Worship of Lord Brahma, Part 94

BY: SUN STAFF - 25.5 2018

Brahmapuri, Kolhapur

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


Lord Brahma at Brahmapuri

The final site of Brahmadeva worship we have identified in Maharashtra is in Brahmapuri, on the edge of Kolhapur. The city of Kolhapur is in the southernmost tip of Maharashtra, 135 km. inland from the coast. The town of Brahmapuri is ancient, and there are many sastric references to its spiritual importance. In fact, from an inscription noted below, we read that Brahma himself is said to have created the Kollapura Tirtha.

From Inscriptions of the Silaharas, which refers to the declining trend of Brahma worship in India. It refers to a Brahmadeva temple that was built at Brahmapuri, on the outskirts of Kolhapur. The Brahma temple was built when Maillapayya, the Kadttamatya (Accounts Officer) of the ruler Gandaraditya, requested a grant of money to repair the existing temple of Khedaditya, the Sun god, in Brahmapuri.

"…there was an old temple of Khedaditya (the Sun). Maillapayya, the afore-named Amatya of Gandaraditya, while repairing it, added to it two other shrines of Brahma and Vishnu, and requested the king to make a grant to keep the three-spired temple in good repair."

Unfortunately, we have been unable to find photographs of the three-spired temple or the compound in which this Brahmadeva temple was built. Evidence confirms that the spires existed on the original Khedaditya temple, before the new Brahma and Visnu temples were constructed. In fact, our research indicates that even the ruins of the temple complex are no longer identified as such by the locals, nor does the site appear to be visited by devotees or historians any longer. We know from an inscription that follows that a deity of Brahma was actually installed in the temple, and brahmans were engaged to maintain a program of worship there.

A great many temples and religious monuments in Brahmapuri have now fallen to ruin. For example, there is a cluster of five ancient temples in ruins - Ram Mandir, Vitthal Mandir, Omkareshwar Mandir, Ganpati Mandir and Dutta Mandir – all of which once stood on a shared platform. During the Maratha War of Independence (1689-1707 AD), Aurangzeb's camp was pitched at Brahmapuri, on the Bhima River. Some of the temples may well have come to ruin by his hand.

Gandaraditya, who gave the financial support for building the Brahmadeva temple here, was a noteworthy king at the time. He constructed a tank, named Gandasamudra, near the village of Irukudi and built Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples along the banks of this theertham. Gandaraditya's grandson, Bhoja II, eventually took power and was the last great ruler of the line. His reign came to a close when he raised the ire of the Yadavas, who were then establishing their own sovereignty. Singhana, the mighty Yadava king of Devagiri, invaded the Silahara kingdom, and power changed hands in the regon.

The Brahma Temple Grant

The Inscriptions of the Silaharas offers additional information of great interest relating to the construction of the Brahmadeva Temple at Brahmapuri. The following inscription (No. 228 in the above-mentioned report), describes how King Gandaraditya gave not only money to build the temple, but also money to purchase adjacent lands, construct residential buildings, and provide food and support for the brahmanas who served the temple deities.

Inscription, Line 23 of the grant, dated Saka 1048, or 1126 AD, on the occasion of Karkata sankranti (the translation contains some erroneous characters, likely due to automated conversion of a scanned document):

"Being requested by the Kaditamatya Maillapayya, the Mahapradhdna dependent of his [Gandaraditya's] lotus-like feet, who, having first repaired the dilapidated temple of the holy Khedaditya in Bralimapuri created by Brahma in the great tirtha, the famous Kollapura, has constructed a three-spired, temple and has installed therein (the images of) Brahma and Vishnu with a view to do a religious deed, the illustrious Gandaraditya has accepted his request. And on the occasion of the DaksMnayaea sankranti, on Saturday 9 the fourth tithi of the bright fortnight of Ashadha, the cyclic year Parafohava being current, when one thousand and forty-eight years of the laka era have elapsed, he purchased, from the Nargavundas Rajaya and Senaya of the village Komnijavada situated in the khampana of Kodavalli composed in the Mirinjidesa, two nwaiianas of land measured by the rod of Kundi agreed to by (all) Nargavundas and (also) a magila (house-site) twenty four cubits broad together with the right to eight-fold enjoyment, and having added four mvartanas of land situated in that village, measured by the same rod, and having thus made an agreed total gift of six m cm tanas together with mallava and kutmvaz connected therewith, and (having added) a house-site twenty-four cubits broad, and another forty-eight cubits broad, (in total) a house-accommodation seventy-two cubits broad all this being agreed to by all Nargavundas, he gave in their presence and before the holy Khedadityadeva two nw at tanas by the same rod as an agreed gift with malava and kwuva for the food of twelve Brahmannas, consisting of cooked white rice, soup made of adhaki etc., ghee and butter-milk, and for tambula together with a house twenty four cubits broad in the house-site, together with the right to eight-fold enjoyment.

The Brahmanas who meditate on all religious duties are as follows: Gangadhara Ghaturvedin Bhattopadhya) of the Gautama gotra, Govmda Ktamavid of Bharadvaja gotta, Bhaaskara Ghaturvedm of the Atri gotra, Narayanabhatta of the Jamadagnya-Vatsa gotra, Madhava of the Bharadvaja gotta, Vamana of the Kasyapa gotra, Vishnubhatta of the Dhananjaya gotra, and Vamana of the Bharadvaja goha. These are the eight Brahmanas. To each of them is donated land measuring four hundred vappakas and a dwelling six cubits in breadth in the house-site and for the repairs of the broken and dilapidated three-spire temple, four hundred vappakas by the same rod.

He (i.e. the King) has given all these gifts after washing the feet (of the Brahmanas). The gifts are free from taxes, free from all obstacles, faultless in respect of all income, not to be interfered with even by a finger by any loyal servants, and to be enjoyed as long as the moon and the sun endure.

The Mahajanas of Brahmapuri are to protect all these gifts."

Panchganga Mandir

The Importance of Brahmapuri

Kolhapur itself is an ancient city situated on the banks of the River Panchganga. A temple known as Panchganga Mandir can be seen there, half submerged and sinking into the waters of the Panchganga River. Several other rivers and tributaries also run through the area.

From the 1st century B.C. to the 9th century A.D., Kolhapur was known to be situated on the Brahmpuri hills. In 634 AD, King Karnadeo began construction of the Mahalaxmi Temple. Almost all Chalukys kings referred to Kolhapur as 'Dakshin Kashi' or 'Mahateerth'. In 753 AD to 850 AD, the Rashtrakut dynasty was established in the south, and the Kolhapur region came under their rule. From that time up to 1210 AD, the kingdom of Shilahar held sway in Kolhapur. During 940-1212, Kolhapur was the capital of the Shilahara dynasty.

The most prominent temple in Kolhapur is that of Mahalakshmi, also known as Karveer Nivasini Ambabai Temple. Some say that Kolhapur was settled by the demon Kolhasur, who was later killed by Mahalakshmi, to protect the local devotees. Kolhapur is mentioned in 'Devi Gita, the final and most important chapter of the Devi Bhagawatam, as one the important places of Shakti worship.

Brahmpuri, Uttareshwar, Kholkhandoba, Rankala, Padmala and Ravaneshwar were the main centers around Kolhapur city during ancient times. Since then, Kolhapur has been known by many names: Kollapur, Kollpur, Kollagiri, and Kolladigiripattan. 'Kolla' means valley, and Kolhapur means 'city of valleys'. So Brahmapuri, Karvir and Kolhapur are all different names for this place.

The town of Brahmapuri in Kolhapur is sometimes confused with another Brahmapuri in Maharashtra, located mid-way between and to the east of Chandrapur and Nagpur. It is also confused with a Brahmapuri located to the west, in nearby Goa.

In his Early History of Kolhapur, in which he quotes another report on the excavations at Bramhapuri, Professor E.V. Oturkar writes the following:

"Fresh light has been thrown by recent excavations on the antiquity and the earliest habitation of this place. The report on the excavations states that the oldest village from out of which Kolhapur later developed into a great city was situated on a hill on the banks of the river Pancaganga. It is now known as Bramhapuri. "An inscription of the Kolhapura Silahara king Gandaraditya of Saka 1048' (A.D. 1126-27) calls Kolhapura a Mahatirtha and refers to a temple Khedaditya (a Sun temple) at Bramhapuri." The statement in the inscription that Kolhapura or Bramhapuri was created by Brahman might signify that the site of Bramhapuri was so old that its origin in course of time was attributed to Brahma, the lord of creation himself." 

In the Markandeya Purana, we see that Brahmapuri is described as the city of Lord Brahma, situated on the summit of golden Mount Meru, the king of mountains and the support of the planet earth in the island of Jambudwipa, which is a Puranic reference to the Indian subcontinent. The city of Brahmapuri is surrounded by holy sites, including the cities of Lord Indra and seven other demigods. These places are said to be subtle in nature, and not easily discovered.

On the left river bank of the River Krishna is Bhavani Nahani, the bathing place of Bhavani devi. A short distance away is a small temple of Shri Bhavani. Sri Rama and Sita are said to have stayed in Brahmapuri during their exile, during which time Sita bathed at Bhavani Nahani. A nearby rock is known as the Shri Ram Rock. The five Pandavas stayed at Pateshwar, nearby Brahmapuri, performing austerities there to gain power for their battle against the Kauravas.

The Road to Kolhapur (from Fort to village)