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Kiriteswari Temple/ Vimala ( Kirita) Temple (Kiriteswar, West Bengal)

About

The Vimala Temple or Bimala Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to goddess Vimala (Bimala), located within the Jagannath Temple complex in Puri in the Indian state of Orissa. It is generally regarded as a Shakti Pitha, among the holiest temples dedicated to the Hindu Goddess.

The temple is located in the south-west corner of the inner enclosure of the Jagannath temple complex and on the western corner of the tower of Jagannath, next to the sacred pond Rohini kunda. The temple faces east and is built of sandstone and laterite. It is built in the Deula style with four components; vimana (structure containing the sanctum), jagamohana (assembly hall), nata-mandapa (festival hall) and bhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings). The temple was renovated around 2005 and is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, Bhubaneswar Circle.

Though a small shrine in the temple complex, the Vimala temple is important to the Goddess-oriented Shakta and Tantric worshippers, who revere it even more than the main Jagannath shrine. Vimala is considered to be the Tantric consort of Jagannath and a guardian of the temple complex. Devotees pay respect to Vimala before worshipping Jagannath in the main temple. Food offered to Jagannath does not get sanctified as Mahaprasad until it is also offered to Vimala. The Goddess-oriented festival of Durga Puja in the Hindu month of Ashvin (October) is celebrated for sixteen days at Vimala, culminating with Vijayadashami.

The main temple of the town is that of Maa Kiriteshwari’s temple. The unique feature of the temple is the absence of any image or deity. The red coloured stone which is supposed to be the symbolic representation of the Goddess is covered by a red veil the year through. Only on Ashtami of each Durga Puja, the veil is changed and she is given a holy bath. The headdress of the Hindu Goddess, Kiriteswari, has been worshipped through the ages. At present, the headdress is preserved at Rani Bhabani’s Guptamath, situated opposite to the temple. There is no image in the new temple. There is a high alter on which a small alter is seen. Here the face of Maa is indexed. Yogendranarayan Roy, the late king of Lalgola had renovated and had taken care of the temple constructed by Darpanarayan. The original temple had turned to ruins. Beneath given the shot of the ruined one on the right side. Bhagwan Roy received the land where the temple was situated from Akbar, the great. The old temple, built by Bhagwan Roy  was southern entranced and the new one, built by Darpanarayan Roy , a successor of Bhagwan Roy, was eastern entranced.

Adjacent to the temple ‘Bhairav’ is situated in an unclean and filthy small temple, on the banks of the river Bhagirathi. The temple remains locked for hours. Here the ‘Sakti’ (goddess) is ‘Vimala’ and ‘Bhairav’ (Lord Shiva) is ‘Sanwart. The 18th century also, many sadhaks from different parts of the country came here and did their sadhanas.and attained salvation. This was the meditation centre of the great sage Raja Ramakrishna and his ‘panchmundi-asana’ is still here. It is said that a Shiva linga got cracked on its own, the day when Rajballav was drowned by Mirjafar to death. It is also said that Mirjafar in his death bed had requested for the holy ’charanamrito’ (the holy water of the lotus feet of the deity after her great bath) of Maa Kiriteswari. He was suffering from leprosy. And he breathed out his last breath after having the holy sip of water.

The Vimala Temple is considered one of the Shakti Pithas, the most sacred temples of the Hindu Goddess, identified with Parvati or Durga as consort of the god Shiva. It is considered to be a prime example of the importance of the Shakti cult in Orissa. It is customary to worship Shiva at each Shakti Pitha in the form of Bhairava, the male counterpart or guardian of the presiding goddess of the Shakti Pitha.

In Goddess-oriented worship, Vimala (Bimala) is regarded as the presiding goddess of the Purushottama (Puri) Shakti Pitha. Jagannath, a form of the god Vishnu/Krishna (Krishna is generally regarded as an avatar of Vishnu), is worshipped as the Pitha’s Bhairava. This is a departure from the usual tradition of Bhairava as a form of Shiva. So, in this temple complex, Vishnu–one of the Hindu trinity–is equated with Shiva, another of the trinity; this is interpreted to convey the oneness of God. In this regard, Vimala – generally associated with Shiva’s consort – is also considered as Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu. Conversely, Tantrics consider Jagannath as Shiva-Bhairava, rather than a form of Vishnu.

The main sanctum of the Jagannath Temple has three deities: Jagannath, Balabhadra (elder brother of Krishna, sometimes identified with Shiva) and Subhadra (the younger sister of Krishna and Balabhadra). In Jagannath-centric traditions, while Lakshmi is the orthodox consort of Jagannath in the temple complex, Vimala is the Tantric (heterodox) consort and guardian goddess of the temple complex.

Vimala is identified with the goddesses Katyayini, Durga, Bhairavi, Bhuvaneshvari and Ekanamsha in various texts and rituals. She is considered the Shakti of Vishnu as well as Shiva in the climactic Durga Puja festivities in the temple. She appears as Mahishasuramardini (Durga as slayer of the demon Mahishasura) or Vijayalakshmi (the warrior form of Lakshmi) in New Delhi Konark stele, 13th century stone stele originally from Konark Sun Temple and now housed in National Museum, New Delhi.

So long as man stayed closed to Nature, he comprehended and felt the interplay of creative and destructive forces. He accepted his world with its dynamism and diversity as the essence of a Mother Goddess. Shakti is the same everywhere as the life-bestower, nourisher, lover, comforter, and finally destroyer. She resided in forest greens surrounded by birds and animals, dark caves and golden beaches, on pink lotuses and above all in all hearts. The web of life is her spinning Lila performed as Shakti’s manifestations.

Mother Vimala is an incarnation of Mother Goddess Shakti. Daksha’s yagna and subsequent immolation by Sati or the episode of Shiva carrying his dead wife until Mahavishnu cut it with His Sudarshana Chakra to avoid total destruction of the Universe are too well known to be repeated. Mother Vimala made her advent from a part of Sati that graced the earth.

 There are disputed claims as to the part from which Mother Vimala emerged. It is said that she appeared where the crown of Goddess Sati fell on earth. Some claim that this is place is located on the banks of Ganga at Batnagar in Bangladesh. This temple is one among the 51 Shaktipeetahs. Others claim it to be in Murshidabad district in West Bengal, India. But the popular notion is that the navel fell in Puri in Orissa, where there is a famous temple dedicated to Goddess Vimala within the perimeters of Jagannath temple. In Shakti Pitha lists image of a temple idol decorated with flowers and fabric Jagannath (pictured), the presiding God of the temple complex, is described as the Bhairava or consort of the goddess Vimala.

According to Hindu legend, Sati, the daughter of Prajapati Daksha, married Shiva against the wish of Daksha. Daksha organised a great yajna (sacrifice), but did not invite Sati and Shiva. Uninvited, Sati reached the yajna-site, where Daksha ignored Sati and vilified Shiva. Unable to withstand this insult, Sati sacrificed herself in the fire. The wild, grief-stricken Shiva wandered the universe with her half-burnt corpse. Finally, Vishnu dismembered her body into 52 parts, each of which fell on different places on the earth, each creating a Shakti Pitha.

The lists of Shakti Pithas differ in various religious texts. Many mention Vimala or Jagannath temple complex as a Shakti Pitha, and calls the location by various names. In the Kalika Purana, four Pithas (centres of Tantrism) are mentioned, corresponding to the four cardinal directions. The Oddiyana or Uddiyana (now clearly identified as Orissa) in the west hosts the temple of Katyayini (identified with Vimala) and her consort Jagannath. The Hevajara Tantra, which has a similar list, also mentions Katyayini as the Bhairavi and Jagannath as the Bhairava in the Pitha of Udra (Odra, identified with Orissa). The Pithanirnaya or Mahapithanirupana section from the Tantrachudamani mentions Viraja-kshetra in Utkala (present-day Orissa) as a Shakti Pitha, with Vimala as the presiding goddess (Devi), Jagannath as Bhairava and her navel as the body part that fell here. One version of this text, however, demotes the site from a Pitha to an upa-Pitha (subordinate Pitha). Here, the Ucchishta (that is, left-over or partially eaten food) of Sati is said to be the “fallen part” (anga-pratyanga) and the temple location is called Nilachal or “Blue Mountain”, which is the traditional name of the site of the Jagannath temple complex. Nilachal or Nila Parvat is mentioned as an upa-pitha also in the Shiva-charita with Vimala and Jagannath as the Devi and Bhairava respectively.

The Tantric work Kubjika Tantra names Vimala among 42 Siddha Pithas, where Siddhis – a set of supernatural powers – can be gained. The Devi Bhagavata Purana, Prana Toshini Tantra and Brihan Nila Tantra name the Vimala temple as a Pitha in their list of 108 temples. The Matsya Purana mentions Purushottama Kshetra with goddess Vimala as a Shakti Pitha. The Vamana Purana notes it as a sacred pilgrimage site. The Mahapitha Nirupanam also mentions Vimala and Jagannath as deities of the Pitha. In the Namasttotra Sata, a Puranic list of 100 mother goddesses, Vimala of Purushottama is named. The Devi Purana also mentions it as a Pitha where feet of Sati fell.

The Vimala Temple in Puri is considered to be an important Shakti Peeth in Orissa dedicated to Mother Parvati or Durga. It is customary to worship Lord Shiva as Bhairava, the male counterpart or guardian of the presiding goddess of the Shakti Peeth. In Puri, Goddess Vimala is the consort of Purushottama Jagannath, the form of Maha Vishnu or Sri Krishna. This is a departure from the usual Bhairava tradition and Tantric worship of Shiva-Bhairava rather than Vishnu worship. So it is gainsaid that in Puri, the Oneness of the Trinity is expressed through Jagannath. Mother Vimala is also then considered as Goddess Lakshmi, consort of Maha Vishnu.

VIMALA TEMPLE: The Vimala Temple is part of the cluster of temples in Jagannath Temple in Puri. It is also known as Bimala Temple and considered to be a Shakti Peeth. Next to the temple is Markanda kunda. Rohini kunda, one of the other Pancha Tirtha of Puri is also within the vicinity. The Kunda is considered to be the abode of Narayana. The story of Sri Krishna being accidentally killed by one Jara is told in relation to this kunda and that of a banyan tree there called Akshaya Kalpavat. Apparently the divine log of Jagannatha floated from the sea to the Rohini Kunda. It is from this that King Indradyumna caused the Jagannatha deity to be carved.The main Vimala Temple features are its sandstone and laterite walls, the Vimana, Jagamohana – assembly hall, Nata-mandapa or festival hall and Bhoga mandapa or hall of offerings.

To Shakta followers and Tantric worshippers, Vimala Temple is more important than the Jagannatha shrine. Mother is considered to be the Tantric consort of Jagannatha in the name of Bhairava. Indeed, Mother Vimala is worshipped first before Jagannatha is venerated. Prasada, while prepared for Jagannatha, does not get sanctified as Mahaprasada until it is first offered to Goddess Vimala. This is the ucchishta of Jaganatha’s offerings.

The temple is located in the south-west corner of the inner enclosure of the Jagannath temple complex and on the right hand western corner of the tower of Jagannath, next to the sacred pond Rohini kunda.The temple faces east and is built of sandstone and laterite. It is built in the Deula style that has four components namely, vimana (structure containing the sanctum), jagamohana (assembly hall), nata-mandapa (festival hall) and bhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings). The temple is maintained and was renovated around 2005 by the Archaeological Survey of India, Bhubaneswar Circle.

Timing

06:00 to 15:00 (All days of the week (Morning)

17:00 to 22:00 (All days of the week (Evening)

Distance

  • From Delhi it is 1439 KM away.
  • From Mumbai it is 2192 KM away.
  • From Kolkata it is 239 KM away.
  • From Chennai it is 1819 KM away.

Location

Kiriteswar,
West Bengal 742104.