TAMESWARI TEMPLE

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Location : Sadiya, North Lakhimpur District, Assam
Presiding Deity : Goddess Tameswari



Sadiya is an important Place in the North Lakimpur district of Assam. It was originally included in the North Eastern Frontier Agency and was later transferred to Assam. It now forms the Inner Line of NEFA regulations.

The Legends

Sadiya was the capital of the Chutiyas, a Mongolian tribe, who were reigning there at the beginning of the 13th century AD. There are numerous legends connected with the origin of the Chutiyas and how the capital came to be called Sadiya.

The Chutiya dynasty claimed descent from 'Bhismak', the father of 'Rukmini', consort of Sri Krishna. One Birapal, a descendant of the Bhismak line was ruling at Sonagiri. He had no children and therefore his queen Rupavati offered penances to Kubera, the God of Wealth, to bless them with a child. Kubera appeared in the form of her husband and had coition with her. Then she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. He was named Gaurinarayan.

When he came of age, he succeeded his father in 1244 AD and assumed the name Ratnadhvajapala. He was a great conqueror and the Chutiyas living in hills and the Raja of Kamata acknowledged his supremacy. He then turned his arms towards the kingdom of Gaur and sent emissaries to the king demanding the token of his friendship.

The King of Gaur accepted his friendly proposal and agreed to forward to Ratnadhvaj pots of Ganga water in exchange for regular supply of water from 'Arasuramakunda'. A son of Ratnadhvaj was also kept with Gaur Raja for study. Unfortunately, the prince died in Bengal and being ignorant of the funeral customs of the Chutiyas, sent the corpse to Ratnadhvaj. Ratnadhvaj was then building a palace at Sindhuksetra.

As the corpse was received by him there the city was named Sadiya (place where the corpse was given). The religious practices of the Chutiyas were 'ghastly' in character. They worshipped different forms of Kali with the help of their tribal priests called Deoris. A dreadful conception of Kali came to be developed during this period. In this form, she was worshipped by the Chutiyas and was popularly known as "Kesai Khati" (eater of the raw flesh) because of the annual sacrifice at her temple.

The Various Forms Of Goddess Tamresvari

Her temple was at Sadiya and she was called Tamresvari Devi or "the Goddess of the copper temple. Dr. Kakati considers that she is the same goddess as Dikkaravasini whom the Kalika Purana describes as the presiding deity of northeastern Assam.

The goddess Dikkaravasini has two forms "Tiksna Kanta" (dreadfully attractive) and "Lalita-Kanta" (gracefully attractive). Tiksna Kanta is black, potbellied and with one lock of matted hair ("Eka-Jata"). She is also called "Ugra Tara". Her attendants are 'Bhaga', 'Subhaga', 'Chamunda', 'Karala', 'Bhisana', and 'Vikala' - all dreadful names.

She is to be worshipped in general like goddess Kamakhya, but her most delectable offerings consisted of strong spirituous liquor, human sacrifice, 'Modaka', flesh, curry, coconuts and sugarcane. These sacrifices were offered both on regular occasions and also to avert calamities, such as cholera, small pox, etc.

The Human Sacrifice Ritual The human sacrifice at the Tamresvari temple was an annual feature. Generally, the criminals who were sentenced to capital punishments were given for the purpose. But when none were available, a particular clan was expected to produce a victim and in return certain privileges were granted to it.

When a woman of this clan became pregnant, the astrologers were called on to ascertain the sex of the child. If they predicted that it would be a boy, the mother was carefully tended, and the child was anointed, as soon as it was born, with a paste made of turmeric and a kind of pulse. It is said that when necessity arose, a volunteer was called for, and was usually forthcoming; if not, a victim was taken by force.

For sometime he was kept at the temple and fed sumptuously, until he was in sufficiently plump condition to suit the supposed taste of the goddess. He was then shaved, anointed with the same paste as at birth and adorned with gold and silver ornaments and the sacrifice ceremony was conducted before the image of the goddess. Here he prostrated himself and was promptly decapitated by the 'Bar Deori', or high priest. The head was added to a heap of skulls that were piled in view of the shrine. At present no one has heard of human sacrifices made at the altars of the temple and this practice has been given up.

The Tamresvari temple commanded respect from a majority of people and counted amongst its votaries all the hill tribes in the vicinity, Ahoms and the Hindus of Assam. Instances show that pilgrims frequently visited this sacred shrine from regions far more remote including Tibet and China, who brought offerings to the great goddess.

Layout Of the Temple

The temple of Tamresvari is one of the oldest and was once the flourishing center of tantric religion. It now stands in a ruined state in the over-grown jungle about seven miles from Sadiya. The temple is described as a small stone building, nearly square, but without cement, the stone joined by iron pins not clamped. The roof was of copper, but it has fallen in. The interior is eight feet square. The whole is enclosed within a brick wall, 130 feet by 200 feet.

The walls of the temple were decorated with sculptural representation, which included human figures, animals, birds, flowers, geometrical designs, etc. There was also the representation of 'Mithuna' (erotic) sculptures.

Sadiya is an important Place in the North Lakimpur district of Assam. It was originally included in the North Eastern Frontier Agency and was later transferred to Assam. It now forms the Inner Line of NEFA regulations.

The Legends

Sadiya was the capital of the Chutiyas, a Mongolian tribe, who were reigning there at the beginning of the 13th century AD. There are numerous legends connected with the origin of the Chutiyas and how the capital came to be called Sadiya.

The Chutiya dynasty claimed descent from 'Bhismak', the father of 'Rukmini', consort of Sri Krishna. One Birapal, a descendant of the Bhismak line was ruling at Sonagiri. He had no children and therefore his queen Rupavati offered penances to Kubera, the God of Wealth, to bless them with a child. Kubera appeared in the form of her husband and had coition with her. Then she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. He was named Gaurinarayan.

When he came of age, he succeeded his father in 1244 AD and assumed the name Ratnadhvajapala. He was a great conqueror and the Chutiyas living in hills and the Raja of Kamata acknowledged his supremacy. He then turned his arms towards the kingdom of Gaur and sent emissaries to the king demanding the token of his friendship.

The King of Gaur accepted his friendly proposal and agreed to forward to Ratnadhvaj pots of Ganga water in exchange for regular supply of water from 'Arasuramakunda'. A son of Ratnadhvaj was also kept with Gaur Raja for study. Unfortunately, the prince died in Bengal and being ignorant of the funeral customs of the Chutiyas, sent the corpse to Ratnadhvaj. Ratnadhvaj was then building a palace at Sindhuksetra.

As the corpse was received by him there the city was named Sadiya (place where the corpse was given). The religious practices of the Chutiyas were 'ghastly' in character. They worshipped different forms of Kali with the help of their tribal priests called Deoris. A dreadful conception of Kali came to be developed during this period. In this form, she was worshipped by the Chutiyas and was popularly known as "Kesai Khati" (eater of the raw flesh) because of the annual sacrifice at her temple.

The Various Forms Of Goddess Tamresvari

Her temple was at Sadiya and she was called Tamresvari Devi or "the Goddess of the copper temple. Dr. Kakati considers that she is the same goddess as Dikkaravasini whom the Kalika Purana describes as the presiding deity of northeastern Assam.

The goddess Dikkaravasini has two forms "Tiksna Kanta" (dreadfully attractive) and "Lalita-Kanta" (gracefully attractive). Tiksna Kanta is black, potbellied and with one lock of matted hair ("Eka-Jata"). She is also called "Ugra Tara". Her attendants are 'Bhaga', 'Subhaga', 'Chamunda', 'Karala', 'Bhisana', and 'Vikala' - all dreadful names.

She is to be worshipped in general like goddess Kamakhya, but her most delectable offerings consisted of strong spirituous liquor, human sacrifice, 'Modaka', flesh, curry, coconuts and sugarcane. These sacrifices were offered both on regular occasions and also to avert calamities, such as cholera, small pox, etc.

The Human Sacrifice Ritual The human sacrifice at the Tamresvari temple was an annual feature. Generally, the criminals who were sentenced to capital punishments were given for the purpose. But when none were available, a particular clan was expected to produce a victim and in return certain privileges were granted to it.

When a woman of this clan became pregnant, the astrologers were called on to ascertain the sex of the child. If they predicted that it would be a boy, the mother was carefully tended, and the child was anointed, as soon as it was born, with a paste made of turmeric and a kind of pulse. It is said that when necessity arose, a volunteer was called for, and was usually forthcoming; if not, a victim was taken by force.

For sometime he was kept at the temple and fed sumptuously, until he was in sufficiently plump condition to suit the supposed taste of the goddess. He was then shaved, anointed with the same paste as at birth and adorned with gold and silver ornaments and the sacrifice ceremony was conducted before the image of the goddess. Here he prostrated himself and was promptly decapitated by the 'Bar Deori', or high priest. The head was added to a heap of skulls that were piled in view of the shrine. At present no one has heard of human sacrifices made at the altars of the temple and this practice has been given up.

The Tamresvari temple commanded respect from a majority of people and counted amongst its votaries all the hill tribes in the vicinity, Ahoms and the Hindus of Assam. Instances show that pilgrims frequently visited this sacred shrine from regions far more remote including Tibet and China, who brought offerings to the great goddess.

Layout Of the Temple

The temple of Tamresvari is one of the oldest and was once the flourishing center of tantric religion. It now stands in a ruined state in the over-grown jungle about seven miles from Sadiya. The temple is described as a small stone building, nearly square, but without cement, the stone joined by iron pins not clamped. The roof was of copper, but it has fallen in. The interior is eight feet square. The whole is enclosed within a brick wall, 130 feet by 200 feet.

The walls of the temple were decorated with sculptural representation, which included human figures, animals, birds, flowers, geometrical designs, etc. There was also the representation of 'Mithuna' (erotic) sculptures.



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