UGRA TARA TEMPLE

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» Assam
Location : Assam
Presiding Deity : Goddess Ugra Tara
Built By : King Shiva Singh
Built In : 1725 AD


The temple of Ugra Tara in Uzan Bazaar in the eastern part of Guwahati is an important Sakta shrine. Ugra Tara is generally identified with "Tiksna-Kanta", "Eka-Jata", etc., of the Buddhist pantheon. As the Yogini Tantra puts it: "Tara is the same as Kali, the embodiment of supreme love. So also is Kamakhya. By thinking of them as different from Kali one would go to hell." Thus the Yogini Tantra gives an identical origin to Tara, Kamakhya and Kali.

The Legend

Ugra Tara was worshipped according to 'Vamacara' rites. This was because of a curse given to her by sage Vasistha (also spelt as Basistha). The story goes that Yama lodged a complaint with Brahma saying that all those who lived in Kamarupa (also spelt as "Kararup") went to heaven because of the sacredness of the place and nobody went to his realm. Brahma, in turn, carried this complaint to Vishnu and together they met Shiva and told him about the horrid state of affairs in the land of Kamarupa.

Shiva agreed to look into the matter and there after ordered the hosts and goddess Ugra Tara to drive away all the people of Kamarupa. In the course of this drive, they laid their hands on sage Vasistha who was meditating Shiva on the Sandhyacala

Vasistha grew furious and pronounced a terrible curse on Ugra Tara and her associates. The curse had immediate effect. Vedic rites were given up completely. Worship of gods and goddesses including that of Shiva 'was conducted according, to Vamacara rites. Animals were slaughtered both at the altars of Shiva and Tara temples. In fact, Kalika Purana gives an elaborate account of sacrifice on a large scale of animals and human beings.

The Animal Sacrifice Rituals

The sacrificial animals included Birds, Tortoises, Alligators, Fish, nine species of wild animals, Buffaloes, Bulls, he-Goats, Wild Boars, Rhinoceros, Antelopes, Iguanas, Reindeer, Lions, Tigers. To this list Yogini Tantra add Monkeys. It was also the practice to offer blood drawn from one's own body. But ordinarily females of all animals are exempted from sacrifice.

The present temple of Ugra Tara was built by King Shiva Singh in 1725 AD who had excavated a tank three years earlier. The tank is situated to the east, of the temple and is known as "Jorepukhuri". The tank still exists, though the upper portion of the temple was destroyed by the great earthquake. This was however rebuilt by a private citizen.



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