Know about Indian 8th century Yogini idols that found in England? handed over to S Jaishankar

London: External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar on Wednesday presided over a ceremony at India House in London, where two 8th century Yogini idols stolen from a temple in Uttar Pradesh were formally handed over for return to India.

Two stone idols of Yogini Chamunda and Yogini Gomukhi, stolen from the Lokhari temple in Banda district of UP, were found in a garden shed in England.

Noting that “various types of antiquities” had left India illegally, Jaishankar said they were handed back through the efforts and cooperation of law enforcement agencies and the people of the region. The minister said museums and other institutions can help ensure that such stolen antiquities are “returned to their rightful homes”.

“It is important to ensure that cultural exchange is legal, transparent and rules-based, and wherever there have been deviations, whenever these have been corrected, I think that sends a very important message.” That this is a practice which is not acceptable in this day and age,” Jaishankar said.

Vikram Doraiswami, India’s High Commissioner to Britain, said, “We want to find simple, acceptable and amicable solutions so that our heritage can go back where it is more appropriate, where it comes from and where it is most appreciated.”

Yoginis are powerful female deities who are considered adept in the yogic arts, 64 such divine figures are worshiped as a group of goddesses in Yogini temples.

The Lokhari Temple, believed to be built in the 10th century, originally contained 20 Yogini statues, depicted as beautiful women with animal heads. Yoginis were kept in temples without roofs, doors or locks, as it was believed that the gods communicated with the heavens at night.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, the temple was targeted by a group of robbers who operated from Rajasthan and Mumbai and smuggled goods to Europe via Switzerland. An unknown number of statues were stolen, while others were broken. The villagers removed the remaining idols and hid them.

Yogini Chamunda is one of the major Tantric deities who is a retinue of the warrior goddess Parvati. The name is derived from ‘Chanda’ and ‘Munda’, two ‘Asuras’ who were killed by Chamunda. She is closely associated with Kali.

Yogini Gomukhi is a Gaumukhi Yogini, one of the 64 goddesses for tantric rituals.