Posts filed under ‘History of Koshal’

Ancient sculpture of Nataraja unearthed at Durgapali, Sambalpur

Following is a report from the TNIE:

SAMBALPUR: The recovery of an ancient stone sculpture of Nataraja at Dungrapali, located on downstream of Hirakud Dam, by teams of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is believed to throw more light on the flourishing Shaivism  in the region.INTACH teams, who are documenting both tangible and intangible heritage along both sides of the Mahanadi river in the State, stumbled upon the ancient sculpture on the embankment of the Devi water body.

Lord Shiva is also known as Nataraja – the Cosmic Dancer. It is believed that the idol dates back to 7th or 8th century.  The idol has been kept in the custody of the district Collector and will be put up for display in the new museum coming up at Sambalpur.  Similarly, the top portion of old Gudeswar temple was also recovered and stored safely in the district collectorate. The recovery was made on the information of residents of Durgapali to the INTACH teams.

Historian and culture enthusiast Deepak Panda, who is leading the teams in Sambalpur, said it seems to be the ‘Chuda’ or ‘Amalaka’ of an ancient temple. It is four feet high, three feet wide and weighs around 200 kgs.  Panda further informed that the idol reflects Lord Shiva in Tandava form and since it was protruding from earth, it is believed that there could be a temple beneath. A clear picture will emerge after excavation, he said.

He further revealed that many such ruins of temples, which have been collected by locals, are being studied. It is suspected that the temple of which the ruins belong may have been damaged by invaders, Panda said. Seven teams, which were flagged off by Chairman of INTACH LK Gupta on January 15, will document the heritage, bio-diversity and food habits of people residing along the banks of the Mahanadi. They will cover nearly 1,000 km on the both sides of the river from upper reaches of Hirakud to its merger with the Bay of Bengal near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur.  The work also entails cultural mapping of Mahanadi, which has around 50 per cent of its total course flowing in Odisha. The team will cover undivided Sambalpur, Sonepur, Boudh, Angul, Nayagarh and Cuttack districts under the project.

March 28, 2018 at 3:43 am Leave a comment

Ruins of ancient temple found in Jhinkerpali village, Boudh

BOUDH:The recovery of remains of a purportedly 10th century temple from a farm land in Jhinkerpali village under Palsagora gram panchayat in Kantamal block of the district has opened up a new chapter in the history of temples under Somvansi rulers. As per reports, the ruins of the temple were found while earth work was underway in the farm land of Parameswar Sahu on Friday.

The ruins include pillars with engraved motifs besides blocks with writings in Palli script. The excavator, which was deployed in the farm land, came across the ruins following which the work was put on hold. As the news spread, excited villagers rushed to the spot to catch a glimpse of the ruins.

Local villagers call the place from where the ruins were recovered as ‘Chandi Taal’ while revenue records reflect it as ‘Deva Staal’. Manoj Mohanty, a villager, recalled his grandfather mentioning about the existence of a Maa Chandi Bhairavi Temple at the place. In 1991, two Shiva Lingas had been found from the location which are currently being worshipped in Palsagora temple.

Researcher Satyanarayan Pani said the ruins hint of the temple being constructed during 10th Century. As the Somvansi rulers were devotees of ‘Chandi’, they could have built the temple, he said.

While the early history of Boudh is still obscure, the discovery of three remarkable Buddhist statues from the region had led some scholars to believe that the place was an important Buddhist centre of Odisha.
The town, which has over 200 temples built by Somvansi rulers, has led some to believe that the ruins could be that of a Shiva temple.

Boudh houses some ancient temples including the famous twin temples of Nilamadhava and Sidheswar and the twin temples dedicated to Hari and Hara. These apart, there are Chari Sambhu temple and the Ramanath temples dating back to the 9th century AD.

 

 

July 25, 2017 at 4:40 pm Leave a comment

BOOKS: History of Kosal and Sonepur

The western world is very good at preserving places of historical importance. Even in Asia, countries like China, Japan and South Korea have undertaken tremendous efforts to restore centers of historical and cultural heritage. But, things are very different in western Odisha. Forget about preserving these centers, the Odisha government has systematically erased the history of western Odisha and Somavamsi Kings from the prescribed text books. My native place (the undivided Balangir district) has a very rich history. However, we were never taught about it in schools. Following are few interesting books by Dr. Sadananda Agrawal on the history of western Odisha.

Following images were taken from the FB page of Dr. Agrawal:

SAS

SA

CP WO

April 15, 2017 at 8:57 am Leave a comment

Celebrating the Yogini cult: Chausath Yogini temple, Balangir, Odisha

Following is a report from the http://www.tribuneindia.com

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March 29, 2017 at 11:04 am Leave a comment

Kosaleswara temple, Baidyanath, Subarnapur district

Following information is taken from: http://www.nuaodisha.com/Odisha-Tourism/Tourist-Places-In-Sonepur.html , the Sambad, and Inscriptions of Orissa: With Special Reference to Subarnapur

Kosaleswar info

Kosaleswar

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Kosaleswar Temple

March 26, 2017 at 10:05 am Leave a comment

State and culture in Kosala during medieval period: a study of oral narratives on Patnagarh and Marjarakesari in Narasinghanath

Narasinghanath has constantly drawn the attention and consideration of scholars belonging to diverse disciplines such as sociology, history, archaeology, art, and culture since a very long time. The ground is that, it continues to offer novel information partly because various pieces of facts exposed in this field compel us to rethink and reorganise and partly because the ever-growing intricacy in the political landscape of West Odisha which encourages additional examination to reconfigure certain images and symbols for the purpose of socio-historical reconstruction and rebuilding of this place. The present paper is an endeavour to understand and appreciate the mode and reasons of assimilation of a local deity called Narasinghanath (Little Tradition) in the religious cult Hindu society and culture (Great Tradition) in the modern West Odisha i.e. erstwhile Chauhan Rajya (state or kingdom).

In the present context, we have relied largely on the material and substance from the oral tradition accessible in the local areas, which sustains this process of assimilation. Generally, historians have shown slight regard for the oral tradition and in some places only; they treat the claims of the oral evidence rather cavalierly. Nevertheless, it is recommended here that oral narratives like myth and legend are manufactured and attached to the Narasinghanath tirtha (pilgrimage) to establish and to validate the faith of the numerically dominant aborigines with the Hindu epic tradition and thereby the larger Hindu religious tradition (Great Tradition). Accordingly, aesthetic consideration plays relatively an insignificant role in the present study.

The area of our study is Narasinghanath tirtha. The shrine of Narasinghanath is bounded by rich jungles and is situated about 32 kms south-west of Padampur town. It is quaintly situated at the foot of a hill of similar name Narasinghnath, which is an essential part of the Gandhagiri or Gandhamardan hill range. This hill range rises from 2000 to 3000 feet in height and reaches its highest point 3234 feet in the peak of Narasinghanath hill. This tirtha is in the former Borasambar1 zamindari under the previous Patna rajya i.e. Patnagarh. Afterward, it became a part of erstwhile Sambalpur rajya.

One branch of the Gandhamardan hill range runs along the southern frontier of the ex-Borasambar zamindari and separates Bargarh district from the district of Bolangir. Narasinghnath temple is positioned on the northern side of the Gandhamardan hill range inside Bargarh district. On its southern slope almost at the foot of the hill is Harisankar / Hari-Sankar, another place of pilgrimage. A difficult path links Harisankar and Narasinghnath across thickly forested mountainous tract. Perennial brooks ooze out on both sides of this hill range. From the northern crest of this range springs a famous stream called Papa-Harni Nala, sequentially called KapilDhar, BhimDhar, and ChalDhar and descends to the foot of the hill where Narasinghanath pitha is situated. On the southern slope, a similar stream named PapaNasini (the destroyer of sin) issues from the crest from the range and descends to the foot of the hill where Hari-Sankar Pitha is located. Another range branches off to the west of Narasinghnath running first north-south and then north-east near Jagdalpur in the state of Chhattisgarh where it is broken by the river Ang / Ong. Another range runs eastward to Tal and then to the northeast forming the boundary between the Bargarh district of Odisha and the Raipur district of Chhattisgarh2. In view of this, it may be understood that Borasambar zamindari was advantageously situated from political, military otherwise security point of view.

It would not be out of context to point out here that Gandhagiri is very popular in the history, mythology, culture and various Puranas of Hindu Great Tradition. The Gandhamardan of the Ramayana may as well be identified with this range of hills3. The tradition ascribes the construction of Narasinghnath temple on Gandhagiri to Vaijala Dev-I (1410-1430 AD). An inscription of 1413 AD found in this temple attests it. Vaijala Dev-I is the fourth Chauhan ruler of Patnagarh and is supposed to be the builder of Narasinghnath temple whereas his queen Durlabha Devi is said to have built the Hari-Sankar temple. The former is dedicated to Lord Visnu (Hari) while the latter is dedicated to Lord Siva (Hara). Nevertheless, according to the oral narrative prevalent in the local area, Raja Ramai Dev (1360-1385 AD), the founder of the Chauhan dynasty / kingdom in Patnagarh is said to have built these temples.

The oral narrative regarding construction of the Narasinghanath temple is as follows. The worship of Marjara-kesari by the common people at Narasinghanath is said to have been initiated by a tribal couple. According to the oral narrative, a tribal woman named Yamuna and her husband used to go to the jungle to collect fruits, leaves, firewood etc. for their living. One fine morning, while digging a place in search of Kanda (roots), Yamuna and her husband observed blood spurted out from that place. An unexpected fear gripped on them. They stood there frightened and shaking. For a moment, they were speechless due to fear. When they overcame fear, they realized that there might be some supernatural power in that place. Subsequently, they narrated their experiences before Raja Ramai Dev. Consequently, the icon of Marjara-kesari was discovered from that location and a temple was built for his worship. A wound mark found on the head of the image is supposed to have been caused by digging4.

Our subsequent analysis, however, unfolds the reality that the Narasinghanath site is an ancient one. The survival of Gandhagiri as a religious site dates back at least to the early Christian era. We have numerous evidences to establish that Buddhism was widespread in West Odisha from the 2nd century BC to the 6th century AD. Nagarjuna, the great expounder of the Madhyamika Philosophy of Mahayana Buddhism flourished some time during the period in Daksina Kosala, which was then under the Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni. It is known from the accounts of the Chinese pilgrims Hieun Tsang and Itsing that king Satakarni (106-130 AD) built a magnificent Vihara for his philosopher friend Nagarjuna at Po lo mo lo ki li (Parimalagiri) which has been identified with modern Gandhagiri5. It means that Gautamiputra Satakarni is said to have patronized Nagarjuna and constructed a brilliant vihara for him on the Parimalagiri.

In this context, mention may be made of some Buddhist relics discovered in Ganiapali. Remarkably, Ganiapali is situated near the convergence of the Ang and the Magar rivers near Melchhamunda Police Station under Padampur Sub- Division in the district of Bargarh. Most likely, the Ang valley is exceptionally archaeologically rich and Ganiapali occupies a significant place. There appears to be ruins of an ancient Stupa in Ganiapali, which is identified with ancient Muchalinda, a centre of Buddhist learning6. Two Buddha’s images have been discovered in Ganiapali. The local people worship one such image with the hooded serpent as a deity7.

From the Buddhist text Vinayapitaka, it is recognized that the serpent king Muchalinda protected the idol of Lord Buddha by raising its hood over his head forming an umbrella during the second week following his enlightenment while the idol was troubled by rain and storm. Such an image of Lord Buddha seated on the coils of the serpent king Muchalinda, which shaped a hooded canopy over the head of Lord Buddha, has been discovered in Ganiapali. The local people worship this image as Naga-Muni (the serpent sage).

The above-mentioned Muchalinda image of Ganiapali was located for the first time by the celebrated art historian Charles Fabri in 1961 during his exploration. Fabri has correctly remarked that Muchalinda Buddha images are very rarely found in India. He has dated this image to the 5th to 6th century AD. The name of the village Melchhamunda might have been a local twist of Muchalinda8. When precisely this place was abandoned is difficult to substantiate due to paucity of facts. However, systematic exploration and excavation in this area will positively throw new light on the history and culture of this area.

On a stone-slab is carved a YoniPatta having an eight-angled design and a pair of footprints. It is found close to the Pancha-Pandava-Ghat in Narasinghanath. It is said that such footprints are found to be carved on stone slabs at Ghudar and Ranipur-Jharial in the district of Bolangir and at Samalesvari temple and nearby Rampad in Sambalpur9. It is widely believed that worship of footprints of Siddhacharyas was very familiar to the Tantrik School10. The footprint emblem noticed in the site of Ranipur-Jharial may corroborate this. It is believed to be the reminiscent of early Buddhist worship of anoconic diction11. So, in the present state of our knowledge and information, this much can be remarked here that the Narasinghanath area bears the testimony of Buddhist site of pilgrimage, worship and learning with international reputation in between second and eighth century AD. In view of this, it may be suggested that in ancient and medieval period, religion and learning were very intimately intermingled and each tirtha or holy place was also a centre of learning and culture12.

From the accounts of the eminent art historian Donaldson13, it is known that the temple site of Narasinghanath is an ancient one and the survival of four pillars within the Jagamohana suggests that there was in the beginning a pillared mandapa erected here. Stylistically, these four existing pillars appear to date from the ninth century and are probably the earliest extant examples in Odisha of this transplanted style. This original structure has undergone many changes, however, with two ornate doorframes being added in the eleventh century14.

Panda15 has studied the sculptures and identified with the Panduvamsi raja Harshagupta and his Rani Vasata Devi on one of the previously mentioned four pillars. The sculpture depicts the picture of Rani Vasata Devi attending to her husband Raja Harshagupta in his deathbed in deep mourning. Conspicuously, Rani Vasata Devi is also believed to have built the original Narasinghanath temple for Lord Visnu. This attests the fact that the site of Narasinghanath bears the testimony of a place of Hindu worship and pilgrimage since at least the eighth century AD.

In this context, mention may be made of one five feet high four-headed standing figure of Narasingha in Samabhanga posture found in a small temple of the Narasinghanath temple complex. Very unusually, the Sthanaka Yoga Narasingha image standing in Samabhanga posture is seen wearing shoes up to knee-level or high boot of the Iranian type, as seen in the legs of the Surya image of Konark, assigned to the thirteenth century AD16.

It might be possible that the temple site of Narasinghanath was in the beginning a Buddhist one and the temple built over it by Rani Vasata Devi in eighth or ninth century AD was in a decaying state. This was repaired and renovated in eleventh century AD and was consequently repaired or renovated again by the first Chauhan Raja Ramai Dev in fourteenth century AD. In the same way, it was in complete ruins in the fifteenth century and the fourth Chauhan Raja Vaijala Dev-I built a new temple on this site for the present Lord Narasingha Visnu.

Senapati and Sahu17 writes that possibly from the time of Raja Vaijala Dev-I and his Rani Durlabha Devi, the peaks containing the temples of Narasingha and Hari-Hara were correspondingly recognized as Narasinghanath and Harisankar. In view of this, Gandhagiri may be believed to be a foremost religious centre of Buddhism with international status between the second and eighth century AD. For that reason, probably it was assimilated into Hindu fold i.e. Hinduism first through the stream of tantrik Saivism and finally through the stream of Vaisnavism which will be dealt subsequently in our analysis18.

It may be understood that Gandhagiri has been the seat of Buddhist activities since the early part of the Christian era and Buddhism continues to become the dominant form of religion in this region at least till the eighth century AD. There was an ancient Vihara and it had the international reputation of being a Buddhist Pitha. Significantly, when Buddhism as a religious-cultural force began to decline in many parts of India, Gandhagiri still played a significant role and contributed to this faith in its new form i.e. tantrik Buddhism. In all probability, Narasinghanath Pitha was once upon a time popularly known as the land of tantrik Buddhism. Similarly, Lord Marjarakesari enshrined in the Narasinghanath temple may be identified with a Buddhist tantrik deity who may have been worshipped by the aborigines since very early times19. In other words, Buddhism had stronghold over this area and its people.

Buddhism had to experience a great set-back owing to the rise of Saivism and Vaisnavism in this region. It was possible but not probable earlier than ninth century. It seems probable that Vaisnavism has misplaced its identity and tried to compromise with Saivism during the reign of Somavamsis. Post-eighth century probably gave a Saivite twist to the tantrik Buddhism in Narasinghanath site. The increasing popularity of Saivism after ninth century is apparent from the occurrence of Saiva images and Hari-Hara Pangat in the Narasinghanath pitha. Most likely, during this period tantrik Buddhism assimilated with Saivism. Nevertheless, it is not possible to pronounce precisely when the Buddhist ideology or faith has come to an end allowing Saivism a space to prosper and dominate in Narasinghanath pitha. However, Saivism left its imprints on this site, which is also substantiated by the rock-cut sculptures found in Narasinghanath.

In the Pancha-Pandava-Ghat, there are rock-cut sculptures among which a big rock-cut profiled figure of standing bull Nandi is hewn with one bell hanging from its neck and Lord Siva sitting on its back. A male is positioned nearby with both his hands folded in obeisance. This rock-cut sculpture can be dated back to the 12th-13th century AD.20. In other words, this rock-cut sculpture represents the popularization of Saivism in this Pitha or site during this period. Under the patronage of Somavamsi rulers, Saiva ascetics might have influenced the common people a lot that facilitated in the spread and popularization of Saivism in the Gandhagiri area. The following oral narrative connected with this pitha attests this reality. There is a pool called Haran-Papa in the bed of stream close to the Narasinghanath temple. The natural springs, which come down the Narasinghanath hills, create a pool of water at the foot of the hill close to Narasinghanath temple. The pool is called Haran-papa, the water of which is competent to wash away all sins.

As per the existing narrative, Lord Siva after killing the Go-Daitya (cow demon) could not liberate himself from his sin anywhere in the world. Lord Brahma informed Lord Siva about the manifestation of Ganga Devi in the shape of a stream in Gandhagiri and recommended him to take a holy dip in its water. Consequently, Lord Siva arrived here and took a dip in the holy water. Amazingly, Lord Siva got himself released of the stigma at this Tirtha21. Particularly, matching story is found related with the river Baitarani in other parts of Odisha. All the same, this narrative intends to communicate some information about specific event; provided that it can be correctly dated and appropriately interpreted as potential source of certain kinds of historical information. But dating and interpretation present a lot of difficulties. Nevertheless, the above narrative does suggest us to consider that Saivism was once popular and enjoyed predominance in this place.

There is an oral narrative concerning the formation of Chauhan Rajya in Patnagarh in the medieval period. By the time the Sultan of Delhi conquered Rajputana, a Rani of one of the Rajput houses fled away to save her honour and dignity after her husband was assassinated in the battle. This Rani is recognized as Ashavati and her husband is identified as Hammir Dev who lived near Mainpur in north India and was killed by the Sultan of Delhi. Subsequently, Asavati reached Borasambar, a small Binjhal Rajya. Borasambar was numerically dominated by the aborigines like the Binjhals and was a seat of tribal power. The Binjhal tribal chief of Borasambar took pity on the mother and gave her shelter, where she gave birth to a son named Ramai Dev who afterward became the originator of Chauhan dynasty in Patna.

Reportedly, Binjhals are Dravidian in origin. They worship swords, spears and arrows. They worship mother-Goddess specifically Lakheswari (the Goddess of Archery) and DangarDevta (the mountain deity). Possibly, the Binjhals are a hunting and martial tribe. They particularly worship Narasingha and Bindhyabasini who is their principal deity. They do not employ Brahmins in any ritual observance. They have their Binjhal priests for this purpose. Moreover, Bairagis or Vaisnavas are taken as Mantra-Guru. Almost every Binjhal takes KarnaMantra that is, Mantras whispered in the ear (Karna). It may be understood that Binjhals seek to assert their interest and identities against Brahmins or power and authority of the Brahmins in the Hindu society. This reminds us one of the protests of Buddhism in opposition to caste prejudices or Brahminism. In addition, they worship deities of the Hindu pantheon along with their own deities, which may be accredited to the process of Hinduisation or Sanskritisation taken place afterward22.

According to the oral narrative, once upon a time Patna was a dependency of Borasambar. There was no chief and the council of eight Malliks (Asta-Malliks) ruled over Patna. It was a reign full of mishap and disturbances. What’s more, it was a seat of tantricism and cruelest form of blood sacrifice i.e. human sacrifice was prevalent before its reigning goddess Patanesvari. Everyday a man was sacrificed to the deity. But it was practically difficult on the part of the Asta- Malliks to arrange a man daily for the deity. Consequently, a well thought out practice was made with the hidden intent of human sacrifice at the religious Pitha of Patanesvari.

As per the practice, these eight Malliks were electing a chief each day from the common mass and taking him to the temple of Patanesvari so that he could seek her blessings before ascending the throne. In fact, they had clear objective of letting the man to be the sacrificial article of the deity. They asked the so called newly elected or selected leader to pay obeisance to the deity. No sooner had he prostrated himself then he was beheaded by these Malliks and sacrificed before the deity. After that, the Asta-malliks pretended that the deity considered him unfit to sit on the throne and for that reason devoured him. As a result of this practice, day by day a man was elected chief and was subsequently sacrificed pitilessly.

This narrative intends to transmit certain historical information in a distorted and hazy form that Patna (Patnagarh) was a seat of Tantricism where human sacrifice was once established. In this context, it may be said that there is satisfactory sign to demonstrate and consider that Patna was a seat of tantricism that led to the institution of a tantrik pitha (site) at Patna. It may be noted here that still a few years ago Patna was widely known as KuanriPatna or KaunriPatna which means the seat of maidens who lived in this township for some period of time and accomplished esoteric rites.

Most probably, these tantrik maidens were non-Brahmins by caste or they were popularly acknowledged by their assumed non-Brahmin names like Gangi Gauduni, Sua-Teluni, Jnanadei-Maluni, Nitei-Dhobani, Luhukuti-Luhurani, Sukuti-Chamaruni and Patrapindhi-Saharuni. This suggests us to believe that they were very much admired and worshipped mostly amongst the non-Brahmin and tribal sections of the West Odishan society. They used to solve various problems of the common people related to health, family and the like by their esoteric practices. Thus, they served the society at the grass root level. There are popular tales and traditions in west Odisha depicting the occult practices and tantrik activities of these seven maidens, at times branded as Sat-Bahen (seven sisters). They appear to be the supporters and followers of Lakshminkara who has propounded the Sahajayana Buddhism in West Odisha in the ninth century AD 23.

Apparently, Vaijala Dev-II (1520-1540 AD) of Chauhan dynasty was also a worshipper of Hari-Hara and his Guru was well versed in Logic and Tantra. As late as the sixteenth century, Patna Rajya was known as Kaunri-Patna after the name of the headquarters town of that name as known from the Nirguna Mahatmya of the poet Chaitanya Das24. The oral narrative further reveals that there was a Brahmin in Patna. On one occasion, on his visit to Borasambar he learnt that the Binjhal chief of Borasambar had given shelter to a Chauhan princess and her son. On his request, the Borasambar chief allowed him to take the mother Asavati and her son Ramai Dev to Patnagarh and to keep in his house. After sometime, the Brahmin was elected by the Asta-Malliks to be the chief of Patna. Being afraid of the inevitable consequence of death he sent Ramai Dev to represent him for this purpose.

When the Asta-Malliks asked Ramai Dev to prostrate himself before the deity, he asked them to demonstrate how to do it. When the Asta-Malliks were prostrating themselves, Ramai Dev killed all of them with the sword kept besides the deity and came out of the temple alone and alive. As it became clear from this that the deity approved Ramai Dev, the people hailed him, as their ruler and thus, he became the first Chauhan Raja of Patna. The Binjhal chief of Borasambar, the overlord of Patna endorsed his claim to the principality, came to Patna and put the ticca of a Raja on his forehead. Thus, in Patna / Patnagarh, the Binjhals occupied a honoured and privileged position or status in the sense that it was the custom until very recently for the Binjhal chief and each of his descendants to exercise the same right, also placing a Pagri or Pat of silk on the head of the Raja of Patnagarh at the time of accession25.

Deo26 strongly claims that there is no historical support for Chauhan immigration to Kosala region i.e. modern West Odisha. It is possible that one of the local tribal chiefs emerged powerful enough to assert his independence and seeking the Brahmin’s help and advice, claimed Chauhan rank and status. It may be understood in this specific circumstance that why the Binjhals have such an exaggerated sense of their weight and importance in relation to the Patna Rajya. The way in which Ramai Dev has asserted his position and influence within the power structure suggests us to consider that Binjhals have extended all support to Ramai Dev. In other words, the termination of rule of Asta-Malliks was accompanied by the Binjhals who have played significant role in the emergence and expansion of the Chauhan Rajya in Patnagarh. This is why they have enjoyed much reputation and standing.

The most salient point about the contributions made by various groups is that tribal people or aboriginal groups have been a key factor in the development and progress of societies, in breaking up ethnic boundaries and other cultural limits and identities towards the emergence of Patna state or nation as we understand it today. Ramai Dev eventually succeeded in capturing power from Asta-Malliks and became the exclusive ruler of Patna. In this heroic myth, Ramai Dev and a Brahmin script the extinction of system of Asta-Malliks. This reflects the familiar competition and jealousy among Asta-Malliks who represents various interest groups about their status and position within the then existing political structure.

In this context, Deo27 writes that there was a type of oligarchy or Government by a group of eight powerful persons recognized as Asta-Malliks, and one of these eight chiefs emerged as the Garhpati of Patnagarh. Ramai Dev distorted the egalitarian system of rule (AstaSodara rule) and acknowledged the other seven as Garhpatis or Malliks of diverse areas, who enjoyed superior status in their respective areas. It is understood from the narrative that Ramai Dev was himself endowed with some extra-ordinary qualities and commensurate good will. But he could hardly have destroyed the Asta-Malliks or the system of oligarchy in Patnagarh without the support and guidance of the Brahmin, which marks the commencement of a process of Hinduisation or Brahminisation or Aryanisation. Thus, their union brings the heroic destiny of Ramai Dev to a fitting close to sanskritisation and also formation of a new hierarchical political structure.

Deo28 has rightly mentioned that in these circumstances, it is not difficult to believe in the emergence of a Brahmin-Kshatriya ruling coalition in Patnagarh. In order to sustain a separate and independent Chauhan kingdom, most probably, the Chauhan rulers had to depend upon the Bhogas and Bhagas. They had to persuade the local tribal people to become settled agriculturists so that production would increase; because tribal economy based on hunting and shifting cultivation cannot sustain a Rajya as analysed in a different place by Deo29. In order to legitimize their rank and status as Rajas and to their share of the produce i.e. Bhaga, the Chauhan rulers granted lands to Brahmins and temples which contributed to changing the agrarian situation, configuration of hierarchical social order and Brahminisation or Sanskritisation or Hinduisation of society in this area. In course of development, the successive Chauhan rulers of Patnagarh extended their influence over the neighboring territories including Sambalpur and the adjoining States.

In this context, it would not be out of place to mention here that the aboriginal inhabitants of the Gandhagiri area of Borasambar give special regards to Narasinghanath tirtha. For instance, if the dead body is burnt by the Binjhals, then the ashes and bones are by and large taken to Panch-Pandava-Ghat in the stream near the Narsinghnath temple, where they immersed the ashes. It is believed that the deceased would attain heaven in doing so30. In addition, many other people of the neighbouring areas also immerse the ashes of their forefathers in this pool called Haranapapa with the same belief31.

As discussed previously, the-then existing religious site at Narsinghnath received royal patronage by the first Chauhan ruler Ramai Dev of Patnagarh some time in the fourteenth century. It was perhaps in a decaying condition when the fourth Chauhan Raja Vaijala Dev, son of Vatsaraja Dev came into power. He extended the state patronage and rebuilt or renovated this religious shrine, which was then emerging as a Vaisnava pitha. He granted revenue of the village Luhasingha or present Loisinga for worship of the Lord Narasingha and maintenance of this temple32.

Vaijala Dev was succeeded by Bhojaraja Dev (1430-1455 AD) who is said to have built a fort on the Gandhamardan hills near Narsinghnath temple. This fortification was recognized after him as Bhojagarh. Bhupal Dev (1480-1500AD) of this dynasty is identified to have improved the construction of Bhojagarh close to which he established a township and encouraged people to inhabit there by providing lands free of rent33.

It is understood from Deo’s34 examination that in the new hierarchical political structure at some stage in the Chauhan rule, the tribal chief of Borasambar was recognised as a zamindar under the Patna Raja. Borasambar zamindar enjoyed greater status in his area. This recognition resulted in a hierarchical arrangement. The tribal chief was permitted to run his Borasambar zamindari and was most probably required to pay a periodical tribute, Bheti and also to assist the Patna Raja or overlord in an emergency. He used to keep the income from a part of a territory for his own maintenance. Likewise, there were several villages within the zamindari and most of the village headmen were most likely tribals. Village headman was also recognized as hereditary chief of the village called Gahatia or Gaotia or Gantia or Gartia. The village headman was also required to supply military aid during an emergency to Borasambar zamindar / zamidar as well as Patna Raja. For that, the Gaotia enjoyed the land attached to his village or a cluster of villages under his jurisdiction or authority. The revenue from this provided for his maintenance and that of his soldiers.

In the process of formation of a larger Hindu kingdom and society, the autochthonous groups and their religious pitha like Narasinghanath (Little Tradition) were wrapped up in the wider Hindu society and culture (Great Tradition). In other words, these autochthonous groups and their cultural tradition (Little Tradition) played significant role in the process of state formation in the regional level i.e. in the erstwhile Patnagarh or Patna Rajya during the medieval period. In turn, these little religious traditions have received royal aid and patronage for its popularity, prosperity and growth.

The Papa-Harni-Nala is a tributary of the river Ang. Its water accumulates at five different places into five pools known as kund. These Kunds popularly recognized as Sitakund, PanchaPandavakund and Gankund in the bed of the Papa-Harni-Nala are considered efficacious in washing away sins. In fact, Papa- Harni-Nala is formed by the natural springs at Narasinghanath. The water-falls are popularly identified as Kapildhar, Bhimdhar, Gadadhar, Guptadhar and Chaldhar, which are regarded as very sacred and sacrosanct.

The Kapildhar, Bhimdhar and Gadadhar put up with the sacred recollection of Kapila Rishi and Bhima, the second Pandava respectively. There is an oral narrative that while wandering in the jungles during their banabasa (exile) Pandava brothers with wife Draupadi had arrived at Gandhagiri. They built a hut and lived there. On one occasion, Bhima wanted to have his bath. But for a pleasant bath the available water was insufficient. Consequently, he struck his Gada (club) on the mountain Gandhagiri and out of the blue another Ganga emerged. Goddess Ganga Devi named these two falls as Bhimdhar and Gadadhar after Bhima.

Narasinghanath is also fabled and well-known for different valiant and supernatural deeds of Bhim such as killing a demon, falling in love with local girls, constructing a stone house called Bhim-Madua, playing with Bati (stone balls). A cave in this mountain is popularly branded as Panchu-Pandav-Khol wherein Nakula, the fourth Pandava carved the figures of five brothers on the wall with his kunta (weapon). A mango tree called SatiAmba is supposed to bear mangoes all through the year. It is coupled with a beautiful fable that the five Pandava brothers including Draupadi disclosed their undisclosed reality and the ripen mangoes sprouted up through which they all appeased a guest sent by Duryodhana to destroy the virtue of Yudhisthira.

Gandhagiri is also fabled to be the place where Ramachandra, Laksmana and Sita in Tretaya Yuga had spent some time during their banabasa. Sita-kunda of this religious site is fabled to be the spot where Sita took her bath and washed her soiled clothes. Ramachandra blamed her because she polluted the stream. Further, a narrative runs that the mountain Gandhagiri was a part of or adjacent to mountain Vindhyanchala. Hanumana carried Gandhagiri to Lanka in order to save the life of Laksmana and while returning he left the mountain here. There is no denying the fact that the Gandhagiri is a treasure of medicinal plants and the State Government has established an Ayurvedic college and research centre in this place.

All the same, the oral narratives discussed above are the restricted or localized versions of the Hindu religious scriptures like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana connected with this sacred centre Narasinghanath. Moreover, as discussed somewhere else, many people of neighbouring areas of Odisha and Chhattisgarh immerse the ashes of their fore-fathers in this tirtha believing that they would attain heaven thereby. This equates the Narasinghanath tirtha with the Triveni at Prayag (Allahabad) and Biraja pitha at Jajpur in Odisha. This indicates the extent of reverence shown to this tirtha, which occupies a pivotal position in the religious life of the common people of this area or sacred zone. The pilgrims who use to visit this tirtha take holy bath in this water. In other words, religious beliefs of Hindu Great Tradition have been localized here.

The above discussion informs that the Narasinghanath tirtha has shown lenience to foremost religious faiths specifically Buddhism, Tantrism, Saivism and Vaisnavism. Though the tirtha is famous as Narasinghanath, the principal image in the garbhagriha of the temple is called Marjarakesari who is assumed to be a form of Lord Visnu with the head of a cat and body of a lion. It would not be out of place to mention here that Nrusingha / Narasingha (Nara+Singha) is one of the avataras (incarnations) of Lord Visnu, which is extensively narrated in various Hindu Puranas. If we delve for information into the Nrusimha Mahatmya, we locate that the source of Marjarakesari as an avatara of Lord Visnu has been set forth only in the Nrusimha Mahatmya, an Odia creation of Chauhan reign. Most probably, by this time Vaisnavism became the leading form of religion in this site and Buddhism and Saivism receded to the background.

According to the oral narrative, once a certain Rishi was performing Tapasya (religious austerity or penance) on the bank of the river Godavari in the Ramayana or Tretaya-Yuga. He had a beautiful daughter named Malati. During this period, Ravana was the king of Lanka. Once, Malati happened to be out when Ravana came to visit that place and saw her. He was smitten with the charm of Malati and could not resist his sexual urge. He ravished her and she became unconscious. Thereafter, Ravana threw her into the river Godavari. She was in danger of losing her life. But, the river Godavari protected her as if a mother naturally feels protective towards her child and brought her back safely to the bank. When Malati regained her consciousness, she was astonished to find herself in an unknown place. She did not find her father and started weeping helplessly. At that time, Musika (mouse), the Vahana (vehicle) of Lord Ganapati heard the moans of wounded Malati. He came up to her and asked what she was moaning about. Malati narrated her misfortune. Musika consoled her with the thought that it might have been worse. He promised to help her also. So, face of Malati radiated with joy and hope. She was now at the mercy of Musiaka. But the irony of her fate or circumstance was that Malati was deceived into believing that Musika would help her. Finally, Musika also enjoyed her. Thus, from Ravana and Musika was born of her a male child called Musika-datta.

When the child grew up, he became a danger to his own mother and ate up his mother mercilessly. Then, he performed Tapasya rigorously and pleased Lord Siva. The deity conferred on him Bara (boon) that he would have cause for fear from none but Narasingha of the Satya-Yuga. This narrative informs us the presence of Saivism in this site. In other words, this indicates that the prevailing society believed in or required the synthesis between Saivism and Vaisnavism in this area. However, Musika-datta became most powerful and a source of trouble and discontentment to the deities of Swarga (heaven). The helpless deities surrendered to Ramachandra and threw themselves on his mercy. Assuming the form of Lord Narasingha, Ramachandra came to destroy Musikadatta who fled in fear of his life. Narasingha also followed him. Musika-datta arrived at Gandhagiri in fear and trembling. He approached the Gandhagiri to give him shelter. When the refuge was granted, Musika-datta assumed the form of Musika (mouse) and entered the mountain Gandhagiri. So, Lord Narasingha also assumed the form of a Marjara (cat) and pursued him. But Gandhagiri and other deities interceded and requested Lord Visnu to establish himself there in that feline form i.e. Marjara-Kesari so that he could devour Musika-datta when he came out. This narrative also informs us the presence of Ganapati cult in this site. Ganapati-Ghat and rock-cut sculpture available in Narsinghnath site proves this fact.

A significant feature of this tirtha is Hari-Hara-pangat, which undoubtedly confirms that Vaisnavism and Saivism headed towards a synthesis in this site. In reality, however, it was a synthesis between Buddhism, Vaisnavism (Hari) and Saivism (Hara) in the Narasingha pitha. Both the subaltern as well as high caste people sit on the floor together and eat anna prasad cooked in the house of this popular deity. Hari-Hara-pangat stands for the casteless, classless and secular aspect of this tirtha. People never dare to abstain from Hari-Hara-pangat or Hari-Hara-bhoga on caste point of view. They acknowledge prasad without hesitation. In other words, while taking or sharing of cooked food among various castes and communities is stringently forbidden under traditional Hindu caste system, eating of bhoga at Hari-Hara-pangat is not at all forbidden.

The eradication of caste rules in regard to the Hari-Hara-bhoga reminds us one of the important protests of Buddhism against caste prejudices. Also, the typical catlike form of the deity with the head of a cat and body of a lion is a terrific idol, which recommends some influence of or connection with tantra. It is a fact that this place was some time a seat of tantrik Buddhism. Scholars strongly advocate that the Gandhagiri or Gandhamardana hill has to be explored for ancient Buddhist relics. This has led the world by founding Vajrayana Buddhism in the eighth century AD. In view of the above, absence of caste restriction in Hari-Hara-pangat and the typical feline form of Marjara-Kesari may be attributed to the Buddhist tantrik tradition, which a long ago flourished here.

Moreover, this also equates with the Mahaprasad Sevana at Ananda Bazar of the Lord Jagannath Temple, Puri, which for some scholars represents the coalition of Brahmin and Buddhist doctrines. It is believed that originally the image of Lord Jagannath was the image of Lord Buddha containing his relics and Buddhist mode of worship are traced in the rituals of Lord Jagannath36. It may be understood here that Narasinghanath Pitha powerfully emerged as a Vaisnava Pitha during Chauhan rule. Vaisnavism triumphed over Buddhism as well as Saivism in this Pitha and Buddhism absolutely missed its identity. As it has been said earlier, from about fourteenth century Borasambar area came under the Chauhan reign of Patnagarh. The finish of the Buddhist and Saiva faiths in Narsinghnath site may tentatively be traced to this period.

It may be suggested to consider that the aboriginal people who were the original worshippers of this deity earlier richly inhabited this region. The catlike form of deity was a non-Hindu deity, which does not match with any of the form of Devi or Devata icon of the Hindu iconography. Further, the image does not resemble any other deity found in Odisha. The antiquity of Marjara-Kesari cannot be pushed back to the Vedic period. During the Vedic period, the four Vedas do not refer to the worship of Marjara-Kesari. What’s more, Marjara-Kesari does not find a place in the congregation of Vedic deities.

Most probably, Marjara-Kesari was initiated into the Brahminical pantheon in Narasinghanath Tirtha at a later period during the Chauhan rule. The non-Hindu image of Marjara-Kesari is probably a Buddhist one, worshipped in the beginning by the ancient tribal people of this area. The original name of this deity was obscured by the process of the sanskritization and the Sanskritik name of Marjara-Kesari conferred on him. This name was befitting to the image of the deity with the head of a cat and body of a lion. It was easier to recognize Marjara-Kesari with the Hindu deity Nara-Singha with the head of a lion and body of a male human being. This was established by manufacturing a narrative of Malati and Musika-datta involving Musika, the vehicle of Lord Ganesa and Ramachandra. Subsequently, this story was accepted far and wide by both the Hindus and non-Hindus of this area. In addition, the myth helped to incorporate the deity as a form of incarnation of Lord Visnu into the Hindu fold.

In all probability, this process of Sanskritisation or Hinduisation of the aboriginal deity took place in the medieval period during the State formation in Patnagarh. It was essentially required to integrate the indigenous communities into one fold under the umbrella of Hinduism in the process of the building of a unified Patna Rajya. So, Marjara-Kesari was accepted and exalted as Lord Visnu in order to appease the local subjects so that the ruling class could consolidate their power over the natives and exercise their authority over this area.

In this context, it would not be out of context to mention here that the Binjhals are a primitive race, which appears to have been among the earliest inhabitants of this area. The entire area was a part of the Borasambar zamindari belonging to the Binjhal family. As discussed elsewhere, they were a hunting and martial tribe. But they were converted into settled agriculturists during the Chauhan reigns. Even today, majority of them are cultivators and rests are farm servants or field labourers. Those who are settled in the plains have taken to improved methods of rice cultivation37. From the military point of view i.e. security of the State, the Binjhals / Bhinjawal zamindar of Borasambar held an important position. His lands were situated alone on the north side of the Gandhagiri, which form part of the northern frontier of Patna, and accordingly he could hold the approaches through these hills to Patna for or against any hostile force38.

The Binjhal39 zamindar of Borasambar enjoyed the most privileged position like right of affixing the Ticca to the Rajas of Patnagarh on their accession. Conspicuously, the more advanced Binjhals boast of an alliance with Rajputs and call themselves Barihas, which is a title originally borne by small hill chiefs. But the common Binjhals do not claim such Rajput / Kshatriya status and descent. Nonetheless, it may be noted here that the management of the Narasinghanath temple has been directly or indirectly controlled by the Padampur / Borasambar zamindar family since very early times.

References:

1 According to the oral narrative, formerly Borasambar consisted of eight villages, which went by the name of Atgaon (Ath+Gaon), which literary means eight villages. One of the zamindar of Atgaon having saved the life of a Sambar deer by killing a Bora or boar constrictor which had attacked it, the name of the zamindari was changed to Borasambar, vide N. Senapati and N. K. Sahu (eds.), Bolangir District Gazetteer, Orissa Government Press, Cuttack, 1968.

2 N. Senapati and N. K. Sahu (eds.) (1968), op.cit. p.5,483-84; N. Senapati and B. Mahanti (eds.), Sambalpur District Gazetteer, Orissa Government Press, Cuttack, 1971, p.9.

3 N. Senapati and N. K. Sahu (eds.) (1968), op.cit. p.5; N. Senapati and B. Mahanti (eds.) (1971), op.cit., p.9.

4 According to an analogous oral narrative regarding construction of the Hari-Sankar temple, it is said that on one occasion an old man belonging to Kandha tribe, while digging out kanda (roots) in that spot, came across a stone and spring oozing out underneath the stone. That night he saw in dream Lord Siva’s presence at the place where he found the stone. The Kandha narrated his experience before Raja Ramai Dev, the then ruler of Patnagarh, who himself had a similar dream. Thereafter, a temple was built there to enshrine Lord Siva, vide N. Senapati and N. K. Sahu (eds.) (1968), op.cit. pp. 50, 484.

5 N. K. Sahu, Buddhism in Orissa, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, 1958, pp.100 101; N. Senapati and D. C. Kuanr (eds.), (1980), Kalahandi District Gazetteer, Orissa Government Press, Cuttack, p.43; N. Senapati and N. K. Sahu (1968), op.cit, p. 5.

6 N. Senapati and B. Mahanti (eds), (1971), op.cit. pp. 49, 531).

7 ibid. p. 524.

8 Charles Louis Fabri, History of the Art of Orissa, Orient Longman, New Delhi, 1974, pp.31-36; S. S. Panda, “Nagas on the Sculptural Decorations of Early West Orissa Temples”, The Orissa Historical Research Journal, Vol.XLVII, No.1, 2004, pp.27.

9 C. Pasayat, “State Formation and Cultural Assimilation in Medieval Orissa: The Case of a Tribal Deity in Sambalpur”, Utkal Historical Research Journal, Vol. XX, 2007(a), p.72.

10 S. S. Panda, “Early Chauhan Temples of Sambalpur Town”, Orissa Review, April 1996, p.37; S. S. Panda, “Narsinghnath Temple of Bargarh District”, Orissa Review, August 2003, p. 62.

11 C. B. Patel, “Monumental Efflorescence of Ranipur-Jharial”, Orissa Review, August 2004, p.42.

12 C. Pasayat, History of Tribal Society and Culture, Zenith Books International, Delhi, 2007(b), p.48.

13 T. E. Donaldson, The Hindu Temple Art of Orissa, Volume I, The Netherlands: E.J.Brill, Leiden, 1985, p. 200-201.

14 C. Pasayat, Oral Tradition, Society and History, Mohit Publications, New Delhi, 2008, p. 14.

15 S. S. Panda, op.cit. p.61-72.

16 S. S. Panda, “The Story of Religion as Told by West Orissan Temples and Epigraphy” in M. Pati (ed.), West Orissa: A Study in Ethos, Sambalpur University, Sambalpur, 1992, p.210; S. S. Panda (2004), op.cit. p.46-47.

17 N. Senapati and N. K. Sahu (1968), op.cit. p.50.

18 Perhaps, large-scale mining operation by BALCO during the second half of the twentieth century has resulted in destruction of the pristine ancient culture and heritage of this place.

19 C. Pasayat, op. cit., 2007(b), p. 50.

20 S. S. Panda, op.cit. p. 81.

21 N. Senapati and B. Mahanti (eds.), op.cit. p. 14.

22 N. Senapati and N. K. Sahu (eds.), op.cit. p.103; N. Senapati and B. Mahanti (eds.), op.cit p.121; N. Senapati and D. C. Kuanr (eds.), op.cit. p.93-94.

23 C. Pasayat, op. cit., 2008 p.18; C. Pasayat, op. cit. 2007(b), p. 53-54.

24 N. Senapati and N. K. Sahu (eds.), op.cit. pp.50-51, 489; N. Senapati and B. Mahanti (eds.), op. cit. pp. 49, 531; Panda, 1992).

25 N. Senapati and B. Mahanti (eds.), op. cit. pp. 516-517.

26 F. Deo, “Chauhan Myth and Royal Legitimization in Kosala (Daksina)”, Sambalpur Lok Mahotsav Souvenir, District Council of Culture, Sambalpur, 2003, p. 97.

27 ibid, p.97.

28 ibid, p.97.

29 ibid. p.96.

30 N. Senapati and B. Mahanti (eds.), op.cit. p.122-123.

31 ibid. p.14.

32 ibid pp.534-535.

33 N. Senapati and N. K. Sahu (eds.), op. cit. p.51.

34 F. Deo, op. cit.

35 Yogadas, Nrusimha Charita (Edited by N. Pruseth), Dora Art Press, Padampur.

36 L. S. S. O’Malley, Puri: A Gazetteer, Bengal Secretariat Press, 1908, p.90.

37 N. Senapati and N. K. Sahu (eds.), op. cit., p.103.

38 It would appear that during the first inroads of the Marathas, the zamindar of Borasambar was successful in guarding these approaches. For this service, Borasambar zamindar was granted an extension of property on the Patna side vide N. Senapati and N. K. Sahu (eds.), op.cit., p. 67.

39 Likewise, the prominence accorded another aboriginal community called the Kandha in the consolidation and expansion of Kalahandi Rajya through military conquest. As per the tradition prevalent in Kalahandi Raj-family, the Kandhas had assured protection and help to Ramachandra Dev, seventh ruler (1173-1201 AD) in his State affairs. A Kandha called Pat-Majhi crowned Ramachandra Dev as Raja of Kalahandi at Jugsaipatna. This custom is still in vogue since then and all Kalahandi Rajas are crowned at Jugsaipatna by the Pat-Majhi vide N. Senapati and D. C. Kuanr (eds.) op. cit., p. 53.

Chitrasen Pasayat, Ph.D. (JNU).

E-mail: chitrasenpasayat@gmail.com

March 27, 2015 at 4:55 pm Leave a comment

Destruction of historical monuments in Western Odisha

Following is a report from the Sambad:

TGarh

October 29, 2014 at 1:33 am 1 comment

Hard to imagine history of Odisha without Koshal: Assam governor Janaki Ballav Patnaik

Following is a report from the Sambad:
KL

July 2, 2014 at 7:03 am Leave a comment

Boudh’s buddhist heritage

Following is a report from TNIE:
Boudh

February 17, 2014 at 8:35 am Leave a comment

Raja, Praja and Bhagawan: understanding oral narratives and state formation in Huma desha

Saiva cult is a primordial cult and it has pervaded all over India. Archaeological and historical remnants of the Indus Valley Civilization attest the fact that Saivism is a pre-Aryan conception. The availability of a large number of ancient relics i.e. stone pieces resembling phallus had led the indologists as well as historians to trust that Pasupati (Siva) was worshipped in the Linga (phallic) shape by the non-Aryans of Indus Valley Civilization. This practice of Siva worship seems to have spread to different parts of India from 3000 B.C. Sambalpur is not an exception to it. The history of Saivism can be traced back to the first century A.D. Siva worship in the form of Bhairava worship was prevalent in the Upper Mahanadi valley of Orissa at least from the first century A.D., even though some other scholars are of the opinion that the Bhairava cult became admired from the eighth century A.D. onwards1. All the same, people of Sambalpur area adore Siva both in iconic and aniconic forms. The phallic worship is the most accepted and symbolical compromise of the worship of Siva in his iconic and aniconic forms.

The Somavamsis, who began their rule in modern Binka-Subarnapur area in the eighth century A.D., were great patrons of this stream of Hinduism. Subsequently, the Chauhan Rajas who reigned Sambalpur area from about 14th century A.D. to middle of the 20th century A.D. had also extended royal patronage to Saivism. They built Siva temples in different parts of Sambalpur Rajya and made extensive village and land grants for regular and elaborate performance of Seva-Puja which is highly structured in these religious shrines.

In the erstwhile Sambalpur Rajya one discovers a large number of Siva temples constructed under the royal patronage during the Chauhan reigns. The most legendary among them are those of the Asta-Sambhus, literary meaning of which is eight Sambhus or Sivas. They are, namely Bimaleswara at Huma, Kedarnatha at Ambabhona, Biswanath at Deogaon, Balunkeswara at Gaisama, Maneswara at Maneswar, Swapneswara at Sorna, Bisweswara at Soranda and Nilakantheswara at Niljee.

Lord Bimaleswara at Huma is understood as the Adya-Sambhu, i.e. the earliest among the Asta-Sambhus who appears to have been much admired during the reigns of Chauhan Rajas in Sambalpur. This Saiva pitha has constantly drawn the attention of visitors and scholars of diverse discipline since a very long time. The reason is that, it has provided new facts which compel to rethink for socio-historical reconstruction and re-building of this place. In the present study, our emphasis is on the oral tradition accessible in the local area.

The area of our study is Bimaleswara tirtha. This Saiva Pitha is located on the left bank of the river Mahanadi 14 miles (24 kms.) down stream and south of Sambalpur. Lord Bimaleswara is worshipped in the Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) of the temple. Bhairabi Devi is adored to his left and Lord Bhairo to his right. As per the oral tradition prevalent in the village Huma and its surrounding area, the Ganga Emperor Anangabhimadeva-III (1211-1239 A.D.) had constructed this temple. In the 16th century AD Balaram Dev, the first Chauhan ruler of Huma desa / Sambalpur, presumably found this pitha in a dilapidated condition. He not only conserved this monument but also gave land-grants for regular seva-puja in the temple. It is also assumed that, the temple was rebuilt or renovated by Maharaja Baliar Singh (1660-1690 A.D.), the fifth Chauhan Raja of Sambalpur Rajya. The rest of the temples of Asta-Sambhus were built during the rule of Raja Ajit Singh (1766-1788 A.D.) of Sambalpur2. All these disclose the truth that, the Chauhan Rajas of Sambalpur Rajya were great champions of Saivism.

It is in fact, amusing and wonderful to see the Bimaleswara temple in leaning shape. One and all look at the temple in silent surprise. As walking on the moon is one of the wonders of our time, leaning temple at Huma is one of the wonders of medieval period. It reminds us the famous leaning tower of Pisa. The temple is positioned on the rocky cradle just on the bank of the river Mahanadi. The basis of leaning cannot be assumed to be the technical flaws at the time of construction. It is also not easily acceptable that weak foundation might have caused leaning attitude of the temple.

In fact, construction of temple is quite favourite of Chauhan Rajas as well-known to us from innumerable temples built during their reigns. They had already established themselves as good builders. Again, the temple is not an enormous structure. There might have been interior displacement of the rocky bed on which it stands, either due to flood current in the river Mahanadi or earthquake, thus affecting the straight posture of the original temple. In other words, the plinth of the temple has been deviated slightly from its original arrangement and as a result, the body of the temple has become tilted or at an angle. Nevertheless, people visiting this temple stare at this phenomenon in bewilderment. Be that as it may, there is no denying the fact that this has fascinated the attention of historians, sculptures and other researchers.

Nonetheless, there is enough shelter among these rocks to harbour a variety of fish locally identified as Kudo fish. That is why, the river Ghat is known as Machhindra Ghat. Some rituals in connection with the reverence of Lord Bimaleswara are performed in this river Ghat. Twenty-two steps leading to this Ghat take you back to Baisi Pabachha i.e. twenty-two steps of Shri Jagannath Temple at Puri. The water of Machhindra Ghat is considered to be sacred. Devotees take their bath here prior to offering Puja to the divinity.

Now and then, people present food to Kudo fishes. It is mesmerizing to see these fishes accepting food from human beings with no fear. This reminds us the Maneswara Saiva Pitha where tortoises in the adjoining pool also acknowledge food from human beings without fear. Entertainingly, the Kudo fishes respond to the call of the priests and approach to the ladder of the bathing Ghat to be fed by the pilgrims. No one is permitted to catch them3. Neighboring inhabitants regard them as godly creatures and Matchha Avatara (incarnation) of Lord Visnu at Huma and Katchhapa Avatara at Maneswara.

It is understood that, there is a secret path from the seat of Lord Bimaleswara to the river Mahanadi and the Kudo fishes take refuge at the feet of the deity throughout the rainy season. Similarly, it is also supposed that there is a secret path from the seat of Lord Maneswara to the adjacent pond. A number of myths are associated with Kudo fishes. As per the oral tradition, on one occasion a woman did not pay any heed to the local people and caught a Kudo fish and decided to slash it into pieces. While attempting to cut the fish with her Pankhi (locally made knife) she was instantly altered into a stone. The stone representation of the woman was found on the riverbed for several years. Afterward, it has been swept away by the floodwater.

According to the oral tradition, the temple was inclined from the very beginning of its construction for the reason that Lord Bimaleswara himself desired such a temple. In order to fulfill his wish, Maharaja Baliar Singh built a leaning temple for the god. In course of time, the shape of the temple and associated fable itself popularized this Pitha far and wide. For some, from the very beginning of the construction of the temple, the temple architect might have consciously made the temple inclined towards the river keeping in mind that the centre of gravity of the body would remain outside the temple so that strong floodwater cannot destabilize the temple. Be that as it may, such an abnormal and unusual feature of the temple was not easily acceptable to the ordinary natives for which there was a need of a myth to rationalize its leaning position that Lord Bimaleswara desired to have such a temple for himself.

On the one hand, the myth has glorified Lord Bimaleswara and on the other hand the myth has helped in the popularization of this Pitha. It may be mentioned here that apart from the main temple, there are two small temples of Lord Siva and one Vaisnava Temple constructed latter on inside the temple complex. High boundary walls enclose the temple complex. The temples are made up of siuly cut stones. In Jagamohana burnt bricks are found as well. These miniatures are also said to have been in leaning position. But these are so small in size that they cannot lean unless they are treated to do so. In all probability, in conformity with the existing tradition and design of the main temple these small temples are also built accordingly. These temples cannot situate so, had there been any displacement of foundation area or technical defects.

As pointed out earlier, sculptures, quite pet of the Chauhan rulers are not found in dominating in Bimaleswara temple like that of the Narasinghanath mainly in Vimana portion. Even though, it is presumed that there was no sculpture of significance excepting the Parsva Devatas, it is quite possible that some sculptures are hidden under the thick plaster. Of course, sculptural consideration is of less significance here than the technique of construction which deserves special consideration and attention. In all likelihood, the architects avoided any type of sculptural representations on the body of the temple in order to keep it light so that the centre of gravity was free from heavy pressure.

Though we are not in possession of any documentary support to explain the plan of the Bimaleswara temple as a leaning temple, no clarification or findings properly convinces us to acknowledge the theory that the present shape of the temple is the effect of some natural happenings or calamities. In view of this, the Bimaleswara temple unquestionably bears testimony to the advanced technical know-how of the Chauhan builders of Sambalpur area.

The village Chaunrpur, on the right bank of the river Mahanadi is held to be the seat of Raja Balaram Dev, prior to his approaching to Sambalpur. According to the local tradition, a cowherd boy residing in a nearby village of Chaunrpur initiated worshipping Lord Bimaleswara. He used to take the cows to the interior jungles on the riverbank. To his utter surprise, once he found that a black cow was remaining missing for a particular time on every day. Subsequently, he started watching the movement of the cow. It was a rainy day and the river was enraged. To his amusement, he saw the cow crossing the high current of the river Mahanadi. One fine morning, the cowherd boy followed the cow and swam across the river and came to the left bank of the river Mahanadi. He observed the cow going up to a stone and spraying her milk over it. The cowherd boy realized that there was a greater or superior power, which directed the behavior of the black cow. Thence, he observed devotion, submission and reverence to the supernatural power residing in that rock. Subsequently, people residing nearby came to know about this fact and visited the site. Seeing the location, they at once assumed it to be a Saiva Pitha and since then started worshipping it. It would not be out of context to mention here that the above-mentioned religious myth is connected with a large number of religious Pithas all over the state in Orissa, which consist of not only Saiva Pithas, but Vaisnava Pithas as well4.

Formation of a separate Chauhan kingdom by Balaram Dev in the 16th century AD was the result of the partition of ruling family of Patnagarh. There are three narratives on this subject. First, when Narasingha Dev was the ruler of Patnagarh Ratanpur was a hostile power. So, Narasingha Dev placed the Sambalpur tract under the charge of his younger brother Balaram Dev to check the aggression of Haihaya power of Ratanpur. Subsequently, Balaram Dev formed a separate kingdom and established himself at Sambalpur. Secondly, it is said that, one rainy night when the queen of Narasingha Dev was in the throes of child birth, Balaram Dev swam across a hill-stream named Mayabati, which was flowing between Patnagarh and the village Barapada and brought the nurse from that village to attend the queen. Narasingha Dev was pleased to award the Sambalpur tract to Balaram Dev for his courageous and faithful service.

As per the third narrative, there arose a quarrel between the two brothers on the issue of ‘bhai-bhaga’. The dispute was amicably settled after the intervention of their mother. Tradition goes that, the queen mother took her both sons to the bed of the river Surangi and asked the elder and the younger to sit on her right and left laps respectively. Then she told them that, the river Surangi should be taken as her own body (Ang). The elder brother should enjoy the territory to the right of the river and the younger one to the left of it. Both the brothers acknowledged the decision of their mother. From that time onwards, the river was called Ang and was regarded as the natural frontier between Patna and Sambalpur territories.

We may relate these three oral narratives and try to present a comprehensive picture. Probably, Balaram Dev came to Sambalpur tract to check the aggression of Ratanpur. He established himself initially at Bargarh on the bank of the river Jira and built his fort there. There from, he is said to have shifted his capital to Chaunrpur, on the right bank of the river Mahanadi. Finally, he shifted his capital to Sambalpur on the left bank of the river Mahanadi. These three places are on the bank of the rivers. Bargarh, situated on the Jira delta is a fertile plain. In order to broaden his power base and increase his economic strength, Balaram Dev controlled this fertile region. Similarly, Chaunrpur and Sambalpur, situated on the upper Mahanadi delta is a fertile plain. Balaram Dev controlled this fertile region as well. Thus, he consolidated Chauhan power in this tract and built a separate kingdom namely Huma-desa and subsequently Sambalpur. Subsequently, however, there might have been a fight between the two brothers on the boundary issue of their territories which was resolved peacefully by their mother.

When Balaram Dev shifted to Chaunrpur from Bargarh then heard the miraculous incident of the deity at Huma narrated above and visited this Pitha. Realizing the religious sanctity and popularity of this Pitha he allocated revenues of some villages namely Huma, Bulpunga, Dhatukpali, Gangadharpali and Mahle for the maintenance, regular worship and religious ceremonies of Lord Bimaleswara. O’Malley, in his Sambalpur Gazetteer, has written that, “The temple has an endowment consisting of Huma and 6 other villages, which have been exempted from assessment so long as the temple stands and the religious ceremonies are maintained. The grant is an old one, being said to date back to the time of Balaram Deva, first Raja of Sambalpur”5. In other words, State funding of Seva-Puja has been introduced since then. Most probably, when Raja Balaram Dev carved out a new Rajya out of the province of his elder brother he named it Huma Desa. Thereafter, as the erudite historian Dr. N. K. Sahu has described, the period of establishment of the Sambalpur Rajya was about the year 1570 A.D.6

The village Huma and its Saiva Pitha may be supposed to be much older than the time of Raja Balaram Dev whose Rajya was once identified as Huma Desa. The following analysis unearths the reality that the continuation of this Pitha can at least be dated back to the eleventh century A.D. Panda7 recognizes some significant points that the gateway/doorjamb to the Garbhagriha of this temple is of late Somavamsi period and it is comparable to that of the Jagamohana of the Narsinghnath temple of Gandhagiri near Paikmal of Bargarh district. Another significant stone panel fitted to the wall of the Jagamohana on the proper right of the doorjamb is a broken one, depicting three Grahas of the Nava-Grahas panel which can also be dated to the late Somavamsi period and in all probability was fitted above the doorjamb of the Garbhagriha in its original state. In view of that, the doorjamb as well as the broken Nava-Grahas panel can be iconographically dated to the eleventh century A.D.

According to the oral tradition prevalent in the village Huma and its surrounding area, as stated earlier, the Ganga Emperor Anangabhimadeva-III (1211-1239 A.D.) has constructed this temple. Hence, it can be said with precision that Huma bears the testimony of a significant place of pilgrimage and a glorious place of Siva worship since at least the eleventh century A.D., if these historical relics are reckoned to be the earliest of all antiquities existing at Huma. It is not out of place to mention that, Dakshina Kosala with its capital at Suvarnapur or Yajatinagar was the seat of power of the later Somavamsi for sometime. Sonepur stone inscription of Bhanudeva dated 1268 AD attests this fact. Both the epigraphic evidence as well as tradition combine to prove that, Sonepur was occupied by the Gangas during the reign of Anangabhimadeva-III.

In the 15th and 16th century A.D., after the disintegration of the Ganga Empire of Orissa, a strong pull towards political fragmentation and decentralization of power took place. It happened partly due to the partition of ruling families and partly due to land grants of villages by the ruler to indigenous tribal chiefs who ended up as independent potentates in the frontier zone of uncertain control like Daksina Kosala (roughly west Orissa). The indigenous tribal chiefs and chiefs of obscure origins took advantage of weak central authority, assumed power and formed several Rajyas8.

In all probability, Huma as well as its adjoining area was a thick forested area and inhabited by aboriginal people when Raja Balaram Dev first arrived here. He was a reputed warrior. Owing to military necessity, his elder brother, Raja Narasingha Dev, the tenth Chauhan Raja of Patna Rajya entrusted the administration of this tribal dominated, hilly and forested part to him. Balaram Dev first established himself at Bargarh on the bank of the river Jira as mentioned earlier. Then, he shifted his capital to Chaurpur on the right bank of the river Mahanadi and named it Huma desa. There from, he sifted his capital to the left bank of the river Mahanadi and formed the present Sambalpur. As discussed earlier, Bargarh-Sambalpur-Sonepur area, situated on the upper Mahanadi delta was a fertile plain with a high yield of per unit of land. Balaram Dev successfully consolidated the Chauhan rule in this part of their Rajya and carved out a new Rajya out of the territory of his elder brother and named it Huma Desa. This period, thus, marked the culmination of the process of state formation in this area under the Chauhans. Thus, Chauhan power was mainly responsible for unifying different areas of West Orissa under one rule.

In this process of consolidation of power, there is no denying that, Balaram Dev was basically liable for amalgamating Bargarh-Sambalpur-Sonepur regions under his rule and carved out a new kingdom. The topographical condition was helpful for agriculture. He made the plain area suitable for settled cultivation. During this period, presumably, local communities and people were mobilized for plough cultivation. Even brahmanas could not confine their activities to their traditional duties and followed the profession of plough cultivation. ‘Halua’ brahmana, for instance, is a category of agricultural brahmanas of Sambalpur area. The word ‘halua’ is derived from ‘hala’ meaning ‘plough’. The aboriginal base of plough cultivation and the transformation of tribal chiefs into big landlords/gauntias/Zamindars/kshatriyas in Sambalpur area paved the path of assimilation. With the assimilation of the local and tribal people as peasants there was a great deal of agricultural expansion and surplus mobilization in this area. This constituted the material base for the rise of Balaram Dev. In this context, one cannot ignore the change in the material base and its corresponding reflection on society and polity. During this period, there was a striking change in power equation in West Orissa. Sambalpur became most powerful of the garhjat cluster. From that time onwards, the importance of Patnagarh declined and the significance of Sambalpur increased.

In order to sustain his separate and independent Rajya, most probably Raja Balaram Dev had to depend upon the Bhogas and Bhagas. As mentioned above, he had to persuade the local tribal people to become settled agriculturists so that production would increase. Perhaps, the socio-economic life of the people was very simple. They were reliant on subsistence economy which was primarily based on hunting, food gathering and shifting cultivation. This type of survival economy almost certainly could not create adequate surplus and could not sustain an emerging Rajya as analyzed elsewhere9. To legitimize his status as Raja and to his share of the produce (Bhaga), Raja Balaram Dev granted lands to Brahmins and temples which contributed to the changing agrarian situation, formation of a hierarchical social order and Brahminisation / Hinduisation of the society. In this process, we may assume that, tribal people were assimilated as peasants. The process of tribal integration appears to have been gradual through acculturation. In the economic sphere, thus, this period may be characterized as peasant cultivation. As a result of this, there was agricultural expansion, which constituted the material base for the rise of the Chauhan kingdom in this part of West Orissa.

It may be suggested here that Huma Pitha already existed when Raja Balaram Dev arrived here. Possibly, the temple was in a dilapidated condition. Raja Balaram Dev extended royal patronage and rebuilt or renovated the temple. Subsequently, Maharaja Baliar Singh, the fifth Raja of Sambalpur Rajya had also most probably rebuilt or renovated it during his time. Be that as it may, there is no denying the fact that, Raja Balaram Dev adopted this Pitha and extended royal patronage.

As it has been discussed earlier, Balaram Dev first established himself at Bargarh on the bank of the river Jira. But a pertinent question arises here, why Chaurpur or Huma or Sambalpur was the better choice of Balaram Dev for his new capital. There are four probable reasons for this. Broadly speaking, the topographical condition of West Orissa was not helpful for settled agriculture. Chaurpur, Huma and Sambalpur were positioned strategically in a jungle area during those days on the bank of the river Mahanadi. Huma is in between Sambalpur and Sonepur. Admittedly, the Sambalpur-Sonepur area, situated on the upper Mahanadi delta is a fertile plain. The historical Huma desa was situated in this delta area of the Mahanadi flowing into the Bay of Bengal. It was not surprising that, this area had the benefit of an active delta growth with a high yield of per unit of land. It was also not unexpected that, the Chauhan power while trying to broaden its power base, had attempted to control this fertile region just like it had done earlier in Bargarh. Most probably, they had made the plain area suitable for agriculture for agrarian expansion as well as surplus mobilization. It is not unanticipated that, these areas have been conducive for high yield. One cannot ignore the fact that, the chief areas of cultivation lay along the banks of the river Mahanadi. The cultivated plains of this area yielded numerous varieties of paddy, some of which were the finest in the country.

Secondly, a large tract of this area was abounded with forests. This might have facilitated a continuous supply of fuel, fodder and timber and vast pastoral ground. This also suggests that, efforts were being made to bring forests area under plough cultivation resulting in an increase of crop growing area. Perhaps, the Chauhans brought a large tract of land under cultivation. Despite the fact that we do not come across any major irrigation projects during this period, yet prevalent terms like kata, bandh, chuan, etc., give us an impression that some kind of artificial irrigation was prevalent during Chauhan rule. It may be noted that, kata, bandh, chuan etc., are small reservoirs of water formed either by natural process or created by human agency.

Third one is the Mahanadi. In olden days, river was used as the main trade route. It was the convenient way of transportation of goods by boats. It did not astonish that, the river Mahanadi was the main out-let for the trade and produce of this area. The produce was carried in boats from Sambalpur to Binka (Binitapur), Subarnapur, and Boudh and even to Cuttack. Commodities were also brought back through this river route. Boats could also ascend the Mahanadi as far as Arang in the Raipur district of Chhattisgarh. Conspicuously, boat transport was carried on as far as Subarnapur and Boudh in the flood season till very recently. As regards water communication O’Malley in his Sambalpur Gazetteer published in 1909 writes as follows, “In flood time boats take 5 days to reach Cuttack from Sambalpur, while the journey to Sonpur lasts one day and to Binka 6 hours. At other times the length of the journey depends on how often they are stranded on the sand or between rocks-a frequent occurrence soon after the rains, owing to the low depth of water in the river and the numerous rocks cropping up its bed. The duration of the return journey is much longer. In July and November it takes laden boats 25 days and 21 days respectively to reach Sambalpur from Cuttack, 6 and 5 days from Sonpur and 5 and 4 days respectively from Binka”10.

Fourthly, Sambalpur had the tradition of producing diamonds extracted from the sands of the river Mahanadi at Hirakud. Etymologically, the name Hirakud is a combination of Hira and Kud. The word Hira means diamond and the word Kud means island. Consequently, the literary meaning of Hirakud (Hira+Kud) is ‘Diamond Island’. As regards Hirakud O’Malley in his Sambalpur Gazetteer published in 1909 (page 203-04) writes as follows, “The name means the diamond island, diamond mining being formerly carried on by a class of people called Jhoras, for whose maintenance, it is said, the revenue of about 30 villages on either bank of the river Mahanadi was assigned by the former Rajas of Sambalpur. These people worked during the cold and hot weather, when the water was low. The work was done in the bed of the river in either branch, and some large and valuable diamonds are known to have been found in the right branch.” Hirakud to Subarnapur-Boudh was that component of the river Mahanadi where the diamonds and gold were procurable down the river Mahanadi to as far as Subarnapur11. Even these days, valuable stones are reportedly recovered from the riverbed of the Mahanadi.

It may be noted that, benefits of the first three points were available in case of Bargarh also. But, relatively speaking, Chaunrpur/Sambalpur was far better location being on the Mahanadi than Bargarh on the Jira. Fourth point was an added advantage for Balaram Dev. Perhaps, he wanted to control the mineral business under his direct supervision. This business was so important during the Chauhan rule that, the revenue of 30 villages on either bank of the river Mahanadi was assigned by the Chauhan rulers of Sambalpur for maintenance of Jhoras who were traditionally employed for this purpose.

In view of the above analysis it may be suggested that, Huma region was quite important from commercial, political and social points of view besides its religious significance. Raja Balram Dev was not indifferent to the reality that there were antagonism between people of different races, religions and communities. He was well aware of the problem of communalism that would weaken the State formation, cause disharmony in social life and divert the attention of people from formation of a separate Rajya in this area, which was his preferred goal. Therefore, he had made attempts to integrate the indigenous communities into one fold under the umbrella of the Hinduism. As expected, in the process of the building of a unified and separate Rajya, indigenous communities with their religious traditions were also successfully absorbed in the mainstream of the Hindu Great Tradition through its branches like Saivism, Saktism and Vaisnavism and various Hindu epics and Puranas.

In this context, it may be mentioned here that temple is an important agent or instrument of Hinduisation12. The newly founded ruling house at Chaunrpur in connivance with the brahmanas wanted to bridge the gulf between the elite and the folk. Of course, the process of integration appeared to have been gradual through acculturation was perhaps a planned device imposed from above. Construction of a Siva temple led to the upward mobility of the local priests of this shrine, who were non-Brahmins. The royal patronage drew the attention of the people in large number from far and wide. It led to the regular flow of devotees, both tribal and non-tribal people to this Pitha. The coming of non-tribal devotees might have led to social interaction between the caste-Hindus and the local tribal people.

With the assimilation of tribal societies into a state society there was a marked change in their stratification system. In the place of an egalitarian tribal social structure there arose a hierarchical social system. Gonds, for instance, are divided into two main groups, ‘Raj’ Gonds who form the aristocracy and ‘Dhur’ or dust Gonds who are the common people. The Raj Gonds may be considered to be the descendants of Gond landed proprietors, who have been formed into a separate group and admitted to Hinduism with the status of a cultivating caste. Notably, brahmanas take water from them and many Raj Gonds wear the sacred thread like the brahmanas13. Second example is Binjhal tribe. “The more advanced Binjhals boast of an alliance with Rajputs and call themselves Barhias, a title originally borne by small hill chiefs, but the common Binjhals do not claim such Rajput descent”14. However, they do not employ brahmanas as their priests15. thus, we cannot ignore the change in material base and its corresponding reflection on society and polity.

The fame and popularity of the deity enshrined in Huma temple had come to be known as Lord Bimaleswara. By the time of renovation of this temple in 1670 by Maharaja Baliar Singh, this was very popular as Huma-Kshetra not only due to its religious importance but also owing to its socio-economic and political contributions. Businessmen as far as from Kantilo, Bolangir, Barpali, Bargarh, Subarnapur and Maniabandha were attending the fairs and festivals at this Pitha to sale their goods16.

State sponsorship or royal patronage by Balaram Dev to this religious Pitha was a firm and uncompromising measure to appease and pacify the natives and to legitimize his authority over them, which also facilitated the process of Hinduisation to build up a larger Hindu / Chauhan Rajya in this area. Understandably, Balaram Dev was successful in bringing people closer to this temple and by means of this temple he was able to consolidate his authority and influence over the forest region of Huma. In a similar fashion, he adopted Samalei Devi and constructed a temple at Sambalpur and extended royal patronage17. The successors of Raja Balaram Dev had also methodically followed this principle and patronized the Saiva Pithas in different parts of former Sambalpur Rajya. The most famous among them were those of Asta-Sambhus as mentioned earlier.

Thus, the Chauhan Rajas consolidated their power and position and established a superior Chauhan Rajya in Sambalpur. It is imperative to note down that, the religious importance of Huma-Kshetra is equated with other Kshetras of Orissa namely, Sri-Kshetra (Shri Jagannath Temple) at Puri, Arka-Kshetra (Sun Temple) at Konark. It may be recommended that the rationale behind such royal patronages is to give a boost to the local cults and at the same time to capitalize on the religious sentiments of the local people to such an extent / degree that it can be used as a means for political ends. In any case, the rise of Huma-Kshetra in Sambalpur, particularly during the 16th century has to be accredited to the patronage of the Chauhan Rajas, which has helped in consolidation of the Chauhan rule and State formation in Sambalpur area and also facilitated the process of Hinduisation in this region.

NOTES

1. S. S. Panda, “Bhairava Worship in Upper Mahanadi Valley”, Orissa Review, January, 2004, p.39; C. Pasayat, “Oral Tradition of Huma and Legitimisation of Chauhan Rule”, The Orissa Historical Research Journal, Vol. XLVII, No. 2, 2004, pp. 90-96; idem., “Myth and Religious Cult of Orissa: A Study of Bimaleswara of Huma”, The Orissa Historical Research Journal, Vol. XLIX, No. 1, 2, 3 & 4, 2008, pp. 186-192.

2. N. Senapati and B. Mahanti (Eds.), Sambalpur District Gazetteer, Cuttack: Gazetteers Unit, Government Press, 1971, p. 51, 526;  C. Pasayat, “The Leaning Temple of Huma in Sambalpur District in Orissa”, Orissa Review, November, 1990, pp.20-23; S. S. Panda, “Early Chauhan Temples of Sambalpur Town”, Orissa Review, April, 1996, pp.34-35.

3. N. Senapati and B. Mahanti (eds.), op. cit., 1971, p. 11; C. Pasayat, op. cit., 1990, p. 20-23.

4. C. Pasayat Glimpses of Tribal and Folkculture, New Delhi: Anmol Publications Pvt. Ltd., 2003, pp. 16-18.

5. O’Malley, L. S. S., Sambalpur Gazetteer, New Delhi: Logos Press, 1909 (reprint 2007), p. 204; N. Senapati and B. Mahanti (eds.), op. cit., 1971, p. 526.

6. S. S. Panda, op. cit., 1996, p. 35.

7. ibid., pp. 34-35.

8. F. Deo, “Chauhan Myth and Royal Legitimisation in Kosala (Daksina)”, Souvenir, Sambalpur Lok Mahotsav, Sambalpur, 2003, pp.96; C. Pasayat, “The State and Culture in Early Medieval Western Orissa: A Study of Myths and Fables on Patnagarh and Marjarakesari in Narasinghanath”, Utkal Historical Research Journal, Vol. XXII, 2009, pp. 135-152.

9. ibid., 96.

10. O’Malley, op.cit., 1909, p.162; N. Senapati and B. Mahanti, op. cit., 1971, p. 86.

11. O’Malley, op.cit., 1909, pp. 1, 9-12, 20, 203-04; N. Senapati and B. Mahanti, op.cit., 1971, pp. 273-74.

12. A. Eschmann, “Hinduisation of Tribal Deities in Orissa: The Sakta and Saiva Typology” in A. Eschmann, H. Kulke and G. C. Tripathy (eds.), The Cult of Jagannath and the Regional Tradition of Orissa, New Delhi: Manohar Publications, 1978, pp.78-98.

13. N. Senapati and B. Mahanti, op. cit., 1971, p. 117.

14. ibid., p. 118.

15. ibid., p. 121.

16. ibid., p. 526.

17. C. Pasayat, op. cit., 2003, p. 67-84.

Dr. Chitrasen Pasayat

152, Vijay Vihar, Nuagaon Road, PO: Sishupalgarh, Bhubaneswar, Orissa, 751002.

March 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm Leave a comment

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