Desolate Temples of Kashmir

Desolate Temples of Kashmir
Chander M. Bhat
Murran is located within the jurisdiction of Pulwama District. The village is about two kilometers to the west of Pulwama town. The original name of Pulwama was Panwangam, which comprised four patties namely Malikpora, Dangeropra, Chatpora and Dulipora. At some stage, Pulwangam became to be called as Pulgam, which with the passage of time changed to the present name Pulwama. Two kilometers to the east, is village Matrigam, the birthplace of renowned patriotic poet Pirzada Ghulam Ahmad ‘Mahjoor’. There is a hamlet of Haarpur……..the last abode of ascetic Nidhan Saab nearby. The Natural Scenery of Murran is very charming. Surrounded on all sides by green pastures, untrimmed meadows, trees and shrubs and paddy fields, the village breathes a typical rural atmosphere.

The temple of Brari Maej is situated in the North West of the village in Mohalla Brarimaejpur. The word Brari has developed from Bhattarika, the venerated Mother. Bhattarika in Sanskrit means revered or venerated. Brari Maej is synonymous to Divine Mother Uma. This Temple came into existence when the Bhat dynasty migrated from village Sumbal to this village in 1775.

S U M B A L ……… A beautiful village in North Kashmir was the birthplace of the great-grand ancestors of the Bhat dynasty. This village used to be often submerged during the rainy season. Pandit Bhawani Bhat (1760-1840), a pious and orthodox person, had a celestial dream, on Magh Ashtami. A diving effulgence filled his muddy room as the Divine Mother looked affectionately at Pandit Bhawani Bhat, beckoned him to approach and said: “Your great devotion has made me happy. The time has come to shift you from this place, as you are facing a lot of hardships during the rainy season here. Early the next morning, there will appear a cat in your compound. Pack up your belongings and follow here and settle down where she will give you an indication. That will be your next place of settlement but, remember, your seven generations will live at the new place of settlement with dignity and honour and your eighth generation will no longer stay here.” The Divine Mother disappeared after revealing the story to Pandit Bhawani Bhat.

Icon of Mother Uma inside the temple
Early next morning, the divine cat appeared in the compound of Pandit Bhawani Bhat. By that time he had already packed up his little belongings and followed the cat till both of them reached a village. The Divine Cat gave an indication to Pt. Bhat by waving the tip of her tail and disappeared. When she was gone, a small spring emerged on the spot. The spring was afterwards expanded by laying a single piece of some (Pather Kein) and a temple was built on it. This was later called Brari Maej (Cat Mother) and an icon of the Divine Mother was installed by Shri Loket Bhat (1801-1876) in year 1875.

This is a beautiful temple surrounded by mighty chinars all around with a big, and beautiful spring having crystal clear water having a diameter of about 15 meters. The temple is facing towards the east of the upper bank of the spring. The spring is attractive at every hour, in every season. Whosoever sits in its side in a devotional prayer gets entranced and spiritually transformed. Some years before 1947, a great saint Swami Ramji spent some two decades at Murran. He was transformed and became a exalted soul. Swami Madhavananda Ji was Swami Ramji’s contemporary. He came from Varanasi and spent much time practicing Yoga here. It is said that Adi Shankaracharaya also spent some five years in a cave behind this temple while practicing different paths of God realization. The cave still exists in the temple.

Adjacent to the Brari Meaj temple is a Shivalaya dedicated to Lord Shiva. Behind the main temple, there is a marshy land locally known as Saar. There are two dharmshalas on the right side of the main entrance built for the accommodation of the pilgrims, wandering monks, pujaris and other wayfarers. There are many walnut and almond trees in the premises of this temple comprising about ten kanals of land. On one side of the marshy land, there is a breadmushuk (salix caprea) tree, the flowers of which were used to be procured by us a day before Navrah or Soanth for placing these for the traditional thaal barun ritual and to have its first glimpse on the morning of Soanth and the New Year’s Day (Navrah).

The annual Yagna, which also included the cleaning of the spring after autumn, was performed here. The stock items needed for this purpose were collected from amongst the villagers, especially the Pandits. The Uma Natak Mandli used to stage a drama on this occasion. Prior to migration, it was a routine for the elderly members of the community to perform the daily puja at the temple.

Full view of the temple
Many people have experienced spiritual experiences here while many had the darshan of Goddess Uma. Many have seen the spring in its divine glow at the dead of night.
One day a cow belonging to Pandit Sarwanand Bhat (1901-1977) did not return from the pasture and at dusk all the members, excluding the womenfolk, went for its search. Late in the evening, his wife, Smt. Sampakuj, went herself to search for the cow. As she reached near the Brari Meaj temple from Devspat paddy fields (back side of the temple) in her search, to her surprise, she noticed some little girls all in silk playing in the temple and amongst them was a most beautiful girl. The atmosphere was so bright that the light reflected onto her eyes. As she went ahead after giving humble salutations to the Divine Mother, who was playing with the little girls, she found the cow some yards away from the temple. She went home with the cow with a gratitude-filled heart.
Prior to partition, all the womenfolk of Murran used to get to the temple very early in the morning, before the menfolk would go there. It was the tradition with every woman of the Pandit family to give brandeh fash (cleaning of the stairs) to their houses early in the morning. The practice was also applicable to the temples and other sacred places in the Valley and the womenfolk would vie with each other to perform this sacred act first. One day Smt. Haarmal, wide of Pandit Zinda Bhat (1876-1917), woke up in the wee hours of the morning and thought that she was late. Since there were no watches at that time, she rushed towards the Brari Meaj temple, washed her face and went to the spot where the liven dul (cleaning pot) was being kept. She put some fresh water into it and started rubbing the brand. Afterwards she went inside the temple and paid obeisance to the Divine Mother.
Smt. Haarmal was not aware of the fact that she had come too early. After leaving the temple, she noticed a little girl all in silk near the gate of the temple. The girl directed her not to come too early henceforth and disappeared. She rushed towards her home and told the story to her husband. It was later disclosed by the elderly persons of the village that the little girl was no other than the Divine Mother Herself.
In dark nights, under the shade of the chinars, the sacred places present an atmosphere where one becomes one with God. And in moonlit nights, devotees experienced something mystic all over in the temple of Brari Maej.
Dharamshala in depilated condition
*Chander M. Bhat Born on March 20th 1960 in village Murran, Pulwama, Kashmir. Poems written in English published in various newspapers and magazines. Articles on various subjects also stand published. Two book in English “MURRAN …MY VILLAGE” and “OCEAN BY DROPS” stands published. Research papers on “Vitasta…. The Sacred River of Kashmir” and “The Splendour that is Amarnath” stand published in leading magazines. A book “Jammu and Kashmir…Origin and History” underway.

Presently working as Assistant Supdt. Posts and posted as Asstt Supdt. Posts (HQ), Udhampur,.

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Compiling our folk stories like these will sustain our cultural legacy to preserve for our future generations.
Added By pushkar ganjoo
This article really brings out the fond memories of this very pious place and takes us down the memory lane into the times of our past. I could really paicture myself as a little kid running around in the compound of the temple, particularly during one of the mega hawans. Great effort by the author to put this masterpiece together. Kudos!!! Regards
Added By Susheel Bhat
Tahe article has once again touched the heights of nostaligia. Great work by the author.
Added By Adarsh Ajit
The article reflects author's sense of responsibility, maturity, pain, love and memories.
Added By Dr. Neeru Bhat
Words put together beautifully. Being a resident of the village, I feel proud to read and re-read the article. It takes me back to memory lane.Congratulations!
Added By Ajay Bhat
Beautiful article. I had been to the village some 28 years back.The article has been presented beautifully.
Added By Dr. T.K. Moza
I was highly delighted to go through this article along with the photographs of the temple which has reminded me my "Bachpan ka days".Lot of blessings and hearty congratulations.
Added By Girdhari Lal Wakhloo
I have not seen the temple as my parents were from the same village. My parents used me to tell the stories of the village during my chilhood days. While going through the article, I got the full information of the village and temple. Congratulations and regards to the author.
Added By Avinash Bhat
Great effort by the author needs lots of pats.
Added By A.K. Hanjura
Being far away from my birth place, the article remided me the better past and I was compelled to think over the desmil present. Masterpiece by the author. I salute him.
Added By Anil Koul
I am really proud of u. U r a real genius and the way u have put in ur efforts and dedication is impeccable. Cheers Vicky
Added By Vicky Bhat
Hearty congratulations, Chander Ji! You're doing a great job. May God bless you with all joy and prosperity!
Added By JL Bhat
NAMASKAR MAHARA, My self BODH RAJ BHAT also from Murray of MAAJ BRARI MAAJ.Glade here about you great jobs done.keep it up into last breath. See what MAAJ BRARI MAAJ will do. BODH kahan karma.Tauhi saarni MAHARA assin jai jai kar. BODH RAJ BHAT
NAMASKAR MAHARA, My self BODH RAJ BHAT also from Murray of MAAJ BRARI MAAJ village.Glade to hear about you great jobs done.keep it up upto last breath. See what MAAJ BRARI MAAJ will do. Nishkam karma.Tauhi saarni MAHARA assin jai jai kar. BODH RAJ BHAT