Friday, March 3, 2017

Following the religious cult of Dasha-Mahavidya Chhinnamasta at Rajrappa (Jharkhand)

chhinnamasta temple rajrappa jharkhand india

Chhinnamasta, a fierce goddess, a form of Sati, consort of Lord Shiva, symbolizes the unique nature of women. She is a life-giver. She was merciful to such an extent to behead her head and fed her blood to satisfy the hunger of her two attendees. She symbolizes sexual self-control and embodiment of sexual energy. As far as Tantric tradition in India, Chhinnamasta is an embodiment of Kundalini Energy (spiritual energy). 

Rajrappa, a small place in Jharkhand, surrounded by forest and beautiful landscape, is the only place in India where Devi Chhinnamasta is worshipped. The place is located on a hillock at the confluence two rivers – Damodar and Bhairavi (locally known as Bhera). There is also a small Rajrappa falls, a sort of tourists’ attraction.  The history of this temple is cryptic because it is not documented anywhere. Curiously, the temple’s name is mentioned in ancient Hindu texts such as Vedas, and Puranas. The temple architecture, surroundings and almost everything in that area transpires a subtle energy. Because of its tantric cult and ancient tradition, the temple is also considered parallel to Kamakhya Temple in Assam. 

Historically, once the Mughal once attacked the temple but Santals, a major tribe of that region resisted it with guts and gumption, and saved the respect of their deity. Till date, the temple is a very important pilgrimage of the Santals and other tribal who come to perform the last rites of their parents in the Damodar. 

Road journey to Rajarappa

NH 20, Hazaribagh to Ranchi Road
Riding through the meandering road, verdant forest on both sides, it was a bit surreal experience. I would say, it was probably the best motorcycle riding experience in my whole trip. When I first entered in Jharkhand, I was a bit surprised to see such smooth roads. Jharkhand Highways are fantastic; it was truly a great riding experience. 

Read More on Motorcycle Riding Tips

On the way from Etawah to Barhi, I suddenly decided to take a turn and came to Hazaribagh. Rajrappa Chhinnamasta Temple provoked my mind when I first read about in a Bengali weekly magazine. I went o Hazaribagh purely based on my instinct, and later on I thanked my instinct that I would have missed a great experience if I didn’t came to this place. That's not unusual, a peculiar part of my desultory roving.

I like small towns; Hazaribagh perfectly fits my imagination. Although a small town, it boasts of some good hospitals, excellent roads, convent schools, and easy life. The road from Hazaribagh to Rajarappa is approximately 75 Km. National Highway 20 was smooth and in excellent condition. At certain stretches called Ghaati were surrounded by deep forests on both sides. Sometimes the road had steep curves, almost semi-circular curve that was a bit dangerous in high speed, but traffic was light, so riding was altogether safe.

Rajrappa Temple Architecture & Dasha-Mahavidya

Chhinnamasta Temple Complex
The temple architecture is similar to temple Kamakhya. The red, blue and yellow colored temple is similar to temples of other tantric importance. The deity is headless statue of Chhinnamasta stands upon the bodies of Kamdeo and Rati in a lotus bed. It symbolises the Goddess’s power to control sexual energy. The main temple complex is small, but adjacent other temples have come up around it. The other temple complex is larger than the original or the primary one. It represents other nine Mahavidya forms of goddess Sati.

The story goes on like this Sati’s father king Daksha was performing a big ceremony, he didn’t invite his daughter and son-in-law because he didn’t approve the marriage of his daughter with Shiva. Shiva though a Lord, was very insolent and carefree, which was not approved by the society. Sati felt his father did a great insult not inviting them to the ceremony, so she asked her husband to accompany her to Kankhal (Haridwar) where her father was performing the ceremony. 

Shiva Linga at Temple Complex
Shiva tried hard to convince Sati that it was not a good idea to go to place uninvited, but she was adamant. After some futile attempt to earn consent, Sati had a feeling that Shiva would have forgotten the fact she was a goddess. To convince her husband, she then showed her ten different forms of Parashakti. Her ten Shakti forms is collectively known as Dasha-Mahavidya that includes Kali, Tara, Shoroshi, Bhubaneshwari, Bhairavi, Dhumavati, Bagala, Matangi, Kamala and Chhinnamasta.

There are many legends on Chinnamasta origin and the creation of all Mahavidyas. According to Hindu esoteric tradition of Tantar, goddess Chinnamasta is often cited as the fifth or sixth Mahavidya. There were hymns identifying the goddess with fierce aspect of Shakti (Devi). Most of the forms of Mahavidya do not have independent existence outside the group. According to 9th century’s Guhyatiguhya Tantric tradition, Mahavidya likens it Lord Vishnu’s ten avatars (Dashavataras). It is said the man-lion avatar Narasimha was originated from Chhinnamasta. In the late 16th century, Mundamala Tantric tradition equates avatar Parshurama with Chinnamasta.

Temple Complex & Surrounding Area

Like any other temple complex in India, there are fruit, sweet and flower shops at the surrounding area. The temple is flooded with pilgrim during special occasions like full moon day, Saturday and Tuesday. Every year on Makar Sankranti (vernal equinox, the temple witnesses a large fair where pilgrims from various parts of the country come to pay their reverence. Animal sacrifice is a significant part of the Tantric tradition, so every Tuesday and Saturday, and on the occasion of Kali puja it is practiced in the temple.

The surrounding area is quite eerie after sunset. There are a few small ashrams opposite to the temple where some sadhus live. The rock formations on both sides of the river are photogenic, and also attract tourists. On a quiet day, you can sit and see tribals are fishing with the nets in the Damodar river. There are a few country boats available for tourists for river cruising.

The area is surrounded by cluster of hills and forests of Simul, Babla, Akashmani and Mohua trees. There are also wild animals, which sometimes can be caught on the riverbank. 

How to reach Rajarappa

You can either go from Hazaribagh or Ranchi. From Ranchi, bus starts at about 9:30 am from Khadgarh. Ranchi to Rajarappa is around 70 km, and the road is excellent. You can also hire a private taxi to enjoy the road journey. A small stretch that goes in the middle of village is bumpy, otherwise everything is just fine.  You have to go to Ramgarh (on the Ranchi-Hazaribagh Road via NH 20_ and then take the right turn to Bokaro.

From Hazaribagh to Rajrappa is approximately 75 km, will take 2 hours if you ride gently, riding while enjoying the scenery. You can find couple of tourist buses from Hazaribagh New Bus Stand. Buses going to Bokaro are also going through that road, though  you need to travel at least 10 km on your own. 

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