Bhedaghat - 81 Yogini temple
  • Hi Friends,

    Bhedaghat, near Jabalpur, has the largest yogini temple of India.
    Interestingly, it is dedicated to 81 yoginis instead of the usual 64
    yoginis. Once upon a time, all the 81 cells were occupied with labelled
    yogini statues, however not all have survived but whatever remains make an
    interesting study.

    There seems to be a yogini temple in Coimbatore, however I have not seen
    any pic of it, so I request to all who are in that city to please check if
    there is any circular temple, may be only ruins.

    Link -
  • Thanks Saurabh.

    Isn't the Kolaramma temple we both visited is a yogini tenmple by Rajendra? Have you explored that.?

    Lailtha Sahasranama describes yogini, kaulamarga. It explains various ways and finally concludes - Antarmuka Samaraadya, Bahirmukasa Durlaba ie one who is residing inside and difficult to find outside.

    Coimbatore Yogini temple - news to me. Let me find out.
  • Hi Sankar sir,

    Yes, that Kolaramma temple is a yogini temple, and in support we find
    Sapta-matrika statues inside the sanctum. Though we do not see a chakra of
    yoginis there,but it comes under the yogini temple category. I will write
    on this, once I start working on the Cholas.

    Kaula sect is the prominent yogini sect and it is also mentioned that Yogi
    Matsyendranatha started the tantra cult of the yoginis. Kaula texts
    describes five "m" are famous in their rituals, matsya (fish), mamsa
    (flesh), mudra (parched grain), madya (liqueur) and maithuna (sex).
    Bhairava or Shiva is the main central deity around whom all the yoginis are
    distributed. Though no evidence of human sacrifice is noticed in the texts
    however consumption of human flesh is observed in few practices like
    shavasadhana (corpse rituals).

    The sect is hidden in many mysteries and people who are involved in this do
    not share information as it is forbidden otherwise they have to bear the
    curse of the yoginis.
  • Apart from this there are are certain devi sadanas like - doing japa sitting on corpse, doing that in a graveyard etc.

    Lalita Sahasranama describe them too. The Sakti cult is very complex.
  • KOlaramma temple (Kolar or ancient Kuvalalpura) was not a center of any Sakthi cult. It was common in ancient Tamil Nadu to have an independent shrine for Saptamatrikas or Durga. This practice was probably began in circa fifth century, though references to Saptamatrikas is much earlier in late Sangam literature. The puranas and many Sanskrit texts enumerate numerous matrikas. The standardization to seven as the personification corresponding gods (Isvara, Vishnu, Brahma so on)was done sometime in the early centuries CE. Coming to the cult in S.India, they were specifically worshipped as protectors of water bodies. Without much variation, the shrines of the SM are found on or below the embankment of large irrigation tanks, particulalry in Todndaimandalam and Gangapadi (area around Kolar) . For that matter the Selliamman temple, with a recorded inscription of Dantivarma Pallava, located in the Velachery (Chennai) is also located in a village once dependent on a large tank, which is even now exists.

    KOlaramma temple too is located near the large irrigation tank. This temple was in existence even before the advent of the Cholas in the region sometime in the mod 10th Cent. The large stucco images in the shrine (the larger shrine) were definitely older as the records refers the Chamunda of the temple as Mulasthanatthu Chamunda. This record is of the reign of Kulotunga I and received lesser share of offerings indicating their minor status in worship after the installation of the stone images. This act of installing the stone images and retaining the old along with indicate the respect (or necessity) by the Cholas was for two reasons. One they had to respect the deep respect of the locals for the older images. Being conquerors, they had to stamp their authority. The stucco images were also not too suitable for the complex rituals of the Cholas.

    It is interesting and all the more significant that the Cholas did not build any Siva temple, even though Kolar was the capital of the Gangas for some time and obviolsy an important town of the Gangapadi. They build several temples all around the town.

    The Cholas also introduced large scale tank irrigation of the region replacing the cattle-herding and dry land farming.


    Dear SPS,
    Thanks for the great references on Devis. In '05 we visited
    the amazing Chaunsat Yogini Deul in Hirapur, Orissa
    and were given the names of all
    64 by the caretaker; friend took photos of all the ones that still had faces.
    There were also 4 Rudras there in the centre, facing the 4
    directions, one was an Ekapada -- quite a rare murthi.
    I've seen ones also at SriMukhalingam, Mahabalipuram
    and Madurai. Ekapadas found in TN might make an interesting
    'blog' feature.
    Several more lists of the 64 Yoginis given in the H.C. Das book
    will be interesting to compare.

    Sorry the 2 photos were missing. I meant to send
    them to VJ for his blog, and used the wrong address.
  • Hi Sriraman sir,
    few observations from my side, I am not sure if these fit with the subject,
    1. Though the reference of Sapta-matrika are available in earlier records
    and we have seen them in Gupta period as well, however the main shrine
    dedicated to them was not seen very frequently. In Pallava period, we find
    them on the periphery of the temple, or sometimes in subsidiary shrines
    however not in main shrine. On contrary, Chamunda of Kolaramma temple is
    the main deity of the temple.
    2. few scholars have suggested that SM are Brahmanization of the village
    deities who always took precedence over other Hindu deities for that
    village. Village deities were mainly worshiped to avoid diseases or natural
    disasters or to save the village from enemies, and if we observe carefully
    we will find that SM were also worshiped for similar wishes.
    3. I am currently working on Kadwaha which is assumed to be the foundation
    place of Mattamayura sect of Shaivism. There are many temples and lots of
    SM images are seen. Chamunda, specially, is seen a lot and in many images
    she is seen with a scorpion in her stomach. Kolaramma temple deity is also
    known for the cure of scorpion sting.
    4. Vidya Dehejia suggest of some tantra cult at this Kolar temple however I
    am not very sure of it.
  • The antiquity of matrika worship is often traced to Indus seals also. The association of matrikas as protector of water bodies is traced to Vedas. That apart, the cult of matrikas was very popular all over India. In fact, the Chalukyas venerated as tutelary deities of their family.

    During Pallava period, there were independent shrines for the matrikas in all the villages established by them. Velachery, Uttaramerur, Alampakkam (near Trichy)have the inscribed temples for them. I have come across numerous uninscribed temple with Pallava period images. For example, there is temple on the side of Kachipuram_Chengalpattu road, near the turning to Tirumukkudal village. However, these images are carved on the walls of Kailasanatha temple, Kanchipuram too. Therefore, they are not strictly village deities even during Pallava period. They were part of the then 'Agamic' scheme.

    However, it is in Pudukkottai region during Early Chola period, a separate shrine for them were built as part of the Parivaradevata scheme for the main Siva temple.

    Kolaramma temple is unique. There are two shrines. The larger shrine housing the earlier Stucco images and the smaller shrine Chola period stone images. Chamunda of this set is now worshiped as Kolaramma. In all probability, the smaller shrine was built during Rajendra period while the earlier was built during RajaRaja period.

    The significant fact is that, as I stated earlier, the Cholas never built a Siva temple at Kolar and merged the existing matrika shrine as its subsidiary shrine. Perhaps, the cult of Chamunda was so deep rooted among the people of newly conquered region and the Cholas does not want to upset the sentiments. Therefore, they richly endowed the temple with munificence. In fact, the donations of Rajendra went into disuse due to the confusion prevailed before the accession of Kulotunga. A very high official was deputed to esquire. On ascertaining the fact, he restores order.

    In that long epigraph, there is a reference to offering of bali and sacrifice of animals during festival days. This is construed as an evidence for existence of Tantric rituals. But on the whole, the rituals follows the one practiced in the homeland of the Cholas.

    I hope I answered your question.

    Anthropologists accepted a theoretical paradigm called Great and Little Traditions and the dynamics between the two. The dynamics of majority of Brahmanical cults can be explained within this paradigm.

  • Thiruvakkarai too a saptamatrika temple and chamunda is the vakra kali. ( please tell us on this temple) I could see only Brahmi and Varahi from the max point they allowed me to stand a crowdless day. They did not allow beyond that point. saw one or 2 female figures ( attendants?)

    Siruvapuri, vellakulam near ponneri also have saptamatrika temples.

    I have also seen saptamarikas in the Thirubhuvanam Kali ( Vettudayar kali) temple. Again did not allow to fully go inside and could see 1 or 2.

    According to Pingal Nigandu the 7th one is Rudrani who has ghost (pei) as her vahana.

    Don't know whether she is the one refered as the daughter of siva who has a pei vahanam.

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