Tarini Shakti Peetha through the ages
The famous Hill Shrine of Adi
Shakti Maa Tara Tarini is situated on the holy Tarini Parvat (Kumari Parvat/Ratnagiri/Purnagiri
(Old names of the mountain), on the south bank of holy River Rushikulya at a
distance of 30 kms from Berhampur city in South .
Embedded in the hoary past, mentioned in the Puranas and the Tantras as
the main seat of Sakti worship since time immemorial, the Tara Tarini Hill
Shrine is an important pre-historic Sakti center. It is believed to be the Sthana
Peetha or Breast shrine of Adi Sakti. This Hill Shrine is one of the oldest
Shrines of Mother Goddess and is considered as one amongst the four major
ancient Sakti centers of ,
which draw their origin from the limbs of the Corpse of “Mata Sati” in Satya
Yuga. The popular belief is that Breasts of Goddess Sati fell here and
hence it is revered as the Sthana Peetha of Adi Shakti.
Shakti Peetha and Devi
Scholars believe that all
the Devi temples, Durga temples or Grama Devi temples are not Shakti Peethas.
They generally divide the temples of mother goddesses into two broad categories
namely, Shakti Peethas and Durga/Devi temples. Shakti temples are those which
originated from the corpse of Mata Sati (the first spouse of Lord Shiva) and
established by lord Shiva as Shakti Peethas in Satya Yuga. It is believed that
the Shakti Peethas represent Goddess Sati or Adi Shakti, which originated
thousands of years ago.
As per the Puranas
and religious texts, there are 4 Adi Shakti Peethas, 18 Maha Shakti Peethas, 51
Shakti Peethas, 26 Upa-Peethas and some Tantric religious texts recognize 108
Shakti Peethas present in various parts of
and even outside .
Whereas, Durga temples/ Grama Devi temples are countless in number and representing
Goddesses Parvati (the second spouse of Lord Siva) and her incarnations. Except
these Adi Shakti, Maha Shakti, Shakti and Upa Shakti Peethas all other temples
are or Devi temples.
Four Adi Shakti Peethas
The great mythological texts
including the Shiva Purana and the Kalika Purana (the Asthashakti) recognize
the four major Shakti Peethas. Like (Bimala, Pada Khanda) inside the Jagannath
Temple, Puri, Odisha, (Tara Tarini) Sthana Khanda (Breasts), near Berhampur,
Odisha, (Kamakshi, Yoni khanda) near Guwahati, Assam and (Dakhina Kalika, Mukha
khanda) in Kolkata, West Bengal originated from the limbs of the Corpse of Mata
Sati. In a hymn, the Kalika Purana (Asthashakti) clearly says:
khandancha Tarini (Tara Tarini),
khandancha Kalika (Kali)
Chakra Kshate nacha……..”
Further explaining the
importance of these four Peethas the Brihat Samhita also gives the geographical
location of these Peethas. For Example:
Srunge Stitha Tara,
Thus, there is absolutely no
dispute regarding these four famous Adi Shakti Peethas and their locations.
Apart from these four, religious texts recognize 51 other famous Shakti Peethas.
The Peethanirnaya Tantra recognizes 52 Peethas and they are scattered all over , ,
Besides listing 52 Maha-Peethas, the Shivacharita speaks about 26 more Upa-Peethas.
The Bengali almanac, the Vishuddha Siddhanta Panjika also describes about 52 Peethas.
The abode of Maa Tara Tarini
Adi Shakti Goddesses Tara
Tarini have been regarded as the presiding deity (Ista-Devi) in many parts of
and in most of the households in Odisha. This Holy Shrine is situated in the
eastern coast of near
the ; about 30 kilometers away
from the commercial nerve centre of Orissa, Berhampur. The historically famous
Jaugada rock edict of Emperor Asoka and the pious river Rishikulya, which has
been described in Rig Veda as ‘Gangayah Jyestha Bhagini’ (i.e. the elder
sister of the ), are also present near
this holy shrine.
Since time immemorial,
Adyashakti is being worshiped here as Devi Tara Tarini on the blue capped holy
mountain of Tarini Parvat/Kumari hills/Ratnagiri/Purnagiri. At the hill top a
beautiful stone temple is the abode of Maa. Two
stones anthropomorphized by the
addition of gold
and silver ornaments and shaped
to be seen as human faces are the
main Shrine of this
temple which represents the
Goddesses Tara and Tarini. In between them are placed two fully celebrated and
beautiful brass heads as their Chalanti Pratima or their Living Image.
Worship at this important centre of Shakta cult has been continuing since time
Origin of Maa Tara Tarini
According to the Puranas,
the origin of Maa Tara Tarini is related to the Jagna of Daksha
Prajapati in Satya Yuga. Religious sacred texts like Shiva Purana,
Kalika Purana, Devi Bhagawat (a contemporary text of the Mahabharata written by
Vyasa Dev) attests to this fact.
According to these Puranas,
Devi Sati, the daughter of Daksha Prajapati, married Kailashpati Yogiraj Shiva
without the consent of his father. Since Lord Shiva has always been associated
with cremation ground, Daksha Prajapati refused to recognize Shiva as Lord.
Therefore, Sati’s unilateral decision severely hurt her father. After some
time, Daksha organized a Jagna where all the Gods, saints and Gandharvas were
invited. However, Daksha Prajapati did not invite Lord Shiva and his daughter
Sati to the Jagna knowingly. Devarshi Narada informed this to Devi Sati. Sati
requested Shiva to attend the Jagna. But Shiva politely turned down the request
of Sati and advised her not to attend the function without prior invitation.
Having failed to get the permission of Shiva, Sati became furious. However,
lastly with annoyance and humiliation Sati decided to visit the Jagna alone to
teach a lesson to Daksha Prajapati and to enquire why Daksha did not invite her
husband Lord Siva to the Jagna. She argued fiercely with Daksha but her father
misbehaved with Shiva in the presence of Sati and uttered insulting words to
Her spouse Siva, which were not tolerable to Sati. Therefore, unable to bear
this pain and insult She jumped into the Jagna kund. After entering into the
fire the mortal body of Sati became half burnt.
Learning of this, Lord Siva
was overtaken by grief at the loss of His beloved and created Virabhadra and
Bhadra-Kali who led the Nandi and Gana to wreck havoc on the sacrifice. Siva
carried the body of Sati on his shoulders and then as he got angry, started the
terrible dance of complete destruction – the Rudra Tandava (Nritya) as
he moved around. This activity of Shiva spread horror and panic among the Gods.
The existence of the universe came under threat and the whole universe was
heading towards Mahapralaya (annihilation).
Kalika Purana says that to
save the mundane creatures and the creation of Brahma from destruction the
Devatas and Rishis surrendered themselves before the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu
and requested him to save the creation of Brahma from Shiva’s fury and
annihilation. Then Shri Hari Vishnu applied his Sudarshan Chakra to cut the
half-burnt body of Sati. The Sudarshan Chakra did the same. The parts of Her body
dropped in several places on the earth and the anger of Siva cooled down and He
went for Samadhi (Deep Meditation).
The Kalika Purana states
that Vishnu used the Sudarshan Chakra to cut the body into 51 pieces. Tradition
believes that these are the 51 alphabets of the Sanskrit letter (50 alphabets +
In Devi Bhagawat (Saptasati
Matruka), written by Vyasa Dev this episode is described in a different manner.
On the request of the Brahma and especially Shri Hari Vishnu, Shani (symbolized
by the Saturn Graha) entered the corpse of Sati and disposed it in 108 parts.
Shakta Peethas sprang up in the places where the organs of Sati fell. Scholars
believe both versions are correct and have separate spiritual meanings related
All those places where parts
of the body of mother Sati fell later emerged as famous Shakti Peethas. It is
said that the breasts of Sati fell at
the Tarini Parvata or Tarini Peetha on the
bank of pious river Rishikulya
and thus the famous
Tara Tarini Shakta Peetha
arose at this place.
Scholars also acknowledge a
second mythological story relating to the origin of Tara Tarini Shrine in the Ramayana
or specifically in the “Raghunatha Kirtana”. As per this text, once Maharshi
Vasistha for the fulfillment of his desires invoked Goddesses Tara Tarini. To
get the desired result he spent several years in deep meditation at the
foothill of the Shrine. But after a long try he failed to please Goddesses Tara
Tarini. And having failed to please the Goddess, he cursed that the Goddess
will remain un-worshiped. When Goddess Tara Tarini knew about it, they
requested Maharshi Vasistha to free them from the curse. After seeing the
Goddesses, Maharshi cooled down and repented for the grave mistake he had
committed. He said that Goddesses Tara Tarini would again resurface on the
earth in the Tretaya Yuga, from the eyes of Goddess Laxmi. Until then they
should remain in the eyes of Goddess Laxmi. Maharshi’s
words proved true. With the dawn of Tretaya, Lord Vishnu incarnated as Lord Ram
and his spouse Goddess Laxmi took birth as Devi Sita. When Tears came down from the eyes of Goddess Sita in Ashoka Vatikan
two magnificent Devis Tara and Tarini resurfaced. After helping Sri Ram against
Mahiravan and with the permission of Goddess Sita, they returned to their
eternal abode Tarini Parvat for the wellbeing of the universe.
History of the Shrine
There is plethora of
information available in the Hindu Religious texts, Bouddha Tantras and Hindu
tantric texts regarding this shrine. Folklore, folk songs, folk stories,
historical data, travel accounts and ancient literature also supply a lot of
information about the origin and root of this ancient most Shrine. The
following narrative based on these sources unveils the historicity and traces
out the origin of this oldest destination of Shakti worship in .
According to the
Mythological Puranas the origin of Maa Tara Tarini is directly attributed to
Daksha Prajapati’s Jagna in Satya Yuga. The famous Shakti Peethas of Bimala,
Tara-Tarini, Dakshina Kalika and Kamakshi originated from the limbs of the
divine Corpse of Devi Sati. Mythological sacred texts such as the Shiva Purana,
the Kalika Purana, and the Devi Bhagabat (a contemporary text of the
Mahabharata written by Shri Vyasa Dev around 6000 years ago) attest to this
It is known from the
Mahabharata that before the commencement of the Mahabharata war, Lord
Srikrishna advised Arjuna to offer prayer for victory at Shridevi kupa or
Bhadrakali. Bhadrakali originated from the limbs of Sati like the other four
major Shakti Peethas, which existed during the time of the Mahabharata or
around 6000 years ago. This is the oldest data we have regarding the existence
of the Shrines that originated from the limbs of the divine Corpse of Devi
Post Kalinga war period: According
to historical sources and Buddhist literature the fall of the Kalingan Empire
and its capital Sampa (Samapa), caused by Mauryan Emperor Ashoka in the Kalinga
war around 2300 years ago, strengthened the grip of Buddhists in this part of . Kalinga
Capital Sampa (as it was known then) was hardly 5 km away from Tara Tarini Hill
Shrine. Consequently, scholars believe that Maa Taratarini was worshiped as the
principal deity (Ista-Devi) of the mighty Kalinga Empire. But instead of
worshiping goddesses Tara and Tarini in a temple, the Kalingas worshipped the
entire holy mountain as the Breast shrine or Sthana Peetha of Shakti. This form
of mountain worship is still prevalent in some parts of Ganjam district.
Scholars believe that after
Ashoka conquered Kalinga, it became a famous centre of Buddhism. The region of Ganjam
near the bank of river Rishikulya was an active Buddhist site. This was shown
from the Special Rock Edicts of Ashoka found at Jaugada at a distance of 5 km
from Tara-Tarini Hill Shrine.
Hindu Devi ‘’ in Buddhism: Some
scholars believe that the name Tara (Buddhism), an important deity of Mahayana
Buddhist Pantheon, is suggestive of Buddhist influence in Tara Tarini. An image
of Buddha in meditation, present inside the sanctum sanctorum of the Taratarini
shrine, lends credence to the claim that this site was an ancient centre of the
Buddhist Shakta cult.
According to the texts of
Mahayana Buddhists, in the initial days, the Buddhists didn’t believe in the
worship of Goddesses or in Pratima puja (Idol Worship). But, the
ecclesiastical texts of Mahayana’s reveal that from the 1st century
AD, after the fall of Kalinga, for the first time, the Mahayana Buddhists
accepted the worship of Mother Goddess "Tara" and the Tara worship is
prevalent in many countries like Tibat, China, Japan, Myanmar, Thailand, Srilanka,
Mangoliya and some parts of India etc. However, in countries like the same “”
is also been worshiped as “Tarni” by Buddhists. So there is seldom any doubt
that the Buddhists have learned the "Tara" Puja concept from this
Shrine. The Bouddha Tantrik texts, texts of Vajrajani sect and Hindu
Tantrik texts also substantiate these facts.
Scholars believe that in the
primary days the Buddhists worshiped ‘Tara Tarini’, the principal seat of the
Tantrik sect in Hinduism at that time, as “Bouddha Tara”, and later on included
"Tara" as the Tantrik deity or spouse of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
in their belief system. Gradually this "Tara" and ‘Tarini’ worship
spread to different parts of the world.
‘Tara’ worship by Sadhavas: The
"Maritime History" of Kalinga also attests the worship of the Devi “Tara”
by the Hindu Sadhavas (seamen), and merchants before launching their sea
voyage from the great seaports at Dantapura (Gopalpur), Pallur near at Rambha, kalingapatna and river Rishikulya.
It is important to mention that all these major Sea ports of the ancient period
were very near to the Tara Tarini hill Shrine.
Historian Pratima Kamat
supports the above theory in her ‘LADY OF THE RESTLESS WATERS’. Here she proves
that the people involved in maritime activities in this part of Odisha were
devotees of Goddesses Tara Tarini. The influence of Tara Tarini was such that
people living in far off places like Goa have imitated the
puja concept from the Shadhavas of Odisha coast.
Folk lore & Folk stories
According to folk lore, it
is around the 8th Century AD when Jagadguru Adi Sankaracharya toured the whole
country, that he discovered this Shrine. However, the Tara Tarini Shrine did
not exist in its present form at that time. After prolonged effort,
Sankaracharya came to know that this ancient Shakti centre was under the
control of Buddhist Tantrikas. He released this Peetha from the control
of Bouddha tantrikas and handed it over to Hindus.
Tara Tarini as daughters of Basu
It is known from available
sources that until 17th century or till the time of Basu Praharaj,
this place was out of the sight of the common men and people at that time
generally preferred the worship of the entire
as Sthana Peetha from a distance. According to a folk story once Maa Taratarini
appeared as two sisters in the house of Shri Basu Praharaj. Basu Praharaj was a
learned Brahmin of Kharida Vira Jagannathpur village near Purushottampur in
Ganjam District, Odisha and one of the great devotees of the Mother Goddess,
but he was childless. After staying for some years at the house of Basu
Praharaj as his daughters once both the sisters disappeared suddenly from the
house of Basu Praharaj. According to the account of the villagers, both the
sisters travelled up to the Tarini Parvat/ Ratnagiri/Kumari Parvat and
Basu Praharaj searched for
the two sisters for some time but did not find any trace of them. His heart
broke down with grief and pain. One night, he saw a dream in which the
Goddesses Tara and Tarini informed Basu Praharaj that they were actually not
his daughters. Instead, they were the Adi Shakti, Goddesses Tara and Tarini.
The Goddesses ordered Basu to come out of his grief. They said that, “The time
had arrived, with full devotion; you renovate the Shakti Peetha on the Hill Top
of Tarini Parvat and reestablish the deities Tara Tarini according to the Vedic
After that divine direction,
Basu climbed the inaccessible holy mountain and discovered the tracings of the
ancient most presence of Goddesses Tara Tarini on the sacred Hill Top and
immediately took steps to reconstruct the temple and the Shrine. Legend says during the time of Basu Praharaj he established the of
on Tarini Parvat and also established
the adjacent to Tara Tarini temple
in the same mountain.
Since that time, with its
magnetism and sanctity, this Sthana Peetha (Breast Shrine) of Mata Sati became
a centre of faith and reverence for countless numbers of people, who are in
search of peace, tranquility, guidance and spiritual energy. The temple's fame
spread like wild fire and it became one of the popular religious destinations
for countless devotees. Taratarini Hill
Shrine or Kalyan Dham attracts the highest number of devotees and visitors
in Odisha. Devotees believe that one must have the darshan of this ancient most
Shakti Dham at least once in their lifetime.
Chaitra Parba/ Chaitra Mela/
Chaitra Yatra at Taratarini Hill Shrine
The 'Taratarini Mela' or
Chaitra Mela is one of 's
biggest fairs, takes place on each Tuesday of the month of Chaitra i.e. during mid-March
to mid-April (according to the English calendar) at the holy Tara Tarini Hill
Shrine. Lakhs of devotees come from every
corner of world in order to have darshan of the Goddess Tara Tarini and perform
their Manasika after fulfillment of their desires. Grand congregations
take place on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th
Tuesdays of this month.
This Chaitra Parba/Chaitra
Mela/ festival is the most important amongst the festivals, celebrated at the
Tara Tarini Hill Shrine (Kalyan Dham).
Significant features of the Chaitra
festival are as follows;
- On Tuesday, the Shrine remains open for the
Darshan of the deities from 1.00 AM (mid-night on Monday) till 11 PM (of
Tuesday). During that period, Pahada (daytime rest) of the deities
is confined to night-time only.
- Devotees in large numbers congregate at the top
of the hill and the foothill from Monday night itself.
- 2nd & 3rd Tuesdays of
the Chaitra are considered to be the most auspicious days to get Siddhi.
Therefore large number of devotees (Around 5-7 lakhs) congregate during
- Puja and offering by the devotees are offered
to the Chalanti Pratima of deities placed at the Bije Peetha for
the Bije Pratima. However, Darshan of the deities in Garbha Griha
(Sanctum of the main temple) is allowed.
- Special Khechidi Bhoga (Fried Rice of around
1,000 K.g of rice, Ghee, Cashew, dry fruits and other items) is supplied
to the devotees from Monday mid-night till 6 PM of Tuesday evening
- Thousands of devotees come to
during the month of Chaitra and particularly on four Tuesdays to offer the
first bunch of Hair of their newborn babies to the goddesses.
- About 20-30 lakh devotees and tourists visiting
this holy shrine during this month.
Hair Offerings during
- Devotees come to to offer the
first bunch of Hair of the newborn babies with the believe that Goddesses Tara
Tarini will protect the newborns from all evils and ensure their
well-being. On normal days the temple barber conducts the tonsuring of the
children. Special arrangements for hair offering are made during the Tuesday
festivals. The temple administration arrainging all equipments necessary
for tonsuring. Around 1000 barbers at the barber-shed on hill top and on the
foot hill are engaged to help the hair offering of children and other
devotees. Hair offering continues from the early morning till 6 PM of Chaitra
The Tara Tarini Parvata is
surrounded by natural beauty. The picturesque scenery of the Shrine from the hilltop down to the bank
of river Rishikulya gives a thrilling experience of nature and divinity to each
visitor and often captivates its mind and soul. There are 999 holy steps on the
front side of the hill leading to the hill top temple. A Pucca ghat road is also leading to the hill top for vehicles
on one side of the hill and the Arial Ropeway also facilitating devotees to
reach at the Peetha. It is considered that one who takes
the 999 holy steps to the Hill shrine to have a darshan of Goddess Tara Tarini
earns equal Punya of a dip in the holy .