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Chausathi Yogini

Who are Yoginis?

Yoginis are a class of semi divine deities with polyvalent characteristics. They can be women adept at yoga, attendants of Durga, aspects of the Great Goddess, witches or sorceresses, or women who helped the tantric practitioner during a ritual. The Chausath yoginis however are those female divinities who are worshipped in groups and trace their lineage from the Shaiva tantric cult.

Features of a Chausath yogini temple:
  • The yoginis are never shown with a male consort, they are independent goddesses.
  • Most of the yogini temples have a Bhairava image in the centre of the temple. At some shrines a Shiva linga is placed in place of a Bhairava.
  • No two Chausath yogini temples will have the exact same set of yoginis. However some of the goddesses which do find representation in all the Chausath Yogini temples are the Sapta Matrakas.
Extant Chausath Yogini shrines:
  • There are eleven extant Chausath Yogini temples found across India. Hirapur and Khajuraho are considered to have the earliest Chausath yogini shrines.
  • Chausath yogini temple at Bhedaghat in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh is the largest of all yogini temples, with life-size yogini sculptures. The Chausath yogini shrine at Mitawali in Morena, Madhya Pradesh is said to be the architectural inspiration for the Indian parliament. However, not a single yogini image has been recovered from this site.
Chausathi Yogini temple, Hirapur:
  • It is also known as Chausathi Jogini Mandir
  • The Hirapur temple is the smallest yogini temple.
  • Hirapur is the only Chausath yogini temple which has sculptures on the outer wall. There are nine Katyayanis (female guardians).
  • There are 63 yogini sculptures in the temple, with one sculpture missing.
  • The temple has many groups of female divinities depicted as yoginis, for instance, the Sapta Matrakas, Mahavidyas, Navadurgas, etc.