Ever since Pakistan has been carved out of India on religious lines, as a minority, Hindus living over there have been subjected to several discomforts leading to a repressive lifestyle. A nation where Islamic extremists can conveniently persecute minorities under their discriminatory blasphemy laws, one might imagine the hapless state of religious freedom where 95% of existing temples have been either reduced to rubble or converted into commercial/residential properties or madrasas. One Babri demolition in India can cause International media frenzy, but the systematic and barbarous elimination of entire Hindu culture in Pakistan is averted charmingly by the media stalwarts. They however scoot towards China when local Muslims are forced to eat pork and drink alcohol to show their loyalty to communists who consider Islam a mental illness.  

A woman wailing at the site of destructed temple in Pakistan

Some of the religious sites of Hinduism in Pakistan, for our surprise, have managed to survive despite the atrocious nature of the state. One such temple, Hinglaj Devi Mandir (described as Agneya Teertha in Shastras), is located at Pakistan-Afghanistan border in a cave of Aghor mountain in Balochistan’s Lasbela district. One of the Shakti Peethas dedicated to goddess Sati, consort of Lord Shiva, the name Hinglaj has been derived from Hingula, the Sanskrit variant of vermilion. In Devi Bhagvat Purana, an ancient sacred text in Sanskrit comprising the conversation between Himalaya and Devi (the Divine Mother), this pilgrimage has been termed Hingulaya Mahasthanam by Devi herself when the former asks about her most beloved places.

Hinglaaj Devi Mandir from outside

Shiva, Sati, Daksha and Shakti Peethas

Enamored by Shiva’s charm, Sati – the daughter of Daksha Prajapati, had decided to marry the Lord of lords going against her father’s wishes. Inclined towards luxuries and an opulent lifestyle, Daksha despised Shiva who was attuned to live far away from the materialistic world and completely detached from worldly pleasures, being an Aghori that he was. Daksha was highly miffed when his daughter ended up marrying the man he never liked, and his hatred reached new heights when in a yajna (fire sacrifice) conducted by Brahma, Shiva didn’t stand up to show reverence upon his arrival whereas all other deities and kings stood up offering veneration. Daksha took it as an insult of highest degree and pledged revenge for this act.

Soon after this event, Daksha organized a grand yajna inviting all of the important figures except Shiva and Sati, deliberately. Invalidating the issues around not getting any official invitation, Sati went to attend the yajna as it was being organized by her father. She requested Shiva to attend the ceremony with her, but he denied stating that it was totally inappropriate for him since he wasn’t asked for. Upon reaching the venue she tried to meet her family, but Daksha snubbed her and started humiliating his own daughter in front of everyone. He didn’t stop and begin badmouthing for her husband openly where guests were sitting sheepishly and witnessed the emotional break down of Sati. Unable to bear further pain of harassment inflicted by her own father, Sati immolated herself by entering into the sacrificial fire.

Infuriated by the news of Sati’s suicide and her mortification, Shiva reached the ceremonial venue adopting the avatar of Veerbhadra and destroyed everything in between, even beheading Daksha. He took the mortal remains of Sati and commenced Tandava despondently which was eventually stopped by Lord Vishnu after he dismembered Sati’s corpse in multiple parts using his Chakra.

The places on earth where Sati’s body parts scattered are called Shakti Peethas and hold immense religious significance among the followers of Hinduism. Hinglaj temple is the place where her Brahmarandhra (top of the head) fell.

As a Kuldevi (family deity)

It is believed that when Parashuram was eliminating Kshatriyas to avenge his father’s death, some of them were protected by Brahmins and given shelter in their hermitages which were blessed by Hinglaj Devi. Descendants of these people who survived Parashuram’s wrath were later called Brahmakshatriya and consider her as their Kuldevi.

According to another legend, Maharshi Dadhichi provided shelter to the sons of Ratnasena, king of Sindh who was killed by Parashuram, in his hermitage and concealed their identity while presenting them as Brahmins. One of the sons, having being protected by Hinglaj Devi’s mantra, reclaimed his lost kingdom and ensured the safety of his progeny.

Having a vast majority of ancient folk tales, many castes worship her as a family deity and have established temples in different parts of India, viz., Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra etc.

Her connection with Varanasi

Long ago when Aghoracharya Baba Keenaram, a venerated figure in Aghor tradition, was undertaking deep tapasya in the proximity of Hinglaj Devi temple, a mysterious woman used to visit him daily, offering foods. Out of curiosity, one day he asked the lady to reveal her identity otherwise he won’t be able to accept her offerings. Finally introducing herself, Hinglaj Devi instructed Baba Keenaram to go to Kreem Kund in Varanasi where her yantra has been erected in a cavern structure. Kreem Kund, also known as Baba Keenaram Sthal, has immeasurable importance for the followers of Shaivism, Shaktism and Vaishnavism collectively.

Yantra of Hinglaaj Devi at Kreem Kund in Varanasi

Bibi Nani of local Muslims

The idol which is worshiped here is a formless rock smeared with vermilion. This shrine is also revered by some local Muslims who call Hinglaj Devi ‘Bibi Nani’ and its pilgrimage ‘Nani Ki Haj’. People of Balochistan, who are more close to India than Pakistan, have incessantly protected this temple from being destructed by the hardcore Islamists.

Local Muslims procession of Bibi Nani ki Haj