Category Archives: I. The Hindu Temple and Worship Rituals

Abhiseka/Abhisheka (Consecration)

Abhisheka (Abhiseka) means the ritual arts of consecration (Rodrigues 345). The term Abhisheka occurs many times in the Atharva Veda and not in the Rig Veda or Sama Veda. It is a ceremonial anointing, sprinkling, and baptizing of a person (Kapoor 3), and may be performed during religious practices such as puja.  It is also performed on daily basis at houses or during visits to the temple. The Agamas Shastras gives the basis and method of how this rite should be completed.  In this scripture, there are steps given how rituals such as Abhisheka should be performed.

The Abhisheka ceremony is a bath or sprinkling of water. It is the procedure of giving a ceremonial bath to a king during his coronation (Murdhabhiseka), to a Tantrik devotee during the several stages of his initiation (Saktabhiseka, Mahabhiseka), or to an icon (Bimbabhiseka) (Ramachandra Rao 52).   There are very little data shown of this practice performed by common maharajas or kings.  The Kausika Sutra of the Atharva Veda distinguishes the Abhisheka of a simple king (Ekaraja) from that of a higher (Varsiyas) (Kapoor 4).  Many details about the performance of Abhisheka is taken from the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Agni-Purana, and Manasara. At the time of their composition, this ceremony had undergone multiple modifications, even though it was a special priestly ceremony.  There were two different Abhisheka performed by Yudhisthira in the Mahabharata: first, Sabha, which is led by successful expeditions in all directions and celebrated as part of a rajasuya in the presence of minor kings. The second one is performed as a follow up of the conclusion of the great war (Kapoor 4).  Abhisheka was also performed for some ministers of state or counselors of royal rank.

An animal that is sacred in Hinduism is a cow. It said that all 33-crores of gods and goddesses are present in a cow. Therefore, it is worshipped and the ingredients for Abhisheka are also derived from a cow. When performing the Abhisheka of a deity during puja or on a daily basis there are various materials that may be used, However, the main materials that must be present during Abhisheka are water from a river, ocean, mountains or rain along with Pancamrta. Pancamrta is made of five ingredients including milk, curds, ghee (clarified butter), honey and sugar. The way to bathe a deity is with rich ingredients that are sign of purity. Each ingredient in Pancamrta is linked to the five elements and senses. Milk is associated with the element water and the sense taste. Curd is associated with earth and touch, ghee with fire and sight, honey with ether and hearing, and sugar with air and smell (A Practical Guide to Understanding Hindu Abhishekam).  In the scientific world, it has found that ingredients of pancamrata help remove toxins from the body. This ritual of Abhisheka is performed on many occasions such as Adhivasa (installation), Pratistha (when its installed) and , Netronmilana, when eyes are delineated, Arcana: when  its formally worshipped, Pravitra: when it is purified after a defilement, Yatra:when the processional image is about to return to the temple after sojourn around the town or at avabhrta: when the festival is undertaken  for the icon completed (Ramachandra Rao 52).

There are many festivals in Hinduism that are associated with worshipping a deity. On every festival or occasions, Abhisheka of a deity can be performed with a different material. For example, during a special ceremony of Durgapuja, ingredients are added along with pancamrta including pure water, water in a conch, water from a sacred river, water in which sandal paste (gandha) is mixed, cow urine, cow dung, water in which kusa grass is immersed, dew water (sisirodaka), water from flowers (puspoodaka), sugar-cane juice (iksurasa), coconut water (phalodaka), eight kinds of mud (astamrttika) hot water and water form eight jars specially consecrated (kalasa). There are also regional and limited differences in the ingredients used for ritual baths given to a deity (Ramchandra Rao 52).

There are other ways of performing the ceremony which also can be varied, such as using a plate is taken with thousand holes held over a deity’s head. Water is poured into it so that it creates a water fall called Sahsra-Dhara (thousand streams). In some daily based Abhisheka, water is made to tickle down continuously up the Siva-linga. When Abhisheka is being performed, mantras are chanted in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is an ancient language that is said to be a language of the gods as its every syllable carries with it potent vibrations which are capable of uplifting and energizing. Sanskrit is used in order to create an ambiance which will please the deity that has graced us with his presence (A Practical Guide to Understanding Hindu Abhishekam).

REFERENCES AND FURTHER RECOMMENDED READING

Unknown (2018) “A Practical Guide to Understanding Hindu Abhishekam.” Bhakti Marga UK. Accessed October 6, 2018.

Rodrigues, Hillary (2016) Hinduism-The Ebook. Toronto: Journal of Buddhist Ethics Online Books, Ltd

Snehashree Bhat (2016) “Importance Of Abhishekam In Hindu Religion.” Most Inside. Accessed October 8, 2018.

Unknown (2007) “Why temple?” Yoga magazine. Accessed October, 8 2018.

Subodh Kapoor (2000) The Hindus Encyclopedia of Hinduism 1 volume A-C. Published by Rani Kapoor. New Delhi: Cosmo Publications.

Prof. S.K. Ramachandra Rao (2003) Encyclopedia of Indian Iconography volume 1. Delhi: Shri Satguru Publications.

Related Topics for further investigation

Rig Veda

Atharva Veda

Soma Veda

Temple

Ramayana

Mahabharata

Agamas Shastra

Kausika Sutra

Rajsuya

Linga

Noteworthy websites Related to the Topic

https://bhaktimarga.co.uk/deities-abhishek/

https://www.mostinside.com/abhishekam-importance/

https://www.mostinside.com/science-behind-visiting-temples-praying-god/

https://web.archive.org/web/20070610190751/http://www.yogamag.net/archives/1993/3may93/temples.shtml

 

Article written by: Rutu Prajapati (October 2018) who is solely responsible for its content.

The Prambanan Temple Complex

The Prambanan Temple Complex with the three towers dedicated to Siva, Visnu, and Brahma (Prambanan, Java, Indonesia)

Prambanan, located in the special district (daerah istimewa) of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, is a complex of temples dedicated to the Hindu Trimurti. Also known as Candi Prambanan or Lara Jonggrang, this complex is Hinduism’s largest site of temples in Indonesia (Bhargava 1440). Prambanan gets its name from its proximity to a nearby village. The name Lara Jonggrang directly translates to “slender maiden” and refers to the statue of Durga, the wife of Siva, within the temple (Levy 2018). Prambanan was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1999.

Prambanan’s history dates to around 850 CE when Rakai Pikatan, a king of the Sanjaya dynasty Medang Kingdom, built the first temple on the site. The site was later drastically expanded by Dyah Lokapala and Balitung Maha Sambu, the Sanjaya king of the Mataram Kingdom (Bhargava 1440).  With Prambanan being the center of most of the Mataram Kingdom’s sacrificial ceremonies (yajnas), it is believed Prambanan was the Mataram Kingdom’s royal temple. At the height of the Mataram Kingdom, Prambanan was home to many brahmins. Prambanan’s original name was Siwagrha, the house of Siva, and was originally designed to imitate Siva’s home, Mount Meru (Bhargava 1441). According to the Shivagrha Inscription of 856 CE, the temple was also dedicated to Siva.

Contemporary political perspectives suggest the construction and subsequent expansion of Prambanan was in response to the completion of Borobudur, a massive nearby Buddhist complex. Borobudur is Java’s largest Candi, or complex of temples, attributable to the Buddhist dynasty of Sailendra (Lanti 429-430). Contemporary thought also hypothesizes Prambanan’s construction to have been made in celebration of Hindu rule returning to Java following the fall of the Sailendra Dynasty (Lanti 430).

According to Prambanan’s entry on UNESCO, as well as discussed by Jordaan, Prambanan was abandoned sometime between the tenth and eleventh century for a multitude of hypothesized reasons (Jordaan 20). It is suggested that a combination of natural disasters and a shift in political power pushed life in Prambanan to eastern Java, leaving Prambanan behind to decay (Jordaan 20). Prambanan was not rediscovered until the early nineteenth century when Lieutenant-Governor Raffles’ team came upon the temples by chance (Bhargava 1440). It is possible that when C.A. Lons toured Javanese temples in 1733, he could have possibly included Prambanan in his description of overgrown temples (Jordaan 13). However, it is generally agreed that Raffles takes the honour of discovering Prambanan.

Though it was discovered, and a full survey was commissioned, Prambanan was not cared for properly, with locals taking what they needed from the site without consideration for Prambanan’s preservation (Bhargava 1440). Furthermore, the first archeologist to lay his hands on the excavation process was J. W. IJzerman, an engineer and chair of the local amateur archeological association (Jordaan 14). He did so with poor methods by today’s standards and as such, lost important and irretrievable information (Jordaan 14). Even worse, the successor of the operations, Groneman, saw it fit to dispose of a substantial portion of Prambanan’s excavated rubble into the nearby river (Jordaan 15). This rubble included a considerable number of fragments of reliefs and statues from various parts of Prambanan (Jordaan 15). Due to this irreversible loss, scholars at the time considered reconstruction an impossibility (Jordaan 15). Thankfully the magnitude of loss was less than anticipated and in 1918, reconstruction on the main temple dedicated to Siva commenced (Jordaan 16). The main temple’s reconstruction finished in 1953 while ongoing reconstruction and restoration of Prambanan continues to this day (Kempers 197).

Prambanan consists of roughly two hundred and forty temples. Soekmono provides a physical description of Prambanan: “The complex consists of more than 200 shrines of varying sizes, distributed over 2 concentric square courtyards enclosed by walls with gateways on all 4 sides. The inner courtyard is 100 m square and contains the main shrines of the compound. The outer courtyard is 200 m square and contains subsidiary temples built on four tiered platforms that descend gradually from the walls of the central square. The entire compound is enclosed by a further, lower-lying square of 365×365 m, the walls of which are not parallel to the other two enclosure walls” (Soekmono 1). Located in the inner courtyard, there are three major temples dedicated to Siva, Visnu and Brahma, as well as three temples parallel with the three major temples, which are referred to as the vahana temples (UNESCO). The word vahana roughly translates to “mount,” meaning each of these temples are believed to have housed worship to each respective member of the Trimurti’s mount. However, evidence of such worship and dedication to the respective mounts is only found in Siva’s opposing temple (Kempers 193). It is believed that the temple opposite of Siva’s temple is for Nandi, the bull (Kempers 193). The other two temples are referred to as A and B, as there is no evidence of either Brahma’s or Visnu’s vahana in their respective opposing temple.

Statue of Siva in the central tower at Prambanan (Java, Indonesia)

The temple dedicated to Siva stands the tallest measuring in at forty-seven meters. Within the temple dedicated to Siva there are five chambers, four of which are in each cardinal direction while the last is in the middle, accessed via the eastern chamber (Jordaan 5). Within the eastern chamber lies a statue of Siva in his four-armed form. In the southern chamber there is a statue of Agastya, a revered Vedic sage and avatar of Brahma. In the western chamber is a statue of Siva’s elephant son, Ganesa. Lastly, in the northern chamber is the previously mentioned statue of Durga, depicted as the demon buffalo slayer, also referred to as Lara Jonggrang (Kempers 197). This statue gave rise to Javanese folktales surrounding the lore of the statue (Jordaan 12). It is said that long ago a war broke out between the kingdoms of ogre king Ratu Boko and neighbouring Pengging. Following king Ratu Boko’s defeat, a Pengging warrior named Bandung Bandawsa fell in love with Ratu Boko’s human daughter, Lara Jonggrang. After countless proposals of marriage, Lara gave in on one condition – Bandung Bandawsa would construct a complex of a thousand temples in one night. Being the warrior he was, Bandung accepted and began to summon spirits to aid him in his efforts. As the night progressed, Lara came to realise Bandung may complete the task. To fool him and his peons, Lara constructed a fire in the east, giving the illusion the sun was rising. As well, she rounded up all the women she could and began morning practices. When Bandung’s assistants heard the women preparing for the day and saw the “sun” was rising, they fled in fear of the light. Having completed only nine hundred ninety-nine temples (today’s Sewu), Bandung had failed. Upon finding out about Lara’s ploy, Bandung cursed her into becoming part of the thousand requested temples: she became the statue of Durga to be found in Siva’s temple. Also found within Siva’s temple, which spreads into Brahma’s temple, are bas-reliefs depicting scenes from Indonesia’s take on one of the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana.

Detail of Visnu image holding the discus and conch (Prambanan temple complex, Java, Indonesia)

To the north and south of Siva’s temple are two twin temples, both with only one room (Jordaan 7). To the south is Brahma’s temple; to the north is Visnu’s temple. Within both temples, a statue of either Brahma or Visnu can be found which is what gave rise to each temple’s association with their respective god. On the walls of Brahma’s temple is the continuation of the Ramayana from Siva’s temple. Carved into the walls of Visnu’s temple is the story of Krsna as the hero of the Mahabharata (Jordaan 7).

Detail of multi-headed Brahma image (Prambanan, Java, Indonesia).

Along with the six previously mentioned temples that fill the center of Prambanan are two apit temples or “flank” temples, the use of which is yet to be determined. They are positioned at the north and south entrances of the square and they face the center of the square, to cover the main six temple’s “flanks” (Jordaan 7). In the outer courtyard, remains of some two hundred smaller subsidiary temples reside, all of which are similar in make and decoration (Jordaan 9). In the further, lower lying square no remanence of temples have been found. It is hypothesized this was the area used to accommodate those practicing within Prambanan (Jordaan 9).

 

References and Further Recommended Readings

Bhargava, P. (2012) “Prambanan: A group of hindu temples in central java.” Proceedings of the Indian History Congress 73:1440-1441.

Jordaan, R. (1996) “Candi Prambanan; An Updated Introduction.” In Praise of Prambanan: 3-116. Leiden: Brill.

Kempers, Bernet (1996) “Prambanan 1954” in Praise of Prambanan: 191-226. Leiden: Brill.

Lanti, Irman G. (2002) “Candi of Java.” Encyclopedia of Modern Asia: 429-430. Great Barrington: Berkshire Publishing Group.

Levy, Michael (2018) “Prambanan.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Accessed on October 28th, 2018.

Soekmono, R. (2003) “Loro Jonggrang.” Oxford University Press. Accessed October 29th, 2018.

Unesco.org. (1991) “Prambanan Temple Compounds.” Unesco. Accessed October 28th, 2018.

Related Topics for Further Investigation

Durga

Candi

Laksmi

Sarasvati

Ganesa

Sewu

Borobodur

Ramayana

Mahabharata

Siva

Nandi

Hinduism in Java

 

Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prambanan

https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/642

http://www.accessibleindonesia.org/legend-lara-jonggrang/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borobudur

http://www.ils.fr/candi/indonesie/candi_E.htm

Article written by: Nick Davis (October 2018) who is solely responsible for its content.

The Lingaraj Temple in Odisha

View of the Lingaraja Temple, Bhubhaneswar, Odisha, dedicated to Siva.

It is undeniable that the Lingaraj temple was historically significant to Hindu tradition, and it continues to prevail today as a cultural icon. From its vast architecture both inside and out, to the detailed sculptures of the deities, the temple draws pilgrims in from across India to worship. Built during the Somavamsis era, this temple features Kalinga architecture prominent in its depictions of Harihara throughout the compound. The separate portrayals of Siva and Visnu, their vehicles, and their gatekeepers, are captivating and detailed. Within the temple, the Mallia and Badu both have very important jobs in the function of the worships and in the presentation of the deity. The Lingaraj temple also plays a very important part in the festival of Sivaratri as devotees go to the temple to offer food and recite passages from different Hindu texts. Ultimately, the Lingaraj temple is the home to many important aspects of Hindu practice, and has a detailed history of its development and role in modern day Hindu tradition.

For two hundred years, from the ninth century to the early twelfth century, Somavamsis (often referred to as Panduvamsis) were in political power over Odisha (Sahoo 14886-14887). This era brought together Kalinga, Utkala, Kondoga, and Kosala which gave rise to one of the most unique cultures in India and resulted in an increase in the richness and development of architecture and art. Identifying with the Kshatriya, who claimed that they descended from either the Sun or the Moon, the Somavamis were said to be a part of the Chandra, the family of the Moon (Sahoo 14886-14887). When they rose to power, they became very important for bringing culture, religion, and many different types of art to Odisha. As a result, Kalinga style developed substantially during this era. Many of said Kalinga style sculptures, art, and architecture can be found in the capital of Odisha known as Bhubaneswar. However, among them, the Lingaraj temple, standing tall above the rest at one-hundred and eighty feet, is the center of attention (Sahoo 14886-14887).

Built in the eleventh century between 1025 and 1065 CE first, although some argue the sixth century, the Lingaraj temple began construction under Yayati II and finished under Udyota Kesari. It is enclosed by a large wall (five-hundred and twenty feet by four-hundred and sixty-five feet) and has four parts (deul): vimana (main sanctum), jagamohana or mukhasala (assembly hall), natamandapa (“dancing hall”), and bhogamandapa (“hall of offering”) (Sahoo 14892-14893). Three gates provided entryways to the courtyard from the north, south and east; the east entrance was the primary gate. The vimana and the jagamohana were built first, with later constructions of the natamandira and then bhoga-mandapa (Shodhganga 2 237).

The vimana was built in pancaratha, meaning it has five pagas or rathas (“cart” or “chariot”), were rounded, and continued their shape to the bisama (top of the temple) (Shodhganga 2 235-244). Within the vimana there are five sections called the bada (vertical walls of the temple). These five sections of the bada are also divided by five to create the pabhaga (mouldings). The first three pabhaga create different levels in the bada which had sculptures and art, designs of flowers, and carvings. Depending on the level, different designs are featured on each creating uniqueness on each of the stories within the temple. The other two pabhagas are situated on top of each other, the bottom one being thinner. All of the pabhaga create the shape of a pilaster inside the bada (Shodhganga 2 235-244).

The assembly hall (mukhasala) was built against the main sanctum (vinama), with two windows facing north and south. The south window has been changed to an entrance, although it is unknown exactly why this happened. The most likely explanation is that when the natamandapa (dancing hall) was built the initial door was covered, so a new opening was needed. Furthermore, the later two of the four sections of the temple, the natamanpada and bhogamandapa (hall of offering), were built using different stone and materials to build the sculptures, thus making them more detailed and adding the unique architecture found within the Lingaraj temple (Unknown 242-243).

The main architecture in the Lingaraj temple is called Kalinga architecture, which originated in eighth century CE, and possesses multiple distinctive phases of development including: pre-Kalingan, formative, transitional, mature, and decline (Bhuyan 40-42). Similarly, it also has three groupings, Rekhadeula (tallest building with a mountain peak), Pidhadeula (square shaped with a pyramid shaped roof), and Khakharadeula (rectangular with a shortened roof). Kalinga style has features similar to the Nagara of Northern India, the Dravida of South India, and the Vesara. Kalinga temples also have copious amounts of sculptures. These sculptures are mostly of humans, animals, or icons, and often feature scrolls, mystical figures, plants and flowers in great detail. Often in Odisha the Kalinga temples feature very plain insides, with a great deal of pillars; the outside is where the majority of the detail is found (Bhuyan 40-42).

Throughout the temple, images and sculptures of Visnu and Siva are depicted as Harihara, the form of Visnu and Siva together as one equal god where they are worshipped as Hari (Visnu) and Hara (Siva). Although mainly dedicated to Siva, the Lingaraj temple worships the two gods as equals; thus, each gate into Lingaraj delineate the gatekeepers of the deva. This is shown by the portrayals of Jaya and Vijaya on one gate for Visnu, Nandi and Bhrkuti on the other for Siva. Seen amongst many of the other structures outside the temples is the depiction of the vehicles of Siva, Nandi, and Visnu, Garuda, next to Harihara sitting in dvibhanga pose (Mishra 147). According to some, Nandi, a bull, is named after Aanandi: “a realized soul is full of bliss” (Shodhganga 3 138). Therefore, when Siva is shown with Nandi, it is important because it is depicting the vehicle as blissful and always with his god. In addition, his large neck and body, and strong horns show his strength (Shodhganga 3 138).  Garuda, on the other hand, has two wings and is bending backwards. In this specific display, the vehicle is also highly decorated, and is said to be powerful and strong (Mohanty 1022-1023). Furthermore, there are many portrayals of the nayikas (heroines), known for their gracefulness, elegance, and beauty. They are depicted clutching a tree branch, taking off jewelry such as an anklet, and taking care of an injured bird (Shodhganga 2 243).

The Lingaraj temple is a very important aspect of festivals and ceremonies for the Hindu people. One of the many that is dedicated to the lord Siva is called Sivaratri. This festival is celebrated sometime in February/March, and is a day when devotees bring holy water to Siva temples where they bathe to cleanse their souls (Shodhganga 3 153). This day also includes fasting, bathing in the morning, and is followed by dressing in clean clothes before beginning their journey to the temples. Sivaratri is celebrated by men and women; however, it is more auspicious for women since it is the day that Siva’s wife Parvati prayed and fasted to hopefully keep evil spirits away from him (Shodhganga 3 153). Thus, women who are married pray for their sons’ and husbands’ well-being, and women who are not married pray to one day have a husband who is similar to Siva.  On this day, the devotees pray to Siva and recite “Om Nama Shivaya” (Shodhganga 3 153).

The night of Sivaratri is different because the night is divided into four quarters (yama) in which the devotees perform Vrata (penance) (Vepachedu 1-2). To achieve penance, there is a different offering to Siva in each yama. First, they worship Siva with the lotus flower, and offer him pongali. Pongali consists of a rice and mung bean cooked in milk. During this quarter of the night, they recite the Rg Veda until the end of first quarter. During the second quarter of the night, they repeat the Yajurveda, and offer Tulasi leaves and payasam which is rice turned to a liquid when cooked in milk.  Next, they say the Samaveda, and offer bael leaves and foods with sesame flour. Finally, devotees recite the Arthaveda and offer to Siva the lotus flower and a simple food. Once morning arrives, the foods offered to Siva can be consumed by the devotees (Vepachedu 1-2).

The Mallia are a caste of temple servants who are found only in Kapileswar. With a population of one-thousand and twenty-eight people, they are the largest population in the village (Freeman 125-126). In the village of Kapileswar, they are considered “high caste,” but their status overall is unsettled. Even though they do not have any hereditary services at the Lingaraj temple, they are a part of the community of worshippers because Kapileswar is within the sacred boundaries of Bhubaneswar (Freeman 125-126). It is said in Hindu mythology that these sacred boundaries are marked by four branches of a mango tree, where the trunk reaches the heavens. The Mallia are also part of this sacred community, because the Lingaraj temple is devoted to Siva and Kapileswar temple is dedicated to Dewan who is the advisor to Lingaraj. Therefore, there is a yearly ritual to worship when Lingaraj’s deputy visits the Kapileswar temple (Freeman 125-126).

The Mallia also work at the Lingaraj temple because the Kapileswar temple does not have very many devotees that visit. In addition, Lingaraj temple priests employ Mallia to bring in more pilgrims, offer them housing and provide them with food. Because Brahmin cooks are able to cook food and sell it to the worshippers, many Brahmins have left Kapileswar in search of employment at a larger temple because they have the hereditary right to cook at Lingaraj (Freeman 4). This has led to conflict and termination of work duties in Kapileswar as Mallias heavily rely on Brahmins for food (Freeman 125-126).

Grounds of Lingaraja Temple Complex in Bhubhaneswar, Odisha.

There is also a caste known as the Badu within the Lingaraj temple who serve within the temple, but are not Brahmin (Mahapatra 96-108). The Badu (sometimes “Batu”) credit themselves as the initial servants of this temple and claim their lineage to Badu. While Badu was journeying to Ekamravana to pray to Lingaraj, he was captivated by the beauty of a woman. They copulated with one other, which resulted in Badu being late for the scheduled worship time. He begged Parvati to forgive him, and when she did she gave him the upanayana (sacred thread) and made him her servant. The woman that Badu was intimate with had a son, creating the Badu lineage (Mahapatra 96-108).

Each Badu male goes through three rituals: ear piercing (Kanaphoda), marriage, and God-touching (Mahapatra 96-108). Kanaphoda rite happens when the Badu boy turns twelve. He and his caste brothers are invited to a meal, and through the day he wears a thread around his neck. In modern day rituals, he is accompanied by musicians as they wander through the servant areas of the Lingaraj temple. In the Badu tradition, a marriage rite is performed during the night. This is one of the many reasons why it is believed that they are not Brahmins because Brahmin marriage happens during the day (Mahapatra 96-108).

Other reasons that the Badu are not considered Brahmins include that they wear the thread around the neck, unlike the Brahmins who wear it on the left shoulder (Mahapatra 96-108). Another difference is how the Badu and the Brahmin refer to their family members. A Badu calls his father “Bapa,” older sister “Apa,” and older brother “Bhai.” In contrast, the Brahmin call their father “Nana,” older sister “Nani,” and older brother “Bhaina.” Badu, because of hereditary right, are not allowed in the kitchen of the temple, whereas Brahmins are given the right because of hereditary allowance (Mahapatra 96-108). Another aspect of the marriage rite for Badus is that even those who are not wealthy spend copious amounts of money on their weddings and the meals provided, so much to the extent that they will sell property to pay for the wedding (Mahapatra 96-108).

Finally, God-touching is the rite that gives the Badu male the certification to perform worship to the Lord Siva within the temple (Mahapatra 96-108). They start the day dressing in new clothes provided by the family, and the priest dresses in new clothes as well. The meal is eaten by the caste members and the servants who are working in the temple at that time (Mahapatra 96-108).

In the Lingaraj temple, the Badu are responsible for five services: Paliabadu, Pharaka, Pochha, Pahada, and Khataseja (Mahapatra 99, 103). Paharaka and Paliabadu are the two most important of the daily rituals because they involve the protection of the deity both day and night. The Paliabadu guards are responsible for the presentation of Lord Siva and other deities, such as cleansing, clothing, and decorating with flowers and leaves. They are also given the task of bathing the other most important linga. The Paharaka guards the deity at night. The role of the Khataseja is to make the bed for the deity before the closing of the temple. The Pochha dries the deity with a cloth after cleansing, and the Pahada is at the entrance throughout the food offering times (Mahapatra 99, 103).

Ultimately, the Lingaraj temple provides unique historical and cultural significance to the city of Odisha and to the Hindu tradition.

 

Bibliography

Bhuyan, Ramakanta (2017) “Evolution of Kalingan Style of Temple – A Study” Vol. 1:12 pg. 39-44. Odissa: Behampur University.

Freeman, James M. (1971) “Occupational Changes Among Hindu Temple Servants” Indian Anthropologist Vol. 1:1, pg. 1-13.

Freeman, James M. (1975) “Religious Change in a Hindu Pilgrimage Center” Review of Religious Research Vol. 16:2, pg. 124-133.

Mahapatra, Manamohan (1973) “The Badu: A Service-Caste at the Lingaraj Temple at Bhubaneswar” Contribution to Asian Studies Vol. 3, pg. 96-108.

Mishra, Kishore Ch. (2000) “Religious Syncretism and the Jagannath Cult in Orissa” Proceedings of the Indian History Congress Vol. 61:1, pg. 144-151.

Mohanty, Prafulla Kumar (2010) “Garuda Images of Orissa – An Iconographic Study” Proceedings of the Indian History Congress Vol. 70, pg. 1018-1027.

Sahoo, Abhijit (2015) Contribution of the Somavamsis to the Odishan Culture: A Critical Analysis. Bhubaneswar: KIIT School of Social Sciences.

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/82003/8/08_chapter%203.pdf.

Shodhganga 1. “Chapter III – Symbology of the Weapons and Vehicles of the Little Mothers” pg. 106-141.

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/128730/10/10_chapter%204.pdf.

Shodhganga 2. “Chapter IV – Temples of Bhubaneswar” pg. 236-243.

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/175579/12/12_chapter5.pdf.

Shodhganga 3. “Chapter V – Pujas and Festivals of the Shiva and Vishnu Temples” pg. 122-157.

Vepachedu, Sreenivasarao (2004) “Maha Shivaratri” Mana Sanskriti (Our Culture) Vol. 74:2 pg. 1-8.

 

Related Research Topics:

Somavamsis

Siva

Visnu

Deva

Devi

Sivaratri

Kapileswar

Bhubaneswar

Kalinga Style Architecture

Mallia

Badu

Yayati II

Nandi

Bhrukti

Garuda

Jaya

Vijaya

Harihara

 

Related Websites:

Architecture of Lingaraj Temple

https://www.mahashivratri.org/shiva-temples/lingaraj-temple.html

Meaning of Shivaratri

The early history of the Somavamsis

 

This article was written by: Janelle Harasymuk (Spring 2017), who is entirely responsible for its content.

Puja

The devotional rite of puja is regarded as highly significant in the Hindu tradition, as the core Hindu ritual (Fuller 57). Through the practice of worship, individuals demonstrate their adoration and reverence towards one or more deity’s images; this act is pleasing to the gods and goddesses in Hinduism. Regardless of the type of puja conducted, temple, home, or festival worship, all share similar fundamental structures and goals of respectful honouring. This widespread rite of worship is fundamentally performed by Hindus across all castes and classes. It is conducted in temples by Brahmin priests or at home by laypeople, allowing all to actively practice their religion. Faithful puja dismisses the hierarchy between the Divine and the individual, resulting in the primary ambition of spiritually unification.

 

Overview of Puja

In Hinduism, suffering, despair, and societal complications are believed to be the result of unfaithful and untimely worship (Fuller 69). Deity worship is often performed to achieve protection and prosperity for one’s household, community, or region, and it is believed to bring about blessings, grace, and divine virtue. The response of the deities is solely based on their own discretion and will, as one’s devotion may influence the deities but does not offer any guarantees. For some, the act of puja is solely an act of loving devotion (bhakti), where they do not expect or hope for anything in return (Rodrigues 2006: 233; Fuller 70-71). Worshiping with the heart of personal gain is generally frowned upon, yet commonly practiced.

The meanings attached to offerings and practices of puja are also often viewed differently by the various schools of Hinduism; primarily, two perspectives are taken. First is the idea that deities are self-sufficient and are not in need of being washed and fed, etc. However, the sense of reverential honoring expresses the worshiper’s devotion. This practice of hospitality towards the gods and goddesses as though they were dependent on the offerings is pleasing to the divine. The second perspective is that the deities are wholly dependent on the offerings and practices making these actions necessary for their persistence. This perspective displays the interdependence of the deities and people on one another (Fuller 69-71).

Overall, both perceptions install the ideology that divinities are gratified by the ritual pious acts of ceremonial practices and services (upacaras) that make up puja. Symbolized by the camphor flame, the unity and identity of the deity and worshiper is one of the most sought-after goals of puja (Fuller 82), eliminating hierarchical separation between them. Taken together, the significance of puja is to create a relationship among the god or goddess and the individual. This may be done in the anticipation that their sanctified acts of tribute will promote security and favour from the deity.

 

Practices of Puja (Upacaras)

Puja is performed as an act of reverence towards the deities whose power is housed within iconographic pictures, statues, or symbols of the particular divine being. Each image containing the spiritual manifestation of the deity (murti) is specialized according to proportion, form, and features, and are typically man-made out of bronze, stone, clay, glass, or printed ink photographs. Within the rite of puja, the power of the deity is ritually consecrated into the image before the procession of the upacaras commence. This is done because the image itself is empty until employed with the power. The object of worship is not the image itself but the sacred power of the god or goddess.

The puja ritual varies greatly in terms of simplicity, size, and occasion. Regardless, all puja upacaras have the same general structure, involving a standard total of sixteen (sodasa), ten (dasa), or five (panca) upacara which are grouped into four phases (Rodrigues 2003: 253; Fuller 67). These services are accompanied by 16 verses of the Sukta and/or other additional Vedic mantras. To begin, the deity is summoned and installed within the murti. This phase consecrates the image making it divine. Next is the offering of a seat and water for the washing of the feet, head, mouth, and body. Third, the image is bathed, outfitted, decorated (with flowers), given the sacred thread, wafted with incense, illuminated by a lamp, and given offerings of food. This phase is commonly known as the heart of the ritual, where the image is glorified and adorned. Lastly, the deity is displayed signs of respect (such as the namaskara gesture) and is dismissed (in temples and homes this action does not take place once the puja is complete) (Rodrigues 2006: 228). Other additional acts of worship such as signing, dancing, prayer, and the chanting of mantras may accompany puja (Fuller 63). The upacara practice is seldomly completed in full and may only consist of a single camphor flame offering, known as arati, and a single food offering. Although partial practice is considered less good, synecdochally the entire ritual is produced since the overall structure and connotation of puja is maintained. Puja is specialized for each different deity based on their preference of offerings; offerings are also altered based on the means an individual has accessing materials due to their placement in society (Buhnemann 66). Unlike Vedic sacrifices, puja is inclusive to all, regardless of their gender and class, allowing for women to participate also (Michaels 2016: 9). This act of worship displays one’s hospitality and adoration for the deity, treating them like royal guests given their utmost respect.

 

Temple Worship

Temple worship is the process in which Hindus pay homage to certain deities permanently housed in a sacred temple space, such as the main shrine. The images within temples are usually immoveable (mula murti) and made of bronze or stone (Fuller 58). Within larger temples puja is conducted frequently (daily), where as lesser temples may perform puja semi-frequently (weekly) (Fuller 62). Devotees stand before a deity’s murti, particularly in temples, to perform/engage in darsana, meaning “vision.” Darsana is the process of going to see the deity and be seen by the deity, thus absorbing some of their power through an intimate union and gaining a promising blessing. Many individuals attend temples in the mornings, just after the deity has been awoken to enhance their fruits of darsana (Fuller 59).

 Puja begins in the morning with an elaborate ceremony to wake the murti, conducted by a Brahmin priest (purohita) known as a Pujari (the one who performs the ritual), on behalf of all (Buhnemann 56; Fuller 62 ). The appropriate offerings are made, and the god or goddess is bathed. The water poured over the Divine is considered sacred and can then be used as a prasada (blessing) by devotees throughout the day (Rodrigues 2006: 230). The priest’s ignition of the flame (dipa) and passing it before the murti is known as arati, and is the climax of the ritual. The boisterous sounds of bells, drums, and cymbals can be heard within the temple neighbourhood, marking this segment of the worship rite. Subsequently, the flame is passed amongst the devotees, allowing them to cleanse themselves of their sins with the consecrated smoke, which is done by wafting the smoke over their bodies. With the conclusion of arati, worshipers are invited to make their offerings (typically purchased at the entrance) through the officiant following the washing of their hands and removal of shoes (Rodrigues 2006: 231).

In certain temples, puja involves the participation of various ministrants in addition to the Pujari: the Benare (one who recites mantras), the Haridas (one who recites the aratis), the Paricarak (Pujari’s assistant), the Dingre (one who places the mirror), the Divte (one who transfers the torch), and the Dange (the mace carrier) (Buhnemann 63). In the afternoon the deity may be given a period of rest, in which the inner sanctum is temporarily closed (Rodrigues 2006: 231). Otherwise, rituals take place throughout the day, until the deity is put to sleep later in the evening, around 11 p.m. which entails another prominent puja. In sum, temple worship communally gathers large crowds of devotees. These individuals are free to participate in their own individualistic worship of expressing prayers and performing gestures towards the particular deity, as well as engage in the devotional ritual of puja.

 

Home Worship

Worship conducted in the home, although very different in terms of scale and simplicity compared to temple worship, maintains a similar structure and intent overall. Home worship takes place before a home shrine in which many icons are present, and the principle image is centrally placed (Jhala 106). The permanent installation of the divine within one’s home shrine can be done by a priest or by one’s self through frequent acts of service and adoration which eventually invoke the deity. Home shrines include various icons that were either gifted, inherited or bought, and which may symbolize or picture different deities, vehicles, gurus, and ancestors (Jhala 109). The arrangement and collection of these icons illustrates the vast network and history of the Hindu family, bringing about awareness of their collective interdependence and relationships with the deities and others.

The wealth of an individual’s family dictates the elaboration of the shrine. The wealthiest of families may have their own small temple or various shrine rooms within their home. They may also invite Brahmin priests into their home and pay them to perform the puja rituals daily (Rodrigues 2006: 228). More commonly, laypeople of any class/caste preform the ritual upacaras on their own, although only the upper three castes may recite Vedic literature. Similar to temple worship, home puja is characteristically performed daily in the morning, but depending on the family’s schedule and degree of personal pollution due to deaths, childbirths, and menstruation, puja can be postponed, shortened, or prolonged (Jhala 117).

The Pujari in home worship is usually the head of the household or the most significant member of the family. Once the ritual is complete, the rest of the family is invited into the shrine room to bow and present their gifts (Buhnemann 56). However, the idea that puja can be taken jointly rather than individually is controversial since some believe it is a personal formality, to be done privately by all (Jhala 123). Prior to taking part in puja, it is customary to bathe in order to purify oneself before entering the shrine room. The shrine usually consists of a cabinet symbolizing a temple, a shelf, or a lowered table flooded with adorned images and icons. Directly across from the shrine on the ground is a gadi, which is a large cushion, that the Pujari is to be seated cross legged on during the ritual (Jhala 111). Furthermore, the upacaras of puja are to be performed on the favoured principal deity. The doors of the cabinet are opened during the puja and then shut when it has ended.

 

Festival Worship

Separate from temple worship and home worship where the deity’s power is fixed within the image, festival worship involves the installation of the deity, veneration and worship, and release of the deity with each extravagant devotional event (Buhnemann 191-200). The movable images involved in festive pujas are known as utsava murti, which are either cast of bronze or made of painted clay (Fuller 58). A good example of festival worship is the Durga Puja, an elaborate festival which admires the Great Goddess Devi (i.e. Durga), the aggregate of all goddesses who possesses an immense array of attributes.

The commemoration begins on the sixth day of the larger festival, Navaratra (Rodrigues 2003: 37). The purohita who acts as the Pujari, prepares for the ritual through a series of preliminary obligations, concluding with a hymn. Moving forward, the Durga Puja commences the awakening of the Great Goddess through the bodhana rite. This process fixes the Goddess’ power (sakti) into a clay jar, topped with a coconut, swathed in a sari, and anointed with sandalwood paste (Rodrigues 2003: 38-39). Followed by the transformation/purification process, the technique of Kundalini Yoga is used to arouse Devi. The adhivasanam ritual of anointing takes place next, accompanied by procedures that eventually install the Goddess’ sakti into a clay figurine. Ritual bathing of Durga enveloped in numerous forms follows the next day as part of the Mahasaptami (Great Seventh) rite. As the Mahasaptami is drawn to completion, the Great Goddess Durga is filled with “life,” taking up her dwelling within as a living icon and marking her full arrival (Rodrigues 2003: 46-50).

Similar to conventional puja, the next portion of the service is the sixteen upacara where Durga is showered with extravagant devotional offerings of honor. The bathing rites (Mahasaptami) are then repeated in a process known as the Mahastami (Great Eighth). There after, the Sandhi Puja occurs between the eight and ninth lunar day when the Goddess is presented a blood sacrifice (a goat’s head) whilst another series of the elaborated sixteen step practice is conducted; this marks the pinnacle of the Durga Puja. Once again, a variation of the Mahasaptami rite, labelled the Mahanavami, is performed with the inclusion of homa a Fire Oblation ritual. Finally, to conclude the Durga Puja, one last ten-part ritual is held dismissing Devi (Vijaya Dasami). Her clay image is then immersed in the Ganga signifying the Great Goddess’ ultimate departure. Through this illustration of festival worship, comparisons and contrasts between daily puja and occasional puja are exemplified in terms of the structure, simplicity, and magnitude of the worship ritual.

 

Final Remarks

The devotional practice of puja is central to Hindu worship. Through the acts of deity adoration and respect, an individual expresses their devoutness to unify themselves with the Divine. Essential to puja, the power of the deity is invoked into an image, transforming it into murti, thus allowing for darsana and worship to take place. Another fundamental characteristic to puja, regardless of its size, is the demonstration of revealing one’s reverence to a deity through the use of offerings. These two processes of installation and veneration characterize the core elements of upacara within puja. Additionally, specific to festival worship the release of the deity also follows. Puja’s universality allows for it to be performed on a small and simple scale within the home by laypeople, or also on a massive and elaborate scale in temples or during festivals by qualified priests. Although the magnitude, amplification, and occasion vary, the structure and meaning of puja remains constant.

 

References and Further Reading

Buhnemann, Gudrun (1998) Puja: A Study in Smarta Ritual. Vienna: Institut fur Indologie der  Universitat Wein.

Eck, Diana (1981) Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India. Chambersburg: Anima Books.

Ciraulo, Jonathan M. (2013) “The divine image: Hindu murti and Byzantine iconography.” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 48: 505-522. Accessed October 28, 2018.

Fuller, Christopher J. (2003) The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India.   Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Hawley, John S., and Donna Wulff (1996) Devi: goddess of India. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Jhala, Jayasinhji (2000) “Puja, Pujari, and Prabhu: Religious Worship in the Hindu Home.” Visual Anthropology 13:103-128. Accessed October 28, 2018.   doi:10.1080/08949468.2000.9966793

Michaels, Axel (2004) Hinduism: Past and Present. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

______ (2016) Homo Ritualis: Hindu Ritual and Its Significance for Ritual Theory. New   York:   Oxford University Press.

Prasad, Birendra N. (2011) Monasteries, shrines, and society: Buddhist and Brahmanical  religious institutions in India in their socio-economic context. New Delhi: Manak Publications.

Rodrigues, Hillary P. (2003) Ritual Worship of the Great Goddess: Liturgy of the Durga Puja      with Interpretations. Albany: State University of New York Press.

______ (2006) Introducing Hinduism. New York: Routledge.

Yelle, Robert A. (2003) Explaining mantras: ritual, rhetoric, and the dream of a natural language in Hindu tantra. E-Book: Routledge.

 

Related Topics for Further Investigation:

Darsana

Durga Puja

Devi

Arati

Murti

Hindu Shrines

Upacara

Pujari

Bhakti

Great Seventh

Great Eighth

Great Ninth

Vijaya Dasami

Sakti

Homa

Adhivasanam

Bodhana

Kundalini Yoga

Caste/Class System

Mantras

 

 Noteworthy Websites:

https://www.speakingtree.in/blog/what-is-puja-495215

https://www.hinduwebsite.com/puja.asp

http://svaroopa.org/puja

http://static.amritapuja.org/what_is_puja.html

http://www.durga-puja.org/

https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/clips/zh2hyrd

This article was written by: Hailey Rausch (Fall 2018), who is entirely responsible for its content.

The Kanphata Yogis

 The Kanphata Yogis refers to a monastic order of Hindu renouncers, found predominantly throughout India and Nepal, who worship the god Siva. They are also known as the Darsanis, Gorakhnathi or Natha Yogis. The name Kanphata refers to the split through the hollow of their ears and Darsani refer to the large earrings they wear through these holes, their most distinctive feature. Gorakhnathi or Nath refers instead to their supposed founder, Gorakhnath, who is also credited as the founder of Hatha Yoga. Though he is said to be the author of a large number of books it is more likely that he authored only a few and other followers of his have since added to the collection. (Bouillier 2018:18-26).

Gorakhnath takes on both the roles of founder and deity in the Kanphata Yogi order. On the one hand he is a Guru praised for his purity and asceticism, and on the other he is said to be a being born through the miraculous power of Siva and is also a form of Siva (Bouillier 2018:14). The mythology surrounding Gorakhnath’s upbringing is extensive and not all of the stories agree on all points. One popular story is that a barren woman was given ashes from Siva to eat. Instead she threw them into a heap of cow dung and 12 years later upon searching the heap of dung, a 12 year old boy was found within it. The boy was then accepted as a pupil by the mighty guru, Matsyendranath, who named the child Gorakhnath meaning filth or lord of cattle (Briggs 182). His relationship to his Guru was complicated as he acted at times as a pupil and at times as an instructor or even savior of his master, saving his master from temptations of the flesh and other worldly influences (Bhattacharyya 285). In these ways the followers of Gorakhnath through legend and mythology deify him and simultaneously establish his teachings as being directly from the Gods. Actual historical data surrounding his birth, life, and death are however largely hypothetical and many scholars disagree on the date and location of his birth (Bouillier 2013:158). In the books accredited to his authorship, he appears to have borrowed inspiration from Jainism and from Vajrayana Buddhism, both in the strong focus on the obtainment of supernatural powers, through Yogic meditation, and on the incorporation of tantric doctrines into their core ideals (Bhattacharyya 285, Briggs 259, 274-276). Examples of this focus are found in the Gorakh-bani (Sayings of Gorakh), in which their quest for superhuman powers and immortality or divinity is explained (Bouillier 2013:161). Supernatural powers are considered a gratuity, rather than the actual end goal of Hatha Yoga, which is to reach mukti or enlightenment. The ordered discipline of yoga serves as a vehicle to assist or aid the Yogi as he or she endeavors in this quest (Briggs 2, 262-265).

Kanphata Yogis take their heritage from the Himalayan foothills and share common ancestry with the Siddhas in Tibetan Buddhism, as Gorakhnath is identified as Luipada by the Buddhist texts (Bhattacharyya 284-285). A rift in the teachings between the followers of Gorakhnath and the Siddhas is illustrated in the account of Gorakhnath saving his master from lust and sensual pleasures, and so doing, changing the guidelines for his followers from the overtly sexual tantric practices of his predecessors to a chaste focus in the internal development of oneself (Bouillier 2018:16-17).  There is however a large focus on the maintenance of one’s body physically and spiritually, sexual practice of any kind is forbidden (Bouillier 2018:301-302). Many members of the tradition try to keep as far away from women as possible (Bhattacharyya 287-288), though some women, mostly widows, do join the order (Briggs 4-5).

Heavy focus is also placed upon the large earrings that they wear through the hollows of their ears. Some explain that the split through the cartilage of the ear is done in such a place as to cut through a mystical channel, thus assisting the bearer in their path to enlightenment (Briggs 6). Strict care is placed on the Yogi to protect their ears after the split has been made. There are some indications that, in the past, if one of the Yogis had the earring pulled out or their ear was mutilated in some other way that they would either be killed outright or be buried alive, though more recently banishment is a more common punishment (Briggs 8-9). These earrings, or mudra, are traditionally made of clay, but as these are easily broken they can be substituted for rings made of antler, horn, wood, precious metals, or shells. Kanphata Yogis also differ from orthodox Hindus also in their death rituals, namely that they bury their dead rather than cremate them. This practice is substantiated by the legendary dispute between Muslims and Hindus over who were masters of the earth. In response to this dispute Gorakhnath sat on the ground and called on it to yield to him, the earth then opened up and he sank below the surface (Briggs 39-40).

Kanphata Yogis and their supernatural powers have also played a part in the development of various kingdoms in the areas of Northern and Western India as well as Nepal. In Nepal in particular, a powerful Yogi is credited with using supernatural powers to assist the king of a small nation to unify the Nepalese area under one crown (Bouillier 1991:154-156). Similar stories can be found throughout India, and each Nath Monastery will generally have its own myths about the supernatural powers of the founding Yogi. These supernatural powers include controlling the weather, changing the physical size of the Yogi, exorcism, healing, the power of flight, necromantic powers, and psychic or telekinetic abilities to name a few (Briggs 271). These stories of supernatural powers gave the yogis a certain notoriety among both commoners and nobility, causing them to be warily honored lest they curse the public just as in the story of Gorakhnath’s visit to Kathmandu when he caused a drought to befall the people as punishment for receiving him poorly (Bouillier 2018:16).

Modern Day Kanphata Yogis exist largely in monasteries throughout India and South-East Asia or very occasionally as wandering ascetics and renouncers. Disciples known as Aughars rather than Yogis are inducted into the order of monastics through several stages of discipleship (Briggs 7-11). Contrary to what their name may suggest many Kanphata Yogis do not actively practice yoga (Briggs 251). They possess no official cannon of texts but instead cite a mishmash of books with varied and dubious authorship, including many texts that are nearly identical but with different titles or authors (Bouillier 2018:18-26, Briggs 252-257). Exact knowledge of the contents of these texts are also not largely stressed, but focus seems to be more on an oral tradition of legends and secret techniques which are passed down from Guru to Aughar (Briggs 7-10,251). That is not to say that the Kanphata Yogis are without modernization as they have formed the Pan-Indian Nath Yogi Association, and in some ways attempted to organize themselves by the 12 panths or branches of their order. There are currently more than 12 branches in existence but this number likely refers to an original division rather than a current one (Bouillier 2018:54-56).

 

REFERENCES AND FURTHER RECOMMENDED READING

Bhattacharyya, Narendra Nath (1982) History of the Tantric Religion. New Delhi: Manohar Publications.

Bouillier, Véronique (1991) “Growth and decay of a Kanphata Yogi monastery in south-west Nepal” The Indian Economic and Social History Review 28,2: 151-170

Bouillier, Véronique (2013) “A Survey of Current Researches on India’s Nath Yogis” Religion Compass Vol 7 #5 (May): 157-168

Bouillier, Véronique (2018) Monastic Wanderers: Nath Yogi Ascetics in Modern South Asia. New York: Routledge.

Briggs, George W. (1938) Gorakhnath and the Kanphata Yogis. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

Jacobsen, K.A. (2012) Yoga Powers. Extraordinary Capacities Attained through Meditation and Concentration. Leiden: Brill.

White, D.G. (1996) The Alchemical Body. Siddha tradition in Medieval India. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

 

This article was written by Christopher J Boehmer (Fall 2018), who is entirely responsible for its content.

The Durga Puja

Durga Puja is an annual festival that celebrates the Great Goddess, better known as Durga. Although the true origin of the worship of Durga is still unknown, today’s form of the Durga Puja festival can be dated back to the 16th century, during the Mughal era (Banerjee 31). During this time, the mythical figure of Rama and his worship of Durga in the Ramayana were brought to the center of attention. The Ramayana says that Rama wanted to destroy the evil demon, Ravana, but needed aid because he was not strong enough to kill the demon on his own. By worshipping Durga, she provided him with the strength he needed to win against Ravana (Ghosha 14). This epic brought a large amount of influence to Raja Udaynarayan and he held the first Durga Puja to show his strength against the Mughals. Although many historians believe that he was not successful against the Mughals, the festival began to spread and quickly became one of the most important festivals (Banerjee 31-32). Many believe that the reason this epic had such a great influence was due to the resistance many kingdoms, on the Indian sub-continent, had against Mughal rule (Rodrigues 19). This epic also changed the time when the festival was to be held. It is said that Rama worshipped the Great Goddess during the autumn instead of the spring months, done by King Suratha (Banerjee 2). Therefore Raja Udaynarayan held the festival in autumn in the16th century causing the festival to be held in the autumn month of Asvina, during the nine-day Navaratri festival, today.

Puja, a form of devotional worship, is normally only performed for one or two days; the Durga Puja spans over a four-five day period (Banerjee 18). During this period, many complex rituals are held in the worship of Durga. The Great Goddess is not a particular goddess but is a single supreme form of divine femininity. This causes the Great Goddess to have many names; for example the most popular names used are Devi, Ma, or Sakti (Rodrigues 17). Therefore, all goddesses are worshipped during this time and every temple that houses a goddess is lively and closely attended too. Expensive home pujas are also put within each home for personal worship. Clay images (murti) and temporary shrines (pandals) are even more closely attended to and observed at this time because they are the focal points for worship (Rodrigues 10). Many pujas, forms of worship, are needed each day during this festival for ritual worship. Each day has a different assortment or food, cloth and puja items, such as flowers, iron, shells, or bark. These items are needed each day to invoke the Great Goddess her for aid among the people and the community.

This time is also known as an important to restore old items and relationships; it is an important time built on caring for others, sharing when one is in need, and keeping a strong bond with family members (Banerjee 61). Many married daughters are able to come home to their parents and spend time with their families; most women live with their husband’s family, once they are married, due to Hindu tradition (Rodrigues 28). Much time is spent worshipping the Great Goddess hoping to invoke her upon the things that not only a single person needs but also the things others and the community is in need of. One of the most important figures during these rituals is the purohita, the central role to the entirety of the pujas (Rodrigues 29). The purohita prepares and purifies water (jala suddhi), flowers (puspa suddhi), his seat (asana suddhi), and the elements (bhuta suddhi) as his preliminary duties in preparing for the rituals to come (Rodrigues 38). The purohita uses this purification ritual to create a link with the divine nature and enables the Great Goddess to manifest in the purohita; he then transfers her into different abodes (Rodrigues 277). This creates a strong bond between the Great Goddess and the people observing and worshipping her.

Another sacred ritual is that of an animal sacrifice in order to keep cosmic stability. This ritual is used as a re-enactment of the battle between Durga and Mahisa in which the cosmos was regulated by Durga once she slayed the beast (Kinsley 112). In today’s Durga Puja, blood sacrifice is disappearing and many communities are substituting fruits, such as melons, for animals. Even though melons are used, Hindus go to great lengths to change the melons, such as put vermilion paste and effigy on them, to ensure it represents a blood sacrifice. Blood sacrifice is also representative of the most important food offering to the Great Goddess. Even though true blood is not always spilt, it is meant to symbolically represent the beheading of Mahisa (Rodrigues 278).

As Durga Puja spans over four to five days during the Navaratri festival, it adds two very different central roles to the Great Goddess and why she is being worshipped at this time. This most popular depiction of Durga is that of a strong warrior, wielding many weapons and is victorious over evil. One of the most popular legends that this depiction arises from is of Durga battling the powerful buffalo-headed demon, Mahisa, to regulate the cosmos, which she comes out victorious by killing him. This depiction causes many people to associate the worship of Durga with military success and victory of good over evil. Military success is also attributed to the month of Asvina itself because it occurs at the end of the rainy season, in which the season of warfare begins. During this season of warfare, the worship of weapons, ayudha-puja, and the worship as Aparajita are conducted. The ayudha-puja takes place in the temples of Devi and is done by soldiers and military rulers, as it marks the beginning of military campaigns. Durga is also worshipped as Aparajita, she who is invincible, to invoke the power of Durga that cannot be conquered or controlled to ensure military success among the people (Rodrigues 290). Durga in all forms in representative of formidable power and how it is to be wielded; to battle adversity and conquer what is in the way of ones path to succession (Rodrigues 289).

Durga is symbolically represented in many different forms; the most important of these forms are the jar (ghata), the cluster of nine plants (navapatrika), the clay image, and the virgin girl (kumari). The jar (ghata) is the most recognizable of these forms and Devi’s embodiment in the jar resembles a pregnant woman. The jar is composed of two natural elements, the earth and the divine waters; these elements have been associated with the Great Goddess for a long period of time. This natural element within the jar and the representation of the pregnant woman symbolize Durga as the form of the mother of creation and she is giving birth to the cosmos. Other elements, such as flowers, earth, fruit, water, and fragrant paste, are placed around or on this form of Durga to be served as the beauty of nature that comes from creation (Rodrigues 262). Next, the cluster of nine plants (navapatrika) and a wood-apple tree branch, to serve as the breasts of the Great Goddess, are placed with the jar for worship within the house. Where as the wood-apple branch symbolizes Durga herself, the cluster of plants represents the different aspect of the Great Goddess and the feminine identity. These aspects incorporate different goddesses and their symbols as aspects of the Great Goddess such as the Nim tree and the Tulasi plant that serve as an embodiment of goddesses (Rodrigues 264).

The most striking and influential of these forms is the clay image. The clay image is the Great Goddess as a young and beautiful goddess. She has a strong and beautiful body that showcases the femininity of her character but she also wields the weapons of the male gods with her ten arms to exemplify her unconquerable power. In the clay image is also the human form of Mahisa as Durga impales him with her spear (Rodrigues 265). A large amount of blood is also portrayed in this image and shows the importance the blood sacrifice and to re-enact the spilling of the evil blood. Ganesa and Kartikeya are also presented within the clay image as aspects of the Great Goddess. Ganesa is worshipped as the Lord of Obstacles and Kartikeya is worshipped as the divine warrior. These aspects put together are representative of Durga as a strong warrior that is a great obstacle that stands in the way of her opponents (Rodrigues 266). This clay image in very complex and represents the whole of the different aspects of Durga. The last form of Durga is served as a virgin girl. Any pure, young girl can serve as this form of Durga and is used as a vehicle for the manifestation of Durga in human form. The use of a virgin girl is also linked to the blood sacrifice and gathering of women. During this time, women of all ages, including married daughters, come together to celebrate this festival. This showcases all the stages of a woman, from a virgin girl, to a young married woman, to an older mother or grandmother. The blood sacrifice is also representative of the stages in a woman’s life as well. Whereas a young virgin girl represents youth, the blood sacrifice also represents the fertility to come into the girl’s life, as she grows older. This is represented by Durga during the virgin girl embodiment as well as she is a young beautiful girl that causes the flow of blood (Rodrigues 297).

These rituals create a bond with Durga, the divine, and the people. As Durga embodies these different forms it creates a high level of devotional worship among the devotees. The embodiment of a virgin girl creates a strong link between the Great Goddess and the people because they recognize Durga as a daughter and someone they have a strong relationship with (Banerjee 87). This festival also brings families together once again to celebrate fertility, power, and success together. The Durga Puja is one of the few festivals that adjust to the changing times and but also keeps and passes down the sacred rituals to ensure the festival remains.

REFERENCES AND FURTHER RECOMMENDED READING

Banerjee, Sudeshna (2004) Durga Puja: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Rupa and Co, Calcutta.

Ghosha, Pratapachandra (1871) Durga Puja: With Notes and Illustrations. Calcutta: Hindoo Patriot Pres.

Kinsley, David (1987) Hindu Goddesses. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

Rodrigues, Hilary Peter (2003) Ritual Worship of the Great Goddess: The Liturgy of the Durga Puja with Interpretations. Albany: State University of New York Press.

RELATED TOPICS FOR FUTHER INVESTIGATION

Durga

Devi

Sakti

Puja

Rama

Ramayana

Ravana

Ganesa

Kartikeya

NOTEWORTHY WESITES RELATED TO THE TOPIC

http://www.durga-puja.org

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durga_Puja

https://www.thoughtco.com/ten-days-with-the-mother-goddess-1770197

Article written by: Kaitlynn Poworoznyk (March 2017) who is solely responsible for this content.

Rangoli

Rangoli is an art of decorating floors using various colored powders. It is considered that Rangoli has been practiced for eras, and has been modified throughout, yet its significance has been the same throughout. It is a living tradition in India and is practiced mostly by womenfolk. This form of art is believed to have survived even before it found its place in Hindu literature. The origin of this art is yet vague, but some of the scholars have dated it back to about 2000 years (Gode 241). The very first evidence found in Hindu literature is between 50-400 CE in the Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana; which is mentioned as tndulkusumvlidikara (Gode 241). This floor art has had stability not only in Indian domestic lives but religious lives as well. Rangoli is an art that represents an energy field in religious context (Correa 92-113).

Rangoli is not only for the ecstasy of gods and the ruling deities, but also for beauty per Usinara. Usinaras are the middle country (Madyadesa) dwellers (Majumdar 248). It is said that the sage Narada gave a new kind of classification of these arts from the viewpoint of places and where the depictions are situated. They are classified in three different ways: of the floor (bhauma), of the wall (kudya), and of the top (urdhvaka) (ceiling). They again get classified into two more categories from another stance, permanent (zazvatika) and temporary (tatkalika, ksanika). The Rangoli that is still prominent in India is the floor or ksanika Rangoli (Gode 236).

Disciplines that explore the notions of this nonmanifest world are religion, philosophy, and arts (Correa 92-113). Rangoli is an sacred art that beautifies houses, brings positive vibrations, and peaceful feelings. The recurrence, proportion, balance, and liveliness, are few of the principles of this form of art. Rangoli is related to the method of Tantric design known as the Mandala. These designs are symbols of secret philosophical religious meanings (Dohmen 129-139). Different figures and arrangements within the design are associated with different aspects of human life. Circular designs within the diagrams evoke a sense of eternity of time, the unfolding of life, and the heart or the wheel (Das 2008).

Rangoli symbolizes auspiciousness and good luck in Hindu dharma. In ancient times, this sacred and versatile form of art was made to welcome gods and goddesses during special occasions. Durai (77) discloses the practice of Rangoli, about a century ago in the Madras Presidency. Madras is known as Chennai in present day India. According to Durai, these geometric diagrams are known as Kolam in Madras. They are typically made by Hindu women, every morning. To make a Kolam they use white rice powder. Lines and dots are connected in the process of making a Kolam, except when a death befalls in the family. Rangoli is made during the events such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and festivals such as Divali, Sankranti, Navaratra, Nagapancami, Tulsi Vrata, and Sravan Sukla Pancami. It is a gesture of hospitality and openness for the visiting guests, be it a human being or heavenly being. This attractive and decorative art is made with different materials such as, colored powders, rice flour, sand, sugar, or flower petals. The designs vary for everyday practice and special occasions. It can be plain and small for daily practice, and colorful and elaborate for festive events (Durai 77).

Different parts of India have different names associated with this form of floor art. It is known as Rangoli in Maharastra, Kolam in South India, Aripana in Bihar, Muggulu in Andhra Pradesh, Alpana in Bengal, and the list goes on. In Sanskrit, ‘Rang’ means color and ‘Avali’ means row, so Rangoli literally means ‘rows of colors’ (Gode 226). Alpana derieves from Sanskrit word alimpana which means ‘to plaster’ or ‘to coat with’ which is eminent in Bengal. Alpana is traditionally made of powdered rice. In modern days, the materials used to make Alpana have changed but some Hindu orthodox families still practice this traditional way of using powered rice. The powdered rice is mixed with water to make a paste, and small piece of cloth is used to design Alpana. Themes of Alpana typically consist of stars, sun, moon, plough, owl, rice stem, etc. Kolam is typically practiced in Tamil Nadu and South India using rice flour as well. Very famous designs of Kolam are Hridaya-Kamalam Kolam (Praghosa 2008). To precisely complete these projects one needs a lot of patience. That is why the dots and lines in the Kolam are believed to symbolize hurdles, hardships, and struggles that human beings face in life. And the finished project denotes that if humans, bravely, patiently, and serenely, face all the struggles and hardships, then they can get through life easily and peacefully. Kolam/Rangoli is made every morning at the thresholds of the houses to keep the negative vibes away and maintain positive and happy vibes throughout the day. The rice dust sprinkled on the ground, in the form of Rangoli, is not wasted, but considered to be a generous way to offer back to the nature, so the smallest of the creatures also get their feed. It is said to be one of the most prevalent methods of visual arts practiced in modern Tamil Nadu, because of the sheer magnitude of practitioners involved in making Kolam (Dohmen 92-113).

One of the most important Hindu festivals is Divali. Divali is known as the festival of lights and is associated with vibrant and vivid colors. Colorful fireworks across the villages, towns and cities; candle light around the houses; making of various sweets in excessive amount; exchanging gifts; and making elaborate and vibrant Rangolis, are associated with this festival. The principal deity Laksmi is present in the atmosphere during Divali. She is known as the goddess of wealth, good luck, and prosperity. She visits the homes that are well cleaned, well-lit, and beautifully decorated. Every Hindu household performs Laksmi Puja (act of worship) on the third day of Divali. As per the Hindu lunar calendar, this five-day festival falls on the new moon day on the month of Asvin (October or November). Various Rangolis such as goddess Laksmi’s footprints, eight petal lotuses known as ‘Ashtadal-kamal’ in Andhra Pradesh, eight pointed star known as ‘Hridaya-kalam’ in Tamil Nadu, and thousands of designs in Gujarat only, are made during Diwali. Diwali is thought to be inadequate without Rangoli. It is a welcoming gesture to the Goddess and the homecoming guests. The ritual of welcoming the guests is known to bring good luck and bliss to the family.

The festival that falls in the first fortnight of January is Sankranthi (Makara-Sankramanam), and during this festival, young Telugu girls of Andhra Pradesh compete with their peers to make the latest and elaborate Muggulu designs in their courtyard. In Andhra Pradesh, the floor decoration technique is known as Muggu or Muggulu in plural. People of all castes make Muggulu on their respective thresholds, after cleaning the surface with water and cow-dung. Colored Muggulu is made for special occasions and during the worship of gods and goddesses. Muggulu is drawn to honor the Sankranti Purusa, also known as Bali (Gode 243-246). Gode (1947) also discusses about Tamil girls, who enthusiastically bet with each other to draw the most widespread and intricate Kolam in the village (235). Even though these arts and designs are beautiful, they are ksanik, meaning temporary.

Due to colonization, and the influence of innovation and modernization, the Indian traditions and practices are perceived to be vanishing. Dohmen (135) provides understanding on Tamil editors that have tried to preserve Kolam by publishing the designs in their editions. Dohmen states, “These design magazine editors have taken on the circulation, innovation and preservation of traditional designs” (Dohmen 134). India is a mix of diverse cultures, languages and philosophies. Informing the youngsters about Indian values and socio-historical relations is the most influential way to preserve the heritage. Adir and Bhaskaran, in their research, suggest that children learn from very early age, so involving them in activities like making Rangoli, can be one of the many ways to preserve this art. They suggest that the kids who learn to make Rangoli when they are young can develop the skill of creative problem-solving. Since Rangoli is a collectively made project, they need to work together to determine the colors and shapes choices. Rangoli is a great means of socializing. It also requires eye-hand coordination and fine muscle control which can be an invaluable asset for children when they grow up (Adir and Bhaskaran 48-52, 54-55). Teachers and parents can use a variety of materials such as, crayons, markers, colored pencils, and chalks for outdoors (Guhin 2013).

Rangolis enlighten the ‘nature of the cosmos’. Rangoli is not just an idea, but symbolizes an energy field. The midpoint of a Rangoli signifies “shunya (the absolute void) as well as bindu (the world seed and the source of all energy)”. The midpoint is placed as Brahman, the primary source, in all the Rangolis. When the cycles of reincarnation are finally ended, according to Hinduism, the atman (the distinct soul) is free from each of us and goes to Brahman (to the center of this energy field) (Correa 92-113). Sacred does not only mean religious but primordial as well. The minutiae detail of Rangoli have various symbols and meanings associated with them. “The greatest of all the geometric depictions of cosmic order used as aids for meditation, this ecstasy is depicted as the interpenetrations of nine triangles, four facing upward and five downward, together symbolizing the union of Siva and Sakti” (Correa 92-113). This method of art has been practiced for centuries and it is considered to represent an energy field in religious context (Correa 1989). This form of floor art is still prominent in India and in Hindu countries around the world.

 

References and further recommended readings

Adair, Jennifer Keys, and Lilly Bhaskaran (2010) “Meditation, Rangoli, and Eating on the Floor:Practices from an Urban Preschool in Bangalore, India.” YC Young Children 65, no. 65:48-55. http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.uleth.ca/stable/42730667.

Correa, Charles (1989) “The Public, the Private, and the Sacred.” Daedalus 118: 92-113. http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.uleth.ca/stable/20025266.

Das, Praghosa (2008) “Sacred geometry, Rangolis, Mandalas and Yantras” http://www.dandavats.com/?p=6628

Dohmen, Renate (2001) “Happy Homes and the Indian Nation: Women’s Designs in Post-Colonial Tamil Nadu.” Journal of Design History 14: 129-39. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3527134.

Gode, P. K. (1947) “History of the Rangavalli (Rangoli) Art – Between C. A. D. 50 and 1900.”

Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute 28: 226-46. http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.uleth.ca/stable/44028067.

 

Guhin, Paula (2013) “Rangoli: An Indian Art Activity Book.” https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Rangoli: An Indian Art Activity Book.a0352230655 (accessed February 27 2017)

Durai, G. H.(1929) “60. Preliminary Note on Geometrical Diagrams (Kolam) from the Madras Presidency.” Man 29: 77. Doi:10.2307/2790112.

Majumdar, R. C. (1951) “The History and Culture of Indian People: The Vedic Age.” G. Allen 8 Unwin, 1951 1: 248, 252. https://books.google.ca/books?id=G7kKAQAAIAAJ&dq=Usinaras&source=gbs_book_other_versions&hl=en&authuser=1

Related topics for further investigations

Shankranti

Sravan Sukla Purnima

Nagapancami

Tulsi Vrata

Swosthani Vrata

Bhai-Dooj

Diwali

Laxmi Pujan

Importance of Cow in Hindu Dharma

Vasant Pancami

Holi

Importance of Tulsi

Noteworthy websites

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/4605/7/07_chapter%201.pdf

http://forumforhinduawakening.org/dharma/blog/importance-of-rangoli/

https://www.hindujagruti.org/hinduism/art-and-spirituality/rangoli-designs

http://www.indiaparenting.com/indian-culture/70_1565/significance-of-rangolis-during-diwali.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpana

http://www.culturalindia.net/indian-art/rangoli/alpana.html

http://www.homemanagementinfo.com/tag/significance-of-rangoli/

http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uleth.ca/docview/1830256984?pq-origsite=summon

http://guruprasad.net/posts/why-do-indians-draw-rangoli-scientific-reason/

http://www.dandavats.com/?p=6628

http://www.diwalifestival.org/the-tradition-of-rangoli.html

http://www.historymuseum.ca/cmc/exhibitions/cultur/inde/indact4e.shtml

http://www.vrindavana.net/academy/usinaras/

This article was written by: Reena Sharma (Spring 2017), who is entirely responsible for its content.

Rangoli/Kolam

The origin of Rangoli dates back to many centuries ago and is an important part of Indian festivals. Rangoli is a design that is drawn on the ground with colored powder sometimes even with colored rice. Since Rangoli is mentioned in the Epics, it probably originated from before they were composed. The tradition is said to have come from the story of Chitralakshana. [The son of the highest priestly son dies and is said to be drawn and as the painting is completed the priestly son comes to life] (Dhawan 1). During the beginning of this tradition, it is said in the epic Ramayana after the return of Lord Rama from his exile he was showered with love by the art of Rangoli (Rao 1)

In Hinduism anything that has a deep meaning to it, is taken very seriously among the older generations, such as art of Rangoli. It is not only just used for making the courtyard look pretty but also to avoid the evil spirits from entering the house. This is the reason why most Rangoli designs are made very intricate and detailed. Spirits and negative vibes that are surrounding the house to get intertwined in the intricacy of the design (Ashu 1). The designs are the first thing people see when they enter the house. It allows them to bring more positivity into the house after seeing the Rangoli. The traditional Rangoli were more symmetrical because it was pleasing to look at. Different types of shapes are included when making Rangoli, such as certain religious flowers, drawings of gods, and many other things that have some sort of significance. Mostly white was used in the traditional Rangoli as it was a sense of peacefulness and calmness. Rangoli is made during Diwali (festival of lights) to welcome the Goddess Laksmi (Goddess of wealth). During every festival or any special occasion, the women of the house make the Rangoli. They wake up early as it takes hours for them to complete. The designs are only made once the front yard is fully cleaned with water, as it is a way for the women to cleanse their mind and have a sense of calmness.

In traditional Rangoli making powdered color was not used but colors that were available naturally were used such as haldi, vermillion, and rice flour. Natural powders were used so that birds and other insects would have food. The principle of ‘Vasudaiva kutumbaka’ in Sanatana Dharma (Hindusim) meaning ‘the whole world is one big family’ (Sankar 1) is a reason why rice flower and such natural powders were used, so that the insects could feed off of them. Each color has a significant meaning behind it and is different in different parts in India. Now color that has dye in it is mainly used to attract more people and make it look more vibrant and realistic. Modern Rangoli is more focused towards the creativity of it rather then the spiritual aspect of it.

In southern India, there is myth about Lord Thirumal getting married in the Margazhi month, a time of the month that is said to be very auspicious. During this month, the girls get up before sunrise to start drawing Kolams [Rangoli is called kolam in southern India] to welcome the God of Thirumal (Dhawan 1). Going around a dot pattern makes Kolams.

During the month of January the Pongal kolam is made, in which the drawing is left undone until the next day so that they can join them with the neighboring houses.

More then just a design, Kolams is also used for mathematical ideas. They are very particular in using symmetry while making the designs and some even have a pattern that repeats several times. Some kolam are drawn using repetition of patterns in various angles Ascher (57-63). Symbols such as letters or numbers are used to explain the step-by-step way they are made.

Where Kolams are made up of more lines and have a geometrical pattern to them, Rangoli is made with vibrant colors and have many different designs. Each have there own significance and are used in different parts of India. Rangoli requires more intricate work than Kolams. Kolam is used more so in the southern part of India and Rangoli in northern part.

There are many different types of kolam designs; the most popular ones are the line and pulli Kolams. Line Kolams are free handed and are just geometrical lines. Pulli Kolams are designs where the dots are made in a certain sequence and lines are drawn to connect the dots. The pulli kolam has two different ways of making the design, one of which is connecting the dots and the other are twisted chains that are made around the dots Ascher (57-63). One other kind of kolam, called the snake kolam, different from any other Kolam, since it is drawn continuously and ends off where it began.

Rangoli is used in all of India whether it is for making drawing or used for special occasions. It has been passed down from centuries ago and is now being used in different ways and has even moved its way to a different side of it, the mathematical aspect. In the most recent years is when computer scientists have seen the usage of mathematical concepts being incorporated into the designs. As this tradition is passed down to future generations, the meaning and importance will slowly change as well. Slowly the designs will be improved by adding innovative aspects which differ from the past generations.. Rangoli’s is used upon arrivals of guests, family gatherings, and even when there are no special occasions. This allows women to get together and calm their minds down from the household work and provide them with a sense of relaxation from the tedious lifestyle. It is a way to express your happiness and allow others to enjoy the beautiful colors and designs made.

REFERENCES AND FURTHER RECOMMENDED READING

Sankar, Gayatri (2011) “Significance of Rangoli.” http://zeenews.india.com/entertainment/diwali-2011/significance-of-rangoli_98667.html

Dhawan, Ashu (2015) “Why do we draw Rangoli? Significance & Importance!” Retrieved from http://hindutva.info/why-do-we-draw-rangoli-significance-importance/

Subramanian, Ram (2014) “Kolam: A Tradition Combining Art and Geometry to Form Colorful Patterns.” Retrieved from http://tamilnadu.com/arts/kolam.html

Ascher, Marcia (2002) “The Kolam Tradition: A Tradition of Figure-drawing in Southern India Expresses Mathematical Ideas and Has Attracted the Attention of Computer Science.” American Scientist 90, no.1: 56-63.

http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.uleth.ca/stable/27857597?Search=yes&resultItemClick=true&searchText=kolam&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3Fwc%3Doff%26Query%3Dkolam%2B%26acc%3Don%26so%3Drel%26hp%3D25%26prq%3Dkolam%2Btradition%26amp%3D%26amp%3D%26amp%3D%26amp%3D%26amp%3D%26amp%3D%26fc%3Doff&seq=3#page_scan_tab_contents

Rao, Venkata V (2006) “What is the origin of Rangoli?” Retrieved from http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/What-is-the-origin-of-rangoli/articleshow/411395.cms

Hopkins, Dwight N (2001) Religions/Globalizations: Theories and Cases. Durham and London Duke University Press

Related Topics for Further Investigation

Rangoli

Pulli kolam

Line kolam

Margazhi

Ramayana

Lord Thirumal

Pongal kolam

Diwali

Snake kolam

Haldi

Vermillion

Goddess Lakshmi

Symmetry

This article was written by: Preet Parmar (Spring 2017), who is entirely responsible for this content. ab

Vrindavan (Vrndavana)

India is a country with a varied and rich mythology. Vrindavan (aka Vrndavana) is located in Northern India around fifteen kilometres from Mathura and is considered to be one of the seven holiest cities for Hindus (Haberman, 272). The city features many sacred land and water features such as the Yamuna River, sacred groves (vanas), ponds (kundas) and ghats (holy steps leading down to a river) (Luthy, 4). It is also referred to as Vrindavan or Vrindivana city. The name Vrindavan is derived from ‘Vrinda’ which is another name for the sacred tulsi (i.e. basil) plant. It is one of the most holy cities within the Hindu tradition and is commonly known as the “The City of Temples” with allegedly five thousand in total.

Major religious routes within the forests of Vrindavan were first established in the sixteenth century based on the Sanksrit text Vraj Bhakti Vilasa written by Narayan Bhatt (Shah, 41). Bhatt is responsible for mapping out a large portion of the religious sites that are worshipped to this day. Bhatt more specifically mapped out the place-names found within the Puranas onto the physical terrain where these sites are found (Ghosh, 193) Pilgrimages are religious and cultural phenomena that are important features the Hindu religion. In the Hindu religion, a pilgrimage is referred to as a tirtha yatra and is a liminal process that establishes participation in the spiritual realm (Singh &Haigh, 783). A pilgrimage has been defined as a journey resulting from religious causes, externally to a holy site, and internally for spiritual purposes and internal understanding (Barber, 1). Today, pilgrimage is defined differently, as a traditional religious or modern secular journey (Collins-Kreiner, 440). For example, the Krsna Balrama Madir Temple, established in 1975 by His Divine Grace Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, has now become Vrindavan’s most popular temple and has one of the highest standards of deity worship and cleanliness. It has become one of the most popular temples and Hare Krsna devotees can be found here throughout the year (Jacobsen, 143).

Vrindavan is one of the most important places of pilgrimage for devotees of Krsna as the city is well-known as the forested region where the deity Krsna grew up as a humble cowherd (go-pala). The city itself is said to be where Krsna spent his childhood and many say that he still resides within the city itself.  It is located in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh. The area of Vrindavan is described in the Puranas as the childhood home of the deity Krsna. This mythologized place was located geographically when the Bengali Saint Caitanya travelled there to rediscover Krsna’s childhood home where he then experienced visions of the deity in the uninhabited forest (jangala) which is now modern day Vrindavan (Ghosh, 194). Caitanya and his followers began to construct temples in the holy city that can still be found today. For example, the Madan Mohan Temple is the oldest temple in Vrndavan today and is closely associated with Caitanya.

Mathura (just outside of Vrindavan) is a little town and a major place of pilgrimage on the banks of the Yamuna River. It attracts about a half of a million pilgrims each year, especially during major festivals such as Krsna Janmastami, Holi, and Radhastami. These journeys are made to sacred places as an act of religious devotion (Nash, 101). Pilgrimage sites are places that people consider sacred and maintain their sanctity by visiting them regularly and relating them into their religious framework (Eck, 8). In India more than one hundred million people visit around two thousand major pilgrimage sites annually (Shinde, 449). During ritualized pilgrimages individuals travel to a sacred place and perform rituals considered necessary to appease the sacred object in that place. These ritual acts of worship acts by pilgrims (individual and collective) of worship and rituals are regarded as part of their normal their religious duties (Shinde, 450). Pilgrimages are crucial in the Hindu religion in order for an individual to engage all of the senses when to experiencing the sacred sites Vrindavan has to offer. The believer “sees” the sacred sights (temples, churches, relics, icons, monuments), he/she “hears” the sacred sounds (church and temple bells, drum beats, chanting, singing, the call to prayer), “touches” the sacred artifacts (icons, deities, texts), “eats” special food (such as consecrated food); and “smells” specific aromas (incense, fresh flowers) (Eck, 9). All of these experiences vary depending on the individual’s participation in the religious culture developed around the pilgrimage site itself (Shinde, 451).

Although there are thousands of temples erected within Vrindavan there are a few that stand out. Since the establishment in the fifteenth century, Vrindavan has continued to be a center for devotional pilgrimages dedicated to the deity Krsna. Vrindavan is a place for pilgrims to visit Krsna temples, participate in worship and rituals, listen to narration of stories from the religious epics of Krsna, and perform poetry, art, dance, song, and drama dedicated to Krsna’s glory (Shinde, 452). For example, these everyday rituals involve dressing the idol in finery and darshan, communal singing of hymns, and food offerings to the deity depending on the temple of worship. Today you can find a live video stream of the Sri Sri Krsna Balarama Mandir which has now become one of the most popular and visited temples in the world.

Vrindavan is also a major site for Vaisnava groups. For example, widows (mostly from Bengal) have been congregating in Vrindavan for years to live out the rest of their lives. In India, social mores inhibit women from remarrying and they are shunned because they are viewed as inauspicious. Nilakantha Braja (The Blue-necked God) written by Assamese writer Indira Goswami highlights the plights of the widows who reside in the sacred city by depicting the despicable and undignified life and death experiences of these women. Known as the Radheyshamis (widows who sing devotional songs in temples for a pittance) these widows sing bhajans (hymns) in order to accumulate money to survive (Bhushan, 138). Whether young or old, widowed women leave behind their colorful saris, jewelry, and even shave their heads if they are part of the more conservative Hindu traditions (Jamadar, Melkeri, & Holkar, 57). Although these women are not forced to die in ritual sati (burning themselves on their husband’s funeral pyre) they are still expected to mourn until their own deaths. Therefore, these women find refuge in Vrindavan where they lead miserable lives surviving by begging and singing hymns in praise of Gods (Pande, 209).

Today, the city of Vrindavan has become more of a tourist attraction than a pilgrimage site. Pilgrimages, themselves, are being transformed into mere sightseeing tours and can now be more accurately labeled as ‘religious tourism’ (Shinde, 184). Annually, Vrindavan receives more than six million visitors, who are no longer visiting strictly for religious reasons (Shinde, 448). Places that were once Hindu holy sites may be accessed with a simple search on Google where the best flight deals and top places to visit are a click away. However, some temples remain constant to modern Hindus such as the Banke-Bihari Temple which is considered to be the most popular shrine and is associated with Swami Haridas and Nimbarka. Another is Nidhi Van Temple where Krsna and Radha are said to come out after midnight and indulge in raas-leela (dance found in the Puranas) and then rest in the Rang Mahal Temple which is decorated daily for the two deities.

In conclusion, Vrindavan is gaining popularity due to its numerous temples. Construction and development are ongoing which includes temples, guest houses, and apartments. Simply wandering around Vrindavan allows one to see the vast beauty of the holy city and share vicariously in the myths of Krsna.

 

REFERENCES AND FURTHER RECOMMENDED READINGS

Barber, R. (1993) Pilgrimages. London: The Boydell Press.

Bhushan, Ravi. (2014) “Estranged Identity: The Problem of Hindu Widows in Indira Goswami’s Nilakantha Braja.” Labyrinth: An International Refereed Journal of Postmodern Studies 5 #2:138-141.

Collins-Kreiner, N. (2010) “Researching pilgrimage: Continuity and transformations.” Annals of tourism research, 37(2): 440-456.

Eck, D. L. (1981) “Darsan: Seeing the divine image in India.” Chambersberg, PA: Anima Books: 8-9.

Ghosh, P. (2002) “Tales, tanks, and temples:the creation of a sacred center in seventeenth-century Bengal,” Asian Folklore, 61 #2:193-222.

Haberman, D. (1994) Journey through the Twelve Forests: An encounter with Krsna. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Luthy, T. (2016) “Few people know that Krishna was the first environmentalist”. Political Ecology of Tourism: Community, power and the environment.

Jacobsen, K. A. (2015) “Book review: Modern Hindu Personalism: The History, Life, and Thought of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, written by Ferdinando Sardella.” Numen, 62(1): 143-146.

Jamadar, C., Melkeri, S. P., & Holkar, A. (2015) “Quality of Life among Widows”. #1: 57-68.

Mostafanezhad, M., Norum, R., Shelton, E. J., & Thompson-Carr, A. (2016) “Political Ecology of Tourism: Community, Power and the Environment”. Routledge: #2.

Pande, Rekha (2015) “Widows Of Vrindavan-Feminisation Of Old Age In India.” Pakistan Journal of Gender Studies Vol. 10: 209-223.

Shah, B. (2006) “The Pilgrimage of the Groves: Reconstructing the Meaning of a Sixteenth-Century Hindu Landscape”. Arnoldia: 39-41.

Shinde, K. A. (2015) “Religious tourism and religious tolerance: insights from pilgrimage sites in India.” Tourism Review, 70(3): 179-196.

Shinde, K. A. (2011) ““This is a religious environment”: Sacred space, environmental discourse, and environmental behavior at a Hindu pilgrimage site in India””. Space and Culture. 14: 448-463.

Shinde, K. A. (2008) “The environment of pilgrimage in the sacred site of Vrindavan, India.” PhD diss., Monash University: 449-451.

Shinde, K. A. (2007) “Case study 6: Visiting sacred sites in India: Religious tourism or pilgrimage.” Religious tourism and pilgrimage festivals management: An international perspective: 184-197.

Singh, R. P., & Haigh, M. J. (2015) “Hindu Pilgrimages: The Contemporary Scene.” The Changing World Religion Map: 783-801

 

Related Topics for Further Investigation

Banke-Bihari Temple

Bhagauata Purana

bhahjans

Chaintanya

dham

ghats

go-pala

Hare Krsna

Holi

jangala

Janmashtami

kundas

Krsna Balrama Madir Temple

Madan Mohan Temple

Mathura

Nimbarka

Nidhi Van

Nilakantha Braya

raas-leela

Radhahtami

Radheyshamis

Rang Mahal

sati

Sri Sri Krsna Balarama Madir Temple

Swami Haridas

tirtha yatra

tulsi

vaisnava

vanas

Vraj Bhakti Vilasa

Yamuna River

 

Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic

http://www.vrindavan-dham.com/vrindavana/ (Sri Vrindavan Dham, 2016).

http://daily.bhaskar.com/news/JM-a-secretive-place-in-vrindavan-where-radha-krishna-indulge-in-raas-leela-every-n-4874572-PHO.html?seq=5 (Daily Bhaskar, 2016).

http://hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/concepts/mathura.asp (Hindu Website, 2016).

http://www.stephen-knapp.com/vrindavana_the_holy_land_of_lord_krishna.htm (Vrindavana: The Holy Land of Lord Krsna, 2009).

http://www.krishna.com/vrindavan (Krishna.com, 2016).

 

Article written by: Lindsay Tymchyna (April 2016) who is solely responsible for its content.

 

 

 

 

 

Pattadakal Temples

In the Indian state of Karnataka lies the sacred village of Pattadakal, or Kisuvolal as it used to be called, and its 10 temples, constructed from the 6th to the 9th century. Pattadakal was once the place of anointment for the early Chalukya kings of Badami, and it served as their secondary capital. The Malaprabha river flows north near the old city (Annigeri 2). The people of India believe that rivers that flow north are sacred due to the fact that they are rare as most rivers in India flow to the east or the west. The surrounding mountains provided an abundant amount of sandstone to build the temples, and there are several lingas around the village that give a sense that it used to be a large place for Siva worship. Pattadakal is a marvellous masterpiece where the architectural styles of North and South India are blended (Annigeri 6). The influence between the mixing of the northern and southern styles resulted in a different adaptation of ideas. Unfortunately, tracing the development of the northern style is quite difficult as a large quantity of Nagara style temples were destroyed during periods of warfare. They are still distinguished by the tall, convex shape of the tower above the hall of the temples (Dallapiccola 1) . Architects such as Gunda and Revadi Ovajja graced Pattadakal with the construction of temples and sculptors such as Chengamma, Pullappan and Deva-arya decorated the temples with their magnificent sculptures (Annigeri 6).

The biggest of the temples at Pattadakal is the Virupaksha Temple (formerly known as Lokesvara). It was constructed between 733 and 745 CE by queen Lokamahadevi to celebrate the three victories of her husband and early Chalukya ruler, Vikramaditya II, over his rival, the Pallavas of Kanchipuram (Kadambi 266). Along with commemorating his victories, the temple also shows a sense of rajadharma (duties and obligations of a king) and moksadharma (liberation of the soul). The Virupaksha temple was modelled after the Kailasanatha temple (formerly known as the Rajasimhesvara temple) at Kanchi, the town that the king had just conquered. The Virupaksha temple was built by the architect Gunda along with others, such as Sarvasiddhi Achari and Baladeva in a Dravidian (South) style of architecture. The Virupaksha Temple has a nandi mantapa (open pavilion with roof) which Cummings argues is a shrine to the queen (as stated in Kadambi 267). Inside this pavilion resides a sculpture of Nandi (bull) in black stone (Annigeri 14). Her assumptions are proven by the two royal portraits on the temple. One of Lokamahadevi, which shows her standing on a lion throne while holding an elephant-staff in her left hand. The other picture is of the other wife of the king, Trailokyamahadevi. Coincidentally, these two queens were also sisters (Kadambi 267). The pillars of the great hall are covered in episodes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavata (Annigeri 15). On the outer wall to the south, there are sculptures of Ravana killing Jatayu and Siva seated in Kailasa. On the north porch, there is an eight-armed Siva who is dancing on the demon Apasmarapurusha (Annigeri 20). Covering the rest of the outer walls are sculptures of Siva, Lakulisa, Nataraja, Lingodbhavamurti, Visnu with a conch and fruit, and more (Annigeri 20). On the ceiling of the eastern porch you can see the god Surya standing in a horse-drawn chariot, with seven horses and a lotus flower in each hand (Annigeri 15). In the shrine is the linga of Virupaksha that was worshipped (Annigeri 18).

Almost simultaneously, the Mallikarjuna temple (formerly known as Trailokesvara) was built in around 740 CE by his younger queen Trailokyamahadevi, who was also the sister of the main queen (Annigeri 25).  It was built to celebrate the victories against Kanchi, just like her sister’s temple. The two temples are very close in architecture and some of the sculptures are in identical locations on the temple (Annigeri 25). There are two Saiva Dvaraplas at the entrance to the hall and  an image of Visnu riding Garuda is on the door frame. Even with the depiction of Visnu, it can still be concluded that the temple is dedicated to Siva (Annigeri 26). The stories that are told along the walls are that of the domestic life, clothing and religious practices of the early Chalukyan era. The great victories of Krsna are depicted along the pillars of the great hall. These include Krsna holding up a mountain, killing the demons Kesi, who was in the form of a horse, and killing Kharasura who was in the disguise as a donkey (Annigeri 28). In the shrine lies a linga with a large lotus flower carved in the wall over the linga, and sculptures of Siva and Parvati all over the ceiling of the shrine (Annigeri 30).

The temple of Sangamesvara (originally known as Vijayesvara) was built by King Vijayaditya to praise the god Vijayesvara (Siva) (Annigeri 34).  There is no date on the inscription but since the King Vijayaditya reigned from 696-733 CE, we can assume it was built during that time period (Bolar 38). On the pillars in the hall are several inscriptions relating to the building of the temple. The first one speaks of how “peggade-Poleyachchi of Mahadevigeri gave 51 gadyanas for the making of this pillar” (Bolar 38). The second one explains that the pillar was donated by an individual named “Vidyasiva” (Bolar 38). The third pillar  tells how “a courtesan of this temple named Chalabbe, donated 3 pillars to the temple” (Bolar 38). The fourth pillar says that Motibodamma donated two pillars sculpted by the sculptor Paka (Bolar 38). There is an inscribed slab standing in the hall belonging to King Kirtivarma II of the Calukyas of Badami dated 754 CE which states that Jnanasivacarya granted land as a provision “for the studies of those who attend the rites of the god” (Bolar 101). The architecture of the temple is quite plain and does not have any of the great sculptures on its walls. There are big sculptures of Visnu, Varaha, Siva with Nandi and Gajasurantaka on the outside of the walls that were never finished due to some unforeseen reason (Annigeri 34). What the temple lacks in design, it makes up for in size as it has three shrines, a walkway around the main shrine and the great hall. What was once worshiped in the shrine is now a broken linga (Annigeri 34).

The Kasivisvesvara Temple was built in the Nagara (northern) style of architecture using sand-stone blocks in the 8th century CE (Annigeri 31). Interestingly enough, there happens to be miniature temples sculpted into the outer wall in a Dravidian or South Indian style of architecture in an attempt to combine the two types of work (Annigeri 32). The temple is divided into two different parts, the hall or mantapa, and the shrine and the ante-chamber or sukanasi. In the shrine there is a black stone linga in the centre (Annigeri 32). On the ceiling of the mantapa is depicted Siva, Parvati with a child in her arms, Nandi, four hybrid creatures, swans and dwarfish garland carriers (Annigeri 33). On the pillars, many stories from the Bhagavata and Sivapuranas are told. One of these such stories is the wedding scene of Siva and Parvati, where other gods have attended (Annigeri 33).

To the left and a few yards away, lies the Galaganatha Temple with its very tall structure. Having been built in the North Indian style (Nagara) in the 8th century CE, it is quite different from the Virupaksha, Mallikarjuna and Sangamesvara which are all built in the South Indian style (Dravidian) (Annigeri 37). In the shrine is a linga in black stone and a sculpture of Nataraja on the door. With age, the wall to the south has been destroyed, but it was possible to conclude their method of constructing walls, which was to lay them on each other without any cementing agent (Annigeri 38). Perhaps the most beautiful thing about this temple is the sculpture of Siva as Andhakasura. The sculpture has eight hands, one with a sword, one with a trident in the body of a demon, one with a shield, and another with a trident, and the rest placed in different poses (Annigeri 39).

The Jambulinga Temple is very small now and has no ceiling. There was once a bigger hall, but it is now in ruins. There once was sculpture of Siva and Visnu, but time has worn them down. It seems to have been built around the same time as the Galaganatha Temple (Annigeri 39).

The Chandrasekhara Temple is quite plain and has been dated to around 750 CE (Annigeri 37). It has a preserved Dvarapalas on the side of the door with a visible trident-like decoration behind his head.

The Kadasiddhesvara Temple has seen better days. It is almost impossible to determine to which god or goddess the temple was dedicated. The only evidence we have is Harihara with four hands carrying an axe, a conch and cloth on the outer wall and, an image of Siva with a serpent and a trident and Parvati and Nandi on the door frame (Annigeri 40). Again, the hall has no roof and there is a Dvarapala who stands on both sides of the door. The other gods depicted around the temple are Brahma, Visnu, Ganga, Yamuna and Ardhanarisvara (Annigeri 40).

The temple of Papanatha is situated only a few yards from the river Malaprabha. It is accepted that it was constructed at around 680 CE (Annigeri 41). This temple does not reflect the advanced architecture of the Virupaksha temple and has very weird proportions. The temple is 90ft. in length but has a very short vertical structure. The improper spacing in the temple has convinced scholars that the temple was built in the early stages of the art of temple building. Contrary to that, the inscription states that the same sculptors that worked on the Virupaksha temple worked on Papanatha, so we are led to believe that the temple could not have been built more than 30-40 years before Virupaksha (Annigeri 41). The temple was not originally dedicated to Siva this time, but dedicated to Visnu or Surya. Scholars have come to his conclusion because there is a image of Surya on the west outer wall, and the image of Nandi was placed in the hall at a later date, after the temple was constructed. But there are some scholars who say that the temple was still dedicated to Siva from the start (Annigeri 42). Even though the temple is one of the oldest, it is still decorated with images of couples and gods and stories of the ages.

The Old Jain Temple, built in the 9th century CE, consists of a second shrine on top of the main shrine that houses two Jaina sculptures. The temple is very simple with a few exceptions like the makaratorana on the doorframe of the shrine door (Annigeri 47). There is a single inscription on a pillar that tells the story of how Jnanasivacharya came from his home in the north of India to live in the Sangamesvara temple. This illustrates the religious ties between North India and Karnataka during the period of the Calukyas of Badami (Annigeri 48).

The temples at Pattadakal, depict a wide assortment of deities in the Hindu pantheon. The site at Pattadakal shows a great amount of history in its walls and tells a great story that has been solidified with the hard work of the architects and sculptors that made the temples possible. The combination of the Dravidian and the Nagara style of architecture is distinctive. Present generations can view the style advancements in temple building as they developed from the oldest temple to the newest. In 1987, Pattadakal was included in the list of World Heritage Sites. Today, for a small entrance fee, an individual can enter the grounds of the temples to look around or to give worship to the deities. The temples have become a very popular tourist destination.

 

References

Annigeri, A. (1961) A Guide to the Pattadakal Temples. Dharwad: Kannada Research Institute.

Bolar, Varija (2010) Temples of Karnataka: An Epigraphical Study (from the earliest to 1050 A.D.). New Delhi: Roadworthy Publications (P) Ltd.

Dallapiccola, Anna (2002) Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend. London: Thames & Hudson.

Kadambi, Hemanth (2015) “Cathleen Cummings, “Decoding a Hindu Temple: Royalty and Religion in the Iconographic Program of the Virupaksha Temple”, Pattadakal”. South Asian Studies, Vol. 31, No.2: 266-268.

 

Related Topics for Further Investigation

The caves of Badami

Temples of Aihole

The Calukyas of Badami

Temples at Mahakuta

 

Websites Related to the Temples of Pattadakal

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/pattadakal.html 

http://portal.unesco.org/geography/en/files/10641/12282854465ASI_Dharwad.pdf/ASI%2BDharwad.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pattadakal

 

Article written by: Rebecca Scott (February 2016) who is solely responsible for its content.