Ancient Mathas of Prachi Valley, Part Five

BY: SUN STAFF

Lord Siva plucking the 5th head of Lord Brahma


Mar 24, 2016 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of mathas located in the ancient Prachi Valley of Orissa, and the Deities worshipped there.


Arkatirtha Matha

Today we complete the survey of Prachi Valley maths, with two more sacred sites of interest to Gaudiya Vaisnavas. The first is Arkatirtha Matha at Bangali Sahi, Niali. The Arkatirtha matha [1] is situated on the left bank of the River Prachi in Bangali Sahi of Nuagaon, about 1.5 kilometer from Niali on SH. 60. In this matha an image of Vansidhari Krishna is being worshipped.

History of the Arka-Tirtha states that the Sun God had attained siddhi after performing penance at this place, and thus it is known as Arka-Tirtha. Another tradition associated with this locality is that once Lord Brahma, after issuing a false report about reaching the top of the flaming Lingam, made Shiva furious and the latter cut off the fifth head of Brahma. The forehead of Brahma struck to his palm, so he visited many holy and religious places as a part of repentance, but the forehead of Brahma could not be dropped.

At last he reached a hermitage on the bank of the River Prachi, at Arkatirtha. The ladies of the hermitage were attracted by Siva's personality and charm. When the sages of the hermitage came to know this, they cursed Shiva and made him an elephant. Parvati became worried after knowing all this and she came to the place in the guise of a milk woman. Every day, the ladies of the hermitage procured milk etc. from her. Once the sages became engrossed by her youth and beauty and asked her identity. She narrated the whole matter, at which the sages immediately cured Shiva from the curse and requested both Shiva and Parvati to make this place a holy one. Thereafter Shiva made this place sacred and ordered that whoever would practice penance here would become free of all his sins.[2]


Uttarayani Matha

The final matha on this tour is Uttarayani Matha at Pitapada. Uttarayani Matha resides in the village of Pitapada, in the Krushnaprasad Panchayat of Niali block in Cuttack district. The matha sits on the left bank of the River Prachi near the Karna-tirtha. It is about 60 km from the capital city Bhubaneswar, 4 km from Charichhaka, and it can be approached about 4 km southeast of Panimal Chowk on Niali-Madhava road (S.H. 60).

The matha is built overtop an earlier ruin, evidenced by the scattered brick fragments. The matha derived its name according to the deity, Uttarayani Thakurani, who faces to the north.

The matha has a modern east facing pancharatha pidha shrine with panchangabada and five-tier pidha roof. The presiding Deities here are Vanshidhari Krishna, Lord Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra and Sri Sri Radha Krishna in the sanctum. There is a Garuda pillar in the centre of the frontal R.C.C. mandapa.

Tradition has it that the sadhana pitha of Balaram Das, one of the panchasakha who was blessed by Uttarayani Thakurani here. Another tradition [3] is that River Prachi in this place was known as Anga-tirtha as well as Pitru-tirtha, where ritual rites pertaining to the pindodaka-kriya are performed. after taking dip in this sacred tirtha, devotees not only worship the image of Krishna in the Uttarayani Matha, but also the Angesvara Siva. The matha belongs to the Gauranga sect and is presently presided over by Mahanta Govinda Das.

Triveni Amabasya, Ashtaprahri during Holi, chandipatha on every Thursday, Janmastami, Radhastami, etc. are celebrated here. The matha is not protected by any agency but is managed by its own funding. Due to proper care and maintenance the matha is in a good state of preservation.


FOOTNOTES:

1. Ray, P.K. (ed.), 1975, Archaeological Survey Report 1974-75, Prachi Valley, Odisha State Archaeology, Bhubaneswar, p. 41.

2. ibid, pp.32-33

3. ibid, p.37


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