Incarnation of Hinglaj
|Other names||Riddhi Bai|
|Affiliation||Charans and Rajputs|
|Abode||Western Rajasthan(Marwar and Bikaner)|
|Mount||Lion and flanked by eagle|
|Parents||Meha ji Charan & Deval Bai|
|Spouse||Depa ji Charan|
Karni Mata (Hindi: करणी माता or Maa Karni or Karniji;) (Karni Mata is also referred to as Mehaai) (c. 2 October 1387 – c. 23 March 1538,) was a female Hindu warrior sage born in the Charan caste. Also known as Shri Karniji Maharaj, she is worshiped as the incarnation of the warrior goddess Hinglaj by her followers. She is an official deity of the royal families of Jodhpur and Bikaner. She lived an ascetic life and was widely revered during her own lifetime. At the request of the Maharajas of Bikaner and Jodhpur, she laid the foundation stones of Bikaner Fort and Mehrangarh Fort, the two most important forts in the region. The most famous of her temples is in the small town of Deshnoke, near Bikaner in Rajasthan, and was created following her mysterious disappearance from her home. The temple is famous for its rats locally known as kabas, which are treated as sacred and given protection in the temple. Another temple dedicated to her during her lifetime differs from others in that it does not contain an image or idol of her, but rather a footprint to symbolize her visit to that place. Karni Mata is also known as "dadhi wali dokri" or Dadhali ("beard bearing old lady"). Karni Mata laid the foundation stone of Mehrangarh fort during reign of Rao Jodha. By the orders of her, Rao Jodha's son Rao Bika founded new city Bikaner (state at that time).
According to tradition, Karni Mata (Riddhi Bai) was daughter of Meha ji, residing at Suwap village. And she was married to Depa ji Charan, residing in the village of Sathika. However, she later expressed unwillingness to her husband to engage in conjugal relations. He initially humoured her, thinking that she would relent in time. Instead, Karni arranged for him to marry her younger sister, Gulab, so that he might have a proper married life. She herself remained celibate all her life with the agreement and support of her husband, who died in 1454.
Maa Karni lived in her husband's village for about two years before leaving with her followers and a herd of cattle, to live a nomadic life. She and her followers once made camp at the village of Jangloo. A servant of Rao Kanha who was ruler of Jangloo denied Karni, her followers, and their cattle access to water. Karni Mata declared her follower, Rao Ridmal of Chandasar, the new ruler of the village and continued on her journey. Karni Mata stopped wandering further and settled at village, near Bikaner - Deshnok.
Once a devotee Jagadu or Jhagdu Shah, a trader was sailing in sea, and was stuck in sea storm. Then he called Maa Karni from his small ship, and was helped while she was milking cow at her home. And get him reached Porbandar port. After reaching safely, Jagadu shah came to Maa Karni for thanksgiving her kindness, and told his wish to construct temple. Then Karni Mata told him to construct temple at Porbandar as Harsiddhi temple.
Once upon a time her favorite son Lakhan (son of her sister Gulab Bai) went to nearby village Kolayat in yearly kartik fair with friends, but was drowned in Kapil Sarovar, and died. When she saw her body, and her sister started crying, then she took her body in room and locked herself. And came out with alive son. People assume that she fought with Dharmraj, Lord of death and told her that from that time, her descendants will become kabas (rat) after death, and kabas will become human after death, respectively. So the temple of Deshnok is also famous as temple of kabas.
In 1453, she gave her blessing to Rao Jodha of Jodhpur for conquering Ajmer, Merta and Mandor. In 1457, she went to Jodhpur at Rao Jodha's request, to lay the cornerstone of the Mehrangarh Fort at Jodhpur.
Her first temple was constructed in the village of Mathania during her lifetime by her follower Amara Charan. In 1472, she arranged the marriage between Rao Bika and Rang Kunwar. Rao Bika was the fifth son of Rao Jodha, and Rang Kunwar was the daughter of Rao Shekha of Pungal. The marriage was arranged to turn the enmity of the Rathore and Bhati families into friendship.
In 1485, she laid the foundation stone of the fort of Bikaner at the request of Rao Bika.
In 1538, Karniji went to visit the Maharaja of Jaisalmer.
On 21 March 1538, she travelled back to Deshnok with her son (son of Gulab Bai), Poonjar, and a few other followers. They were near Gadiyala and Girirajsar of the Kolayat tehsil, in Bikaner district, when she asked the caravan to stop for water. It was reported that she disappeared there at the age of 151 years.
Karni Mata temples
The first temple of Karni Mata was built by Amarji Barath, who received Mathania as a Jagir from the ruler of Marwar, Rao Jodha. Karni Mata stopped at Mathania and gave her padukaayein to be placed inside the temple, which is still worshipped by the population, specially the lineage of Amar Ji Barath, called Amarawat. The ancient existence of Mathania run parallel to the founding stone of the Mehrangarh Fort.
The most famous temple dedicated to Karni Mata is at Deshnoke, 30 km from Bikaner. It is also known as the Temple of Rats.
Another temple dedicated to Karni Mata is Shri Manshapurna Karni Mata Temple or Karni Mata, Udaipur, located on the Machla Hills, near Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Park in Udaipur, Rajasthan. One can reach to the temple either by stairs, starting from Manikyalal Verma Park, or by ropeway.
Between the years 1620 and 1628, Maharana Karan Singh developed a residential area at Machla Magra for Udaipur's safety. It was during this time that the Karni Mata Temple was built. Though for a long period the temple was deserted, in 1997 the Shri Manshapurna Karni Mata Development Committee rebuilt it.
A further temple dedicated to Karni Mata is located in the historical city of Alwar, Rajasthan. It is situated in the heart of city, near the Sagar Palace and Bala Qila.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Karni Mata.|
- Camel festival
- Explanation of Karni (Karniji)
- Read Details about Karni Mata Temple
- National Geographic News: Rats Rule at Indian Temple
- Deshnok Temple A three-minute video news report on Karni Mata, aka the "Bagwati Karniji" temple in Deshnoke, Rajasthan. Accessed 10 August 2007.