"Chamunda should be with sunken eyes, three eyed, without flesh and reduced to skeleton, having hairs shooting upwards, sunken belly, wearing the skin of an elephant, holding a pattisa and a decapitated head in her two left hands and a spear and a sword in her two right hands, seated on a corpse and adorned with a garland of skulls."
-Agni Puran (50, 21-23)
"The ladies of these Places
Bestow siddhis upon practitioners,
They always come at night,
They always go at night.
It was the night of Kartika amavasya, the forest was silent as it sensed a lone female figure walking with firm determined steps. She was tall and lean,very lean, and held a rod in one hand and a kamandal in another. The kamandal was brimming with a liquid, under the dim light one couldn't tell whether it was holy water or blood. Far away, a pack of jackals howled. She was unmoved and strode on gracefully, a single piece of red cloth covered her thin frame. A clearing appeared in the middle of the forest and under the star-light one could vaguely make out the grey silhouette of a circular stone structure, it was the Chausathi Yogini Temple. A stone mandal formed by the 64 matrikas, embodying different forms of subtle sound vibrations. After years of tapasya, today the Yogini would make the 64 matrikas manifest themselves and impart her their energies, today she would attain all the siddhis.....
In Odisha Tantra vidya was known to have been popular from 6th century A.D. which marked the beginning of decline of Buddhism. However some scholars believe that Hindu and Buddhist Tantrism and the Shakti cult all have a common source in antiquity. Many Tantric texts connected with Shakti worship were composed during this period. Many Shakti temples were constructed and devis were worshiped in their myriads of forms. Side by side the cults of Matrikas and Yoginis also evolved in various parts of Odisha.
Hevajra Tantra (Tantric Buddhism/Vajrayana Buddhism) known to have been compiled in 7th century A.D. mentioned four important Tantra pithas of India namely Jalandhara, Oddiyana, Purnagri and Kamarupa. Of these four, two pithas have been assigned to Orissa. Oddiyana pitha of Orissa was the fountain head of all Trantric knowledge since early time. Pushpagiri too was a major centre. The four early pithas of Tantrism proliferated into one hundred and eight pithas later. In an inscription of 12th century A.D. of Maharashtra there is mention about Mahayogesvari Ugrachamunda as the presiding deity of the sixty four Yoga pithas (Patel).
In Odisha we find innumerable sculptural pantheons of Yogini deities. Yoginis are feminine divinities. They are also called Matrikas. They also personify different forms of subtle energies. Master female practitioner of Yoga, more often Tantric Yoga is also called a Yogini. Their number of divine Yoginis was initially seven or eight but subsequently their number increased to sixty four and got mingled with Tantric cult and rituals. The Markandeya Purana refers to seven Matrikas.
The word Matrika is derived from the Sanskrit word, Mantra or formula which are the basis of all forms of creation. In Yoga, mantra corresponds to the sound formula that which is a verbal expression of an archetype that represents a state of being i.e.a divinity and allows that divine being to be summoned.
According to Hevajra Tantra the thirty-two veins of the Hevajra's body are equated with the Yoginis, two for each vein adds up to sixty-four. (Douglas). According to another interpretation (Singh), the symbolic 64 is a product of 8 directions and the replication of each one in ashtha-mandala, 8 points of the cosmic circle. The number 8 (matrikas/mother goddesses) symbolise the condensation (sankoch) of cosmic rhythm which on expansion (purna vikas) gives rise to 64 matrikamandal.
Among all symbols, the circle is the purest and the simplest, both in form and concept. It may represent the Sun, the Eye, Zodiac and many other things on heaven and Earth, but ultimately it represents the cyclic eternity and the One source of it all.
Since ancient times, a circle has been used to mark the boundaries of a sacred space. The Agni Purana lists nine types of circular temples.
The circle also represents a chakra used for specialized tantrik rituals. In the Yogini Tantra, images of various yoginis are placed within a circle to form a Yogini chakra or a Yogini Temple.
In Orissa, two Chausath Yogini temples survive. One is at Ranipur Jharial in Bolangir district and the other one at Hirapur in Khurda district. The Ranipur Jharial circular Yogini temple belongs to 7th Century A.D. while the Hirapur yogini temple may be dated to 8th/9th century A.D.