Mahisi

Mahisi village is ancient and, according to the legend commonly known throughout Bihar, was the place where Mandan Misra, a great philosopher of the Eighth Century, lived.

It is here that Sankaracharya came from the south and had a philosophic discussion first with Mandan Misra and then with his wife Bharati Devi. The story mentions that Sankaracharya first met a maid servant filling up her pitcher from a tank and asked her where Mandan Misra lived. The maid servant replied in Sanskrit that he should go a little farther and when he could find a village on the same path where even the birds talk Sanskrit he should know that Mandan Misra lived there.

Sankaracharya was amazed and followed the direction and came to Maheshi. He had a philosophic discussion (Shastrartha) and Mandan Misra was defeated. Mandan Misra's wife Bharati Devi told Sankara- charya that he had to defeat her also who was the other half of Mandan Misra. Sankaracharya agreed and Bharati Devi put some questions based on sexology. Sankaracharya could not reply as he did not know anything of sexology, and went back to equip him.

The body was left and the soul went into some one else to get an inkling of sexology. Sankaracharya subsequently defeated Bharati Devi in the discussion. The villagers still show a mound at Maheshi village and mention that the philosophic discussion took place at that site. It is at this village Maheshi that there is an Ugratara temple and it is said that Mandan was a devotee of this deity.

Ugratara temples are extremely rare in this part of the country. So far as it is known, there is no other regular temple of Ugratara anywhere in Bihar, although the image of Tara particularly of the Pala period have been found at various places, including Kurkihar in Gaya district. The worship of this rare deity at this in accessible village excites curiosity, but can be explained from its background.

Ugratara is also known as Maha-Cina-Tara and this later Buddhistic image has been imported into India from Tibet through Nepal. Saharsa district is quite close to Nepal. The frontiers of Saharsa district and the district of Saptari in Nepal adjoin. The cult of Tantricism has had a great development in the district of Saharsa. Ugratara is an image of Tantric culture.

It has been mentioned: "The Sanmoha Tantra speaks of the Tantric culture of foreign countries like Bahlika, Kirata, Bhota, Cina, Mahacina, Parasika, Airaka, Kamboja, Huna, Yavana, Gandhara and Nepal. This does not mean that the Indian Tantras were prevalent in all these countries, though we know they were prevalent in some of them. It means, if anything at all, that these foreign countries also possessed modes of esotericculture, and that some of them were known in India, and recognized as being similar to the other Indian Tantras.

It is, therefore, very difficult to find out what the borrowed elements, if any, are in the Tantras. They are so well-fitted into the system that they have lost their exotic character. Yet some stray references may be discovered in the Tantras to the borrowing of foreign modes of Sadhana. A particular mode of Tantric Sadhana called Cinacara is found in the Tantras. The Tara-Tantra, adopted both by Hinduism and Buddhism, says that the cult of Cinacara came from Maha Cina.

A well- known Brahmana sage Vasishtha is said to have gone to the country of Maha Cina to learn this mode of Sadhana from the Buddha. It was not to he found either in India or in Tibet. So Vasishtha had to go to Maha Cina, where the Buddha into the secret doctrine of Cinacara initiated him. He subsequently came back to India and propagated it. Some scholars are inclined to discover in this Cinacara a distant echo of the secret societies of Chia. It is tile cult of the Maha-Cina-Tara, which is introduced by tile Cinacara.

"Maha-Cina-Tara, as can be ascertained by the Buddhist, Sadhana, was the same Goddess Ekajata, whose cult is said to have been discovered by Siddha Nagarjuna in Tibet, The description of Ekajata is found in six different Buddhist Sadhanas. It closely agrees with that of Maha-Cina-Tara, as found in some of the Sadhanas.

Corresponding to these Goddesses we find in the Hindu pantheon Tara, Ugra Tara, Ekajata and Maha-Nila- Saraswati. The Dhyanas of these Goddesses, as found in the Hindu Tantra, literally correspond to those found in the Buddhist Sadhana. According to a legend recorded in the Somoha Tantra, Nila-Saraswati or Ugratara was born in a lake like Cola on the western side of Mount Meru. This name Cola is probably to be connected with kul, kol the common word For lake to the west and north of the Tien-Shan in the pure Mongolian zone."

Dr. Benoytosh Bhattacharya, in his Introduction to Buddhist Esoterism, has further observed on the cult as follows: -
"The origin of Tara is neither Hindu nor Buddhist; but it is of Tibetan extraction. Not only the deity is foreign but also her worshipand practices connected there with are foreign. The evidences of the Hindu- Tantras also point to the same direction. In the Taratantra, for instance, we read Bhairavi wishing to know from hercondition the way in which Buddha and Vasishtha obtained siddhi. Bhairava, in reply said that by muttering the mantra of Ugratara, Buddha and Vasishtha obtained Siddhi."

Ugratara temples are rare in India but are to be seen in Tibet and in Nepal. The deity of Vajrayogini is the same as the deity of Ugratara. The temple of Vajrayogini at Sanku in Nepal really contains an image of Ugratara, more popularly known as Maha-China-Tara which is believed to have carried over there by Bengali priests from a village Sanku district of Dacca near about A.D. 1350, when the Mohammedans ravaged portions of Eastern Bengal.

This Ugratara or Maha-Cina-Tara of the Buddhists has been accepted in the Hindu pantheon under the name of Tara in various forms and is now regarded as one of the 10 Mahavidya Goddesses. Dr. Benoytosh Bhattacharya mentions, "The worshipper should conceive himself as Maha-cine-Tara who stands in the pratyalidha attitude, and awe-inspiring with a garland of heads hanging from the neck. She is short and has a protruding belly, and her looks are terrible

Her complexion is like that of the blue lotus, and she is three-eyed, one-faced, celestial and laughs horribly. She is in an intensely pleasant mood, stands on a corpse, is decked in ornaments of snakes, has red and round eyes, wears the garments of tiger-skin round her loins, is in youthful bloom, is endowed with the five auspicious symbols and has a protruding tongue. She is most terrible, appears fierce, with bare canine fangs, and carries the sword and the kartri in the two right hands and the Uptala and the Kapala in the two lefts. Her Jatamukuta of one coil is brown and fiery and bears the image of Aksobhya within it."

There are three images in the Ugratara temple at Maheshi. The central figures are those of Ekajata and Nila-Saraswati. The rituals according to Tantric from are performed. The non-Tantric pilgrims also do worship in the ordinary way. The Maharajadhiraja of Darbhanga endowed the deity with the gift of a village and some of the Maharajas of Darbhanga House were great devotees of this Ugratara deity at Maheshi. Within the temple precincts there are a large number of smaller images, which are also worshipped.

It is also a remarkable fact that within a couple of miles of Maheshi village there is a Sun temple at village Kandaha. Sun temple is also just a very few in Bihar. The existence of the Tantric deity Ugratara in the neighborhood of the Sun temple, once evidently was very popular, shows that different deities of the Hindu pantheon were worshipped almost in the same area, and speaks of the great eclecticism of Hinduism

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