Worship of Lord Brahma, Part 98

BY: SUN STAFF - 1.6 2018

Lord Brahma Catur-mukha Linga, Khajurao


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


Lord Brahma's Khajurao Temple

Khajuraho is a very small town located in the Chhatarpur District of Madhya Pradesh, approximately about 385 miles southeast of Delhi. The name 'Khajuraho' is derived from the Hindi word 'khajur', meaning date palm. The town is very popular with tourists, although the temple site has been very difficult to reach until recently. Tourists primarily come to see the famous erotic sculptures on the outside of the temple. The devotees, however, come here on pilgrimage to worship at the numerous and exquisite Vaisnava temples.

On the banks of the Khajuraho sagar is an ancient Brahma temple, the second of only two we find in Madhya Pradesh, in which Lord Brahma as the presiding Deity is found in his four-faced linga form.

The outside of the temple, while architecturally simple and unadorned, is a very beautiful structure nonetheless. Attached to the sanctum there was once a porch, but that is now completely crumbled.

The main sanctum has a pyramidal sikhara with receding tiers of pidhas, each crowned with a prominent bell-member. The sanctum is square, and rests on twelve plain granite pilasters. The projection on the east contains the entrance, while on the west is a smaller doorway. The other two sides of the sanctum have simple latticed windows.

Lord Brahma Temple, Khajurao


There is a carved image of the Trimurti on the main lintel, and carved images of Ganga and Yamuna at the base, along with a few additional images and ornamentations in the doorway. There is little other sculptural adornment, inside or out. The jangha (wall) divides the sanctum into two registers, which puts it in the same category of early structural design as the Lalguan-Mahadeva shrine, which shares the same plan, design, ornaments, and building materials.

In the sanctum sanctorum, Brahmadev's catur-mukha linga is barred off, to prevent visitors from getting too close. The Deity here, like all the ancient temple structures at Khajurao, is in an extremely delicate state. Lord Brahma's abode is considered to be one of the oldest temples in the Khajurao complex, built circa 900. It is made entirely of granite and sandstone, the latter being particularly vulnerable to the ravages of time and weather. The Brahma temple has, apparently, been removed from the list of sites the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is currently intent upon preserving.

Khajuraho was the original capital of the Chandela Rajputs, a dynasty that ruled this part of India from the 10th to 12th centuries. The temples here were built over a span of a hundred years, from 900 to 1050 AD. The Chandela capital was later moved to Mahoba, but Khajuraho coninued to flourish as a city for some time, before the population declined.

The entire temple complex is enclosed behind a wall with eight gates, each of which is flanked by two golden palm trees. There were originally over 80 Vaisnava temples, of which only 22 still stand in reasonable condition. These are scattered over an area of about 8 square miles.

The Khajuraho temples were constructed with spiral superstructures, which adhere to the North Indian shikhara temple style. Many follow a traditional Panchayatana design. A few of the temples are dedicated to the Jain deities, while the rest are Vaisnava, principally Lord Visnu, Brahma and Shiva, and the various Devi forms.

As typical with Panchayatana temple complexes, there are four subordinate shrines positioned on the four corners, with the main shrine at the center of a podium which comprises the entire base. The temples are grouped into three divisions: western, eastern and southern. Lord Brahma's temple resides in the eastern group.

Lord Brahma Linga

The eastern group of shrines is comprised of temples to Brahma, Vamana and Javari, along with three Jain temples, the Ghantai, Adinatha and Parsvanatha shrines. The Brahmanical temples are located along the Khajuraho sagar, or Ninora-tal, while the Jain temples are placed farther south.

There are a few additional images of Lord Brahma found in the Khajuraho complex, including a well known sculpture on the outside of the main temple, featuring a somewhat erotic image of Brahmadev and Saraswati. Inside the Chitragupta temple, a three-headed murti of Lord Brahma is found, although this is a secondary presence, as opposed to being the shrine's presiding deity, as in the case of the Brahma temple itself.