Worship of Lord Brahma, Part 101
BY: SUN STAFF
Nov 17, CANADA (SUN) A serial exploration of places of Lord Brahma's worship.
Lord Brahma at Rajasthan
Today we complete our survey of Brahma temples in Rajasthan with a collection of sites about which relatively little is known. Our journey began in Rajasthan, at Lord Brahma's preeminent temple in Pushkar. We've also visited the Chinch Brahma Temple in Banswara district, and this week, the Eklingji and Vasantgarh temples. There are nine additional Brahma temples in Rajasthan that we've found historical and epigraphical references to. All of them are now in ruins.
Of these nine Rajasthani Brahma temple ruins, there are five that we have been able to discover very little about:
Bithu (Brahma and Savitri)
Of the remaining four Brahma temple sites, a little is known about them, primarily because other monuments nearby draw tourist traffic. They include the sites at:
No pictures of the Brahma deities that resided in these temples are available, nor is their whereabouts known, and few pictures of even the temple ruins are available. A few related pictures are shown below. In the future, someone might carry on with this historical expedition, and add to our knowledge about Brahmadeva's worship in these places.
13th century Vedesvara Temple, Bijolia
In the Bhilwara district of Rajasthan is the ancient fort city of Bijolia. Once known as Vindhyavali, it was a famous center for art and architecture during the Chauhan period, around 1226 A.D. On the eastern side of the town near the city wall there are three beautiful temples, including the 13th century Vedesvara Temple. There is also the Hajaresvara Mahadeva temple, and temples for Mahakala and Baijanath.
Like Lord Brahma's temple, a great many Shiva temples have also disappeared or gone to ruin here in Bijolia. In fact, more than a hundred temples here are known to have fallen to ruin.
Bijolia was once part of the Mewar kingdom, ruled by a Parmar chief. Near the close of the 12th century it passed on to the Chauhanas, and came under the rule of King Someshwar. While the Chauhanas were religiously inclined, they were also great patrons of art and architecture. Consequently, they supported the building of several Bijolia temples not only as places of worship, but as manifestations of the fine craftsmen they could engage. Some of the smaller shrines eventually developed into bigger, and more beautiful temples as congregations grew around them.
Mandkinni Kund, Bijolia
The Mandakini Kund was formed from the ancient Mandakini River, which ran amongst the temples.
Today there are still five Jain temples in Bijolia, built in the 11th century. Sanskrit inscriptions are found on their walls, along with beautiful engravings and sculptures. One inscription, known as the Shankh Puran, is 15 feet long and 5 feet wide, and is comprised of 52 lines in Sanskrit.
Six kilometers off the Ahemadabad Highway at Mount Abu, Sirohi, are the ruins of the Chandravati Temple. Situated close to the ruins of Vasantgarh and Varman Sun Temple, Chandravati was once home to a great Brahma temple.
Known today as Chandela, the ancient village of Chandravati was thriving during the 10th and 11th centuries under the rule of the Parmars, a Rajput clan. Chandravati was their capital, and was a center rich in architecture and the arts. In his book, Travel in Western India, British Colonel James Tod presented various photographs depicting Chandravati's past glories.
In 1824, Charles Colville and his party visited Chandravati, and reported that they'd found twenty marble edifices of different sizes. One of these, a temple to Lord Brahma, was described as being adorned with rich and finely executed sculptured figures and ornaments in high relief. Another scholar, Ferguson, described these pillars as being so highly ornamented in details and varieties that no two pillars were exactly alike. Today, 185 years after their surveys, the Brahma temple lies in complete ruin, and none of these architectural elements are left to be enjoyed.
When the British came and laid the railroad through here, the holes under the track were filled with local marble, because it was so readily available. Later, they loaded rail cars and transported great quantities of marble to Ahemadabad, Baroda and Surat, from where it undoubtedly went to build temples all over the region. In 1973, heavy flooding in the area unearthed many marble deities, sculptures and artifacts.
Although the Muslims repeatedly attacked and desecrated Chandravati, somehow more than 360 Jain temples managed to get built here. Temple ruins are scattered over a large area, from Vaisnava, Saivite and Jain monuments. At present, not a single one of Chandravati's ancient temples remains in reasonable condition. Many pieces of the old temples have been removed and used in temples far away.
Chandravati is also known from pastimes described in Vaisnava sastra, particularly in reference to it being the home of the great Mura demon. From his abode in Chandravati, he terrorized the world and ruled the demigods. This pastime is described in the Bhavisya-uttara Purana, in the description about Utpanna Ekadasi:
"Mura's great capital city is Chandravati. From that base the terribly evil and powerful Mura demon has conquered the whole world and brought all the demigods under his control, driving them out of their heavenly kingdom. He has assumed the roles of Indra, the king of heaven; Agni, the fire-god; Yama, the lord of death; Vayu, the wind-god; Isha, or Lord Shiva; Soma, the moon-god; Nairrti, the lord of the directions; and Pasi, or Varuna, the water-god. He has also begun emanating light in the role of the sun-god and has turned himself into the clouds as well. It is impossible for the demigods to defeat him. O Lord Vishnu, please kill tis demon and make the demigods victorious."
Hearing these words from Indra, Lord Janardana became very angry and said, "O powerful demigods, all together you may now advance on Mura's capital city of Chandravati." Encouraged thus, the assembled demigods proceeded to Chandravati with Lord Hari leading the way."
At the foot of a large hill near the town of Hathma, in Barmer district, is the ancient village of Kiradu. An inscription dated 1161 A.D. reveals that the place was once known as Kiratkoop, and was the capital of the Parmars, from the 11th to 13th centuries. Being under the Gujarti Chalukya's influence, the temple architecture was influenced by their style.
The are ruins of five ancient temples here at Kiradu, often described as being one Visnu temple and four Shiva temples. But in fact, one of these was the temple of Lord Brahma.
The biggest of these temples was the Someshwar Temple. Built in the 11th century, Someshvara was a great architectural edifice. Dedicated to Shiva, it had many turrets and beautiful sculpted deities of Shiva.
Kiradu is located 40 km northwest of the town of Barmer, in a rocky area with a natural amphitheater, which is often used today for music and cultural performances.
Sevadi, Jodphur, in the in Pali district of Rajasthan, is mentioned in several historical reports as having once been home to a Brahma temple. While little information has been unearthed about this shrine, there are indications that the temple being referred to may actually be the existing Jain basadi known as Shri Sevadi Tirth.
Lord Brahma's association with this temple is suggested by the fact that Saraswati Devi is residing there to this day. As we have described in past segments of this series, Brahmadeva has been co-opted into the Jain religion in various ways, one of which is in the form of Brahma Yakshas. These deity personalities are Jain adaptations of Lord Brahma, who has essentially been relegated to the role of a village or household deity.
At Sevadi Teerth, the presiding deity is Shri Shantinath Bhagwan. At the entrance of the shrine there are idols of 16 Vidya devis (goddesses of education), who may well be derivations of Saraswati's attendants. The deities of Yaksha (Brahmadeva), Kuvera and Gaja-lakshmi, who were installed on the gate of the main sanctuary, are now kept in an underground area of the temple.
The temple is thought to have been built around 1172 A.D. All the temple deities and murtis appear to belong to the 13th century. At one point, there were as many as 100 stepped wells in Sevadi. Today, a stepped well known as Jetal is still maintained, and is a very large and beautiful tank.
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