Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Harshat Mata Temple. 9th century Hindu temple at Abaneri, Rajasthan

Abhaneri or Abaneri (originally named Abha Nagari),  in the Dausa district of  Rajasthan state is s popular  tourist destination spot for two simple reasons: it is hometo  the world famous   ornate step well  called  Chand Baori that supplied ground water to the villagers in the past in the summer season too and the other being Harshat Mata Temple. This post is about the temple.

Harshat Mata Temple, Abaneri, Rajasthan.  en.wikipedia.org

Harshat Mata Temple, Abhaneri, Rajasthan.dreamstime.com  

Harshat Mata Temple. according to the historians was originally  dedicated to God Vishnu. The ordinal style of the temple was that of  panchayatana (Sanskrit words Pancha meaning five  and  ayatana meaning  containing) in which the main shrine is surrounded by four subsidiary shrines. The temple complex that is built on two broad stepped terraces (jagati) has an East-facing entrance to the temple facing the rising Sun. The original  circumambulatory path or Prthakshana path  is  partially ruined

Abaneri, India  location map .palampurbikersclub.com

Because of time and political reasons the main shrine  has survived, but parts have been ruined  because of aging, etc. In the place of Shikara - tower, there is a dome-shed roof  modified in the past; the tall shikhara tower  was replaced by a roof-dome. The good news is the fragments of carved stones from the original structure, and the age-old sculptures were shifted to the Museum at towns like Amber and Jaipur. The ASI apparently fearing pilferage, looting  and destruction of valuable artifacts, stone images, etc took the right step to save them for the posterity.


9th CHarshat Mata Temple, Abaneri, Rajasthan.en.wikipedia.org

The Chahamanas (Chauhans of Sambhar, were an Indian dynasty that ruled parts of the present-day Rajasthan and its neighboring areas between 6th and 12th centuries)  of Shakambhari were the earliest rulers. Mahmud Gazni (died 1041; at the age of 42 or 43), the  sultan of the Ghaznavid Empire of Afghanistan,  between 1000 and 1026,  raided  India at least 17 times to loot treasures from the Hindu temples. His raid  on Somnath  temple in  the coastal  area Gujarat  that yielded  him vast treasures of gold, etc was quite famous. He destroyed many temples including the one at Abhaneri. In the absence of any records or inscription on the history of the temple or its original builder, based on the style of the structure, the historians postulate that this temple was built in the 9th century, apparently after the near-by  Chand Baori stepwell .had been built. 

The builder, historians theorize could be a ruler from the  Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty  ( an Indian imperial power during the late classical period  that ruled much of North India from the mid-8th to the 11th century. They  also  ruled first at Ujjain and later at Kannauj. The iconography is representative of the Pancharatra movement of Vaishnavism. The historians made an interesting observation about this old temple, its structure  and the primary god enshrined in the sanctum. The broken  fragments of this temple that are on display in the museums  suggest strong Shakta and Shaiva influence. However,   Falk Reitz (1993) of University of Bonn, Germany is of the opinion that panchayatana temples tend to be ''syncretic'', meaning  fusion of two or more religious belief systems into a new system, or possible incorporation into a religious tradition of beliefs from unrelated traditions.  As for images of Durga and Parvati (Shiva's wife), they are  different aspects of the same goddess. Reitz concludes  that the ''Vaishnava sculptures at the temple have a "subordinate position", and cannot be used to make any conclusions about the temple's sectarian affiliation....... it is not surprising to find Vaishnava or Shaiva sculptures at a Shakta temple''. Many religions   may have syncretic elements to their beliefs or history, but adherents of so-labeled systems are stuck with their  own and show preference to  exclusivist approach. Reitz, who studied the near-by Chand Boari says  the two fragments of a Durga sculpture  in the Chand Baori compound may belong  to main idol of the original temple. 

About the builder of this temple, the studies done in the 29th century conclude that  the sanctum once had a Durga idol, which was stolen.  Later, an idol of Goddess Lakshmi, consort of God Vishnu, was installed in that place. Now this idol  is worshipped as Harshat-Mata.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abhaneri

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harshat_Mata_Temple

http://asijaipurcircle.nic.in/Ancient%20mound%20Abaneri.html