Worship of Lord Brahma, Part 7

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BY: SUN STAFF - 28.11 2017

Lord Brahma 
Engraving by Pierre Sonnerat, c. 1782

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

As we move progressively across the Indian subcontinent, visiting all the places where Lord Brahma's temples or shrines have been found, we leave Rajasthan and head north, to Himachal Pradesh, and the temple of Adi Brahma.

Adi Brahma Temple at Khokhan

In the village of Khokhan, about 4 kms. from Bhuntar in the Kullu Valley, is a large wooden temple dedicated to the worship of Adi-Brahma. Kullu, once known as Kulanthpitha, has been called "the end of the habitable world", being located in the far reaches of Himachal Pradesh.

The temple is located close to Bhuntar, on a road beginning in Shamshi, and moving towards the village of Khokhan. The temple is positioned at about same elevation as the Dayar temple of Lord Vishnu, across the valley.

The presiding Deity of the Khokhan temple, Sri Adi Brahma is located in the center of the temple, with Garh Jogni and Manikaran Jogni on his left and right sides. The temple is made of wood and stone in a pagoda style. The attendant rath is fixed with one ashta-dhatu, eleven silver, and two brass mohras.

In his book, Temple Architecture of the Western Himalaya, author O.C. Handa describes the temple structure and environs in some detail. As in the case of the Brahmadev temple at Kanappa Hill, the Deity is described as a "lingam", but is not to be confused with the traditional linga form associated with the worship of Shiva. Rather, linga has been used to describe Brahma's Chaturmukha (four-faced) form, and bas relief temple sculpture murti forms.

"Situated about 5 km. away from the shawl town of Shamshi, next to Bhuntar, on the Chandigarh-Manali National Highway No. 21, Khokhan is a sizeable farming village of about sixty houses in the lower Beas Valley. The village is not so well known, even in the neighboring area. The ancient, magnificent, multi-tiered pyramidal wooden temple in the heart of the village, dedicated to Adi Brahma, had also, thus, remained unknown to the scholars and researchers until Penelope Chetwode-John Nankivell team noticed its nostalgic grandeur some two decades ago.

This temple has assumed greater significance, for it is the finest of the four temples so far identified with Brahma in the Kullu Valley. The other three are at Phati-Kanaun, Shilpihar, and Rahala villages. Besides these, there is a significant temple of Adi Purkha, which is also traditionally associated with Brahma at village Tihri (Uttarsal) in Mandi district. Another temple of Brahma exists at Surla Charan in Nahan tehsil of district Sirmaur.

Adi Brahma Temple at Khokhan

The prefix 'Adi' to 'Brahma' may be the extant evidence of Buddhist influence, which remained the popular dominant religion in the upper Beas valley, before it was superceded by the Brahmanic traditions.

The temple is laid out on a square plan, measuring approximately 900 x 900 cms. externally. The outer edge of plinth is defined by the sturdy deodar wood plinth-beams, which are lap-jointed on the corners. On these plinth beams, massive pillars are placed on the corners, with two in between each side. A 190 cm. wide verandah runs on all sides, leaving a square area, 520 x 520 cms. externally, for the sanctum. The sanctum has a sunken floor. In the sanctum, there is a 150 cm. tall black stone lingam, which the villagers believe belongs to the original foundation of this temple, when a 10th-11th century stone temple stood at this site.

The Adi Brahma temple at Khokhan is a dehra of the Deity. He has his bhandar in a village across the mountains, where his moharas and are enshrined. Usually the dehra remains closed, and is only opened to receive the Deity, when he comes out on his rath from his bhandar.

Temple Interior

The four-tiered magnificent hansakara structure of the Adi Brahma temple is about 2,000 cms. tall. The formal arrangement of the temple as a whole is graceful, although the bottom tier is disproportionately wider. The upper three tiers are richly ornamented with graceful and high-raised supporting brackets. These lend an aura of sublime dignity to this edifice."