Tributes to Nation Goddess – Bharat Mata Temples in IndiaMonday August 8, 2022 at 5:50 pm
India is a land of gods. There are over thirty-three crores of gods in Hinduism – add to them gods of other religions, the individual gods that some people have (called Isht Devs), and the ascetics who have acquired god-like status in India (like Sai Baba). You will probably end up with too large a number. One unique goddess among this crowd of gods is India itself. Represented as Bharat Mata (‘Bharat’ is another name of India – driven from the great Kuru kind of the same name), she has many temples devoted to herself in the country.
Temples devoted to Bharat Mata
While there are not many temples devoted to Bharat Mata, many of those do have deep cultural and historical contexts. Let us discuss some of the best Bharat Mata temples:
1. Bharat Mata Temple at Varanasi
The first and one of the most famous temples of Bharat Mata is located in the city of temples – Varanasi. The temple is inside the campus of the famous Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth. It is not a temple in the sense the word is mainly used – that is, it is not a place where one could make prayers or wishes. This temple is not a religious place; instead, it is a place of patriotism – visiting it should give one a chance to express one’s love for the nation.
At the center of the temple, one finds a detailed topographical map of India using marble instead of some statute. The map is that of ‘Akhand Bharat.’ It includes several currently sovereign political countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar – this is because it was built when India was still undivided and under the rule of the British empire. In short, it covers most Indian subcontinent and celebrates its land, personified as Ma Bharti. The map is surrounded by a pillared corridor that lets one fully appreciate the map from the lateral front sides.
The map is made to a scale of 1 Inch:6.4 Mile and clearly shows the altitude of mountains in the respective rise of stone, islands, oceans, etc. For showing waterbodies, water is used. The map is also decorated with flowers on National holidays like Independence Day and Republic Day.
The temple is the brainchild of Babu Shiv Prasad Gupta, the founder of Kashi Vidyapeeth, who was inspired when he saw a similar map on the floor of a Vidwa Asharam (Widow Asylum) in Pune and later saw elaborate maps in British museums. He chose Durga Prasad Khatri for the job and fully financed the project. At the inauguration of the temple by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936 AD, Gayatri Mantra was received twenty-four lakh times. Mahatma Gandhi gave Purvahuuti the final offering in the Yagna performed at the temple. Verses from all four Vedas were chanted before the temple could be finally opened to the public.
The temple does have a statue of Bharat Mata inspired by the famous painting by Abranidranath Tagore, the nephew of Noble laureate Ravindranath Tagore. Mathlisharan Gupta wrote a poem for the temple, ascribed here on the premises.
2. Bharat Mata Temple at Haridwar
Perhaps the most famous Bharat Mata temple is in Haridwar. This one was built in 1983 by Swami Satyamitranand Giri and inaugurated by India’s third prime minister (and first woman prime minister), Indira Gandhi 1983. The temple has eight stories, and its roof provides a great vantage point to enjoy the serene sight of the Ganga flowing in all directions. The Rajaji National Park is also visible. The temple’s ground floor has an impressive statue of the nation goddess. The subsequent floors are dedicated to other aspects of the country as follows:
- First floor – Shoor Mandir (Temple for brave) – dedicated to freedom fighters
- Second floor – Matri Mandir (Temple of mothers) – Dedicated to women’s power
- Third floor – Sant Mandir (Temple of saints) – dedicated to saints
- The fourth floor – is dedicated to India’s diversity and all religions practiced in the country.
- The fifth flood – Shakti Mandir – is dedicated to the supreme goddess of Hindus
- The sixth floor – Vishnu Mandir – is dedicated to Vishnu and his avatars
- The seventh floor – Shive Mandir – is dedicated to Shiva.
3. Bharat Mata Temple at Kanyakumari
There is also a Bharat Mata Mandir in Vivekananda Kendra in Kanyakumari.
The temple is centered around a Murti of Swami Vivekananda. Five mother figures surround this idol:
- Parvati – the wife of Shiva and mother of Kartik and Ganesh
- Shakuntala – The mother of Bharat, the great king after whom India is named
- Jijabai – The mother of Maratha king Shivaji
- Sharada Devi – the mother of Swami Vivekananda
- Mata Amritanandamayi – the current saint. She inaugurated this temple in 2017.
As for Bharat Mata, she has a 12 feet tall golden idol in which she holds a flag in her left hand while her right hand is in Abhay mudra (signifying the viewer to be fearless). A golden lion that matches her magnificence stands next to her – reminiscent of imagery relating to goddess Durga.
4. Mandir at Ujjain
This one was built by Madhav Seva Nyas and inaugurated in 2018. It is close to the Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain and has three stories. The temple has Bharta Mata’s statue, which is 16 feet tall and surrounded by Navadurga images. The temple premises also has an auditorium, a library, a center for meditation and yoga center, and an assembly hall.
5. Temple in Deogiri or Daulatabad Fort
The last temple in our list is located in the eleventh-century Deogiri Fort, built by Yadava Kings near the present-day city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra. The temple seems to be old enough though the statute of Bharat Mata may have been established later.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
There are several questions people ask that relate to Bharata Mata mandirs. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) on this subject:
Question: Are there any mentions of Bharat Mata in religious texts?
Answer: Yes, In fact, the earliest reference is in Apri-Suktas of Rigveda, where she is called Vakdevi or the goddess of speech. It is also where the Bharata clan was mentioned. The clan was named after great kind Bharata, the son of Shakuntala and ancestors of Pandavas – the heroes of the great Hindu epic Mahabharata.
The Bottom Line
One can easily wrap up the above discussion by concluding that Bharat Mata is one goddess that aspires a patriotic devotion and not a religious one.