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Maa Biraja

Maa BirajaHer grace and benevolence shines like the sun on the horizons of Orissa. Maa Biraja the ruling deity of Jajpur and by all means the most ancient Goddess of the Hindu pantheon is adored and worshipped not only as Adi Shakti but also as the most important deity of the Tantra cult. The image of the Maa Biraja is the representation of two armed Mahismardini image. The image is worshipped inside her magnificent temple at Jajpur that has been estimated to have been built at around 11th-12th Century AD. The image almost 70ft in height rises from the floor level but nothing except for Her face is visible as Her entire body is garbed in clothes, ornaments and flowers.

The image of the Mother is generally agreed upon by all historians to be older than that of the temple. The image has been dated back to 5th century AD i.e. the Gupta era while the temple belongs to the 11th -12th Century AD. However not much about Her emergence is known.

Mythological references in the Virajakshetramahatmya accentuate of Her having emerged from a sacrificial Yagna performed by Lord Brahma at this place in Jajpur. Further connotations from Virajakshetramahatmya describe her as a two armed deity who is a form of Mother Parvati. Her iconic features have been elucidated in the Dhyanamantra as: “She holds a trident ( Sulala) in her right hand that she pierces forcefully into the demon’s body. Pulling the tail of the buffalo with the left hand, she tramples the neck of the buffalo with her right foot.” It needs to be mentioned here that the features thus mentioned are quite distinct from those of Mother Durga who appears mounted on a Lion to kill the demon Mahisasura. The conception of Maa Biraja is by far the oldest in the cult of worship of Mother Goddess and has her unique features those were modified later on to add on to the image of Mother Durga. For Example the right hand of Maa Biraja that pierces with the trident is shown downwards unlike those images of Mother Durga where it points upwards.

Other features of Goddess are the representation of the five symbols these are carved on her crown. These are

  • Ganapati
  • Naga/ Serpent
  • Yoni/ vagina
  • Linga/Phallus
  • Indu/Moon

All these symbols carry great messages with them. Carvings of Lord Ganesha signify that she is the destroyer of all impediments. Naga/ serpent signify her omnipotence. Similarly Yoni and Linga signify Her Creativeness and Destructibility. Indu or moon signifies that She is the remover of all mental indispositions. A closer look and it is clear that these symbols are merely an accentuation of various faiths and sects those were in prominence on those days. Thus it is easy to conceive that the image of the Maa Biraja is an outcome of the unification of different prevailing sects at that period.

Thus Biraja is the deity of religious assimilation, a deity that signifies unity of all diverse faith. It is thus hardly surprising to see her temple dotted with Gods from Vaishanvites as well as the Shaivaite cults. Truly She is glorified as the “Adimata – The Ancient Mother” and was by far the most important deity of ancient Orissa.

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