Rajasthan, one of the fine-looking and peculiar states of India has quite a lot of gorgeous views, temples and places to cherish. One can spot gigantic knolls and fine-looking lakes here. Generally, most evenings of Rajasthan are bejeweled with fables of gallantry and convention of Rajasthan. In this article, let me share something about a gorgeous yet strange temple known as “The Karni Mata temple” at Deshnok in Bikaner, Rajasthan. Karni Mata temple is placed about 30 km from Bikaner city in Rajasthan. This temple is devoted to a former 15th century spiritualist who was well thought-out to be a re-embodiment of Hindu deity Durga Matha. The exceptionality of Karni Matha temple is the swarm of brown rats which scamper around the temple complex devoid of trepidation. These rats are assumed to be storehouses of the spirits of deceased “Charans” who are celebrated for their fictitious establishments and dedication to the divinity. Devotees visit Karni Matha temple twice a year at the time of “Nav Ratra” to pay their reverence to Karni Mata.
Life History of Karni Matha:
Karni Mata, the 7th daughter of “Mehoji Charan” and “Deval Devi”, was born on October 2nd, 1387 in a village named ‘Suwap’ in Jodhpur region of Rajasthan. The original name of Karni Matha was “Ridhubai”. Ridhubai treated and cured her aunt phenomenally from an enduring disease when she was just 6 years old. Hence, her aunt named her as “Karni” which means an “Amazing woman”. From that time onwards, Ridhubai was known by the name Karni. The word ‘Mata’ means “mother”. Mata is an honor that’s generally offered to old religious women in India. Thus, the name Karni Matha originated. Karni was married at a very young age to “Dipoji Charan” who belonged to Sathika village. Nevertheless, Karni articulated her reluctance to involve herself in marital relationship to her husband. In the beginning, her husband did not pay attention to her decision as he believed that she might change her mind over a period of time. Alternatively, Karni made her husband marry her own sister “Gulab” in order to give her husband a good matrimonial life. Even then, Karni still remained in harmony with her husband for her whole life.
With the support of her in-law’s, Karni continued to live in their village for about 2 years. Later, she started to travel with her supporters and a flock of farm animals to survive a peripatetic life by camping at the end of the day. While she was camping at the Jangloo village, an employee of “Rao Kanha”, the emperor of the village, disagreed to give the access to water for Karni’s followers and farm animals. Owing to this incident, Karni Mata affirmed her admirer “Rao Ridmal” of Chandasar as the new monarch of Jangloo village and moved on with her voyage. Later, Karni Mata put an end to her voyage and lived in Deshnok. In the year 1453, Karni offered her blessings to “Rao Jodha” of Jodhpur for winning cities including Merta, Mandor and Ajmer. Around 1457, Karni reached Jodhpur as per the request of Rao Jodha to place the foundation stone at the Jodhpur fort.
At some stage in her existence, Karni’s foremost temple was built in the Mathania village by one of her devotee “Amara Charan”. Around 1485, Karni placed the cornerstone of the Bikaner owing to the appeal of “Rao Bika”. Later in 1538, Karni Matha reached Jaisalmer to visit the Maharaja. On March 21st 1538, while travelling back to Deshnok with her supporters and devotees, Karni Matha requested the group to make a stopover to satisfy the thirst for water. So, the group stopped in the vicinity of Girirajsar & Gadiyala in Bikaner region. Suddenly, Karni Matha disappeared from there. She was believed to disappear at the age of one hundred and fifty one.
The Exquisite Architectural spectacle of Karni Matha temple:
The beautiful temple of Karni Mata is placed in the middle of a fine-looking quad. The Karni Mata temple is basically a marble & stone structure that is known as a “Madh”. The borders of the temple are soaring with 4 festooned pillars. Maharaja Ganga Singh, the emperor of Bikaner constructed the entire Karni Matha temple in marbles with splendid architectural and imaginative designs. The temple domes of are made of gold and silver. Also, the panels and Manadaps of the temple are made up of gold. The intricate architecture and embellishments on the temple main gate is a mark of respect to the excellent craftsmanship of the artisans who belong to ancient times. In the interior part of the temple, the icon (75 mm) of Karni Mata that is ornamented with a crown (mukut) and wreath is established. The image of Karni Matha is escorted by other images of her sisters as well.
Religious practices at Karni Matha Temple:
As a religious practice, the Rajputs bring their kids to this temple on their primary hair cut and make them seek the blessings at the feet of Karni Matha. The Charan priests will carry out the “Mangla-Ki-Aarti” and offer “bhog” to the devotees as the special prasad after the aarthi.
Whole host of Rats around the temple:
A strange aspect of Karni Mata temple temple is the crowd of brown rats which wander all over the temple in huge numbers. Even though they give the impression of rats, these creatures are not rats as such. They are called “Kabas”. Nevertheless, the stupendous truth is that, these Kabas are not dangerous. They amuse people in the temple without troubling the devotees. The devotees believe that these Kabas are the heavenly spirit and blessings of the deity. The splendor of these Kabas is that, in spite of being numerous, they never depart the temple’s precincts at any time. Devotees who visit the temple will offer grains, sweets and milk to these rats at the time to Mangla aarti. These brown rats are well thought-out to be propitious and so the devotees will make offerings to them regularly. In fact, getting a sight of a white mouse is assumed as an auspicious sign. It is said that that the “Maharaja of Bikaner” had a reverie in which the deity told him to defend the rats. Hence, a bronze ‘wire-mesh’ is placed across the Karni Matha temple. The offerings such as sweets, milk, cereals, water, coconuts and fruits are initially offered only to the sacred ‘Kabas’. Later on, they are dispersed to the devotees who take them as a blessed Prasad. More than ever, the water that was consumed by the Kabas is well thought-out to be propitious among the devotees.
Paying attention to the rapid increase in the numbers of Kabas and the defense of these creatures in Karni Mata Temple for over 500 years, the Kabas are believed to boast a closely-controlled growth and pre-programmed livelihood with isolated frontiers. Hence, no erection has been done to the temple and not any employees of the temple have been troubled by any contagion. This is a stunning phenomenon that’s hard to believe!! Until this time and age, nobody knows the way through which these Kabas reproduce. Besides, nobody can spot any newborn rats in this temple. Each and every Kaba are of typical size & weight without getting bigger over a period of time.
Karni Mata Fair:
The unique temple of Karni Mata is not only adored by Rajasthan inhabitants but also respected by devotees from various parts of the nation. At times, even foreigners from different countries also visit Karni Mata temple. Twice a year, a grand Fair is held at Karni Mata at “Deshnok”, a petite township in Bikaner region. A grand fair (1st one) is conducted between the months of March and April at the time of “Navratras” starting from “Chaitra Shukla Ekam” till “Chaitra Shukla Dashmi”. This giant fair creates a center of attraction among hosts of devotees who come here from faraway places. The 2nd fair is conducted between the months of September and October, which is also during the “Navratra” period. This is held from “Ashvin Shukla” till “Ashwin Shukla Dashmi”. On every special occasion (when the devotees wishes gets rewarded), devotees even offer gold and silver to the Karni Mata.
Slowly but surely, the belief and admiration on Karni Mata temple is mounting and countless people have started to visit this temple every year to seek the blessings of this miraculous goddess!!