Vimala Temple (Bimala Temple)
Goddess Bimala (Sati)
Vimala Temple is located within the Jagannath Temple complex in Puri in the Indian state of Odisha. It is generally regarded as a Shakti Pitha, among the holiest temples dedicated to the Hindu Goddess.
Hindu philosopher and saint Adi Shankara (c. 8th century) is believed to have established Govardhana matha in Puri, with Vimala as its presiding goddess.
Vimala is identified with the goddesses Katyayini, Durga, Bhairavi, Bhuvaneshvari and Ekanamsha in various texts and rituals. She is considered the shakti of Vishnu as well as Shiva in the climactic Durga Puja festivities in the temple. She appears as Mahishasuramardini (Durga as slayer of the demon Mahishasura) or Vijayalakshmi (the warrior form of Lakshmi) in New Delhi Konark stele, 13th century stone stele originally from Konark Sun Temple and now housed in National Museum, New Delhi.
The people of Odisha take pride in the Vimala temple. They consider it the most important temple to the Goddess and a must-visit. Devotees visit the temple religiously every day and recite hymns from the Devi Mahatmya, attributed to the sage Markandeya, Debyaparadhakshyamapana stotram by Adi Shankara and Vimalastakam composed by Purusottam Rakshit.
It is prescribed that devotees pay their respects to the goddess Vimala before worshipping Jagannath in the main temple. he waters of Rohini kunda, the tirtha (sacred pool) of Vimala, are also considered holy. Tantrics often visit the temple, which they consider more important than the central Jagannath shrine. The Goddess-oriented festival of Durga Puja in the Hindu month of Ashvin (October) is celebrated for sixteen days, culminating with Vijayadashami. On Vijayadashami, Vimala is worshipped by the titular Gajapati king of Puri as the goddess Durga, who is believed to have slain the demon Mahishasura on this day. As the goddess is believed to assume a destructive aspect during the Durga Puja, women are debarred in the temple as they are considered too "weak-hearted" to witness this terrible form of the goddess.
The goddess is described to survive on the remnants (Uchchhishta) of Jagannath's meals. The vegetarian food offerings to Jagannath are offered to Vimala, after which they are sanctified as Mahaprasad. The Mahaprasad consists of dried rice mixed with grated coconut, cheese, curd and butter. The Shankaracharya, head of the Govardhana matha, receives a pot of the mahaprasad and a plate of khichdi that is offered to the goddess, the presiding goddess (Adya-shakti) of the matha as well as of the temple.
The only time in the year when separate food is cooked for the goddess is when she is offered non-vegetarian offerings. During Durga Puja, Vimala is offered non-vegetarian food and animal sacrifice, traditionally offered to the Hindu Mother Goddess. The goddess is considered to assume a destructive form during the festival and the meat is considered necessary to placate her. In strict secrecy during the pre-dawn hours, animal sacrifice of a he-goat is offered in the temple, while fish from the sacred Markanda temple tank are cooked and offered to Vimala, as per Tantric rituals. The rituals have to be completed before the doors of the main sanctum of the vegetarian Jagannath are opened at dawn and the first morning aarti is offered to the god. Vaishnava devotees of Jagannath are debarred from the temple. Only a few who witness the ceremony are given the Bimala parusa (Vimala's cuisine) as prasad.
The temple is located in the south-west corner of the inner enclosure of the Jagannath temple complex and on the western corner of the tower of Jagannath, next to the sacred pond Rohini kunda. The temple faces east and is built of sandstone and laterite. It is built in the Deula style with four components; vimana (structure containing the sanctum), jagamohana (assembly hall), nata-mandapa (festival hall) and bhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings). The temple was renovated around 2005 and is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, Bhubaneswar Circle.
Though a small shrine in the temple complex, the Vimala temple is important to the Goddess-oriented Shakta and Tantric worshippers, who revere it even more than the main Jagannath shrine. Vimala is considered to be the Tantric consort of Jagannath and a guardian of the temple complex. Devotees pay respect to Vimala before worshipping Jagannath in the main temple. Food offered to Jagannath does not get sanctified as Mahaprasad until it is also offered to Vimala. The Goddess-oriented festival of Durga Puja in the Hindu month of Ashvin (October) is celebrated for sixteen days at Vimala, culminating with Vijayadashami.
Vimala (Bimala) is regarded as the presiding goddess of the Purushottama (Puri) Shakti Pitha. Jagannath, a form of the god Vishnu/Krishna (Krishna is generally regarded as an avatar of Vishnu), is worshipped as the Pitha's Bhairava. This is a departure from the usual tradition of Bhairava as a form of Shiva. So, in this temple complex, Vishnu–one of the Hindu trinity–is equated with Shiva, another of the trinity; this is interpreted to convey the oneness of God. In this regard, Vimala - generally associated with Shiva's consort - is also considered as Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu.
From Biju Patnaik International Airport this temple is 60 KM. It is 3.2 KM from Puri Rail Station and 2 KM from Puri Bus Stand. Taxis , city buses, autos are easily available for the temple.
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