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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

1) Lankayam Shankari devi

Shankari Devi in the new Temple

1) Lankayam Shankari Devi:The temple of Shankari Devi supposed to be in Sri Lanka at Trimkomali. At present there is no temple availble at this place and it is said that the temple was destroyed by Portugese people between 16th to 17th century. My friend who was posted from air force in Sri Lanka has confirmed the same.
The following report on the visit of Sri Sachidhananda Swamiji to Sri Lanka in search of Sri Shankari Devi Temple confirms the above statement.
Report on SRI SWAMIJI visit to  SRI LANKAfrom 2nd to 5th May 2005
Parama Pujya Sri Swamiji decided on to go to Sri Lanka to visit the famed SHANKARI Temple, one of the 18 Devi Temples (Ashta Dasha Shakti Peethas). Sri Swamiji flew Bangalore - Colombo on 2nd May 2005 morning.
Many have heard the Ashtadasha Shakti Peetha Shloka starting with LANKAAYAAM SHAANKARI DEVI........... - composed by Sri Adi Shankara which means Shankari in Lanka.This Shloka enumerates the list of places of Devi temples which are considered to be part of the 18 Devi Peethas.
But almost nobody we contacted in Sri Lanka knew of any famous Devi Temple in the country. Even on Internet, not much authentic information was available. Sri Swamiji opined that the temple should be in the famed town of Trincomalee on the eastern coast. With that hope we left India.
In Colombo Dr. Sudarshan Kumari and Dr. Kumar received Sri Swamiji at the airport.
Sri Harshith Dharma Dasa of Nawaloka group came for Darshan and welcomed Sri Swamiji to Sri Lanka. In the evening, Sri Swamiji visited the home of Smt. Dr. Sudarshan Kumari and a Buddhist temple situated on a lotus pond. On 3rd May (Tuesday), Sri Swamiji traveled from West Coast of Sri Lanka (Colombo) thru the centre of the island nation to the east coast town of Trincomalee, the journey which took eight hours. All along we listened to the the audio CD SHAANKARI and the song LANKA SHAANKARI PAALAYAMAAM in particular. Crossing the entire mid section of a country in just 8 hours - from west coast to east coast is amazing.
Later that evening, the temple of Sri Shankari Devi was inquired and visited that place. As per the priest's account, the Portuguese who invaded the island in the 17th century completely cannon balled from their ship and demolished the cliff top Devi temple. In its site stands a lone pillar, as a mute spectator.

 I have observed that many travels are announcing visits to Sri Lanka including the Shankari Devi Shakti peetha which may not be correct.

shankari devi image by an artist
Body part : Devi's Groin has fallen here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

18) Kashmiretu Saraswati

Saraswathi devi temple in POK

Goddess Sarswathi
 18) Kashmire tu Saraswati : The Sharda Temple is located in Kishanganga Valley just across the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) in a small village called Shardi at the confluence of River Kishanganga and River Jhelum which flows from Kashmir.
In 1948, during raids by Pakistani tribal raiders, the village fell into Pakistani hands.
A famous learning centre of Kashmiris, it is identified by noted historians and chroniclers including Al Beruni (1130 ad) and M A Stein, who visited the temple in 1892, (in Rajtarangini) as one of the most important temples of the Hindus equivalent to the Shiva Lingam of Somnath, Vishnu of Thaneshwar and Surya of Multan.
Abul Fazl in Ain-i-Akbari (16th century) says that on every eighth day of the month at the time of full moon, the temple "shakes and produces the most extraordinary effect." He however does not explain the "extraordinary effect."
The temple is so vital to Kashmiris that Kashmiri language has the script of Sharda, which is little similar to Devanagari.
Kalhana in Rajatarangini has said, devotees of Durga and Shiva from all over the country would flock to the temple of Sharda which can be approached from Bandipur in North Kashmir, about 80 km from Srinagar.
Through centuries the temple had remained the object of worship and devotion of lakhs of pilgrims from all over the country. Though in ruins now, the entire temple complex inspires grandeur and awe.
The temple had a massive library attached to it which had priceless works on art, science, literature, architecture, music, humanities, medicine, astrology, astronomy, philosophy, law and jurisprudence and sanskrit etc. The library was used by scholars from even neighbouring countries.
Kashmir was also called "Shardapeeth" (the base of Sharda), the name being derived from the temple.

Body part : Devi's right hand has fallen here.

17) Varanasyam Vishalakshi

17) Varanasyam Vishalakshi : It is most famous jyotirlinga out of 12(14). It is well connected by train from New Delhi, Kolkatta, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and other major cities. The deity is known as Lord Kasi Visweswar and goddess is known as Kasi Visalakshi. You can do abisheka yourself .Original temple was destroyed many times and finally by Auranagazeb and rebuilt byMaharani Ahilya Bai in 1776.
Stay: Many dharmasalas and hotels are available
Places of interest: The new Viswanath temple in the university complex
Body part : Devi's wrist has fallen here.

16) Gaya Mangalya Gourika

Sarva Mangala Gouri
MangalaGouri Temple,Gaya

16) Gaya Mangalya gourika : The Mangalagauri temple in Gaya (Bihar) has been mentioned in Padma Purana, Vayu Purana and Agni Purana and in other scriptures and tantric works. The present temple dates back to 1459 AD. The shrine is dedicated to Shakti or the mother Goddess in the predominantly Vaishnavite pilgrimage center of Gaya. Mangalagauri is worshiped as the Goddess of benevolence. This temple constitutes an Upa-Shakti Pitha - where it is believed that a part of the body of Shakti fell - according to mythology. Here Shakti is worshiped in the form of a breast symbol, a symbol of nourishment.The temple is facing east, and is built on top of the Mangalagauri hill. A flight of steps and a motorable road lead to the temple. The sanctum houses the symbol of the Goddess and it also has some finely carved ancient relief sculptures. A small hall or mandap stands in front of the temple. The courtyard also houses a fire pit for the home. There are also two minor shrines dedicated to Shiva and images of Mahishasura MardiniGaya is one of the most famous spiritual destinations in India. Gaya is located in Bihar and stands on the bank of Falgu River. Gaya in India is held holy and pious by both Hindu and Buddhists. The narrow by lanes with age old buildings, beautiful natural surroundings with rocky hills on the three sides and river flowing by the city on the western side makes the city look beautiful and elates the spiritual atmosphere of the place.
The city derived its name from the demon, Gayasur who is said to have resided in this area. It is said that Lord Vishnu killed the demon by crushing him under his feet. On his being crushed, the demon got transformed into numerous rocky hills that form the topography of the city today. Then the deities decided to sit over the dead demon and that is the reason why one can find numerous temples over these surrounding rocky hills. It is said that any one who touched him or looked at him were fred of all sins. Mangla Gauri, Rama Shila, Brahmayoni and Shringa Sthan are the places where one can find temples on the hill tops and which comprise of the pilgrimage circuit of the city.
The Mangla Gauri shrine in Gaya, one of the most holy sites has two rounded stones which symbolizes the breasts of the Goddess Sati, who is regarded as the first wife of Lord Shiva.
Vishnupad Temple is marked by a footprint of Vishnu. This footprint is the significance of the act of Lord Vishnu crushing Gayasur under his foot. The temple that stands today was rebuilt by Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar in the 18th century. As per the Buddhist tradition and culture, this footstep mark is regarded that of Lord Buddha who is said to be the avatar of Vishnu.
The temples and the Ghats that are present by the River Falgu are also of great spiritual significance. Some trees are also held sacred by the Hindus and in Gaya one would find Pipal trees, Akshayavat and the undying Banyan which are also offered prayers and offerings in huge numbers by the pilgrims coming into the city.
Gaya is held as an important spiritual center by Hindus as a site which offers salvation to the souls. Buddhists hold Gaya as an important pilgrimage center because of the presence of the Brahmayoni or the Gayasia hill where Buddha preached the Fire Sermon or the Adittapariyaya Sutta.
Body part : Devi's breast part has fallen here.

15) Jwalayam Vaishnavi Devi

15) Jwalayam Vaishnavi devi : Jwalamukhi temple is in Himachal Pradesh at Kangra
Other Deities at Kangra are Mahakali, Unpurna, Chandi, Hinglaj, Bindhya Basni, Maha Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ambika and Anji Devi.
Ancient legends speak of a time when demons lorded over the Himalaya mountains and harassed the gods. Led by Lord Vishnu, the gods decided to destroy them. They focused their strengths and huge flames rose from the ground. From that fire, a young girl took birth. She is regarded as Adishakti-the first 'shakti'.
There is a copper pipe in this temple through which natural gas comes out and the priest of the temple lights this.

Body part : Devi's head part has fallen here.

14) Prayage Madhaveshwari

artist imagination of sri Madhaveshwari
Alopi Devi , Prayaga

 14) Prayage Madhaveshwari : It is in Prayag (Allahabad) in Uttar Pradesh. The temple here it is called as MATAJI ka temple (or LALITA ) by the locals.Some people call as Alopi  Devi. In this temple no Idol is there and only wooden carraige is worshipped. You can go by auto or riksha from the rail way station. Ananda bhavan and Hanuman temple are the othere place of interest. Since this temple is little away from the main road, you have to sepcify for this particualrly as it is not very famous. Evening at 7 pm every day Harati is performed. Locals are not calling the devi as Madhaveshwari.
Body part : Devi's fingers have fallen here.

13) Hari kshetre Kamarupi

Kamakhya Devi

                                                                 Kamakhya temple
13) Hari kshetre Kama rupi : This shakti peetha is in Assam near Gauhati. The deity is called Kmamkhya Devi. This temple is not having any deity for worship like Mangala Gowri and Madhaveswari temples. This temple consists of three major chambers. The western chamber is large and rectangular and is not used by the general pilgrims for worship. The middle chamber is a square, with a small idol of the Goddess, a later addition. The walls of this chamber contain sculpted images of Naranarayana, related inscriptions and other gods. The middle chamber leads to the sanctum sanctorum of the temple in the form of a cave, which consists of no image but a natural underground spring that flows through a yoni-shaped cleft in the bedrock. During the Ambuvaci festival each summer,the menstruation of the Goddess Kamakhya is celebrated. During this time, the water in the main shrine runs red with iron oxide resembling menstrual fluid. The cloth which is covered the yoni during this time is sold in pieces at premium and it is believed that if you keep this piece in the house it is very good.
It is likely that this is an ancient Khasi sacrificial site, and worshiping here still includes sacrifices. Devotees come every morning with goats to offer to Shakti.
The Kalika Purana, an ancient work in Sanskrit describes Kamakhya as the yielder of all desires, the young bride of Shiva, and the giver of salvation.Shakti is known as Kamakhya.

The Kamakhya Temple in Assam symbolizes the "fusion of faiths and practices" of Aryan and non-Aryan elements in Assam. The different names associated with the goddess are names of local Aryan and non-Aryan goddesses (Kakati 1989, p38).The yogini tantra mentions that the religion of the Yogini Pitha is of Kirata origin.According to Banikanta Kakati, there existed a tradition among the priests established by Naranarayana that the Garos, a matrilineal people, offered worship at the Kamakhya site by sacrificing pigs (Kakati 1989, p37).
The goddess is worshiped according to both the Vamachara (left hand path) as well as the Dakshinachara (right hand path) modes of worship (Kakati, 1989 p45). Offerings to the goddess are usually flowers, but might include animal sacrifices. In general female animals are exempt from sacrifice, a rule that is relaxed during mass sacrifices (Kakati 1989, p65).

According to the Kalika purana, Kamakhya Temple denotes the spot where Sati used to retire in secret to satisfy her amour with Shiva. According to a legend the Koch Bihar royal family was banned by Devi herself from offering puja at the temple. In fear of this curse, to this day no descendants of that family dares to even look upward towards the Kamakhya hill while passing by. Without the support of the Koch royal family the temple faced lot of hardship. By the end of 1658, the Ahoms under king Jayadhvaj Singha had conquered the Lower Assam and their interests in the temple grew. In the decades that followed the Ahom kings, all who were either devout Shaivite or Shakta continued to support the temple by rebuilding and renovating it.
Rudra Singha (reign 1696 to 1714) was a devout Hindu and as he grew older he decided to formally embrace the religion and become an orthodox Hindu by being initiated or taking sharan of a Guru, who would teach him the mantras and become his spiritual guide. But, he could not bear the thought of humbling himself in front a Brahmin who is his subject. He therefore sent envoys to Bengal and summoned Krishnaram Bhattacharyya, a famous mahant of Shakta sect who lived in Malipota, near Santipur in Nadia district. The mahant was unwilling to come, but consented on being promised to be given the care of the Kamakhya temple to him. Though the king did not take sharan, he satisfied the mahant by ordering his sons and the Brahmins in his entourage to accept him as their spiritual guru.
When Rudra Singha died, his eldest son Siba Singha (reign 1714 to 1744), who became the king, gave the management of the Kamakhya temple and along with it large areas of land (Debottar land) to Mahant Krishnaram Bhattacharyya. The Mahant and his successors came to be known as Parbatiya Gosains, as they resided on top of the Nilachal hill. Many Kamakhya priests and modern Saktas of Assam are either disciples or descendants of the Parbatiya Gosains, or of the Nati and Na Gosains. Being the centre for Tantra worship this temple attracts thousands of tantra devotees in an annual festival known as the Ambuvaci. Another annual celebration is the Manasha Puja. Durga Puja is also celebrated annually at Kamakhya during Navaratri in the autumn. This five day festival attracts several thousand visitors.

Body part : Devi's Vulva (yoni) has fallen here.