Puranic Account of Goddess Biraja
Biraja Kṣetra Jajpur, the sacred abode of Goddess Biraja registered its importance as a prominent seat of Śakti worship since the prehistoric period. Goddess Biraja, the presiding deity of Jajpur has glorious antiquity. She is perhaps the most ancient Goddess, the Śakti or primordial energy incarnate of the Hindu pantheon, Goddess Biraja is worshipped and adored not only as Ādiśkti or primeval power but forms an integral part of the social, religious and cultural life of the people of Odisha.
The glory of Goddess Biraja has been endorsed in various texts starting from the age of the epics, purāṇas, Sthalamahātmyas and Tantric works. The Biraja Kṣetra mahātmya, which is considered as a part of Brahmaṇḍa purāṇa enumerates the origin of Goddess Biraja. It states that the days of yoke Brahma (the creator of the Universe) performed a yajna or Vedic sacrifice on the bank of the sacred river Vaitaraṇī. At the invocation of Brahma, Goddess Parvati or the AdiŚakti emerged out of the Garhapatya fire of the sacrificial pit. Being move by her prayers, Parvati instructed Brahma to name her as Biraja. She appeared in the form of two armed Mahiṣāmardinī tramphing on the neck of the theriomorphic form of the buffalo demon and piercing the trident into his body politic. She was entreated by Brahma to glorify the Kṣetra by her presence as the devine consort of Siva. When she occupied her position the circum centre of the triangular Kṣetra (region), Nine Durgās, Eight Candikās, and Sixty four Yoginīs were created from her mind and their pervading presence made this land a unique Śakti Kṣetra in the country.
The perimeter of the Biraja Kṣetra is triangular in form. The apex of the triangular region or the extreme points extends in the western, South-eastern and North-eastern by direction and those corners are guarded by the Siva lingams like Uttarsvar/Vilvesvara, Varuṇesvara and Kilalatesvara respectively. They are regarded as the guardian deities of the Kṣetra. The presiding deity goddess Biraja adored the cicumcentre of this triangular region.
In the medieval period almost all the ancient Tirthas were converted into pīṭhas in the name of some Gods or Goddesses and so became the abode of Goddess Biraja. Therefore Biraja Tīrtha and Biraja Kṣetra became famous as Biraja pīṭha. Pīṭha has a Tantric commotation of a place where an sādhaka achieves his goal through penance, austerities and Tantric rites near the presiding Goddess, from the Dakṣa-yajna-vidhvamsana-prakaraṇa of Kālikā purāṇa, it is known that the places where the limbs of Sati, the consort of Siva fell were called Śākta-pīṭhas, or the holy seats of mother Goddess. According to this tradition the ‘Navel’ of sati fell at Biraja Kṣetra and this place became known as Nabhipīṭha or Nābhigayā in the tantric tradition. So Goddess Biraja is regarded as the pīṭha Devi of this Śakti pīṭha.
The tantric texts contain the names of such pīṭhas with pīṭha Devis. The Biraja pīṭha is mentioned in the ‘pīṭhanirṇaya’ which mentions fifty one pīṭhas along with pīṭha Devis and Bhairavas accompanying them. From the tantric texts it appears that Biraja pīṭha was a great śākta pīṭha and goddess Biraja has been adored as the pīṭha Devi of Odisha with lord Jagannāth as Bhairava, Tantric texts like Hevajra tantra, Kālikā purāṇa, Rudrayāmaḷa Tantra, Aṣṭadasa pīṭha, Kubjikā Tantra, Tantrasāra, Jñānārṇava tantra, Tantra Cudāmaṇi, Uddīyāṇa Tantra, Candīmangaḷa, Brihannila Tantra, praṇatosiṇī tantra etc, mention about Biraja pīṭha too. The Buddhist work named Daṭhadhatuvamsa mentions about Biraja pīṭha also.
According to puranic tradition Goddess Biraja is described as ‘Pitṛīkanya’ or the mental child of the ancestral mānas, keeping the line of this tradition Vāyu purāṇa and viṣṇu purāṇa state that Biraja is the mental child of Ājyapā pitṛgaṇas i.e.-
“Ājyapā nāma pitarah karddamasya prajāpateh
Samutpannasya pulahādutpannaṣṭasya vai punah
Lokeṣwetesuvartante kāmagesu bihangamāh
Etanvaisyaganāh śrāddhe Bhāvayanti phalārthinah
Etesām Mānasi kanyā Biraja Nāma Visṛtah
Yayateh janani sadhvi patni sā Nahuṣasya tu “
This kind of description is found in Brahma purāṇa and Linga purāṇa etc. therefore the Hindu devotees from various parts of the country come over here to offer piṇḍas or oblations to their ancestors in the mṛtyunjaya Tīrtha near Nābhigayā and have a Darsan of Goddess Biraja.