Worship of Lord Brahma, Part 10

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BY: SUN STAFF - 4.12 2017

Lord Brahma, Dudhahi, Lalitpur

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


The Brahma Temple in Dudhahi

For those interested in finding their way to India's select few Lord Brahma temples, perhaps one of the most confusing of all sites is that of Dudhahi (Dudhai). The village of Dudhahi is located in Lalitpur, in the Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh. Many references are found on the Net to Lalitpur in Patan, Nepal. In the past we discussed the Garuda temple located there. In fact, Lalitpur, Patan, is home to a number of other Vaisnava temples, but there is no Brahma temple among them, to our knowledge.

The location of the Dudhahi temple is further confused by the numerous references which indicate that Dudhahi is located in Madhya Pradesh. Even Google maps has the location wrong. This easily understood, when one looks at the location of Dudhahi. Lalitpur in Jhansi district is positioned in the long 'finger' of southern Uttar Pradesh that juts down into Madhya Pradesh. This area is famously known as the Bundelkhand region, which is home to an amazing number of ancient temples. Bundelkhand is generally described as beginning in Deogarh, in the west, stretching up the U.P. 'finger', and running east along the U.P./M.P. border, as far as Chitrakool.

So despite the many references to a Brahma temple in Madhya Pradesh, all available archeological data indicates that the actual Brahmadev temple site is in Dudhahi, Lalitpur, U.P.

Historical records say that the Chandela kings once ruled Jhansi, and at that time it was known as Balwant Nagar, and the surrounding regions were Chedi Rashtra, Jejak Bhukit, Jajhoti, and Bundelkhand. The area lost its importance in the 11th century, but again rose to prominence in the 17th century, under the rule of Raja Bir Singh Deo of Orchha.

Lalitpur is one of four prominent towns in Jhansi district, along with Mehroni, Talbehat and Pali, which are surrounded by some 750 small villages, with tributaries of the Yamuna River to the north. The area is known as Bundelkhand to the locals. There are a number of ancient temples found in the district, including Murli Manohar Temple, Maha Lakshmi Temple, Ganesh Mandir, Kaliji Temple, and Panchkuniya Temple. Other attractions in the area include the temples at Deogarh, Khajuraho, Ranchourji Neelkantheshwar Trimurti (Pali), Andela, Matatila Dam, Seeronkhurd, Dudhai, Dewa Mata, and BandarGurha.

In the Dudhahi area of Lalipur are many temples, tanks, and ancient ruins, including many Visnu, Varaha, Nrsimha, Dasavatar, Siva, and Jain sites.


The Brahma Temple at Dudhahi

Dudhahi is hidden away in a thick forest approximately 6 kms. from the Dhaurra station of Central Railway. Most of the structures here are in ruins or great disrepair, and few tourists make their way here. A Jhansi inscription indicates that at one time, the place was known as Dugdhakupya.

The primary temple complex is located just east of the present village, overlooking the Ramsagar Lake. There are two temples with spires, two Shiva temples, one Varaha temple, two Jain temples, and the temple of Lord Brahma. The Brahma temple's porch, pillars, mandapa, and the sanctum have all survived, although all the roofs of the temple have fallen down.

While some believe the nearby Brahma temple at Khajuraho to have been originally dedicated to Visnu, there is no question that the Dudhahi temple was built in honor of Brahmadev. A three-headed, bearded figure of Brahma riding his hamsa vahana is found on the door lintel. Further evidence that Lord Brahma has always been the presiding deity here comes in the form of a pilgrim's record, in which the catur-mukha Brahma and his consort Savitri were paid obeisances by the devotee. Dudhahi was at one time also a center of the Yogini Kaula cult. Very few Causatha-yogini temples are known to exist, and the one at Dudhahi is a rare example.

The importance of the Brahma temple at Dudhahi is also evidenced by the fact that all the discovered inscriptions from the area belong to the Brahma temple. There are six such records, in nagari characters, from c. 11th century. These were put up by Devalabdhi, the son of Krsna and Asarvva, and grandson of the great Candrella king, Yasovarman, who claims to have erected the shrine.

In his Report of Tours in Bundelkhand and Malwa published in 1880, the historian Cunningham gave a detailed description of Dudhahi, which follows:

"That Dudabi was once a place of some importance is proved by the extent of its ruins, which cover both banks of the lake. It is also described by Abu Rihn as a large town (une grande ville) 35 parasangs from Mathura and 12 from Bhiba.' [ ]

The principal group of ruins consists of two temples with spires, called by the people Sarahi marhiya or "tall temples," a small Varaha shrine with a figure of a boar under a four-pillared canopy, a small lingam temple, and a second Hngam shrine close to the temple of Brahma. There is a second boar statue on the bank of the lake, and a small one near the Varaha temple, which is called the Baccha or the "Little Pig." There are also the remains of two Jain temples, one of which contains a stark-naked standing figure 12 feet high, and the other a squatted figure 5 feet across the knees, with a naked figure standing on each side. 

The second temple is one of the rare examples of a shrine dedicated to Brahma. It is built on one of the common plans of a Hindu temple, with a small entrance porch, a large hall of assembly, 25 feet square, supported on four pillars, and a dark sanctum reached through a small vestibule. Altogether it is only 42 feet long by 25 feet broad; but, though comparatively small, it is one of the most richly decorated temples that I have seen. Every architrave is deeply carved on its under side in a variety of patterns, all in the style of the beautiful honey-combed designs of the ceilings.

The four central pillars of the hall are singularly graceful in their proportions, and unusually lofty for the small size of the temple, being 9 feet 6 inches in height to the base of the bracket capital.

Over the centre of the sanctum doorway there is a three-headed figure of the bearded Brahma with his goose, supported by the Navagraha, or nine planets, four on one side and five on the other. The central position of the figure places the dedication of the temple to Brahma beyond dispute."