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Yogini – Divine Attendant of Goddess Kali and Bhairava Shiva – About Yoginis

Yogini, or Yoginis, are the divine female attendants of Goddess Kali and Bhairava form of Shiva. The exact count of the yoginis differs from scripture to scripture. The most popular belief is they are eight, twelve, sixty four or sixty five. The concept of Sixty Four Yoginis or Chausath Yoginis is very popular in eastern parts of India especially in Orissa.

Two of the popular temples dedicated to Chausath Yoginis are located at Hirapur near Bhubaneswar and at Ranipur-Jharial in Bolangir District in Orissa.

The Yoginis are worshipped to attain supernatural powers. As per tradition, the 64 Yoginis served Goddess Kali and the Bhairav form of Shiva. Yoginis were part of the battles waged by Goddess Kali to restore Dharma.

Srimad Bhagavad Purana refers to the Yoginis as the functionaries of the Devi – Mother Goddess.
Yoginis are different from Saptamatrikas or the seven divine mother goddesses. Yoginis belong to a class of subsidiary deities who were associated with the Mother Shakti (Durga or Kali) as her attendants. Some the terms used in Hindu scriptures to describe them are Akshobhya, Rakshakarni, Rakshasi, Divyayogi, Siddha Yogi and Mahayogi.

It must be noted here that each Matrikas worshipped in Hinduism especially in Tantric cults have her own group of Yoginis as her attendants.

Yoginis were worshipped from Bharoch in Gujarat to Hirapur in Orissa to Kamakhya in Assam. Thus, the worship covered the entire central and eastern parts of India. Towards north the worship extended till Delhi which was then known as Yoginipur.

Yoginis were popularly known for their magical powers and were a favorite of Tantrics and therefore part of Tantric rituals.

In the famous Kamakhya temple in Assam, during daily worship, the 64 Yoginis are invoked. Their names are called one by one during the puja.

It is believed that the Natha Gurus were exponents of the cult. Matsyendranath is said to have systematized the Yogini cult.

Characteristics of Yoginis

  • The yoginis possess destructive powers. Kind towards her children who follow Dharma but destructive without mercy towards those who follow Adharma.
  • Their form is of mother deity.
  • Some Yoginis have face of animal or body of woman. Like Yogini Kalyani has the face of a cow. Some Yoginis have face of buffalo or of horse.
  • All Yoginis have Vahanas or vehicles, which are mostly animals.

Some of rare Yoginis

  • Umadevi – this is a parrot-faced deity with a boar-faced child seated on her lap. Her vahana or vehicle is a bear. This murti was disvovered from Naresar located around 15 kms from Gwalior.
  • Yogini Vainayaki is an elephant-headed Yogini. Her vehicle or vahana is a large mouse.
  • Sasakanana is a rabbit faced Yogini. It was discovered from Hinglajgarh. This yogini has the face of a rabbit and sits with yogapatta or meditation band around her knees. Her murti is depicted with small rabbits peeping out from each end of her seat.
  • Sarpasya is a snake-faced Yogini. A large snake hood is placed behind a female head. She is sitting with one leg on her Vahana which is an elephant and with a snake at the other end of her slab.