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The 81 Yoginis of Bhedhaghat

23 Mar

It would be impossible to tell the tale of Bhedaghat Yogini temple in one go. It is indeed impossible to tell the tale of the Bhedaghat temple. So here are some words and pictures that may begin the story.

Located high up on a plateau one climbs up many a steps to reach the temple it self. I needed to stop … for many reasons once I reached the top. I wanted to absorb as much as I could and look at all my feelings and sensations in slow motion. It was a unique moment. The time and thought invested in this moment was almost bordering on obsessive DSC00217

 The very narrow entrance to the the circular temple seemed symbolic of the womb. A quick look behind me towards the rest of the world 3033834999_ce4298c885_m… looks tiny and distant.

 

 

Armed with many lists of the yogini names from different sources I had hoped to put it all together with pictures. However, once I was there the lists went out of my mind .. in fact, everything but the awe inspiring sculptures went out of my mind. All I did was look at the yoginis through my eyes and the camera’s lens. All the co relating work would now be done at a later time…and it would and has given me an opportunity to spend more time with the Yoginis, and get to know them better both from with out and with in. Just as I got a helping hand at every step, may this be yet another step in some yogini’s journey.

Entering from the S E entrance… and moving clockwise. Some niches have sculptures brought from a different period

The numbering on the niches is haphazard. There was a moment or two when I felt swamped by the task I had taken up. At the end of it all my knees felt weak … maybe it was all the squatting to take the pictures or maybe it was some thing else altogether.

This Blog would be incomplete without a reference to an article by Kent Davis. http://www.devata.org/2010/03/chausath-yogini-temple-complete-inventory-of-goddesses-and-gods/

For all the information not here is definitely on this website.

The list on the above referred website is from an old document and the order is much different at the temple but has majority of the yoginis listed with description.

Another valuable resource for me is Vijaya Dahejia’s book YOGINI; Cult and Tradition – A Trantric Tradition. Her list is accurate, but she has listed only 64 names

 

Most sculptures at the temple have a plaque listing the name. I have tried to reconcile the three to make a more comprehensive list with a small description from kent Davis list where ever applicable.

Typical to the yogini lore… nothing is for sure. All conjectures are the liberties taken by me in the name of devotion …All suggestions and comments are welcome. The names listed at site are listed first on my list/names on either of the other lists

1. <Unknown>

2. Sri Simha simha / Sinha-sinha — This lion-headed goddess, with the lion headed-man on her pedestal, is probably intended for Narasinha, the sakti or female energy of the Narasinha avatara.

3. Sri Rupini /Rikshini — A crocodile is featured on the pedestal of this yogini. The value of the first letter is uncertain (see No. 27). The symbol of the crocodile seems to point to a river goddess; and Rikshini would be the name of the Narbada, which rises in the Riksha mountain. A female figure at Tewar, standing on a crocodile, is called Narbada mai, or “Mother Narbada.”

4. . Sri Kamda / Kamadi — The seated feminine form of Kamada, the fabulous cow of plenty that sprang from the Sea of Milk. Kamadi is therefore the goddess who grants all desires; her symbol of the yoni suggests that the desires are sexual. Two males are worshipping her.

5. Sri Ranajira — Seated goddess of the “battle field” symbolized with an elephant.

6. Sri Anitkari / Antakari — A seated goddess, with open mouth, ready to devour — must mean the “death-causer,” from anta, “end or death.” Antaka is a name of Yama, the god of death; the bull is also the vahana of Yama. It could also refer to Siva, who, as Pasupati, is also the god of death and destruction.

7. * Sri Satanu Sambara —Sambara refers to the Sambar deer, which is also seen on the pedestal of this seated goddess (conjectureon my part considering the description)

8. Sri Erudi – the horse faced yogini

9. Sri Nandini is the title of this seated goddess Parvati. The lion on the pedestal implies that Nadini, or “roarer” may be her true name.

10. Sri Vibhasta / Vibhasa — Either connected either with vibheshu, “terrible,” or with vibhitsu, “the piercer.” The skeleton and prostrate man on the pedestal suggest an appellation of Durga.

11. Sri Varahi — One of the saktis of Vishnu, as the Varaha Avatara. There is a boar on the pedestal, and this seated sakti goddess has a boar’s head.

12. Sri Mandodari­ — The name of this broken yogini means “slow-belly.” Sri Mandodari was also the name of the daughter of King Mayasura of the Danavas and the celestial dancer Hema. Mandodari was a pious woman who feared nothing but unrighteousness and lies. Her beauty and appeal led her to become the first, and favorite, wife of Ravana, the Lord of Lanka. On her pedestal two men worship her with folded hands.

13. Sri Sarvvato-mukhi — This goddess has 12 arms and 3 heads, with a head also between her breasts. The number of heads explain the name of “Facing everywhere.” Her pedestal displays the leaves of the lotus and six points of a double triangle which may allude to her name.

14. Sri Thira-chitta — Probably intended for Sthira-chitta, “the firm or steady minded.” This seated goddess shows a man praying with folded hands on her pedestal.

15. Sri Khemukhi — The long-beaked bird on the pedestal seems to refer to the name, which may perhaps be translated “voracious mouth”” from khed, to eat. Her statue is broken.

16. Sri Jambavi — The “bear goddess,” with a bear on her pedestal, evidently points to Jambavat, the fabulous king of the bears who was the father-in-law of Krishna. This statue probably had a bear’s head; but it is now broken.

17. * Name lost — This seated goddess is symbolized by “Nagni” (?).

18. Sri Audara / Auraga — The first letter is not certain, and the statue is broken. A naked man on the pedestal does not offer any more clues about this figure.

19. Name Lost – Standing or dancing figure

20. Sri Yamuna — This seated goddess is the river Jumna personified. The tortoise on the pedestal was her symbol.

21. Name lost – yogini in lotus pose

22. Name lost – Seems like a sculpture of s different time.. brought later

23. Sri Pamdavi / Paravi — Perhaps a mistake for Parvati, as the seated goddess has 10 arms, which point to Durga.

24. Sri Niladambara — Probably the same as Nilambara, a female demon. The garuda on this yogini’s pedestal established her connection with Vishnu.

25. Name lost – once again the style of sculpture is different

26. Sri Teramva / Teranta, or perhaps Techanta — This 20-armed seated goddess has a figure of Mahesasura on her pedestal, so her title must relate to a name of Durga, who is also called Mahishasuramardini (mardini = killer, fem.), the destroyer of Mahishasura.

27. Sri Sandini /Shandimi — Shanda means a bull; but the animal on the pedestal of this broken figure appears to be a donkey.

28. Sri Pingala — This seated goddess’s name means “tawny, or brownish-red.” The peacock on the pedestal points to Eaumari, the sakti of Skanda Kumara or Karttikeya.

29. Sri Ahkhala — On the pedestal two men with folded hands worship this seated sakti goddess. The reading of the name is clear but the meaning is unknown.

30. Name lost

31. Dancing Ganesha

32. Sri Mayavardhini /Ubhera Varddhani — “The increaser of light” is the name of this broken goddess image. There is a class of 64 demi-gods named abhaswaras who, from their number, appear to have a connection with the 64 yoginis. The bird on the pedestal gives no assistance towards the meaning of the name.

33. Standing male figure  – possibly Shiva

34. Sri Bidalidevi

W Entrance

35. A narrow figurine right next to the W Entrance

36. Sri Ganesha… may not be an original placement

37. Sri Chhattra Samvara — A Sambar deer, with deer decorating this seated yogini’s pedestal. The allusion to chhattra is not understood..

38. Sri Ajita — This seated goddess is the feminine form of Ajita-Siva, “the unconquered” with a fabulous lion as her symbol.

39. Sri Chandika — Durga-Maheswari, “ the furious,” featuring skeletons and a prostrate man. A standing sakti goddess who is known as one of the “eight powers of Durga.”

40. Sri Ananda / Mananda — Probably named for Ananda, the happy, or joyful. The symbol with this seated yogini is the lotus.

41. Sri Ainggini — An elephant-headed goddess, with an elephant-headed man on her pedestal. The name seems to refer to ingga, “movable,” which is itself derived from igi, “to go.”

42. Sri Brahmani —The goose on the pedestal indicates that this goddess is the sakti, or female energy, of Brahma.

43. Sri Maheswari —The bull Nandi on the pedestal shows that this goddess is the sakti, or female energy, of Maheswara, or Siva.

44. Sri Takari / Tankari — Probably derived from tanka, a sword or axe, both weapons which are carried in two of the ten hands of this yogini. Her symbol is a fabulous lion.

45. Sri Tapni / Tapani

46. Sri Padma-hansa — This seated goddess is not known. Her symbol is flowers.

47. Sri Hansini , or Hansinira. — Unknown seated goddess with the symbol of the goose.

48. Two sculptures but seem from different times… I have added the picture of only one here

49. Name lost

50. Sri Iswari — This seated yogini represents sakti, or female energy, either Durga or Lakshmi.

51. Sri Thani — The immovable goddesss. Sthanu is a name of Siva meaning “firm” or “immovable.” Derived from stha to stay, or sthd to stand still. Her appropriate symbol is the mountain peak.

52. Sri Indrajali — She is a seated “deceiving” goddess. Her elephant symbol suggests the name of Indra, with perhaps an allusion to his well-known deceits.

53. Sri Gahani — Ram on pedestal of this seated goddess. The first letter is doubtful. The name may mean the destroying goddess, from gah, to destroy.

54. Name lost

55. Sri Indrani —As there is no Aindri in this collection, this seated goddess Indrani must be intended as the sakti, or female energy, of Indra.

56. Sri Jhangini / Ganggini — The first letter is doubtful. The symbol seen is a bull.

57. Sri Uttala may mean the “swift goddess,” as implied by the antelope symbol. She is seated.

58. Sri Nalini—perhaps from nal, “to bind.” There is a bull and cow on the pedestal, and the seated yogini has a cow’s head

59. Sri Lampata — The “courtesan goddess” depicted seated with a prostrate male worshipper.

60. Sri Dardduri / Duduri — The derivation is not clear: du means “bad,” and also “to give pain.” Perhaps it is only a duplication of dur = pain, which would imply the “pain-giving” yogini. The symbol of the saddled horse remains puzzling on this seated yogini.

61. Sri Rksmata

62.Sri Gandhari — A winged goddess, with the symbol of a horse or ass. The name may be connected with gandharvva, “a horse,” associated with swiftness, which is also implied by her wings.

63. Sri Jahnavi —This is a well-known name of the Ganges; and as her symbol is a makara, or “crocodile,” it is certain that this is the river goddess herself.

64. Sri Dakini —This seated yogini is characterized by the Hindi term, dakin, the common name for a witch or she-demon. She has the symbols of a man and a skeleton.

65. Sri Vamdhani / Bandhani — This seated goddess’s name is derived from bandh, to bind, or bandhan, hurting, injuring, killing. Historians suggest that the man on the pedestal may be a prisoner.

66. Sri Darppahari — Probably a mistake for Darbbahari. Darbba means a rakshasa, or demon, from dri, to “tear;” and darbbahari would be the “tearer,” — a title confirmed by the lion on the pedestal, and by the seated goddess’s lion head.

67. name lost – newer addition it seems

68. Sri Ragini / Danggini — First letter doubtful. A seated yogini also featuring garuda.

69. Sri Jaha / Uha — This seated goddess may be the personification of the Saraswati River. Yogini 29 and 68 personify the Ganges and Jumna. The name may be derived from Uha, “to reason” meaning the “reasoning goddess” — an appropriate name for Saraswati, the goddess of speech and eloquence. This theory is supported by the peacock on her pedestal, which is the symbol of the Saraswati river.

70. Sri Thaikkini / Sakini — Wilson describes sakini as “a female divinity of an inferior character, attendant equally on Siva and Durga.” Others remark that “in the Baital Pachisi sakinis are mentioned in connection with cemeteries.” They are, in fact, the female goblins whom Raja Vikram saw eating the dead bodies. The symbol of a vulture on the pedestal of this seated goddess is, therefore, appropriate.

71. Sri hmtali

72. Sri Dhadhari

73. Sri Vaishnavi is the name of the sakti, or personified energy of Vishnu. She is seated on Vishnu’s mount garuda on the pedestal.

74. Sri Bhishani / Bhishani — The “terrific goddess”…as in “terror” is seated with a rayed headdress. Bhishana is a name of Siva.

75. name lost

76. name lost

77. Sri Kshattra-dharmmini — The compound kshattradharmma means the duty of a kshattra, or soldier, i.e. bravery. But as kshattra is derived from kshad, “to eat, to rend, to tear to pieces,” the title of this goddess would mean the “tearer to pieces, or the devourer.” The image shows seated females with skulls in head-dresses. A bull with a chain appears on her pedestal.

78. name lost

79. Sri Phanenderi –  she of the serpents, has a snake hood over her head and a reclining male as her vahana

80. Sri Virendri — Another images with seated females armed with sword and shield. The pedestal has a horse’s head and skeletons. Perhaps the name should be Vairendri, the “inimical goddess,” rather than Virendri, the “heroic goddess”

81. Sri Thakini — Unknown seated goddess, however due to the camel symbol on her pedestal, linguists suggest Ushtrakini, or the cameline goddess.

The Gauri Shankar temple in the yogini temple was not there from the beginning. It was made two hundred years later.

 

 

 

Prayers are offered here to a rare sculpture of Shiva Parvati seatedDSC00546 on Nandi. And depicts the time of their wedding. There is no sign of the original central shrine of Shiva.

 

 

 

 

After a long hot afternoon, walking out was not easy neither physically nor mentally. It was easy to see beauty in everything at that point

 DSC00552

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13 Comments

Posted by on March 23, 2011 in call of the goddess

 

Tags: , , ,

13 responses to “The 81 Yoginis of Bhedhaghat

  1. N.R.Jayaraman

    June 8, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Respected Madam
    Kindly see my blogger :http://santhipriyaspages.blogspot.com
    My blogger in –”Tamil” –is non commercial one and I keep writing articles in Tamil on divine after retirement. Will you kindly permit me to use the photos and description of the 81 yoginis from your English article 81 Yoginis at Bhedaghat for my article- Yogini and Mohinis in Tamil. The information is interesting to read. Of course I will give due acknowledgment to your site for the same.
    thanks
    Jayaram

     
    • divychetana

      June 10, 2011 at 12:50 pm

      Dear Mr. N R Jayaraman,

      Please feel free to use the pictures and information on this post 81 yoginis of Bhedaghat. Please so give me a line of credit as the photographer and a mention of my site. Wishing you well
      May the goddess be with you
      Regards
      Divya

       
      • N.R.Jayaraman

        June 10, 2011 at 7:33 pm

        Many many thanks Divya for your kind permission. I shall use the article appropriately and give a line of acknowledgment to you.
        thanks
        Jayaram

         
  2. N.R.Jayaraman

    June 13, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Dear Divya
    Kindly see my blogger :http://santhipriyaspages.blogspot.com which is uploaded with the photographs from your site. I have also given link and acknowledgment to you. Kindly see the blogger and comment.
    Regds
    Jayaram

     
  3. Nishanth

    September 28, 2011 at 12:33 am

    is there any female form of ganesha??named as gajanani or vignehwari

     
  4. arivumani13

    January 19, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Very nice Mam, this blog is an excellent work!!

     
  5. Kent Davis

    February 17, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Your “on the scene” work is wonderful, Divya! I am so happy and grateful that you continue to update and expand this knowledge.

     
  6. Gireesan

    March 1, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    It is inspiring!
    Congrats.
    Gireesan

     
  7. inti

    April 26, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Dear Divya, Spain apr 2012

    Wonderfull beautifull pictures you made! Haven’t come across such quality elsewhere… sent you (and Kent) a mail recently, which follows below, because the names of Yoginis for some part seem to have been given to next or previous (picture) in line..
    for detrails see attachments to mail..

    It took me a while to find time and place to work out a clear way to present a comparison of both your (Divya’s and Kent’s) listings and Divya’s pictures…… and lately found a third source of pictures from Saurabh Saxena, with the locally painted numbers showing and (stoneslabs or) “labels”, as currently naming the Yoginis (https://picasaweb.google.com/102042655697714988925) and those, I guess, answer my earlier question; How Divya identified the Yoginis…. by writing down names at those labels…true?
    comparison I send in pdf format, and in rtf (apple texteditor) format

    In comparing descriptions and pictures I got the impression that the some (nearly half) of the names Divya attached to her pictures got displaced (nrs 332 tll 518), some would belong the preceding picture and for another set to the next pictures in line….
    please check whether you agree (and if so adjust… and notify Santhipriyas to rectify names in his Tamil article?)

    Another question, “whether they could have been moved around”….. was positively answered when i chanced upon some old pictures (www.hindudharmaforums.com/ showthread.php?t=9065) and find some pieces and murtis lying around in the middle and when I tried to identify the yoginis they seem to come in a different order than either of your listings…clearly there has been quite same replacing/shuffling…
    don’t know from what date the pictures are though….

    also I chanced upon a set of picture showing what is left of yoginis at Ranipur-Jharial Chausath yoginitemple, with slideshow:
    http://ignca.nic.in/asp/show.asp?Image_name=orbln0010015&projid=orbln0010001
    (Indira Gandhi National Center For The Arts)
    and finally Vidya Dehejia’s book Yogini cult and temples arrived!
    and now i see what lists of yoginis there are and where to find them

    So for the moment only one question left:

    And Dear Divya could you please send me pictures in a larger format, as to be able to check upon details, yours are by far much better than Saxena’s who had the disadvantage of sunlight overexposing the pedestals..
    Could I use them in a sort of digital/virtual yoginitemple representation which i have in mind but need to find the technical framework for, with due regards and aknowledgements for sure…

    Will keep you posted when I make progress,
    going to do some more study, with warm greetings,Inti

    also I chanced upon a set of picture showing what is left of yoginis at Ranipur-Jharial Chausath yoginitemple with slideshow:
    http://ignca.nic.in/asp/show.asp?Image_name=orbln0010015&projid=orbln0010001
    (Indira Gandhi National Center For The Arts)
    and finally Vidya Dehejia’s book Yogini cult and temples arrived!
    and now i see what lists of yoginis there are and where to find them

     
  8. Omar

    March 21, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Divya,
    Thank you so much for sharing your pictures, along with articles.
    Omar

     
  9. P.Rajesh

    April 1, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Please send the 14. Sri Thira-chitta full Image.

     

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