by Chander M. Bhat
Murran is located within the jurisdiction of Pulwama District. The village
is about two kilometers to the west of Pulwama town. The original name of
Pulwama was Panwangam, which comprised four patties namely Malikpora, Dangeropra,
Chatpora and Dulipora. At some stage, Pulwangam became to be called as Pulgam,
which with the passage of time changed to the present name Pulwama. Two
kilometers to the east, is village Matrigam, the birthplace of renowned
patriotic poet Pirzada Ghulam Ahmad ‘Mahjoor’. There is a hamlet of
Haarpur……..the last abode of ascetic Nidhan Saab nearby. The Natural Scenery
of Murran is very charming. Surrounded on all sides by green pastures,
untrimmed meadows, trees and shrubs and paddy fields, the village breathes a
typical rural atmosphere.
The temple of Brari Maej is situated in the North West of the village in Mohalla
Brarimaejpur. The word Brari has developed from Bhattarika, the
venerated Mother. Bhattarika in Sanskrit means revered or venerated.
Brari Maej is synonymous to Divine Mother Uma. This Temple came into existence
when the Bhat dynasty migrated from village Sumbal to this village in 1775.
S U M B A L ……… A beautiful village in North Kashmir was the birthplace
of the great-grand ancestors of the Bhat dynasty. This village used to be often
submerged during the rainy season. Pandit Bhawani Bhat (1760-1840), a pious and
orthodox person, had a celestial dream, on Magh Ashtami. A diving
effulgence filled his muddy room as the Divine Mother looked affectionately at
Pandit Bhawani Bhat, beckoned him to approach and said: “Your great devotion has
made me happy. The time has come to shift you from this place, as you are
facing a lot of hardships during the rainy season here. Early the next morning,
there will appear a cat in your compound. Pack up your belongings and follow
here and settle down where she will give you an indication. That will be your
next place of settlement but, remember, your seven generations will live at the
new place of settlement with dignity and honour and your eighth generation will
no longer stay here.” The Divine Mother disappeared after revealing the story
to Pandit Bhawani Bhat.
Early next morning, the divine cat appeared in the compound of Pandit Bhawani
Bhat. By that time he had already packed up his little belongings and followed
the cat till both of them reached a village. The Divine Cat gave an indication
to Pt. Bhat by waving the tip of her tail and disappeared. When she was gone, a
small spring emerged on the spot. The spring was afterwards expanded by laying
a single piece of some (Pather Kein) and a temple was built on it. This
was later called Brari Maej (Cat Mother) and an icon of the Divine Mother was
installed by Shri Loket Bhat (1801-1876) in year 1875.
This is a beautiful temple surrounded by mighty chinars all around with a big,
and beautiful spring having crystal clear water having a diameter of about 15
meters. The temple is facing towards the east of the upper bank of the spring.
The spring is attractive at every hour, in every season. Whosoever sits in its
side in a devotional prayer gets entranced and spiritually transformed. Some
years before 1947, a great saint Swami Ramji spent some two decades at Murran.
He was transformed and became a exalted soul. Swami Madhavananda Ji was Swami
Ramji’s contemporary. He came from Varanasi and spent much time practicing Yoga
here. It is said that Adi Shankaracharaya also spent some five years in a
cave behind this temple while practicing different paths of God realization.
The cave still exists in the temple.
Adjacent to the Brari Meaj temple is a Shivalaya dedicated to Lord
Shiva. Behind the main temple, there is a marshy land locally known as Saar.
There are two dharmshalas on the right side of the main entrance built
for the accommodation of the pilgrims, wandering monks, pujaris and other
wayfarers. There are many walnut and almond trees in the premises of this
temple comprising about ten kanals of land. On one side of the marshy
land, there is a breadmushuk (salix caprea) tree, the flowers of which were used
to be procured by us a day before Navrah or Soanth for placing these for
the traditional thaal barun ritual and to have its first glimpse on the morning
of Soanth and the New Year’s Day (Navrah).
The annual Yagna, which also included the cleaning of the spring after
autumn, was performed here. The stock items needed for this purpose were
collected from amongst the villagers, especially the Pandits. The Uma Natak
Mandli used to stage a drama on this occasion. Prior to migration, it was a
routine for the elderly members of the community to perform the daily puja
at the temple.
Many people have experienced spiritual experiences here while many had the
darshan of Goddess Uma. Many have seen the spring in its divine glow at
the dead of night.
One day a cow belonging to Pandit Sarwanand Bhat (1901-1977) did not return from
the pasture and at dusk all the members, excluding the womenfolk, went for its
search. Late in the evening, his wife, Smt. Sampakuj, went herself to search
for the cow. As she reached near the Brari Meaj temple from Devspat
paddy fields (back side of the temple) in her search, to her surprise, she
noticed some little girls all in silk playing in the temple and amongst them was
a most beautiful girl. The atmosphere was so bright that the light reflected
onto her eyes. As she went ahead after giving humble salutations to the Divine
Mother, who was playing with the little girls, she found the cow some yards away
from the temple. She went home with the cow with a gratitude-filled heart.
Prior to partition, all the womenfolk of Murran used to get to the temple very
early in the morning, before the menfolk would go there. It was the tradition
with every woman of the Pandit family to give brandeh fash (cleaning of
the stairs) to their houses early in the morning. The practice was also
applicable to the temples and other sacred places in the Valley and the
womenfolk would vie with each other to perform this sacred act first. One day
Smt. Haarmal, wide of Pandit Zinda Bhat (1876-1917), woke up in the wee hours of
the morning and thought that she was late. Since there were no watches at that
time, she rushed towards the Brari Meaj temple, washed her face and went to the
spot where the liven dul (cleaning pot) was being kept. She put some fresh
water into it and started rubbing the brand. Afterwards she went inside the
temple and paid obeisance to the Divine Mother.
Smt. Haarmal was not aware of the fact that she had come too early. After
leaving the temple, she noticed a little girl all in silk near the gate of the
temple. The girl directed her not to come too early henceforth and
disappeared. She rushed towards her home and told the story to her husband. It
was later disclosed by the elderly persons of the village that the little girl
was no other than the Divine Mother Herself.
In dark nights, under the shade of the chinars, the sacred places present an
atmosphere where one becomes one with God. And in moonlit nights, devotees
experienced something mystic all over in the temple of Brari Maej.