TEMPLES IN OTHER VILLAGES

Besides these better-known temples there are various other temples scattered in the villages of Hooghly district. Particularly the villages on the west of the river Ganga like Guptipara, Somrih, Sripur, Balagarh, Jirat, Ambika-Kalna villages have had very high incidence of culture even throughout the Muslim rule and this was continued in the British times.

Saptagram is another famous village through which Ibn Batuta had entered Bengal. At that time Saptagram was a big port. Saptagram is closely associated with Vaishnavism and has still some Vaishnava temples. The Vaishnava apostle Nityananda had preached Vaishnavism at Saptagram. Formerly Saptagram implied seven villages-- Bansberia, Kristapur, Basudevapura, Nityanandapura, Sibpur, Sambachora and Baladghati. Even the mosques at Saptagram indicate Hindu impact. On the walls of the mosques and madrasas at Saptagram we find clear relics of the puja of Vishnu and Surya.

Another important place as a center of the Nath cult and Nath culture is Mahanad a small declining village in Hooghly district. The Nath cultists practice various forms of hatayog and other types of yoga and try to realize the sublime. At Nagarpara, a portion of Mahanad there used to be at one time about 150 families of Nathyogis and their temple was Jateshwarnath. A few villages near about like Jagidanga or the abode of the Jogis would show that the Nath cult had a big hold in this area. The democratic aspect of Islam had a special appeal to the cultists that had suffered from the brahmanical orthodoxy. Some persons of such communities had been converted into Islam. Many Nathyogis were also converted but even after conversion they stuck to many of their original practices. The village Mahanad even now shows a number of broken images of Batuk Bhairab, Kala Bhairab, Haraparwati etc.

Jateshwarnath temple at Mahanad marks a high complex of Siva and Sakti Puja. In the old times there used to be a very large meal at Mahanad during Sivaratri festival. The mela has declined now partially due to the melas at Tarakeswar and partially because communications to Mahanad village are extremely bad. At the temple of Jateshwarnath there is an iron postfixed on a high platform, which is worshipped as Mahakal or Kala Bhairab. There are also images of Batuk Bhairab and one Ekapad Bhairab. These images are worshipped. It is interesting to observe that the Hindus and the Buddhists worship both Mahakal. The image of Mahakal may be different types. Mahakal may have from one to eight faces and have from two to sixteen arms. The Tantriks worship him for crushing the enemies. Dr Benoytosh Bhattacharya observes: "Mahakal is a ferocious God who is generally worshipped in the tantric rite of Marana for the destruction of enemies. Mahakal was also regarded as terrible spirit and was calculated to have inspired awe in the minds of those Buddhists who were not reverential to their Gurus, and did not care much for three Jewels; Mahakal is supposed to eat those culprits raw." *~

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