5 Fascinating Facts About ‘Nabhigaya’ at Jajpur in Odisha
Gaya in Bihar is one of the most sacred sites in Hinduism. Associated with Lord Vishnu, it is visited by lakhs of pilgrims each year who travel here to worship at the Vishnupad temple. Interestingly, what is not so well known is that there is another ‘Gaya’ in Odisha, which as sacred in the Hindu tradition. This is the ‘Nabhi Gaya’ situated within the Biraja Mata Temple in the town of Jajpur in Odisha.
Nabhigaya, situated around 98 kms north west of Bhubaneshwar in Odisha, holds a profound significance in Hindu mythology and spirituality. It is a sacred circular well, located within the Biraja Mata Temple, draws countless devotees seeking to connect with the divine and attain spiritual liberation for their ancestors. We explore five fascinating facts about Nabhigaya, shedding light on its sacred allure.
1. The Sacred Connection
Nabhigaya in Jajpur is believed to be a gateway to spiritual liberation for twenty-one generations of ancestors. Performing the sacred ritual of 'Pinda Daan' here is said to bestow Mukti, the ultimate goal of liberation, upon the souls of one's forefathers. This belief has attracted devotees from all corners of India, who flock to Jajpur to seek solace and divine blessings for their departed loved ones.
2. Mythological Legends
Nabhigaya is steeped in captivating mythological legends that add to its mystique. According to one legend, the well is associated with the story of Goddess Sati, who immolated herself in grief after her father Daksha insulted her husband, Lord Shiva. The navel of Goddess Sati is said to have fallen at Jajpur, where the Biraja Mata Temple stands as a revered Shaktipitha. This tale reflects the deep-rooted reverence for the divine feminine in Hinduism.
Another legend connects Nabhigaya with Demon Gayasura, a devoted follower of Lord Vishnu. Gayasura's navel fell at Jajpur, and as a result, this sacred site became a vital shrine for the liberation of ancestors' souls. These legends offer glimpses into the rich tapestry of Hindu mythology and the intertwining of various deities in the religious landscape of Jajpur.
3. Intersection of Shakta and Vaishnava Traditions
Nabhigaya showcases the harmonious coexistence of Shakta and Vaishnava traditions. Historians note that the narratives surrounding Nabhigaya provide insights into the blending of these two worship practices in the region. During the 7th century, the worship of the Goddess in the form of Shakti, or Shakta worship, gained widespread popularity in the region around Jajpur.During this period, the story of Daksha Yagna gained immense popularity and the story that Nabhigaya was Goddess Sati’s Navel. During this time, the Biraja temple became the most important Shaktipitha in Odisha.
As the time passed, Vishnu’s worship too began to gain popularity in Jajpur especially under the Somavanshi kings. A number of temples dedicated to Vishnu were built here and a number of Vaishnavite saints settled here. With this, the story of Gayasura emerged, connecting Biraja temple to other Vaishnavite pilgrim centers such as Gaya in Bihar and Pithapuram in Andhra Pradesh. But the Nabhigaya is unique, as it is a center of both Shakta as well as Vaishnavite worship.
This intersection is a testament to the inclusivity and diversity of religious practices in Jajpur, where devotees from different sects find common ground in their quest for spiritual fulfillment.
4. Historical Significance
Nabhigaya's historical significance extends beyond its mythological tales. The region, including Jajpur and the nearby Baitarani River, has been a pilgrimage destination since ancient times. As early as the 4th and 5th centuries CE, during the Gupta era, Jajpur and its surroundings held immense importance as a Tirtha Kshetra, a sacred pilgrimage site.
Evidence suggests that the area experienced a Hindu revival during this period, with local deities assimilated into the Hindu pantheon. Over time, the prominence of Nabhigaya as a Pitrutirtha, a place for ancestral rituals, grew, solidifying its place in the religious fabric of the region.
5. Spiritual Solace and Devotional Practices
Nabhigaya continues to offer spiritual solace and an opportunity for devotees to connect with their ancestral roots. The sanctity of the circular well, coupled with the vibrant atmosphere of the Biraja Mata Temple, creates an ambiance of devotion and reverence. The annual pilgrimage of lakhs of devotees for Pindadan is a testament to the enduring faith and spiritual fervor associated with Nabhigaya.
Nabhigaya at Jajpur, Odisha, stands as a sacred site where myth, history, and spirituality converge. Its association with Goddess Sati's Navel and Demon Gayasura's Navel, the interplay of Shakta and Vaishnava traditions, and its historical significance all contribute to its captivating allure. As devotees seek liberation for their ancestors and connect with the divine, Nabhigaya remains a timeless symbol of devotion and spiritual quest in the heart of Jajpur.
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