4.06.2011

Vaital Deul - The art of conquering fear


Vaital Deul temple stands silent along the bustling streets of Bhubaneshwar, it is a contrast from the world we are in today and the world that once was. The landscape of the day has completely changed with buildings rising around this quaint ambiance but the image of this quiet locality must have been quite different during the old days. Vaital Deul, sharing its compound with Sisireshwar temple, would have been shrouded among dense forests with a possible pathway leading up to this shrine.

Tantrik cults have ruled this temple for long and their main deity of worship has been Chamunda devi. While the exteriors of this temple are covered with innocent looking kanyas luring the passerby to these temples, what lies inside looks far more fearsome.

In Indian spiritualism, there is no room for feelings of fear or attachment. In fact our scriptures repeatedly advice us to get over these emotions over a period of time. These forms of Devi and Shiva, of Kali, Bhairava and Chamunda bring in feelings of fear when viewed by the ignorant eye, but to the aspirant who loves and views them in bhakti, the emotions reach a state of sublime that supersedes the average emotions that rule us. Its similar to the emotion of indescribable love a mother feels towards her potentially ugly baby as compare to the judgemental view an onlooker takes towards the same child. We have innumerable examples of Shiva and Shakti in Ghora rupa, displaying actions of gore like consumption of blood and mutilating the body of the sacrificed, living in formidable locations like the shamshan ghat and waking up in the night to be worshiped by their devotees. There must have been a meaning to all this.


Vaital Deul is one such potent example of a Shakti sthal converted to a hard core location for strict, deep rooted tantrik practices for the worship of the Mother, in one of her many forms. The temple itself has a silent aura of mysticism with a luring exterior of the most ravishing Kanyas. But when we step inside, the view changes everything. Shiva, the Durgas, Sapta Matrikas, Varaha, Ganesha form the pantheon that welcomes us, but with a difference. They appear far more scary than what we in "civilized society" are used to. It is almost a reflection of the Jewish Sabbat - the dance with Satan. While the imagery is dangerously close involving sexuality and potential blood rituals, the rules and beliefs are completely different.  

Hinduism depicts the vanquishing of evil in this imagery, where killing is incidental, but the method is explicit. These emaciated sculptures of Chamunda and Bhairava dance around with fire bowls, holding decapitated heads and a sickle for more blood coupled with scenes of copulation all in the name of victory. They scream out not just the destruction of evil but the path to higher super bliss through what appears to be bizarre rituals. But why are they bizarre? Its a method, like any other strong school of thought with its own set of beliefs, just more daring in areas sparingly visited.

Pure spiritualism has no room for bias, lack of bhakti, easy nirvana or just the mechanical art of worshiping a wish fulfilling tree to bear fruit. We have strong contradictions, seriously controversial rules that fight the battle of what pure faith really is. Conquest of fear, of attachment, of temptations and of discipline is the bottom line of all the rituals that build up Hindu spiritual art of worship. Be it the worship of Chamunda and Kala Bhairava or be it the worship of Shiva and Parvati, the mind has to be tamed and the methods could be varied to cross this ocean. To some the path is acceptable within the realm of society and to others the path blatantly addresses human nature in its many aspects.


Vaital Deul temple depicts Chamunda in her gory best, with dancing ghosts and goblins hitting the drums of victory around her. In the darkness of this small temple, with hardly any windows to bring in daylight, the appearance of the Goddess in the lamp light can trigger the emotion of fear and echo the thought of death in our heads for longer than we ever felt it. The thought here is not about death as much as it is about the eeriness of the ambiance that calls death upon us. Vaital Deul has been active in history with blood sacrifices more in the order of humans than lambs and other creatures. The aura of this temple can brings shivers to the mind and the only way a person can beat this creeping eeriness is vanquish the very emotion that encourages weakness out of its presence. Vaital Deul is a good example of a temple that creates the aura of gore and fear to make the onlooker realize their emotions and not fall prey to them. Its a classical test towards attaining higher bliss by inducing contemplation to conquer our mortal emotions.

The thought of contemplation now should ideally change from the fear and shock of the unknown to peace and bliss over the surprises the Supreme forces throw on us to make us realize how inadequate we are to proceed on our spiritual journey.

16 comments:

JC said...

That's the beauty of 'India' where all images, or component souls of the Supreme Power, that together represent Him from zero to infinity, (fearful) imperfection to (fearless) perfection, are worshipped since time immemorial...Thus only the elevated souls that are merged in the Supreme soul would not fear death, with the knowledge that 'we' in reality are souls and not physical bodies (vide Gita)...Of course, finding it difficult because of the so-called 'Maya' that is illusion that distracts our minds from the Absolute Truth...

charan said...

I never heard of this temple before.

Another nice post by Kavitha, very appreciable, keep it up.

Our great tantrik sadhanas are now protected by very few people, but sadly our great ancient heritage like temples are losing their original glory coz of carelessness by us/our society.

this situation should change and they have to be protected for future generations and for us also.

JC said...

Hi Shri Charan, human form itself is a temple of God within which He or She, or It resides,,,and 'we' know that due to the vagaries of nature and characteristic property of material any one particular individual cannot conquer death (of the physical form) but, naturally, human form (the most evolved among animals that inhabit earth, Shiva in physical form) continues since time immemorial, like dust, and/ or water drops etc. the panchbhootas (panchtatvas) that believably exist from the very beginning as Bhootnath's friends...

Pyramids in Egypt perhaps could be said to be the oldest 'man-made structures' on earth today,,,and in 'India' it is apparently the local kings at any given time who get credit for our old temples that are seen intact in certain isolated localities (and perhaps dame good luck that certain foreign raiders didn't think it worthwhile to demolish them, to shatter the morale of the then locals; or for remodelling them for some other purpose, etc.)...

injamaven said...

Does Sisireshwar mean what I think it means? I visited all the temples around that ancient tank 1/07. Tranquil, unforgettable tirtha!

JC said...

Sisireshwar (evolved from Shishir Ritu?) could perhaps literally mean the Lord of Winter, ie, the cold season...For, Shishir is also one of the '1000 names' of Lord Vishnu ('Sudershan-chakra dhari', ie, 'holder of the beautiful wheel',,, perhaps thus alluding to cold ring-planet Saturn,,, one of the nine or Navgrahas, as Nadbindu Vishnu's model in physical form)...

JC said...

As children 'we' have enjoyed the stories of Vikram aur Betal (Vaital), original twenty five stories in Sanskrit, Betal Pachchisi, about the legendary valiant king Vikramaditya of Ujjain who believably controlled the Betal (literally, 'Off beat' soul)...

King Vikramaditya believably was a just king who decided different legal cases sitting on a particular stone throne,,, and his name later popped up again through the thirty two stories, 'Sinhasan Battisi', during the time of Raja Bhoj another valiant king who believably was tested by 32 spirits in that throne before allowing him to occupy the same throne later because of his simplicity in accepting that comparatively he was much inferior to Vikramaditya...

JC said...

With the background knowledge that ancient 'Hindus', ie, 'Indians' (and 'Indu' in Sanskrit means moon) realised each human form as a model of the universe, ie, the infinite void ('Mahakal', the controller of time), and perhaps its various aspects that are related to time as we reckon it,,, made from essences of 'navgrahas' or nine members of our solar system (from Sun to Saturn, as different 'images' of the one and only formless in our universe, or the zero housed at its centre),,,the stories related with King Vikrmaditya and Betal could perhaps thus be seen to convey that there is a component of energy or energies within each, the betal, that render(s) it almost impossible for any givcn individual normally to reach the 'Absolute Truth', ie, realise the one and only apparently elusive formless being, for He is related with time and space zero (and therefore need to reach near thoughtless stage with regular practise, or meditation during spare time, becoming unconscious of the external world, whose essence believably exists within each form too)...

JC said...

With the background knowledge in mind that ancient 'Hindus' were advanced astronomers, or/ rather 'siddhas' (all rounders), 'we' have also come to learn in the 'present', from 'scientists', that our universe is a dark, ever expanding, infinite void that is expanding since time immemorial, after having started from a 'Big Bang',,,and that the void is filled with innumerable varieties of infinite sized galaxies each, out of which our 'Milky Way Galaxy' of billions of stars and planets etc, in appearance is like a disc that revolves around its centre, where a super gravity 'Black Hole' is housed,,,and that a Black Hole is formed when a massive star after its 'death' gets transformed into a hole like body in the infinite universal space,,, and whose presence becomes apparent only when stars or a galaxy in its vicinity are sucked into it and thus virtually disappear from our vision as the super gravity hole doesn't permit even light to escape outwards!

With the above said in mind, the ancient wise are also indicated to have realised each human form as a model of the universe,,,or an image of God,,,ie, as instruments or tools each (maybe judged useless by 'us') perhaps serving some useful purpose to the immortal perfect being, or Bhootnath Shiva, the Mahakal, to review His past, His ups and downs...

Without doubting His infinite capability and 100% efficiency at all times compared to one's varying effficiency in different yugas, one could thus hope that one comes up to His expectations from him or her (just as its reflection 'we' mortals also are conscious of what 'we' could expect from a 'man made' tool or machine,,, of course, to a limited extent only, due mainly to lack of overall knowledge)...

JC said...

"...In Indian spiritualism, there is no room for feelings of fear or attachment. In fact our scriptures repeatedly advice us to get over these emotions over a period of time..."

To understand why one was advised thus, one could also notice that the ancient wise talked of 'Maya' that is illusion. The physical world/ universe was indicated as 'mithya', ie, illusory (like the dreams projected on mind's eyes of animals during sleep since time immemorial and the cinema is of a recent origin)...And in normal parlance, one calls in the 'present' the world of Cinema as illusory or 'mayavi' where fiction becomes the truth for the spectator of a film as long as the pre-recorded film is being projected on the silver screen in the dark hall... The spell breaks as soon as the film ends and lights are on in the hall ('Tamasoma jyotirgamaya', ie, 'Lead the kindly light?)!

Rama Mohan said...

Rich information. Thanks for sharing this.

Delhi Hotels said...

I only heard of Vikram Vaital stories. These images looks horror. A lot of thanks to JC for giving beautiful information.

The Skeptic said...

The roots of fear can be found in desire and in comparison.

There is sensation. This is objective reality. When thought contacts this sensation, image is formed. At the point of thought contacting sensation forming an image, desire is born. I see a beautiful car. I admire its lines. Pure sensation. Then thought comes in. An image of me sitting in that car. Desire is born. I want it. Then the issue - But will I get it ? How do I get it ? Fear has taken root.

Be like him. Do not be like him. Be anything, but not yourself. Compare, conform, modify, fit into the mould. Another root of fear.

To totally go into the question of fear, one needs to go into the question of thought, desire, pleasure.

In this understanding, fear dissolves. Fear does not dissolve by " being brave". it dissolves in its observation dispassionately.

JC said...

Thanks Shri skeptic!

Through the ancient enlightened Yogis, or wisest of wise 'Hindus', ie, the 'elevated souls that reflect the hierarchy apparent in 'Nature' in all aspects of the so called illusory world ('mayavi jagat'), or the script conforming to the present day belief of the Grand Design, the Supreme Soul, ie, the only fearless being, the realisation of all other apparent physical forms being images/ reflection as in a mirror, is conveyed to have been made to appear real, eternally... A character named William Shakespeare
also realised humans as actors (who play their assigned roles and then exit)...

And, each image, being inferior, or imperfect, in the drama, believably, finds the emotions experienced due to 'maya', or lack of knowledge of the Truth as doors of hell, that is, being unable to reach 'enlightenment', or the Absolute Truth of one and only one Supreme Being's presence in the entire univese, that Buddha apparently attained in the drama in recent times...

The doors to hell conveyed are, 'kam'/ 'krodh'/ 'moh'/ 'lobh'/ 'ahankar', ie, desire/ anger/ attachment/ greed/ pride... The various emotions, in Krishna leela say, are obviously felt generated because thoughts, that form the basis of apparent physical actions (verbal or creation/ sustenance/ destruction, etc., are not under any one's control... Try sitting at one place thoughtlessly, if you feel you are the actor without any one prompting you!

TEMPLES IN BANGALORE said...

I only heard of Vikram Vaital stories.i am waiting for your next post..These images looks horror nice information.thanks for sharing it..

LET US STAY CONNECTED said...

I visited this temple last February (2012). Its architecture is interesting - alot like 'Gopuram' of South Indian temples, but, space constraint has robbed this temple's visitors of a proper viewing facility. Sisireswar temple, its neighbour,is hardly accessible to a photographer on 3 sides! The 'torana' on the road would have looked grand, had a layout like that of Mukteswara - Siddheswara temples been possible.

Coming back to the subject of Vaital temple,I enjoyed going through your description of the temple's interior. We missed a chance of entering the 'deul' as we were at this location around 3pm when the priest was gone. Good that you could borrow two photographs of 'Chamunda devi & Saptamatrika' and 'Bhairava' from IGNCA. I have heard that the priest is very particular about not allowing any photography inside !

May you could have added photos of 'MahishasuraMardini' - the very famous wall-relief of this temple and 'Nataraja/Surya'wall-reliefs in your reportorial.

LET US STAY CONNECTED said...

I visited this temple last February (2012). Its architecture is interesting, but, space constraint has unfortunately robbed this temple's visitors of required latitude. Sisireswar temple, its neighbour,is hardly accessible to a photographer on 3 sides! The 'torana' on the road would have looked grand, had a layout like that of Mukteswara - Siddheswara temples been possible.

Coming back to Vaital temple,I enjoyed going through your description of the temple's interior. We missed a chance of entering inside the temple as we were at this location around 3pm when the priest was gone. Good that you could borrow two photographs of 'Chamunda devi & Saptamatrika' and 'Bhairava' from IGNAC is location around 3pm when the priest was gone. Good that you could borrow two photographs of 'Chamunda devi & Saptamatrika' and 'Bhairava' from IGNCA because the priest reportedly very firm about not allowing photography of the deities inside.
I wonder if you have taken photo of the famous wall-relief of 'MahisasuraMardini' . I found the Nataraja/Surya dev combination on the front wall @ an elevation a rare 'combined' appearance. I am preparing my blog on Vaital temple @ przmm.blogspot.com where I shall post these 2 photos among others.