Story Bhubaneshwar Temple in Cachar, Shiva worship tradition on Bhai Dooj: A marvel of the Dimasa kingdom
(This article has been written with insights from Biswajyoti Barman, Adviser, Dimasa Sahitya Sabha, Central Committee and Dimasa Sanskriti Parishad, Silchar.)
Around 25 kilometres from Silchar town in Sonai, lies a hillock above which is a two-century-old temple, built during the rule of the Hidimba Kingdom (also known as the Dimasa Kingdom). Every year, on the day of Bhratri Dwitiya or Bhai Dooj, the Dimasas offer puja and worship Shiva in this temple. This has been an age-long tradition and since 1977, the Dimasa Sanskriti Parishad has taken the responsibility to preserve the traditions. Presently, this Dimasa socio-cultural organisation of Cachar organises the puja in this temple and also preserves the colossal architecture, which stood the test of time. The puja was organised yesterday as well with full fervour.
Worshipping Shiva on the day of Bhratri Dwitiya is probably unique only to this indigenous community. This definitely tickles the intellectual curiosity to know more about this puja and the temple. There are different arguments and tales regarding the construction and establishment of the temple. The two-century-year-old temple, “Bhubaneswar Temple” lies above a hillock known as Chandragiri in Sonai. Even though there are differences of opinion, there are sufficient proofs and archaeological evidence which explain just the real facts.
There are two stone inscriptions affixed to the walls of the temple and even though they are in not in the best legible shape today, historians have recorded and translated the writings. Both the inscriptions are in the Sanskrit language and in Brahmi script. The first inscription, which is on the east wall of the temple gives information regarding the person who constructed the temple. It reads, “শ্রীশ্রীভুবনেশ্বর শিব প্রীতিকাম তস্মিন্ হেতোঃ শ্রীশ্রীযুক্ত হেড়ম্বেশ্বরস্যাধিকারে স্বর্ণপুরনগর মধ্য চন্দ্রগিরি শ্রীশ্রীমন্মরাজ পাত্র জয়সিংহ বর্ম্ম সুশীল বরনে মন্মদিষ্টকাদিচয়োর্ব্বিচিত্র নির্ম্মিতেব প্রাসাদ পূর্ণমিতি।” When translated, it says, “it was constructed by Joysingha Barma (জয়সিংহ বর্ম্ম), the wise minister of the Heramba kingdom at the advice of the Dimasa-Heramba king Krishnachandranarayana (1774 – 1813 C. E.). (Source: Upendra Chandra Guha, Cachar er Itibritta, 2005, p. 08).
The first inscription gives clear information that it was built by a minister of the Dimasa Kingdom, Joysingha Barma. But the second inscription, which states the date of construction has an astrological puzzle inscribed in it. The second inscription reads, “স্বর্ণাখ্যপুর নগরে ভুবনেশ্বরস্য হেতোর্ব্বিচিত্র প্রাসাদিষ্টচয়োপরি নির্ম্মিতেব । খেটাম্বর নগেন্দু শাকে ভানু স্থিতে মন্মথ রাশৌ পূর্ণমিতি। শ্রীমন্মহারাজ পাত্রবরণে হেড়ম্বেশ্বরস্য সচিব শ্রীজয়সিংহ সুবুদ্ধিমান চন্দ্রাখ্যস্য চ গিরিশৃঙ্গে কৃতোহপিষ্টক শিব গৃহং।” (Source: Upendra Chandra Guha, Cachar er Itibritta, 2005, p. 08).
From this inscription, historians and scholars have deciphered the date of the constriction of the temple. According to scholar Dr Amalendu Bhattacharjee (Srinaradi Rasamrita, edited by Amalendu Bhattacharjee, 2007, Kolkata, p. VI) and Dimasa historian Uttam Chand Barman (Chandragiri, Silchar, 2008, pp.19-20) the temple was constructed in 1787 C.E. Barman explain the puzzle elaborately, which narrates the construction year and opening date of the temple in his book, Chandragiri, written in Bengali. Also, scholar-historian Upendra Chandra Guha narrated the year of the construction of the temple as Saka year 1709, in his book Cachar er Itibritta, 1787 C.E.
In the same year on the auspicious day of Bhratri Dwitiya, the temple was inaugurated in presence of the king Krishnachandranarayana. Since then, the Dimasas consider this day auspicious and worship the deity on this day every year.
There are several arguments regarding why the temple was constructed in this particular spot and also some arguments about minister Joysingh Barma. But the argument that fits the best description is also mentioned by historians Upendra Chandra Guha and Uttam Chandra Barman. According to popular belief, when Krishnachadnranarayana’s minister was on his way to the Bhuban hills to construct a temple in the name of the king. On the way, he took a pitstop at Chandragiri and decided to spend the night there. While spending the night at Chandragiri hill, he dreamt of Lord Shiva instructing him to establish a temple there. Following this divine instruction, the minister of the Dimasa king built this temple there. This temple is considered to be very auspicious and other than the annual puja, there are regular worhsips are well. This temple has truly withstood the test of time and still stands there with the remarkable glory of the Dimasa architecture.
Credit for the pictures: Dhruba Daula and Kolongma Express (https://www.facebook.com/NEEthosGURU)