in North Kashmir, about 80 km from Srinagar.

Through centuries the temple had remained the object of worship and devotion of lakhs of pilgrims from all over the country. Though in ruins now, the entire temple complex inspires grandeur and awe. The temple had a massive library attached to it which had priceless works on art, science, literature, architecture, music, humanities, medicine, astrology, astronomy, philosophy, law and jurisprudence and sanskrit etc. The library was used by scholars from even neighbouring countries.

Kashmir was also called “Shardapeeth” (the base of Sharda), the name being derived from the temple. We can take this to be an allegory of all the struggles Shankara had to face in his life. Ascending the seat of Sarvajna situated in Kashmir of the North is a symbol.

The meaning of it is that Shankara reached the peak of spirituality. We can get an idea of his greatness from the fact that a person of just thirty had ascended the throne of all knowledge. As it is not possible to visit this shakti peetha, one can visit the famous Saraswathi temple in Basara in Nizamabad district of Andhra Pradesh. Basara is 200 km from Hyderabad.

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