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History and Mythology Associated with Maa Biraja

Mythology Associated with Maa Biraja

Biraja Maa Of jajpurThe glory of  Biraja has been endorsed in various texts starting with the age of Epics Puranas and onwards. The BirajaKhetra Mahatmya, which is considered as a part of Brahamanda Purana enumerates the origin of Goddess Biraja.

It states that once Brahma (the creator of the Universe) performed a Yajna (great sacrifice) inside the river Baitarani. By the invocation of Brahma, Parvati manifested herself from the Garhapatya fire. Being moved by his prayers Parvati advised Brahma to name her as Biraja. She was entreated by Brahma to glorify the Kshetra by her presence as the divine consort of Siva. She took her position with pleasure and created Nine Durgas, Sixty Four Yoginis, Eight Chandikas and directed them to remain in the Kshetra forever. Due to their presence this land was famed as Shakti Pitha.

The principal deity Maa Biraja was clustered around by Three Varahas, Four Bhairavas, Five Nrusinghas, Seven Matrukas, Twelve Madhavas and a Hundred and Eight Rudras. The perimeter of the Shakti Pitha Biraja Kshetra is triangular. Its apex or corner point extends in the west, south-east and north-east directions. The Lingas Bilweswar, Varuneswar and Khilateswar are located in the west, south and north-east directiona and guard the areas as guardian deities. Presiding deity Biraja is worshipped in the middle of this triangular Kshetra.

From the Dakshayajnaprakarana of Kalika Purana, it is known that the navel of Sati fell here and this place is called Nabhidesha. Goddess Biraja was regarded as the Pith-devi of this Shakti Pitha. The tantric texts contain the name of the pithas with pithadevis, the limbs of sati falling thereon. Biraja Pitha is mentioned in Pithanirnaya, which mentions fifty-one Pithas along with pithadevis and Bhairavas. From the tantric texts it is known that Maa Biraja has been adorned as the pithadevi of Orissa with Lord Jagannath as the Bhairava. According to puranic tradition Goddess Biraja is described as Pitrukanya. Keeping in line with this tradition, Brahmanda Purana states that Biraja was the mind child of Ajyapa Pitruganas. Therefore the people of every part of the country come and offer here Pindas at Nabhigaya in order to propitiate their ancestors and have a darshan of the Pitru Kanya Biraja.

History of Maa Biraja

The origin of the Goddess Biraja, though obscure in the absence of any authentic historical evidence, is gathered from various texts of ancient significance in India. References about the Goddess has been made in many Puranic texts. Apart from that, stories that have been handed over to the present generation from the ancestors are also a good source of reference for historians. The different appellations to Godess Biraja like PRAJNYA PARAMITA, the celebrated daughter of AJYAPA PITRA, SABITRI, the venerated mother of the vedic king Jajati and MAHISHAMARDINI by which she is adored rather worshipped at different ages of history, have become more than mere allusion.

The Buddhist religious scripture “Datha Vansa” mentions that Guhashiba ruled Kalinga during the 3rd century AD, his capital being khadipada near Jajpur. Since those were the hey days of Buddhism and “Bahayan” was emerging as a paramount sheet associated with “Tantra” cult Guhashiba, the Buddhist king decided to call the Goddess Biraja, the presiding deity of the region, Prajnya Paramita, with a view to gaining the support of the populace irrespective of religious differences.

During the latter half of the 6th century, a copper plate was found in Paralakhemundi, bearing the name of the Goddess Biraja. The plate had been donated by Prithivi Maharaja, who according to some scholars, held his sway over Biraja Kshetra for a very short period in history. The iconographic details of the deity, the two armed Mahisamardini, if closely studied with the buffalo demon can safely be assigned for existence to the pre-Gupta period.

Many historian trace the origin of the Goddess to the pre-Christian era. The artistic excellences of the image are unique. She holds a trident in her right hand plunging it forcefully into the demons breast, while pulling, at the same time the tail of the demon in her left hand. The lion is conspicuous by its absence. The prototype of the image is found nowhere else in the country let alone the state of Orissa.

Irrespective of what the history of the state is , to the people of Orissa, Maa Biraja is not only the symbolic representation of the shakti cult, but also the symbol of that mysterious creative power, which produced the earth and every living things and of the maternal tenderness whereby, at whatever cost to the mother, the young new life is nurtured to maturity. Today the Goddess Biraja is worshipped devotedly by thousands of devotees every day as a giver and withholders of everything worldly or celestial that a man craves.