Category Archives: call of the goddess

The 64 Yoginis of Hirapur

The yogini temple at Hirapur is in sharp contrast to the Bhedaghat temple. Almost dimunitive in size, an intimate circle of power the yoginis of Hirapur are lovingly looked after and prayed to by the priests and caretaker who have served them for generations. DSC00898

There are some valuable resources to find the history of the place. These stories become real in the presence of faith. In the spirit of paving the way the first person I came across at the temple was the caretaker of 25 years, book by Suresh Balabantaray – which gives a great description of the yoginis, the priests, and a professor.

With all these resources… here are the 64 yoginis of Hirapur, their protectors the Bhairvas and others (The names and details below are courtesy SIXTY FOUR YOGINI TEMPLE HIRAPUR by Suresh Balabantaray)

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In order… entering and moving clockwise… the name of the yogini and the “vahana” or mounts

1. Maya/ Bahurupa/ Chandika – stands on a corpse lying straight

2. Tara  –  stands on a corpse

3. Narmada – stands on an elephant

4. Yamuna – stands on a tortoise

5. Shanti/ Kanti/ Laxmi/ Manada – stands on a full blown lotus

6. Vriddhi/ Kriya/ Varuni – Lines of waves on the pedestal

7. Gauri/ Ksemankari – stands on an alligator

8. Aindri/ Indrani- stands on an elephant

9. Varahi – boar faced, stands on a buffalo

10. Ranavira/ Padmavati – stands on a snake

11. Ostraarudha/ Vanarmukhi – monkey faced, stands on a camel

12. Vaishnavi – Grauda is her mount

13. Kalaratri/ Panchavarahi – stands on a boar

14. Vadyaroopa – stands on a drum

15. Charchika – stands on a demon

16. Marjari/ Betali – stands on a fish

17. Chinnamastaka – stands on a severed human head

18. Vrisabhanana/ Bindhya Basini – stands on mountains

19. Jalakamini – stands on a frog

20. Ghatavara – stands on a lion, lifting an elephant over her head

21. Vikarali/ Kakarali – stands on a dog

22. Saraswati – stands on a serpent

23. Birupa – the pedestal she stands on has lines of waves

24. Kauveri – stands on 7 ratna kalasas on full blown lotus

25. Varahi/ Bhalluka – there is a padma lata on her pedestal

26. Narasimhi/ Simhamukhi – Lion faced, stands on a pedestal with 5 flowers and leaves

27. Biraja – stands on a lotus bud with leaves

28.Vikatanana – protuding lips and curling matted hair, the pedestal with mount is broken

29. Mohalaxmi – stands on a full bloom open lotus

30. Kaumari – stands on a peacock

31. Mahamaya – She is worshiped as the presiding deity of the temple.

32. Usa/ Rati – stands on a pedestal with an archer with a bow in his hands (Kandrap or cupid)

33. Karkari – stands on a crab

34. Sarpashya/ Chittala – Snake faced, the mount is broken

35. Yasha – the mount is a pedestal with 4 legs

36. Aghora/ Vaivasvati – stands on a horned goat like animal

37. Bhadrakali/ Rudrakali – stands on a crow

38. Matangi/ Shitala/ Vainayaki/ Ganeshani/ Gajanana – stands on a donkey

39. Bhindhyabalini – stands on a rat

40. Abhya/ Veera Kumari – stands on a scorpion

41. Maheshwari – stands on a bull

42. Kamakshi/ Ambika – stands on a mongoose

43. Kamayani – stands on a cock

44. Ghatabari – stands on a lion

45. Stutee – stands on a haladi kathua

46. Kali – stands on a recumbent male figure

47. Uma – stands on pedestal of lotus flowers

48. Narayani –  stands on a pedestal with a conical pot with a lid

49. Samudra – stands on a pedestal with a conch shell

50. Brahmani – 3 faces, stands on a book

51. Jwalamukhi – stands on a platform with 8 legs

52. Agneyi – stands on a ram with flames of fire in the background

53. Aditi – stands on a parrot

54. Chandrakanti – stands on a cot with 4 legs

55. Vayubega – stahds on a female yak

56. Chamunda – stands on a musk deer, with a lion over her head

57. Murati – stands on a deer

58. Ganga – stands on a ‘makara’

59. Dhumavati/ Tarini – stands on a goose with a winnower in her hand

60. Gandhari – stands on a donkey

61. Surva Mangala –  the niche is empty but it is believed to be Surva Mangala

62. Ajita – stands on a stag

63. Surya Putri – stands on a galloping horse

64. Vayu Veena – stands on a black buck

Each of the yoginis have a distinctly different hair style.

The temple has many guardians and other icons, living and sculpted… but that’s for another time





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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in call of the goddess


The Goddess has plans…. for me



From the barren yogini temple with a lingering sense of what was… to the magnificent and ferocious yoginis of Bhedaghat… to the delicate ladies with mysterious smiles of Hirapur. The journey reflects my own.

Let me say that the goddess has plans. Right next to a busy and bustling temple complex that attracts tourist from around the world sits this seat of feminine power that took a while to reach, after asking many for directions.

The the square or rectangular formation of the temple, the empty niches, and the central area with dried tall grass. At the verge of ruin but not quite ready to give up. That was me a year ago when I reached the 64 yogini temple at Khajuraho.

From the outside I had a great life. I cannot think of a single thing that a person may want in their life and I did not have. Yet, something was not in place… Mind you it was there but if I did not know what I was it was not available to me.

Many emotions, strong, aggressive, much destructive in nature propelled me… in my life’s dealing…to learn read and know more about the yoginis. And I found my self attracted to Bhedaghat. Standing in that massive temple complex, the presence of that power, triggered a release in me.

Interestingly, the Shiva temple in the middle was off centre. Prayers are offered in that temple yet the priest summed the yoginis in one dismissive statement “ this is all tantric”. Did not need or want to know more. Not even acknowledging that there was beauty, artistic beauty in the most superficial way around him.

And that too resonates in me. I am many things to many people but who am I ?

Am I, myself acknowledging the power in me. Am I defined as the relationships I have? Can I be just who can be defined? Do I need this definition? Am I happy with myself, enough for myself. at peace with myself?

And while I did want to quickly go and chronicle the next yogini temple I guess the Goddess has other plans. Each time I thought it was the right time, I could take the time off, or find the time, she smiled and obstructed. DSC01080

The answer is simple, till I depend on this ‘ I ‘, I am allowing myself to be set into a definition. and so I let go of trying to go to Hirapur. And there was…on a journey that I no longer understand, but accept. That did not stop me from thinking countless time..”what am I doing here” and yet I kept going with all my doubts on having a “ill planned” trip

Each time I have been to these temples I have gained something, something I needed but did not know that I needed. Each time I am amazed that this journey to the yoginis parallels my personal journey within.

In an earlier post I had written .. Does the goddess want devotion? The divine feminine is a giver. She wants nothing, she wants for nothing. The yoginis of Hirapur with their mysterious smile, hold on to a great secret. While we will never know all of that secret, it definitely touched a chord in me. It removed all doubts. I was at the right place at the right time and the Goddess had a plan for me.

There in that sacred circle I was a goddess, or was she me …To pray, sing, sway, laugh and cry.

The tears that came unbidden were my offerings to the goddess and her gift to me.

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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in call of the goddess


The 81 Yoginis of Bhedhaghat

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.

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



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


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The First Step

I was born with a gift… the gift to live in the moment. Whatever it was comfort, discomfort, happy, sad, hunger, cold, love and security, I enjoyed the depth and breadth of it. Each moment was transient and eternal. And then as time went by I became many things. A child, a girl, a young woman, a daughter, a intelligent person, an engineer, a gf, wife, mother, confidant, friend.

Sometime along this road, I began to define myself in all these ways. Strongly, since I have always thought of myself as a strong person and then each of the persona became powerful and that wonderful gift of being all and above all none of these got lost.

After passing through all the “phases” in life I have finally decided to walk back towards that gift, hoping that at the end of my time I will be all the above but most importantly I will have a sense of my true sense… me in that moment hopefully guilt free and loved

Interestingly I took that first step on this reverse journey by taking a trip for no reason at all and no preset agenda to Khajuraho… a place that survived and lives to tell many story not quite unlike what I see myself as time passes. Each step in this journey, and I speak literally and metaphorically, led to another

The Goddess herself

Just when I thought that the temples of Khajuraho had overwhelmed me …this seat of the goddess filled me with a sense of tranquility. The Chausath Yogini …is the first step

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Posted by on December 7, 2010 in call of the goddess


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