Budhanath's tantric connection

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  • Published 2.09.13

Bhubaneswar Sept. 1: The 12th century Budhanath temple, situated just about 22km from here, is unknown to most visitors to the state despite its big tourism potential.

Devoid of care, the temple, which is probably older than the Lingaraj temple, is falling apart. Its proximity to the sea is also accelerating its decay with the salt-laden winds corroding the stones.

As you enter the compound, you find broken statues and other artefacts that have fallen off the temple building placed on a “mandap” because there is no facility nearby to display them in a museum or gallery.

Reaching the temple from Bhubaneswar is easy. If you do not want to take a car, take an autorickshaw, a two-wheeler or even a bicycle. The road passes through rice fields.

The village in which this temple is situated — Garedi Panchana — is just like another coastal village of the state with lots of coconut and betel nut trees.

King Chodaganga Dev of the Somavanshi dynasty had built the temple. However, residents of the village say a smaller temple on the compound, named after Amrutalochani Devi, has an even older deity. Believed to be of tantric origin, the deity inside the Amrutalochani temple has six eyes.

Benu Pratihari, retired principal of Dhauli Art College and a resident of Garedi Panchana village, who has studied the temple following Shilpa Sashtra, says the Budhanath temple is also based on tantric principles, especially Garedi Yantra. Interestingly, Garedi in Odia means hypnotism and the name of the village also seems to have links to the claims made by Pratihari.

Legend has it that snakebite victims do not die if they are brought to the temple premises.

“As the temple architecture and construction is based on Garedi Yantra and it was a well-known centre for tantric studies in the Prachi valley, perhaps the vibrations of the tantric rituals remain in the environment and help snakebite victims,” said the artist-turned art historian.

It is know that after the 7th century, due to tantric effects on Buddhism, the followers of the religion were influenced by the tantric cult. The name of the Budhanath temple, its tantric links and the name of the village and the Garedi Yantra legend also prove that there could be a Buddhist link here. However, detailed research will yield more.

“The presiding deity inside Budhanath is not a Shiva Linga, but a yoni, or female origin of the ‘Shakti’. The absence of the linga in the centre of the temple is also a mystery,” Galpik, another local and sculptor, said.

However, the temple with all this history is withering away in want of care. The carvings on the temple walls are seriously affected and some are beyond recognition.

The monument has no signage even though it is close to the Chausathi Yogini temple and lies in the same circuit.

Superintending archaeologist (in-charge) of state archaeology B.P. Ray said: “Our priority is to develop Budhanath as a model destination like the Chausathi Yogini temple. Though the work of the temple restoration went a little slow, we did a good job in re-building the main temple as the upper half was lying broken.”

The Centre had given a Rs 66.06 lakh grant from the 13th Finance Commission for restoration of the temple and work is still on. After re-construction of the damaged main temple, the state archaeology has taken up construction of the boundary wall.

Ray said the drainage outlet from the main temple i.e. paduka kunda, which drains out religious offerings such as milk, curd, ghee, fruits, coconut water and flowers — would be made in such a way that the devotees could collect fresh paduka from outside. The floor of the temple compound will also have a proper elevation so that there is perfect drainage of the rainwater to help strengthen the temple structure and longevity.

The state archaeology is also planning to collect the scattered artefacts and ancient statues from the compound and store them properly inside a small museum at the temple. The temple kitchen, which was built on the premises by some social workers, does not match the ancient structure and it will have a complete makeover along with the mandap, which lies near the entrance.

“We are going to put attractive signage near Uttara Square and on other places on the road leading to Budhanath temple to attract tourists,” said a senior official of the state culture department.