Maihar Temple: A Sacred Heaven Amidst the Vindhya Mountains

Maihar Temple: A Sacred Haven Amidst the Vindhya Mountains

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Mysteries and Prohibitions Surrounding Maihar's Nocturnal Secrets

Maihar city is located in the region of Madhya Pradesh, where the revered Goddess Sharda is enshrined. This temple has long been a focal point of devotion for countless followers. Legend has it that the temple dedicated to Goddess Sharda, positioned atop a lofty hill amid dense forests, was initially discovered by two brothers named Bundeli Veer Alha and Udal. In the revered Bundelkhand region, a legend unfolds that ties the warriors Alha and Udal to this sacred place. Engaged in a fierce battle with Prithvi Raj Chauhan, both brothers were devout followers of Sharda Devi. The tale goes that Alha, driven by unwavering devotion, underwent penance for a remarkable twelve years, ultimately attaining immortality with the blessings of Sharda Devi.

Alha and Udal are believed to be the inaugural visitors to the goddess in this remote forest. Alha, in his reverence, affectionately referred to the mother goddess as 'Sharda Mai,' a name that subsequently evolved into the popular title of 'Mata Sharda Mai.' This association underscores the deep spiritual connection between the legendary warriors and the divine presence of Sharda Devi in this sacred enclave.

The Forbidden Mysteries of Overnight Stays at the Temple

Staying overnight in the temple is strictly prohibited, and numerous ancient tales surround this prohibition. According to the belief, spending the night in this temple can lead to one's demise. The rationale behind this stems from the enduring belief that Alha and Udal in Bundelkhand, considered immortal (Chiranjeevi), visit the temple every night to seek blessings from the Goddess. When night falls, the temple is securely closed, and all individuals associated with it descend from the hill. It is said that during this time, the two brothers come to pay homage to the Goddess. In a unique ritual, they collectively adorn the Goddess, which is why no one is permitted to stay overnight, not even the temple priests.

Daily Marvels and Unexplained Phenomena within the Temple's Walls

Every day, miracles unfold at the temple. Legend has it that when the temple doors are opened each morning, a flower and water mysteriously found at the feet of the Mother Goddess. Although no one has witnessed these occurrences, tangible proof is discovered every day. Even after the evening aarti, the temple undergoes thorough cleaning, and all its doors are securely closed. Yet, come morning, clear signs of the Mother's worship and rituals are evident within the temple, defying the logical explanation of the events that transpire during the night.

It is firmly believed that following the evening aarti, when the temple priests have closed the doors and descended, the echo of bells and the resonance of puja can be distinctly heard emanating from inside the temple. Locals claim that devotees of the Mother continue to visit, frequently engaging in morning aarti. Each day, upon the reopening of the temple doors, a mysterious and miraculous spectacle unfolds. The sanctum sanctorum is occasionally illuminated with radiant light, while at other times, it is permeated with a delightful fragrance. Furthermore, an enchanting flower is often discovered as an offering to Goddess Sharda within the innermost chamber of the temple.


Legends of Devotion: Alha and Udal's Connection with the Enigmatic Maihar Temple

The enduring belief maintains that Alha and Udal have the initial privilege of darshan (sacred viewing) of the Goddess, preceding even the temple priests. This conviction continues to be upheld. Adjacent to the temple, there lies a pond beneath the mountains known as Alha Talab. According to legend, after bathing in this pond during the auspicious Brahma Muhurta, the first person to witness Maa Sharda would offer blood flowers. Moreover, proceeding two kilometers from the pond, one encounters the Alha-Udal arena, where it is said that Alha and Udal engaged in wrestling matches.

The renowned Alha temple is also present in the vicinity. Within the temple, the sword of Alha and the Khadau (wooden slippers) of the two brothers are preserved, allowing common devotees the opportunity to view them. The Alha Pond is under the conservation efforts of the administration, and an information board provides details about the historical and religious significance of this pond. Additionally, the Alha Path, is also organized here on frequent basis.

Phoolmati Mata and the Divine Pantheon at Maihar Temple

In the temple courtyard stands the sacred shrine of Phoolmati Mata, the Kuldevi (clan goddess) of Alha-Udal. This temple, situated within the premises of the Maa Sharda temple, is home to a pantheon of deities. Alongside the Mother Goddess, one can find the divine presences of Shri Kaal Bhairavi, Hanuman Ji, Maa Kali, Maa Durga, Shri Gauri Shankar, Shesh Nag, Brahma Dev, and Jalapa Devi atop this mountain. Devotees from far and wide flock to the Maihar Mata temple throughout the year, seeking the fulfillment of their wishes through prayers to the Divine Mother. It is deeply ingrained in belief that Sharda Mata graciously fulfills the desires of her devoted children.

Ascend to the Divine: Thousands of Steps to the Sacred Heights of Maihar

Thousands of devotees ascend the stairs in reverence to the Goddess at this temple located in the Satna district of Madhya Pradesh. To catch a glimpse of Goddess Sharda, worshippers undertake the ascent of 1063 steps. The sacred abode of Sharda Mata rests on the Trikut mountain, positioned 5 kilometers away from Maihar city in Satna district. Nestled amidst the mountain's peak is the temple dedicated to Sharda Mata. The Maihar Temple in Satna holds a unique distinction, being the sole temple dedicated to Mata Sharda across India. Perched at a height of six hundred feet above ground level, the Maihar Devi temple on Trikut mountain allows for vehicular travel up to three hundred feet along the path leading to the sacred site.

Eternal Love and Cosmic Turmoil: The Saga of Sati, Shiva, and Parvati in Maihar's History

The name "Maihar" is steeped in a significant legend. It is believed that Sati, the daughter of Daksh Prajapati, harbored a desire to marry Lord Shiva. However, King Daksh vehemently opposed this wish, considering Lord Shiva to be associated with ghosts and Aghoris. Undeterred by her father's disapproval, Sati performed rigorous penance and ultimately married Lord Shiva against her father's wishes. The consequence of this union was that King Daksh never truly accepted Lord Shiva as his son-in-law wholeheartedly.

During a yajna (sacrificial ritual), King Daksh extended invitations to various deities, including Brahma, Vishnu, Indra, and other gods and goddesses, deliberately omitting an invitation to Lord Shiva. Sati also reached her father's house for the yagya. At the yajna site, she questioned her father Daksh about the exclusion of Lord Shiva, who in response, insulted Lord Shiva. Overwhelmed with grief and anguish at her husband's dishonor, Sati chose to sacrifice her life by leaping into the sacrificial fire.
Deeply devastated by the death of his wife, Sati, Lord Shiva unleashed the destructive Tandava dance, engulfed in grief. In his sorrowful madness, Shiva wandered with Sati's lifeless body across the universe, causing an imbalance in the cosmic order. Witnessing this cosmic turmoil, the deities sought the intervention of Lord Vishnu to restore Shiva to a state of calm. Employing his Sudarshana Chakra (discus weapon), Vishnu dismembered Sati's body into 52 parts. This act brought Shiva back to equilibrium.

The legend concludes with Sati's dismembered body parts falling to earth at various locations. These sacred sites, known as Shakti Peethas. Overwhelmed by grief, Shiva retreated to his ascetic realm, while Sati was reborn as Parvati, the daughter of Himavat, the king of the mountains and personification of the Himalayas, and his wife, Mena. Himavat deeply admired Shiva, and eventually, through her penance, Parvati, like Sati before her, won Shiva's heart and married him.
In line with the Hindu Mythology it's aforementioned that once lord Shiva was roaming while carrying the body of mother divinity Sati, the necklace (har) of divinity Sati(Mai) fell down in Maihar, therefore people started calling its name Maihar. It is also considered as one of the 51 Shakti Peeth of goddess Parvati.

Why did Alha renunciate?

According to the Alhakhand, the epic narrating the tales of Alha and Udal, Alha chose the path of renunciation after a battle with Prithviraj Chauhan, the ruler of Delhi. Despite Prithviraj Chauhan's defeat, Udal lost his life in the conflict. The separation from his brother seems to have had a profound impact on Alha, leading him to embrace a life of renunciation, taking Sannyasa.
An alternative belief suggests that Mata Sharda's blessings played a pivotal role in the war's outcome. Alha, in accordance with her instructions, offered his weapon (saag) at the Sharda temple and bent its tip. This bent tip, remaining unstraightened, serves as a symbol of divine intervention during the battle. The temple complex preserves historical artifacts that testify to the significant clash between Alha and Prithviraj Chauhan.

Grand History of the Temple: Mystique and Devotion

The temple located on the Trikut Mountain amidst the Vindhya mountain ranges has a rich history dating back to the 9th-10th century, according to belief. Adiguru Shankaracharya is credited with performing the first worship of Mother Sharda during this period. The ancient religious scripture 'Mahendra' mentions the name of Maihar Mountain, placing it in the context of the Puranas alongside other significant mountains in India.

In the earlier times, animal sacrifice was a common practice at the temple. However, inspired by Jain devotees, Maharaja Brajnath Singh Judeo took a significant step in 1922 by prohibiting animal sacrifice within the Sharda temple premises.

This temple dedicated to Maa Sharda, situated on the pyramid-shaped Trikuta Mountain, dates back to 522 BC. The initiation of worship on the Trikut mountain is believed to have started during the period of Nripal Dev. Historical documents indicate that on the Chaturdashi of Chaitra Krishna Paksha in the year 539 (522 BC), Samvedi Devi was established by Nripaldev, marking a significant milestone in the temple's history.

The temple boasts an ancient inscription, and near it stands an idol of Lord Narasimha alongside Maa Sharda. These idols were originally established by Nripaldev on Shaka 424, Chaitra Krishna Paksha, 14 Tuesday, Vikram Samvat 559, which corresponds to 502 AD. The inscription, comprising four lines in the Devanagari script, measures 3.5 by 15 inches.

Interestingly, inscriptions in the Devanagari script are also present on the idol of Mata. Despite extensive research conducted by the renowned historian Cunningham, who delved deeply into the details of this temple, certain inscriptions, believed to be from the 9th and 10th centuries, remain enigmatic to this day. The mystery persists as the script of these inscriptions has not yet been deciphered.

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