Saturday, 15 October 2011

Kamakhya Temple, Varanasi

The most famous among the goddess pithas (“benches”) in India is Kamakhya Devi whose temple is at the Kamaksha suburb of Guwahati city in Assam (northeast India). She is represented in Kashi in the neighbourhood named after her, Kamachha. Here she resides in a temple, which is small but very popular among the local dwellers. Devotees believe that the goddess came to Kashi directly from Kamaksha at the request of one of her devotees from Kashi who by his arduous austerity and rituals persuaded the goddess to come and settle in Kashi. Her image is installed over an altar of Shri Yantra. She is eulogised as one of the Shaktis (” great power”), and as one of the Yoginis. Among the devotees who are followers of Tantrism, Kamaksha Devi is the pre-eminent deity. During nine-nights of the waxing fortnight of Ashvina (September-October), special decorations and celebrations are performed by the devotees.

In the Kamaksha Devi temple is the image of her partner Krodhana Bhairava (“the angry Bhairava”), representing one among the eight forms of Bhairava, the terrifying form of Shiva, who protects the inner city in all the eight directions. Nearby is another form of Bhairava, called Batuka (“boy”). In the veranda of the Batuka Bhairava temple is the image of Ghrishaneshvara linga, representing one among the 12 Jyotira lingas of Shiva.

A little walk to the further west along the main lane is Vaidyanatha (“Lord of Physicians”), another among the 12 Jyotira lingas like the one mentioned above. Vaidyanatha, with many miracles to his credit, is very popular in the neighbourhood, which is named after him as Baijnattha. In this temple compound are the lingas of Kaholeshvara and Brahmapadeshvara.


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