Bhaga provides clues about the Evolution of Temple Worship!

The 7th mandala of the Rig Veda, attributed to the Rishi Vasishta contains the mantras to the Devata Bhaga. The Bhagya Suktam, the prayers for prosperity is from the 7th Mandala.  Elaborate Yagya ceremonies such as the Soma Yagya which are rarely performed today includes offerings to the Devata Bhaga in its morning section. Bhagaya Suktam is recited even today in homes before the start of any fire ceremonies in the morning time. Bhaga is the form of the early morning Sun and he is the lord of brilliance. The phrase Bhagavan is derived from the root Bhaga.

We do not find any temple dedicated to this important Devata, nor do we see his form among the multitudes of idols in temples. How did temple culture forget such an important Devatas from the Vedic times?

We hear that the followers of Bhuddha and Mahavira started the practice of chiseling statues to emulate the physical presence of the enlightened masters.  Shakti Peetams, the 54 sites dedicated to the the divine mother serve as examples of centers of worship from times earlier to it. The main deity in these sites is not a sculpted idol. The idols of Devatas who were worshiped at dedicated sites from earlier times - Shakti, Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesha, Shanmukha and Surya - must have been the first to be sculpted out of the synthesis of pre and post Bhuddhist ideas of worship.

The mantras of other Devatas such as Bhaga appear to have been carefully inserted into different temple rituals. Temple priests recite the Bhagya Suktam everyday in the morning while opening the temple doors. It is an appropriate replacement for the offering which Devata Bhaga received at the start of the morning Yagya from the Vedic times?

Watch the short clip explaining why Rishi's assigned Bhagha to a segment of the sky named as the Uttara Phalguni Nakshatra. For clips on other Nakshatras click here