Mahavir Mandir Publication

The State Government is ready to extend all required support. Now it is upto the Central Government and Archaeological Survey of India to make this oldest, recorded, living temple site in the country a centre of excellence by restoring the sikhara, the sanctum of the Goddess Mundesvarí and the whole temple complex at the earliest and by installing a rope-way to the sacred shrine where there is a unique bali (sacrifice) in the country. Goats are brought before the Goddess Mundesvarí and they become almost unconscious the moment they are placed beneath the feet of the Devi. After a few minutes when akshata (sacred rice) is thrown, they take a jump and go out. This unique feat is the testimony of Goddess Mundesvarí’s unlimited grace which has been successfully invoked by a large number of devotees who have been thronging to this sacred shrine for centuries.

Immediate restoration of the shikhar at the top of the temple: Since the temple’s architecture is based on Sriyantra; there is not much difficulty in making a sriyantra sikhara. It has already been shown in the book. If the A.S.I. is not convinced with the sriyantra theory, then an octagonal shikhar should be made conforming to its octagonal structure. Some scholars have suggested that it was pyramidal in nature. Such a drawing can easily be made. Two pieces of amalakas are lying scattered in the vicinity, which will make the restoration of the shikhara easy. In accordance with Brihatsamhita of Varahamihaira the height of the shikhara is double than that of the temple. The height of the temple is almost 23 ft. So the shikhara’s height will be 46 ft. Now it is upto the A.S.I. to select any design finally
Restoration of the sanctum of Goddess Mundesvarí: The sanctum of Goddess Mundesvarí was contiguous to the main shrine in the southern direction. What Buchanan, Bloch and others called a porch was not a porch but the sanctum sanctorum of Mundesvarí. In no temple architecture a porch is a part of the temple. That it was the sanctum of the deity Mundesvarí is confirmed from the fact that exact marks of the base of her pedestal are found in this sanctum. We have shown it in the plan. Since the restoration of the whole temple complex will take a long time, Mundesvarí should be taken to her original site immediatly after the shikhar is restored.
The complete restoration of the temple complex : Huge heaps of dilapidated materials are lying scattered in the vicinity and many had been taken away by Dr. Prakash Charan Prasad who safely deposited in the Patna Museum for better safety. A detailed study of all the materials and the temple architecture should be made and the entire temple complex should be restored to its pristine beauty. We are ready to incur the entire cost, if A.S.I. has got any financian crunch.
When the sanctum of Goddess Mundesvarí is complete in the southern direction as shown in the map, the entrance should be from the western gate and the exit should be through the eastern portion of the Mundesvarí Mandir. Here it is important to inform that on all occasion of the rush inside the temple, the western door is opened. Therefore, the A.S.I. should have no problem in this arrangement.
A large idol of Lord Ganesa is found on way to the Mundesvarí temple. This idol must have been in the northern chamber of the main shrine. He should be brought back to his original home. Similarly, the largest amongst Kãrttikeya idols must be placed inside the temple structure, so that it could be a complete Shaiva temple with all his family members, as it must have once stood before the dilapidation.
A.S.I. must build a grand museum near the Kaimur hills. This museum must house all the idols, arte crafts and other pieces of art; so that the visitors get an opportunity to have a glimpse of all the materials of art and architecture at one place. At present they are lying uncared in the temple premises or on Patna Museum campus.
Since this temple is the oldest, recorded shrine in the country, it should be declared a world heritage and the A.S.I. should recommend it sooner than later.
Though the construction of a rope-way is not the job of A.S.I., its elevation to the hillock will substantially enhance its popularity. Although a steep stair-case has been in existence for centuries, the journey in chairs to the temple site will be an added attraction. The green signal from the Union Government will have to be obtained for making this project feasible. The A.S.I. should recommend it.

(E) Expectations from the Archaeological Survey of India-

Mundesvarí Mandir was declared a protected monument in 1914 A.D. vide notification no 740 dated 22nd April. It is an irony that although the monument was retrieved from the debris by great archaeologists likeT. Bloch and the Central Public Works Department made a flat roof to make it a comfortable building more than a decade before its take-over by A.S.I., yet the fact remains that even Chaturmukha Mandelesvara Mahadeva was stolen by the criminals in the sixth/seventh decade of the last century. The A.S.I. had miserably failed to protect the oldest, recorded Sivalinga in the country. However, due to the vigilance of the tribal people thieves were caught and the Sivalinga was retrieved. But it was lying in the Bhabhua Police Station when I was Superintend of Police in 1980-81. Devotees used to worship the deity in the thana itself. However, after Kaimur was made a separate district Chaturmukha Mandelesvara Mahadeva was restored to his original position. Thus the A.S.I.’s performance in relation to the Mundesvari temple has been very dismal so far.
Now the following are our expectations from the A.S.I.:-

Dr. Krishna Chandra Panigrahi’s following observation in his article ‘Temple of Mundesvari in Shahabad’ was a source of misconception amongst many scholars:-
“Three periods of the religious, history of the shrine are thus evidenced by the Mundesvari Inscription and the existing sculptures and architecture of the present temple. Originally it was a Vaishnava shrine with a Nãrãyana as the Presiding deity, but in the seventh century A.D., the date of the temple. Shaivism appears to have superseded Vaishnavism and Vinitesvara, originally a subsidiary deity, became the presiding deity of the place. In course of time Shaivism was, however, overshadowed by Shaktism and a Mahishasura-mardini known as Mundesvari became the presiding deity of the shrine.”
Panigrahi’s confusion was due to the misplacement of the full stop after श्रीनारायणदेवकुलस्य in lieu of its placement before it. Thus there was a confusion in the translation; otherwise the hill is not so large to accommodate two three temples. From the scrutiny of the edict it is clear that the present Chaturmukha Mahadeva existed in 108 A.D. when Dandanãyaka Gomibhatta made dedication and even long before this date because visitors and dignitaries from Shri Lanka, too, visited the place in centuries preceding Christ, as it is evident from the discovery of a seal of the Ceylonese emperor Dutthgamini.
The name of the mutt was Vinitesvara Matha and the presiding deity was Mandalesvara-svami Mahadeva. Bhagudalana was the abbot (mahanta, kulapati) of this mutt. Gomibhatta with his permission did not establish any new temple of Mandalesvara-svami in the precincts of the Vinitesvara mutt but with his permission created a trust fund to carry on certain services such as providing votive offerings of rice to the deity, lighting the lamp in perpetuity and offerings to cow, etc. in the temple. Of course, there was a store-room (कोष्ठिका) of Nãrãyana deva-kula but it could not have been at the hill because very few idols of Nãrãyana are found at the top of the hill and there was no adequate space at the top to accommodate many temple complexes. Nãrãyana-deva-kula must have been a large temple complex in the valley of the hill with a vast store-room wherefrom provisions were to be supplied to the temple committee of the Shiva temple at the summit.
In the same temple the presiding deity was Chaturmukha Mahadeva called Mandelesvara-svami who was located at the centre of the temple. Since the temple was built in the shape of a Shri-yantra Shiva's consort Mundesvari Bhawani was installed in the southern chamber of the temple and Ganesa might have been in the northern Chamber.
There is another misconception that the temple was demolished by Muslim marauders. It is not correct because it seems that on account of the rock-sliding or any other form of natural calamity the temple was in ruins and the devotees might have rescued the idol from the southern side sanctum of the deity and placed her at the present position. From the painting of Daniel Brothers it appears that the highest dump of the debris was in the eastern side and subsequently a support had to be provided in the eastern chamber. The theory that the shrine was demolished by Muslim marauders during the days of Sher Shah who ruled from nearby Chainpur before becoming the emperor of Hindustan does not appear convincing because had the dilapidation been their creation the idol of Mundesvarí Bhavani and Chaturmukha Mahadeva would have not been left intact. It is true that in course of the time the worship of Mundesvari overshadowed that of Lord Shiva and the temple came to be known after Mundesvari. The name Mundesvari might have been changed form Mandalesvara or might have been named after some Chero king Munda.
Francis Buchanan, basically a surgeon, was so ignorant about the culture that in his survey report he made such a blasphemous comment:- “The image called Mundesvarí (B), or the goddess of Munda, is an armed female, having many hands and riding on a buffalo : it probably represents the wife of Mahisasura, a celebrated antagonist of Parwati.” Goddess Mundesvarí is Durga and none else. She is the wife of Lord shiva. If Buchanan did not have this basic knowledge, he could have asked any Hindu, who would have replied correctly because it is mentioned in the Durga-Kavacham of the Durga-saptsati that she is vãrãhì when she rides a buffalo(वाराही महिषासना). Buchanan’s survey in Bihar and Gorakhpur Division of the Uttar Pradesh conducted by his paid subordinates is interesting but his own comments on most of the situations are really trash.
There is again strong confusion about Buchanan’s survey report and contests in M. Martin’s book 'Eastern India.’ which was published in 1838 A.D. Buchanan’s survey reports were published by Martin in 3 volumes. But Martin was not honest in acknowledging that his book contained Buchanan’s survey reports with few changes here and there during editing. This is the reason that many established historians have got confused between the two and what was Buchanan’s report was misconstrued to be Martin’s writing. Therefore most of historians have quoted Buchanan’s report in Martin’s name. Some have even compared between the two and written that Buchanan did not add anything beyond Martin’s content. Bihar and Orissa Research Society did yeoman’s service by publishing Buchanan’s reports on Shahabad in1934. We had both reports available with us but since it was difficult to print from Buchanan’s book by scanning, we have preferred Martin’s book for better legibility.

Thus all the connotations used in the edict such as dinar, Dandanãyaka, Mahãsãmanta, Mahãpratìhãra were prevalent during the Kushan period and therefore it is suggested that this edict belongs to the Kushan period and it was the reign of King Huvishka under whom King Udayasena might have been a local King at Rajghat, Varanasi.
In view of the aforesaid discussion it is well established that this Mundesvarì Edict was inscribed in the 30th year of the Shaka era, i.e. 108 A.D. when Huvishka was the Kushan Emperor at Peshawar and Udayasena was a King probably at Varanasi. In 108 A.D. Mandaleshvar Mahadeva was in full existence and was being worshipped by devotees hailing from not only India but even from Srilanka, as is evident from the discovery of royal seal of Ceylonese King Mahãrãja Dutthagãmani (101-77 B.C.) from the vicinity of Mundesvarì Mandir.

(D) Certain misconceptions about the Mundesvarì temple-

A strong point in favour of fixing the date in Kushan era is that during the Kushan period the first line of the inscription generally mentioned the year, month and date of the inscription and the second line just refers to such year, month and date. In similar fashion this Mundesvarì edict has been written. The first line is संवत्सरे त्रिंशतितमे कार्तिकदिवसे।The second line refers to it thus: अस्मिन् संवत्सरमासदिवसपूर्वायां During the Gupta period the edict usually started with the word सिद्धं and the chronology of the kings and their euogy. Since the first line of this Mundesvarì edict mentions the date; it appears that it belongs to the Kushan period, and if it is Kushan period then its date will be 78+30= 108 A.D.
Another strong point in favour of Mundesvarí edict being ascribed to the Shaka era is its faulty language. The Gupta inscriptions are almost flawless in following the Sanskrit grammatical rules and they represent the classical Sanskrit language. Prayaga-Prasasti written by Harishena during the time of Samudragupta can match any superb Sanskrit prose-writing. On the contrary, in this small inscription of 16 lines there are as many as 11 grammatical errors. Some of these mistakes may be because of the fact that Panini grammar was not so strictly followed during the Kushan period. Most of the pre Gupta Sanskrit inscriptions are under the influence of Prakrit language. They have not grammatical perfection. Thus the language of the edict also proves that it belongs to the Shaka era.
In the edict there is a mention of Kulapati Bhagudalan. The word Kulapati now commonly carries the meaning of a Vice-Chancellor. But in the Valmiki Ramayan in the famous episode of justice to a ‘Shvãna’ (dog), Kulapati is used in the sense of a Mahant. Here also it appears that Kulapati stands for Mahant because Dandanãyaka Gomibhata required permission from a Mathãdhipati and not from a Vice-Chancellor for making arrangements inside the temple. Similarly in the Bhadrak inscription of Orissa dated 3rd century A.D. Mahakulapati has been used in the sense of Mathãdhipati and not Vice-Chancellor. Meanings of words change with the passage of time and the word Kulpati used here in the sense of Mathãdhipati denotes its very ancient nature and suggests the second century A.D.
It is very important to note that the date of granting gift in the edict is Kãrtika Divase Dvãvinatime (22nd day of Kartika). This style of mentioning date without the consideration of the Paksha (fortnight)is a diminishing characteristic of the inscriptions of Gupta era. Most of the inscriptions of the Gupta era are dated in the lunar calendar. That shows the date of either Shukla (bright) or Krishna (dark) Paksha of the month. On the contrary almost all the inscriptions of Kushan period are dated in solar calendar. Therefore, there is a strong possibility that this was inscribed in the Kushan period.
Now about the identification of King Udayasena it is certain that there could have been no king Udayasena in the vicinity of Kaimur hills during the days of Samudragupta. It was during the Kushan period that kings of Varanasi and Pataliputra were either independent or owed nominal allegiance to the Kushan empire for brief periods and retained their own identity. There are kings having Sen surname during this period. From the Rajghat excavations which are assigned first century; at least four kings Hathisena, Krishnasena ,Harishena and Bhimasena were having the Sena surnames and it is in all probability that Udayasena belonged to the Sena dynasty of Varanasi. Even in Pataliputra and Vaishali there were many Shaka and Murund kings. One seal has been discovered from Vaishali which shows the rule of Pramudama Devi who was the sister of Shaka king Rudrasen. So this Udayasena might have belonged to same non-aryan tribe either ruling at Varanasi or Pataliputra. The history of Magadh and Central India after the fall of the Sungas and the Kanvas and before the rise of the Guptas has been turmed as dark age, but now some light is being thrown on this period also and it goes in support of some local chiefs reigning at Pataliputra and Varanasi. So Udayasena mentioned in the edict must have been one such local king and ruled from Varanasi as indicated by Rajghat excavation. The date of Udayasena tallies with the 30th year of the saka era because in all probability this Udayasena ruled raound 108 A.D.
From a chance discovery of a royal seal of Ceylonese King Mahãrãja Dutthagamani (101-77 B.C. according to Mahavamsa and 161-137 B.C. according to other sources) from the vicinity of Mundesvarí Mandir by Jahnwi Shekhar Roy it is clear that the temple was known far and wide even during pre-Christ era. He was a powerful Ceylonese king who defeated the Tamil king who invaded his country. Thus he became a Ceylonese hero. The discovery of a seal of such a powerful Ceylonese king in the vicinity of Kaimur is a further proof that even in the centuries preceding the Christian era, Mundesvari Mandir was a centre of international pilgrimage.
A number of historians have suggested that from the sculpture of the temple, it appears to be a monument of the 7th century, although many experts are of the view that it is of Nãgara style and Magadha was the progenitor of this sculpture and it started during the Gupta period. Therefore the present Mundesvari temple was constructed during the Gupta period. It is further strengthened from the fact that on the building itself the following words are engraved:- श्रीपरवलगम्भीर मरुचण्ड
It is evidently not that of the builder of the temple. It might have been that of some powerful pilgrim who successfully got it engraved. It is a post-Harsha script. Thus long before this engraving the temple building must have been completely constructed. Its structure has been compared with the Dasãvatãra temple at Deogarh in Jhansi district. Like Mundesvari, this Dasãvatara temple, too, had a pyramidal tower crowned with a small ‘amalaka’. Pieces of amalaka are lying scattered in the premises of Mundesvarí temple. Since Dasãvatara temple was highlighted first on a massive scale, it was presumed that it was the earliest structure of this type of Nagar style. But it is more probable that the sculpture of Mundesvari temple might have been the earliest specimen of Nãgara style because it was in the land of its origin. But one point is again made clear that the date of the Mundesvari edict is different from the date of the construction of the present temple. Here it is emphatically asserted that the date of the inscription is 108 A.D., whereas it is left to the experts and connoisseurs of temple architecture to decide the probable date of the construction of the temple.
The use of the red-stone in the Chaturmukha-Shivalinga and many other statues is another indication that it belonged to the Kushana period because from the Gupta period the use of sand stone has been the special feature of the statues of the Gupta period. Another evidence in favour of its pre-Gupta existance is the lack of the third eye on the face of the Chaturmukh Mahadev. From Gupta period there is invariably a third eye on three faces except a female face always in north side of a Chaturmukh type of linga. The discovery of at least one sculpted polished stone which is placed in the A.S.I. museum in the vicinity of the temple indicates its hoary antiquity because polished stones constitute a salient feature of the Mauryan period. Moreover, the style of the hair of goddess Mundesvari has been in Gandhar tradition of the Kushan period.
Now uses of some words in the inscription are examined to prove that these words were in currency during Kushan period. Many people perceive that dìnãr was used as currency in India during the early medieval period. But it is a fact that most coins during the Gupta period are in dìnãr currency. Thus, there is no doubt about the existence of dìnãr as currency in the Gupta period. Now the question is whether it was prevalent in the Kushan period or not. Answer is that dinar as currency was used in Kushan period also and in support of this contention I am citing the following quotation from "Coinage in Ancient India" by Dr. Satya Prakash and Dr. Rajendra Singh published by Research Institute of Ancient Scientific Studies, New Delhi in the year 1968. The authors write that “the gold of Vima Kadphises (A.D.45-78) was struck in three denominations, the double stater, the stater or dinar as the Kushans called it (= the Roman sureus of 124 grains weight), and the quarter-stater.” The authors have suggested that dinar is derived from the Roman denarius. They have further suggested that the weight of dinar during Shaka period was 124 grains. Thus, the dinar was prevalent as currency in this country during the Kushan period and even before Kanishka. So one should not get puzzled after seeing dinar in the inscription.
Similarly there may be many persons who will think that the use of the epithet Dandanãyaka is not so ancient, but the epithet Dandanãyaka is used in Manikyala inscription of the 18th year of the Emperor Asoka. Prakrit variation Dandanãyago is used in the inscription. Prof. D.C.Sircar in his book ‘Indian Epigraphical Glossary’ has cited many instances of Dandanãyaka being used in ancient India. In another book ‘Indian Epigraphica’ the same great scholar Prof. D.C. Sircar has further suggested that the popularity of the designation Dandanãyaka in Kushan administration may tempt one to regard it as a translation of strategos. Thus, there is no element of any doubt that Dandanãyaka was used in the Kushan period.
The word sãmanta has been in use since time immemorial. It is frequently mentioned in Harivamsa Purana which is considered the last part of the Mahãbhãrata because together with Harivamsa Purãna Mahãbhãrata is called a शतसाहस्री संहिता i.e. the text which contains one lac slokas. The following verses contain the word sãmanta :-
सामन्तेषु नरेन्द्रेषु प्रतापस्ते प्रकाशितः।
मित्राणि त्वां भजिष्यन्ति संश्रयिष्यन्ति पार्थिवाः ॥ Vishnu-parva 32A20
निहतामित्रसामन्तं स्फीतं कृतयुगे यथा ॥ Vishnu-parva 25A20
The word sãmanta is used in Kautilya's Arthas'ãstra, also at many places. In the following sutra:-
सामन्तो बलवतः प्रतिघातोsन्तर्षिः प्रतिवेशो वा बलवतः पार्ष्णिग्राहो वा स्वयमुनतः प्रतोपोपनतो वा दण्डोपनत इति भृत्यभाविनः सामन्ताः।।(VII : 18) he describes 8 types of sãmantas and the first category is that of a subordinate feudatory. It is further confirmed by his following direction :-
सामन्तं संहितप्रयाणे योजयेत्(VII. 6.2)
(A king should employ his sãmanta in a war)
At another place he says
सामन्तेनैव सामन्तं विद्वानायोज्य विग्रहे (VII. 6.19)
i.e. A wise king should engage a sãmanta against another sãmanta in a war. Here it may be a feudatory who is aligned with a king but not necessarily a subordinate. In fact, the word Sãmanta has emerged from Kautilya’s Arthasãstra. Like Kulapati, which meant an abbot in Vãlmìki’ Rãmãyana but subsequently stood for a Vice-chancellor, a Sãmanta in Kautilya’s Arthasãstra, which was a subordinate feudatory of a neighboring state, became a direct subordinate feudatory in the subsequent periods. Udayasena could be a Mahasãmanta of either description.
There may be some doubt whether the epithet Mahãpratìhãra was used as an adjective during the Kushan period. Prof. D.C.Sircar has suggested that Mahãpraihãra was a high officer who was in-charge of the defence of the royal palace or bed-chamber or the head of the guards of the city gate. Mahãpratìhãra word has been found in Prayag Prashasti of Samudragupta. The earliest use of Mahãpratìhãr is found on the 3rd rail bar at Bodhgaya, by Indagimitra i.e. Indragnimitra in the Shunga period, which is quite anterior to the Kushan period.
M.N. Katti had come to Patna for attending the seminar on Mundesvarì edict in 2006. I had asked him a question whether this edict could belong to the Kusana period on the basis of paleographic evidence, He had replied that the possibility could not be ruled out because many letters were having the specific characteristics of the Kushan age. But he had added that in addition to the the Kushana period it could belong to the early Gupta period also. Bhavanath Jha who is an accomplished scholar of Sanskrit and well versed with paleography has made a comparative study of many Kushan and Gupta edicts and proved that this edict belongs to the Kushan period. His article on paleography is published in this book. I concur with his study and conclusions.

According to our reading and translation it was Dandanãyaka Gommibhata, a subordinate under King Udayasena who took the permission of the Kulapati Bhagudalan an abbot of the Viniteshwar matha and dedicated 500 dinars to Mandalesvarasvami for continuing certain services after taking provisions from the store room of Shri Nãrãyana temple.

(C) Date of the Edict:

From the inscription three names are found (i) King Udayasena, (ii) Dandanayak Gomibhata and (iii) Kulpati Bhãgudalana. King Udayasena is not known to history so far and neither the Dandanayak Gomibhat nor Kulpati Bhagudalan finds mention in any text or document. Therefore, the date of Mundesvarì edict has to be decided on certain epigraphic evidences and historical background.

Broadly speaking 3 dates have been suggested by scholars. R.D. Banerjee had suggested that the 30th year mentioned in the inscription was of Harsha’s era and hence it was 636 A.D. In his article "Mundesvari Inscription of Udayasena : The (Harsha) Year 30" he wrote, “It is dated in the year 30 in the reign of the Mahãsãmanta, Mahãpratìhãra, Mahãrãja Udayasena, who is not known from other sources, Judging from the affinity of the characters of this inscription with those of the years 34 and 39 from Nepal, the era is most probably that established by Harshavardhana.”

T. Bloch in his annual report had remarked that the date of the inscription, referred to the Harsh era and the 30th year mentioned in the inscription was 635 A.D. But after a detailed discussion on epigraphic evidence Mr. Majumdar suggested that - "it is a fact worthy of notice that almost all the characters of the Mundesvari inscription are Early Gupta in type and traceable to the records of that period.” He most convincingly suggested that since the inscription is in sama-koniya (right angle) Brahmi script which is not seen in the country after 500 A.D., it has to belong to a period before 500 A.D. He has thus written in his article ‘Mundesvarí Inscription of the Time of Udaynsena’:-
“The paleography of the Mundesvarí inscription, therefore, leaves no doubt that it is to be placed earlier than at least the latter half of the sixth century A.D. The year 30 of the record cannot be, therefore, referred to the Harsha era of A.D. 606, and as such there remains no other known era to which it may be assigned except the Gupta era of A.D. 318-19. The date of the record thus becomes equivalent to A.D. 348- 49”
Dr. Buhler, Gunakar Mule and other epigraphists have also conclusively proved that Sama-koniya (right angle) Brahmilipi was in existence in India upto 500 A.D. only. Therefore, this Mundesvarí edict cannot be that of the Harsha era and if it cannot be of the Harsha era, then it has to be either of the Gupta or the Shaka era. R. Bhandarkar considered it to be belonging to an era even before that of the Gupta period. K.C. Panigrahi was of the view that the edict belonged to the Gupta era.
Some historians have suggested that it is the 30th year of the reign of Udayasena. But such individual reckoning is mostly in relation to the very powerful rulers whose dynasties had started no era. No one has suggested Vikrama era because it came in circulation centuries after its supposed beginning in 57 B.C.
There are many strong points in favour of determining the edict’s date in favour of the Gupta era. The inscription is in Sanskrit language which was very popular during the days of the Guptas. During this period there were many inscriptions mentioning various donations to the deities. Another inscription dated in the 30th year of an unspecified era has been found from the Mandar hill about 50 km. south of Bhagalpur. No king is mentioned in this inscription also. But from the paleographic study of the inscription it has been dated to the 4th or 5th century by the great epigraphist D.C. Sircar in “Inscriptions from Mandar Hill” [E. 9. Vol. XXXVI (1966) pp. 304-06]. Moreover, the important fact that though the Mundesvarí inscription was engraved on a stone on a pillar, yet it did not record the construction of the temple shows that it pre-dated the construction of the present temple.
But the strongest point which goes against fixing the date during the Gupta era is that the 30th year of the Gupta era i.e. 349 A.D. is the reign of the great emperor Samudragupta who was then ruling in this area for at least 14 years. Under such a strong ruler at Pataliputra who had conquered almost the whole North India there could not be the existence of any king Udayasena near the Mundesvarì hills either at Varanasi, Buxar or Patna. If it is supposed that King Udayasena was just a feudatory, even then it is improbable that a high dignitary like Dandanãyaka Gomibhata would not mention the great emperor Samudragupta and in his place he did name a feudatory like Udayasena. So there cannot be any possibility of any king Udayasena during Samudragupta’s reign and, therefore, the possibility of its being of Gupta era is totally diminished.
Another point which indicates that the Mundesvarì edict does not belong to the Gupta era is the fact that during the whole regime of Samudragupta the Gupta era is not mentioned. Both Allahabad pillar inscription and Arran Inscription are undated. When Samudragupta did not use Gupta era, how could his subordinate Gomibhata have used it? It was from the days of Chandragupta II Vikramadiya that Gupta era came into circulation. Therefore, the unspecified era in Mundesvarí Edict cannot be that of the Gupta era. On the contrary, during the Kushan period, inscriptions were dated right from the founding of the era. Sarnath inscription of Kanishka I is dated the 3rd year of the era. An inscription of King Huvishka dated 28th year of the era has been discovered from Mathura. In addition, the following points strongly suggest that the year mentioned in the Mundesvarí edict is that of the Shaka era :-

Om. In the 30th year, on the 22nd day of the Karttika month.
On the aforesaid day of the month of the year and in the reign of Mahãsãmanta, Mahapratihara and Mahãrãja Udayasena this has been done in the premise of Vinitesvara mutt by me Dandanãyaka Gomibhatta after having requested the kulapati (abbot) Bhagudalana together with the temple body for the enhancement of the religious merit of (my) father, mother and myself.
Provision has also been made to supply every day and in perpetuity, two prasthas of rice for the votive offering and one pala of oil for the lamp from the store room of the temple of Shri-nãrãyana for Lord Mandalesvara so long as the Sun and Moon endure,.
Under this uninterrupted arrangement of the temple body of Lord Mandalesvarasvãmi 500 dinars were given for the offerings to cows, garlands and welfare to devotees.
Having come to know it, the (above) arrangement should not be transgressed (disturbed) by the (successive) admistrative officers (those who arrange water and fuel?) and hermits.
This being proclaimed, whoever acts to the contrary, shall live in hell with great sins.
And those who go by this decree will become the men of merit.

O Yudhisthir, the supreme amongst land-owners! Protect the land given by self or others with efforts because preservation is better than donation

Thus after the above detailed analyses the integrated translation of the edict is produced below:-
Integrated Translation-

There is no confusion about first line which is the heading of the edict which reads ओम्‌ सम्बत्सरे त्रिांशतितमे कार्त्तिकदिवसे द्वावितितमे which means 'Om. In the 30th year, on the 22nd day of the Karttika(month). The size of the letters here is larger than those in the rest of the inscription.
The biggest problem in correctly comprehanding the text has been due to the misplacement of the full-stop sign after श्रीनारायणदेवकुलस्य at the end of the 6th line. In fact, it should have been after कारितकम्‌ in the same 6th line. A minor mistake on the part of the engraver has led many scholars to misinterpret the first sentence which is not difficult at all to comprehend.
Another factor for not properly understanding the meaning of the first sentence is the reading स्स instead of म्सat the beginning of the fourth line. If we take स्स to be the reading; there will be no grammatically correct meaning at all because in the same sentence भागुदलनः will be the subject in the प्रथमा विभक्ति and गोमिभटेन will be another performer in the तृतीया विभक्ति. It is Bhavanath Jha who suggested this reading म्स in place of स्स and then a correct and simple meaning is obtained; otherwise R.D. Banerjee had wrongly taken Bhagudalana as the subject in the sentence. The suggestion of K.C. Panigrahi that it should be read Bhanubhattam instead of Bhagudalan is not corroborated by paleographic reading.
विनीतेश्वरमठसमावेश has been misunderstood by many. It simply means here that it was done withinsVinitesvara mutt.
R.D. Benerjee’s reading मठमेतत्‌ initially created confusion. But when N.G. Majundar read it मयैतत् the confusion in the reading was largely over. But it still persisted to some degree because many scholars interpreted that what Gomibhatta established was a temple or mutt; whereas it was in relation to his dedication of 50 or 500 dinars and arrangements in the temple.
Once श्रीनारायणदेवकुलस्य has been taken out of the first sentence, the big confusion whether there pre-existed a Vinitesvara mutt or Nãrãyanadeva’s temple at the site is over. Now the second sentence reads as –
अस्मिन्सम्बत्सरमासदिवसपूर्व्वायां श्रीमहासामन्तमहाप्रतीहारमहाराजोदयसेनराज्ये कुलपतिभागुदलनम्सदेवनिकायं दण्डनायकगोमिभटेन प्रार्थयित्वा मातापित्रोरात्मनश्च पुण्याभिवृद्धये विनीतेश्वरमठसमावेशं मयैतत्कारितकम्‌।
Itsअन्वय (logical connection of words) after correction will be as follows:-
अस्यां संवत्सर-मास-दिवस-पूर्व्वायाम्‌ श्रीमहासामन्त-महाप्रतीहार-महाराजोदयसेनराज्ये कुलपतिभागुदलनं सदेवनिकायं दण्डनायकगोमिभटेन संप्रार्थ्य मातापित्रोरात्मनश्च पुण्याभिवृद्धये विनीतेश्वरमठसमावेशं मयैतत्कारितम्‌।
The English translation will be- On the aforesaid day, month and the year and in the reign of Mahãsãmanta, Mahapratihara and Maharaj Udayasena this has been done in the premises of Vinitesvara mutt by me Dandanãyaka Gomibhatta after having requested the kulapati (abbot) Bhagudalana together with the temple body for the enhancement of the religious merit of (my) father, mother and myself.
Once श्रीनारायणदेवकुलस्य is included in the third sentence and it is matched with कोष्ठीकातः the meaning becomes crystal clear.Then the reading will be श्रीमण्डलेश्वरस्वामिपादाय and not पादीय!
The second full stop at the end of the 11th line is wrongly placed and there cannot be any justification for it except it was the error on the part of the engraver who should have placed it after dkfjr% in the 9th line. Once it is done, the meaning of the third sentence is very clear. It now reads as- कोष्ठीकातः आचन्द्रार्कसमकालीयमक्षयं प्रतिदिनं नैवेद्यार्थं तण्डुलप्रस्थद्वयं दीपतैलपलस्य च औपनिबन्धः कारितः।
Its अन्वय will be like this :-
श्रीनारायणदेवकुलस्य कोष्ठिकातः श्रीमण्डलेश्वरस्वामिपादाय प्रतिदिनं अक्षयं नैवेद्यार्थं तण्डुलप्रस्थद्वयस्य दीपतैलपलस्य च औपनिबन्धः आचन्द्रार्कसमकालिकं कारितः।
The English rending is as follows :- Provision has also been made to supply every day and in perpetuity, two prasthas of rice for the votive offering and one pala of oil for the lamp from the store room of the temple of Shri-nãrãyana for Lord Mandaleshvara so long as the Sun and Moon endure.
Prastha is equal to 32 palas and one pala is equal to four karshas and a karsha is equal to 16 masha. Thus prastha is equal to 32 x 4 x 16 = 2148 masha.
Because of the uncertainty of certain missing letters in the 10th, 11th and 12th lines, the meaning of the fourth sentence is slightly difficult. N.G. Majumdar correctly deciphered विच्छि(त्तिविश्रा)न्त-तन्त्रसाधरणं and related it to श्रीमण्डलेश्वरस्वामीपादानां- But he himself could not comprehend it properlyand put up a sign of interrogation. However in the anvaya when I have brought देवनिकायस्य between these two words; the meaning has become simple.
When in the 11th line the available letters after दीनाराणां ंतम गोब (ब दवज व)ए then the reading गोवत्सद्विज by some scholars was contrary to the text and it created confusion and arbitrary interpretation.
But when the reading was taken to be गोबलिस्रज, then the problem was that it should have been स्रज्‌ and after सन्धि with भक्त it should have been स्रग्‌- Therefore, I was hesitant in following this reading. But when M.N. Katti informed me that it is not t but ग्‌, then the meaning of the present sentence is easily comprehensible.
) When R.D. Banerjee read esrns afterदत्त in the 12th line; the sentence was not grammatically correct because the subject उपकरणानि was in neuter plural; wereas the verb (दत्त) was neuter singular. But once Majumdar read it as न्येतदे उांपदह पज दत्तान्येतदेवं, then it became both grammatically correct and literally comprehensible. The verb दत्तानि matches with the subject उपकरणानि।
Similarlys the word पंचाशतां is gramatically incorrect. If it denotes 50, the correct word would beपञ्‌चाशद्‌ and if it is 500, then it will be पञ्‌चशत- Therefore it could mean either 50 or 500. The purport of the fourth sentence, appears to mean 500.
This fund was created for spending on the following items every day:- (a) 4296 mãshas of rice. (b) 1 pala of oil (c) offering to cows, (d) garlands to deities, (e) walfare to the devotees. Since it was to be done in perpetuity; it could be done through interest only and the principal amount was to remain अक्षयनीवीण् Therefore an amount of 50 dinar was small for the purpose and it could have been 500 dinars only. Therefore I have translated it as 500 dinars.
The Sanskrit text of the fourth sentence will read श्रीमण्डलेश्वरस्वामीपादानां विच्छित्तिविश्रान्ततन्त्रसाधारणं पञ्‌चाशतां दीनाराणां गोबलिस्रग्‌भक्ताद्युपकरणानि देवनिकायस्य दत्तानि।
Itsअन्वय will be श्रीमण्डलेश्वरस्वामिपादानां देवनिकायस्य विच्छित्तिविश्रान्ततन्त्रसाधारणं पञ्‌चशतं दीनाराणां गोबलिस्रग्‌भक्ताद्युपकरणानि दत्तानि and the English translation will be :- "Under this uninterrupted arrangement of the temple body of Lord Mandalesvarasvãmi 500 dinars were given for offerings to cows, garlands and welfare to the devotees."
Because of the uncertainty in the first letter in the beginning of the 13th line there is a slight variance in the meaning. If the reading be taken तापोवनिकैर्वा as suggested by Majumdar the meaning is simple in the shape of hermits. But if it is आपोवनिकैर्वा as suggested by Banerjee; then it is slightly difficult to translate. Banerjee has translated it as the merchants who trade on the waters (?). But he himself is not clear about the meaning. I have preferred Majumdar's reading एतदेवं विदित्वा यथाकालाध्यासिभिः तापोवनिकैर्वा यथानिबद्धस्य विघातो न कार्यः Its अन्वय remains unchanged and the meaning will be "Having come to know it, the (above) arrangement should not be transgressed (disturbed) by the (successive) admistrative officers and hermits (those who fetch water and fuel?)"
Though some letters are missing in the 15th & 16th lines, yet the sixth sentence is very easy because there is no confusion about the reading or the missing letters or meaning. The Sanskrit reading is एवमभिश्रावितो योन्यथाकुर्यात्स महापातकैः सह नरके वसेत्‌A Here alsoअन्वय remains unchanged and English translation will be: "This being proclaimed, whoever acts to the contrary, shall live in hell with great sins."
Because of the loss of many vital letters in the 16th line, it is difficult to restore the whole sentence with a grammatically correct meaning. The meaning of the 16th line appears to be very easy. However the reading appears to be something like this एवं यथावधरणया मध्यस्थैः पुण्यभाक्‌त्वं भावितमिति। Here पुण्यभाज्‌त्वं should have been a grammatically correct expression in place of पुण्यभाक्‌त्वं Its meaning is very simple :" And those who go by this decree will become the men of merit."
(xviii) The last two lines of the inscription form a famous Sanskrit sloka and this is the reason that despite half of it broken and non-existent; it is easily restored, translated and comprehended.
(स्वदत्तां परदत्तां वा) यत्नाद्रक्ष युधिष्ठिर।
(महीं महीवतां श्रेष्ठ) दानाच्छ्रेयोनुपालनम्‌॥
This is a usual imprecatory verse which has variance like पूर्वदत्तां द्विजातिभ्यो in place of स्वदत्तां परदत्तां वा Its translation will be :- O, Yudhisthir, the supreme amongst land-owners! Protect the land given by self or others with all efforts because preservation is better than donation.

Translation and explanation of the Sanskrit text

विंशतिमे– Here it should have been द्वाविंशतितमे, 'त' is missing.
कारितकम्‌ . कारितकम्‌ is not a correct use. It should have been कारितम्‌।. It appears to be the error on part of the inscriber because in the 9th line it is correctly written कारितः।
The sign of full stop (.) written at the end of the 6th line should have been after कारितकम्‌। Because of this one lapse there has been a lot of confusion amongst historians.
Again full-stop () sign at the end of the 11th line is wrongly placed. In fact one such sign should have been in the 9th line after कारितः। Some scholars, who have argued that the full stop sign at the end of the 6th line should not be tampered with because it is correctly assigned, must realize that there is no defence of putting the full stop sign at the end of the 11th line.

Errors in the second category are as follows:-

सम्बत्सरे – It should have beenसंवत्सरे
अस्मिन्‌ संवत्सर-मासदिवसपूर्वायाम्‌ - It should have been अस्यां
प्रार्थयित्वा – It should have been प्रार्थ्य or संप्रार्थ्य
स्वामीपादाय- It should have been स्वामिपादाय
आचन्द्रार्कसमकालीयं – It should have been आचन्द्रार्कसमकालिकं
कोष्ठीकातः- it should have been कोष्ठिकातः
तण्डुलप्रस्थद्वयं– Since its anvaya is with औपनिबन्ध It should have been तण्डुलप्रस्थद्वयस्य
पञ्चाशतां It should have been पञ्चाशद् in the sense of 50 and पञ्‌चशतं in the sense of 500. In either sense it is grammatically incorrect. Therefore, the reading पंचशतं has been preferd to पञ्चाशद्।
In the 16th line though many letters are missing, yet the reading भाक indicates that it was पुण्यभाक्‌and Roa must have been added to match it with the available reading तमिति।. In that case the correct word should have been पुण्यभाज्‌त्वं but it might have been written पुण्यभाक्‌त्वं because of the proper lack of sandhi rules.

The filling up of the gaps:-
In the 1st line two letters are missing and they are correctly presumed to be तमे tame.
In the 2nd line the two letters missing are certainly दिव diva.
In the 3rd line there is one letter missing which can be either da or bha and the name of the king will be Udayasena or Ubhayasena, most probbly Udayasena.
In the 4th line the missing letter is certainly ना nã.
In the 5th line the missing letters are ण्या nyã.
In the 6th line the missing letter is श्री srì. The full stop at the end should have been placed in the middle after कारितकं।
In the 7th line the two missing letters should be read पादा pãdã and not पादीय।
In the 8th line the missing letters are undoubtedly दिनं dinam.
In the 9th line the first missing letter in the beginning is दी (Dì) and the missing letters in the middle are पनि pani
In the 10th line the missing letters have been admirably read as त्तिविश्रा ttivishrã.
In the 11th line the missing letters suggested by Majumdar are लस्रज – and it becomes गोबलिस्रज । It is a good suggestion but in Sanskrit it is स्रज्‌and not स्रज However, when Dr. M.N. Katti came to Patna to preside over the Mundesvarí seminar he suggested that it isग्‌ and not ज; then the reading is perfect because ज्‌ becomes ग्‌ after sandhi with भ of भक्त.
In the 12th line the missing letters in the middle are न्येतदे nyetade; whereas at the end they are सिभिः.
In the 13th line, the reading suggested by Majumdar isता and by Banerjee it isरा. In the middle of the sentence the missing letters are थानि thãni.
In the 14th line the missing letters in the middle suggested are न्यथा nyathã and at the end it is ह ha.
In the 15th line the two missing letters in the begining are नर nara and the missing letters in the middle are यथा But the missing letters at the end after मध्य are स्थैः
In the 16th line the missing letters are not fully restored by anyone so far. Prof. T.P. Verma suggested thus: However, it appears to be (पुण्य) भाक(त्वं भावि). Here again पुण्य-भाकत्वम्‌ has been written in place of पुण्यभाज्‌त्वम्‌ which should have been the correct form.
In the 17th and 18th lines the missing letters are from an oft-quoted slokas and therefore there is no problem.
In the edict द्वित्व of रेफ has been followed throughout after Panini's sutra अचोरहाभ्यां द्वे .There is no अवग्रह sign followed in the text.

Errors in the text.
There are many errors in the edict; some are on account of the ignorance of the person who drafted the text and some may be due to the negligence of the person who engraved it. The errors of the first category are as follows:-

Mundeshvari inscription of Udayasen
१. सम्बत्सरे त्रिंशतितमे, कार्त्तिक दिवसे द्वाविंशतिमे
२. अस्मिन्सम्बत्सर मास (दिव)स पूर्व्वायाम्‌ श्रीमहासामन्त
३. महाप्रतीहार महाराजो(द) यसेनराज्ये कुलपतिभागुदलन
४. म्स देवनिकायं दण्ड(ना)यक गोमिभटेन प्रार्त्थयित्वा
५. मातापित्रोरात्मनश्च पु(ण्या)भिवृद्धये विनीतेश्वरमठसमा
६. वेशं मयैत्कारितम्‌ (श्री)नारायण देवकुलस्य
७. श्रीमण्डलेश्वरस्वामी (पादा)य कोष्ठीकातः आचन्द्रार्कसम
८. कालीयमक्षयं प्रति (दिनं)नैवेद्यार्थं तण्डुलप्रस्थद्वयं
९. दीपतैलपलस्य चो(प)बन्धः कारितः श्रीमण्डलेश्वर
१०. स्वामीपादानां विच्छि(त्ति)विश्रान्ततन्त्रसाधारणं
११. दीनाराणां गोब(लिसृग्)भक्ताद्युपकरणानि
१२. देवनिकायस्य दत्ता(न्येतदे)वं विदित्वा यथाकालाध्या(सिभिः)
१३. तापोवनिकैर्व्वा य(था नि)बद्धस्य विघातो न कार्यः
१४. एवमभिश्रावितो यो (न्यथा) कुर्यात्समहापताकैस्स(ह)
१५. (नर)के वसेत्‌ एवं (यथा)वधरणया मध्य(स्थैः)
१६. पुण्यभाक्‌ (त्वं भावि) तमिति उक्तं च
१७. (स्वदत्तां परदत्तां वा) यत्नाद्रक्ष युधिष्ठिर
१८. (महीं महीवतां श्रेष्ठ) दानाच्छ्रेयोनुपालनम्

i.e. The feet of Devi are natural red. By anger it has become more red. By this phenomenon the beauty of लाक्षारस i.e. a kind of red dye largely used by women in ancient times as an article of decoration especially for the soles of the feet and lips, was immensely enhanced. Her jewelled anklet clashed with the high angle of the horn of Mahisãsura and it tinkled. This tinkling contained the internal roaring. When that foot was placed on the buffalo, the daityas perceived her as another Yamarãja seated on the buffalo because of the red foot becoming more red like a red dye due to her anger and roaring. That red foot of the Devi may destroy your enemies.

In this shloka Bãnabhatta mentions the Devi’s foot placed on a buffalo. This is the special characteristic of this image of Mundesvari. Bãnabhatta has reconciled this placing of Devi’s foot on a buffalo with her usual picture of killing Mahishãsura with a difficult poetic imagery.
This entire area has been called Chandikãyatana by Bãnabhatta. When he was going from his native place Pritikuta on the bank of the river Sona to meet Harshavardhana who was camping in an a cantonment across the Ganga, he had travelled through this area. He has given a graphic description of the Chandikãyatana forest. In this area he had stayed at night with his relation at Mallakuta. Thereafter he resumed the journey the next day and after crossing the Ganga met the emperor Harsha in an army camp. This Chandikãyatana is mentioned in the drama ‘Kaumidi-mahotsava’ also, which was composed by Vijjaka.
Now a question arises whether there is any mention of Mundeshvari Mandir in any shãkta text showing it as a Shakti-pitha. There is an emphatic positive reply. In his famous book ‘The Shãkta Pithas’ D.C. Sircar has quoted several pithas from the fourth ‘patala’ of the text ‘Brihannila’ and ‘Prãna-toshini Tantra.’ He has quoted the following verse which indicates that at the Mandalesvara-pitha there was an idol of Mundakesvari Shivã i.e. Parvati.

In the Kaimur area caves are still called कोट and thus माकोट means a cave of the mother. The very mention that Mundakesvari Shivã stays at the Mandalesvara-pìtha' leaves no doubt that it is our Mundesvarì temple which is a Shaktipìtha.

माकोटास्ये महाकोटः शिवा च मुण्डकेश्वरी।

मण्डलेश्वरपीठे च शङ्करः खाण्डवी शिवा।।

The word Mundesvarí is variously derived from Mandalesvara, Mundakesvari or Mundesvarí i.e. the goddess of the Mundas. But the suggestion that she was the goddess of the daitya Munda, the brother of Chanda is not tenable because their main contention that Chanda and Munda lived in this part of the country and the fight took place somewhere in the vicinity is fallacious because Durga’s fight with Chanda and Munda took place somewhere on the Himalya mountain. It is quite evident from this sloka of the Durgasapta-shati:-

ददृशुस्ते ततो देवीमीषद्धासां व्यवस्थिताम्‌।
सिंहस्योपरि शैलेन्द्रशृङ्‌गे महति काञ्‌चने॥ (VII.3)

(B) Content of the Mundesvarí edict

In 1892 the right half part of a fragmented inscription was found from the site and the remaining left half portion of the inscription was discovered in 1902, while clearing the debris around the temple. The two pieces of the inscription were sent to Indian Museum, Calcutta where they were joined together and placed on a masonry pedestal in the inscription gallery of the museum. The edict measures 2’8"x 1’1" and contains 18 lines of a well-written document. But because of its breaking in the middle and withering away at few places in the flanks some letters of the inscription have been missing. However, scholars have tried to restructure the text and despite disagreement in the interpretation of the text there is not much variance in the content of the edict except in the 11th and 16th lines.
The content of the text of the edict was known to T. Bloch who briefly mentioned it in his annual archaeological report 1902-03. But Prof. R.D. Banerji was the first scholar who deciphered the inscription in 1908. Prof. Banerji presumed the 30th year of the unspecified era to be the Harsha era and, therefore, he assigned 636 A.D. as its date. The text prepared by Prof. Banerji and its translation was published in Epigraphia India Vol. IX,1907-08. However, there were many shortcomings in the reading of the text as made by Prof. Banerjee in 1907-08. It was Mr. Majumdar who made a far better reading of the text and after detailed scrutiny of the edict he took the 30th year of the unspecified era to be the Gupta era and fixed its date as 349 A.D. mainly on the basis of epigraphic evidences. The text with detailed notes and analysis by Mr.Majumdar was published in February, 1920 edition of Indian Antiquery. It was Mr. Majumdar who declared in crystal clear terms that the Mundesvarì script is written in Sama-koniya Brahmi (right angle) script which is not seen in the country after 500 A.D. During the Harsha period, it was nyuna-koniya (acute) script which is different from right angle script. Thereafter many scholars, notably Krishna Chandra Panigrahi, G. S. Gai and Thakur Prasad Verma, have discussed the text at length. On 4th April, 08 we held a national seminar on the text of the edict and Mr. M.N. Katti made certain valuable suggestions in the seminar. After making an analysis of all the readings and discussions on the subject by scholars I am producing, for the first time, a complete reading of the text by interposing letters in the gaps. An English translation of the resurrected text as well as a detailed discussion on the topic, too, is provided.

कोपेनैवारुणत्वं दधदधिकतराऽलक्ष्यलाक्षारसश्रीः

श्लिष्यत्तुङ्गाग्रकोणं क्वणितमणितुलाकोटिहुङ्कारगर्भः।

प्रत्यासन्नात्ममृत्युः प्रतिभयमसुरैरीक्षितो हन्त्यरीन्‌ वः
पादो देव्याः कृतान्तोपर इव महिषस्योपरिष्टान्निष्टः

Recent publication

Published on the eve of the centenary celebration of the creation of the State of Bihar

Mundesvarí Mandir
(The oldest, recorded temple in the country)

Mundesvarí Edict of 108 A.D.
Leading article by Acherya Kishore Kunal


Mundesvarí Mandir at Kaimur hills is the oldest, recorded, living temple site in the country. The temple stands on the summit of an ancient hill at a height of 604 ft. from the sea level near village Ramgarh, 11 km. south-west of Bhabhua, now a district headquarter of the Kaimur district in Bihar. It is 215 km. far from Patna and only 60 km from Varanasi. The spiritual environment in and around the temple at the summit of the hill appears celestial and the deity is perceived to fulfill all wishes of the pilgrims who come at her door. This is the reason that devotees have been thronging in thousands to the temple for centuries uninterruptedly, though it is situated at a very high level and was in ruins for a long period. In fact when the Daniel Brothers (Thomas and William)(actually ancle and nephew) visited the temple in 1790 A.D. and made a realistic painting of the temple, it appeared in utter ruins. In 1810 A.D. although Francis Buchanan could not himself visit the temple because of the difficult terrain, he sent a painter who drew certain pictures which throw light on the then existing temple.

The temple is built entirely of stones and octagonal in plan, 40’ in diameter externally and 20’ internally. There is no ancient octagonal temple now intact in the country. On scrutiny by us, it is found that the temple was built on the shri-yantra and therefore it is unique in the sub-continent with a great element of spirituality around it. The main sanctum is intact but the ‘shikhar’ and adjoining structure collapsed long ago probably due to the natural calamity or decay. Mundesvarí Mandir is the earliest specimen of the Nagar style of temple architecture. Although this distinct Nagar style was developed in Magadh at and around Pataliputra, such specimens are rare even in Bihar. Inside the temple in the centre there is a Shivalinga with four faces in all four directions. This Chaturmukha Mahadeva measures 3’9" in height. He has been called Mandalesvara in the inscription and Gomibhata dedicated 500 gold coins to him for the performance of rituals, submission of rice offerings to the deity and uninterrupted lighting of lamp in the temple till the existence of the sun and the moon. Though Mandalesvara Mahadeva was presiding deity in this temple in the beginning; Mundesvarí Bhavani's blessings have been more invoked by the devotees in the temple for centuries. She is not in situ i.e. at her original place. She is now located in the adjoining chamber east of Chaturmukha Mahadeva in the main sanctum. Once the temple had four entrances facing the four faces of Chaturmukha Mahadeva. In the eastern side, there are two big stone vessels which were probably kept for offerings. They are now kept between the idol of Mundesvarí and the eastern entrance which is closed for ever because one stone column has been erected to support the roof which was cast at the time of the renovation and restoration around 1900 A.D.

Many historians have suggested that there was a porch attached with this shrine. In1902 when T. Bloch visited the temple some pillars in ruins were seen by him. Bloch reported that these pillars were probably parts of a porch which was attached with the ‘eastern’ entrance. Here Bloch was confused because of the दिग्भ्रान्ति i.e. the wrong notion of the direction. It was really in the southern direction. In 1913 when Mr. Blakiston visited the site, there was no semblance of the construction of any porch because of the complete clearance of debris. In Buchanan’s report it was an open hall with 8 pillars supporting the super structure. Many have termed it as a porch. But a porch is no part of any temple architecture. Our intense inspection of the site indicates that it was the sanctum of the Goddess Mundesvarí. It is confirmed from the fact that the traces of the exact base of the image are found in the erroneously called porch. On the eve of the collapse of this sanctum of Mundesvarí, the devotees shifted her near Chaturmukha Mahadeva.
The image of Mundesvarì is not typical of the familiar image of Mahisãsurmardinì because in typical image she is represented in the act of killing Mahishasura with weapons whereas here she is riding the demon in shape of a buffalo. Though the name of Mundesvarí does not find mention in the inscription, yet the image seems to be quite ancient because of its unusual feature.

It appears that the great Sanskrit poet Bãnabhatta, whose native place Pritikuta was in the vicinity, had visited the temple and had an occasion to have the darshan of this mahisha-vahini Durga who is usually in the act of killing the demon Mahishãsura. Only then he reconciled the two with a far fetched imagination in the following shloka of the Chandi-shatakam:-