Baglamukhi or Bagala (बगलामुखी) is one of the ten mahavidyas (great wisdom). In Hinduism, Devi Bagalamukhi Devi smashes the devotee’s misconceptions and delusions (or the devotee’s enemies) with her cudgel. The Devi has 108 different names. Bagalamukhi is commonly known as Pitambari Maa in North India, the goddess associated with the yellow color or golden color.
Bagalamukhi is one of the ten forms of the mahavidyas, symbolizing potent female primeval force.At Bagalamukhi’s right is worshipped Her consort, Ekavaktra Bhairav, who is white in complexion and holds a trident.
“Bagalamukhi” is derived from “Bagala” (distortion of the original Sanskrit root “valgā”) and “Mukha”, meaning “bridle” and “face”, respectively. Thus, the name means one whose face has the power to capture or control. She thus represents the hypnotic power of the Goddess. Another interpretation translates her name as “Kalyani”.In Kubjika Tantra there is a reference to yet another interpretation of the meaning of the name ‘Bagala’. In the initial chapter of the text, there is a verse – ‘Bakare Baruni Devi Gakare Siddhida Smrita. Lakare Prithivi Chaiba Chaitanya Prakrirtita’ (‘Ba’, the first letter of the name – ‘Bagala’, means ‘Baruni’ or ‘She Who is filled with the intoxicating mood to vanquish the demon’. ‘Ga’, the second letter, means ‘She Who grants all kinds of divine powers or siddhis and successes to human beings’. ‘La’, the third letter, means ‘She Who is the foundation of all kinds of sustaining powers in the world like the earth and is Consciousness Herself’.
Bagalamukhi has a golden complexion and her dress is yellow. She sits on a golden throne in the midst of an ocean of nectar full of yellow lotuses. A crescent moon adorns her head. Two descriptions of the goddess are found in various texts: the Dwi-Bhuja (two-handed), and the Chaturbhuja (four-handed). The Dwi-Bhuja depiction is the more common and is described as the Soumya or milder form. She holds a club in her right hand with which she beats a demon while pulling his tongue out with her left hand. This image is sometimes interpreted as an exhibition of stambhana, the power to stun or paralyze an enemy into silence. This is one of the boons for which Bagalamukhi’s devotees worship her. Other Mahavidya goddesses are also said to represent similar powers useful for defeating enemies, to be invoked by their worshippers through various rituals.
Bagalamukhi is also called Pitambaradevi or Brahmastra Roopini and she turns each thing into its opposite. She turns speech into silence, knowledge into ignorance, power into impotence, defeat into victory. She represents the knowledge whereby each thing must in time become its opposite. As the still point between dualities, she allows us to master them. To see the failure hidden in success, the death is hidden in life, or the joy hidden in sorrow are ways of contacting her reality. Bagalamukhi is the secret presence of the opposite wherein each thing is dissolved back into the Unborn and the Uncreated.
In ‘Bagalamukhistotratram’, a part of ‘Rudrayamala’ (a famous Tantra work), there are hymns in praise of the powers of Goddess Bagalamukhi – “Vadi Mukati Rankati Kshitipatirvaishwanarah Sheetati Krodhi Samyati Durjanah Sujanati Khsipranugah Khanjati. Garvi Khanjati Sarvaviccha Jarati Tvanmantrinaamantritah Srinitye Baglamukhi Pratidinam Tubhyam Namah “(By the effect of Your Mantra good conversationalists become speechless; rich become beggars; devastating fire gets cooled. The anger of the angry person is removed; an evil-minded person becomes good. The quick-moving person becomes crippled. The conceit of the conceited person is reduced. A knowledgeable person nearly becomes a fool. Salutations to the compassionate Bagalamukhi.
Story Behind Bagulamukhi
The story behind the origin of Goddess Bagalamukhi has been documented in Svatantra Tantra. Once a demon called Madanasura secured ‘Vaksiddhi’ and misused it to trouble humans and he stimulated storms to murder people. Seeing themselves helpless against Madanasura, Devas sought Vishnu’s refuge. Vishnu went to Saurashtra region (present-day Gujarat-Sind-western Madhya Pradesh-southern Rajasthan) where He began performing penances to appease Tripurasundari on the shore of a lake called Haridra Sarovar(present day in Datia, Madhya Pradesh). Appeased with Vishnu’s penance, Tripurasundari emerged from Haridra Sarovar as a deceitful Goddess called Bagalamukhi.
She had two arms, three eyes, and yellow complexion. Clad in yellow clothes, She was adorned by a garland of yellow flowers and decked with gold ornaments. She wore a crown of crescent moon crest jewel, had turmeric paste anointed on Her body, and She held a huge club in Her right hand.
Bagalamukhi first stopped the storm and then challenged Madanasura for battle, in which She killed the demon by pulling out his tongue and breaking his skull with Her club.
Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati is considered to be the center of Tantricism, where there is the presence of temples dedicated to the ten Mahavidyas. A few miles away from the Kamakhya Temple is the temple dedicated to the Goddess Bagalamukhi. Major temples to the goddess are situated in the Pathankot Mandi highway NH20 at Kotla and bankhandi Himachal Pradesh in the north, and at Nalkheda at Agar Malwa district in Madhya Pradesh and Pitambara Peeth in Datia Madhya Pradesh. In South India, there is a temple at Bagalapeetam, Eraiyur Road, Vallakottai in Kanchipuram district in Tamil Nadu. sree suryamangalam, Kallidaikurichi, Papankulam village in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu.
In Somalapura (Kalyani) of Sindhanur taluk, Raichur district of North Karnataka there is a less known but very powerful Bagulamukhi Sidhdha Peeth ( A Sidhdha peetha is a temple built by a great yogi after Devi’s sakshaatkara and falling to the love of the yogi, Devi promises to preside in the temple )or temple is there built by great yogi Shri Chidanandavadhoota around 300 years ago. ‘Shree Devi Charitre’ was composed by Chidanandavadhoota which is read in every household of Karnataka even today.
In Virupaskhi, a small village next to Mulabagil of Kolar district Karnataka, there is a Bagulamukhi temple. The Bagulamukhi temple is part of the temple complex of Virupakshi temple. The mythology tells that the Virupaskha ling was installed by great sage Atri Maharshi, father of Shriguru Dattatreya. The linga changes its color in 3 ways from sunrise to sunset. It is believed that King Vikramaditya built the Bagulamukhi temple at Virupakshi.
Nepal, where the worship of tantric goddesses had Royal patronage, also has a large temple devoted to Bagalamukhi in the Newar city of Patan in Nepal near Kathmandu. The territory of the Bagalamukhi temple in Patan also has several other temples dedicated to Ganesha, Shiva, Saraswati, Guheswar, Bhairava etc.