Worship of Lord Brahma, Part 96

BY: SUN STAFF - 29.3 2018

Stairs leading up to Brahmadeva Temple, Dungari

A serial exploration of places of Lord Brahma's worship.

Lord Brahma at Dungari, Gujarat

On the southern coast of Gujarat sits the quiet village of Dungari (Dungri). Situated 9 km. north of Valsad (or Bulsar), Dungri is fairly non-descript, and certainly not a pilgrimage destination. But sitting atop a hill there, known as Brahdev Mountain, we find a small temple complex dedicated to Lord Brahma – one of only two discovered in Gujarat.

There are actually two temples in the Dungari Brahma complex: the old original shrine, which has now been renovated, and a newer temple facility that is larger, presumably intended to hold more worshippers. The age of the original Brahmadeva Temple is unknown, but temple monuments from as early as the 2nd Century B.C. have been surveyed in Gujarat, including rock-cut cave temples found in Dungari.

The old (renovated) Brahmadeva Temple at Dungari

Devotees must walk up a very long flight of stone steps to get to Sri Brahmadeva Temple. From the summit of the hill, one gets a panoramic view of the village below and the surrounding countryside, which has been home for countless years to members of one of Gujarat's oldest tribal clans.

The State of Gujarat is not known for its Brahma temples. In fact, the little known Brahmadeva Temple at Dungari is only the second one we have discovered in all of Gujarat, following the Brahma Temple at Khedbrahma, covered in our last segment".

New Brahmadeva Temple, Dungari

Now grown to more of a town than a village, there are several businesses in Dungari, and even a few high-tech enterprises. At the top of Brahdev Mountain, a village recreation area has been built. In the town below, there is also the Dhaba Dungri Shiva Temple.

The ability of the local population to survive, let alone thrive in Dungari is directly tied to agriculture. And like everywhere on the earth planet, agriculture is dependent on water. Just a few years ago, there was a major exodus of local villagers from this area, driven off their land by drought. More than 90 tribal villages in the area of Sabarkantha district were seriously affected, including Dungari. 76 additional villages in the Banaskantha district were similarly impacted.

View of Dungari from Brahdev Mountain

Known as the Dungri Bhil tribe, thousands had to leave Dungari in search of work and food, because crop failure was so severe. In the greater Khedbrahma taluka, more than 40% of the population was displaced. Those who stayed behind were forced to walk 20 to 25 km. with empty vessels to get any water.

Dungri Garasias Tribal Peoples

Living for countless years in the Aravali foothills of the remote Sabarkatha district of Gujarati is a class of ethnic tribals, or Adivasis, known as the Garasias people. Thought to have descended from the Rajput clans, the Garasias are well known for their agricultural expertise.

The Sabarkatha Garasias are comprised of two distinct groups – the Garasia Rajputs and the Garasia Bhils. The Bhil Garasias are also known as the Dungri Garasias, and they have undoubtedly been the primary worshippers of Lord Brahma at his temple in Dungari.

Dungari Bhil's dancing Ram Varta

The Mahabharata and Ramayan both make reference to the tribes of Gujarat, and specifically to the Dungri Bhils. It was the Bhil hunter, Vaali, who mistakenly shot Sri Krsna at Prabhas Patan, mistaking the Lord's beautiful Foot for the ear of a deer. And Shabri, the simple devotee depicted in Valmiki's Ramayana, was a Bhil woman.


Lord Brahma with Hamsa
Bhagavata Purana, Gujarat region, early 18th c.