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
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 … 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
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
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 seated 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