Shiv Jee | Shiv Temples
Pashupati Naath Shiv Temple
By Jabali Muni
Pashupati Naath Temple is one of the most famous temples of Shiv Jee situated in Kathmandu, Nepal.
We all at some point of our lives have heard about the rarest and priceless gems like Naag Mani (snake jewel), Gaj Mani (elephant jewel), Neel Mani (blue precious stone) - But do they really exist??? There is one temple where only Hindu are allowed to enter and which is the Holiest temple in the world. It is none other than the Pashupathi Naath temple of Shiv in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Many of us often say that there is a lot of bad and evil in this world but the truth is the world is full of divinity. It is just us who fail to look in the right direction. By visiting one such sacred and divine temple one cam make one's life feel blessed. Pashupati Naath, or Pashupati, is a Hindu temple on the banks of the Baagmatee River, which has highly sacred properties, sin Deopatan, a village 3 km northwest of Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal country. It is dedicated to a manifestation of Shiv called Pashupati. Pashupathi Naath is the guardian spirit and the holiest of all Shiv shrines in Nepal. Lord Shiva is known by many different names; and Pashupati is one of them. Pashu means living beings, and Pati means master. In other words Pashupati is the master of all living beings of the Universe. This is how Lord Pashupati is eulogized in the Ved, Upanishad and other religious books.
Regarded as the most sacred Hindu temple of Lord Shiv in the world, Pashupatinath Temple's existence dates back to 400 AD. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world come here to pay their homage to this temple. It is one of the oldest Lord Shiv temples in the world. It is only accessible to those of the Hindu faith, for those who are not, they must be satisfied with viewing the Temple from a distance. Even from a distance it is worth viewing the gold and silver Temple glittering in the Sun. The main treasury 'Mool Dhukuti' of Pashupati Naath is believed to contain priceless items, including Naag Mani, Gaj Mani, Neel Mani, (blue precious stone).
The banks of Baagmatee River are lined with many Ghaat (bathing spots) for use by pilgrims. Renovating or furnishing these sites has always been regarded as meritorious. Near the river is where you will find an Aarya Ghat where most of the dead are taken and cremated. Aarya Ghat, dating from the early 1900s, is of special importance because it is the only place where lustrous water for Pashupati Naath Temple can be obtained and it is where the members of the royal family are cremated. The main cremation site is Bhasmeshwar Ghaat, which is the most-used cremation site in the Kathmandu Valley. The preferred bathing spot for women is the Gauree Ghaat, towards the North.
Across the Baagmatee River are 15 votive shrines, the Pandra Shivaalaya, which were built to enshrine Ling in memory of the deceased persons between 1859 and 1869. It is not known for certain when Pashupati Naath Temple was founded. Tradition says that it was constructed by Pashupreksha of the Somadeva Dynasty in the 3rd century BC, but its first historical records date from the 13th century. The ascetic Pashupata sect was likely related to its foundation. Pashupati was a tutelary Deity of the ancient rulers of the Kathmandu Valley; in 605 AD, Anshuvarman considered himself favored by his touching of the god's feet. By the later Middle Ages, many imitations of the temple had been built, such as in Bhaktapur (1480), Lalitpur (1566) and Banaaras (early 19th century). The original temple was destroyed several times until it was given its present form under King Bhupalendra Malla in 1697.
Pashupati Temple stands in the center of the town of Deopatan, in the middle of an open courtyard. It is a square, two-tiered pagoda temple built on a single-tier plinth, and it stands 23.6 meters above the ground. Richly ornamented gilt and silver-plated doors are on all sides. On both sides of each door are niches of various sizes containing gold-painted images of guardian deities. Inside the temple itself is a narrow ambulatory around the sanctum. The sanctum contains a one-meter high Ling with four faces (Chatur-mukh) representing Pashupati, as well as images of Vishnu, Soorya, Devee and Ganesh.
The priests of Pashaputi Naath are called Bhatt and the chief priest is called Mool Bhatt or Raval. The chief priest is answerable only to the King of Nepal and reports to him on temple matters on a periodic basis. The struts under the roofs, dating from the late 17th century, are decorated with wood carvings of members of Shiv's family such as Paarvatee, Ganesh, Kumaar or the Yoginee, as well as Hanumaan, Raam, Seetaa, Lakshman and other gods and goddesses from the Raamaayan.
Situated on the south side, is a depiction of Shiv as Yogeshwar, Lord of Yogee.
Temple of Vaasuki, the King of Naag -
Pashaputi Temple's extensive grounds include many other old and important temples, shrines and statues. South of the Temple, for instance, is Chadeshwar, an inscribed Linchchhavi Ling from the 7th century, and north of the temple is a 9th century temple of Brahmaa Jee. On the south side of Pashupati Temple is the Dharm Shilaa, a stone where sacred oaths are taken, and pillars with statues of various Shah kings.
Carving on the Western Gate -
Golden Door at the Temple Entrance -
At the Northern end of the Pashupati Naath terraces near Kathmandu is a Shiv Ling on a circular pedestal dating from the 6 BC. A finely featured face of Shiv has been sculpted on one side of the Ling. Two important idols inside Pashupati area‚ Mrigeshwar Mahaadev and Virupaaksh (also known as Kali)‚ are gradually losing their charm after Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) closed the Eastern entrance of Pashupati Naath Temple citing security reasons. Locals and priests say a huge crowd used to visit this small temple of the two idols situated in the Eastern side of the main Temple, but after Pashupati Area Development Trust has closed the Eastern entrance in 2010, the number of people coming to worship these idols is on decline, said Badri Adhikaaree, a priest who has been stationed in the Pashupati area for the last 15 years. Earlier, people used to worship Mrigeshwar Mahaadev before offering prayers at the main Temple, added Adhikari. Even around a year ago, the Eastern gate of the main Temple was closed for a day after the Indian priest (the main priest of Pashupati Naath Temple) was beaten up by a group of people demanding appointment of Nepali origin priest.
Priests say that the idol of Mrigeshwar Mahaadev carries the meaning of Pashupati. “Pashupati actually means the incarnation of Lord Mahaadev as an animal. “The idol of Mrigeshwar Mahaadev is the only idol which depicts Mahaadev's incarnation as a Mrig (deer). According to Hindu mythology, Mahaadev had chosen the Pashupati area as a hideout to trick his wife, goddess Paarvatee. It is said that once upon a time when Mahaadev was on bad terms with Paarvatee, he came to live in Mrig Sthalee in the form of a Mrig. Later, when Paarvatee came to know she also came there in the form of a female Mrig to placate her husband and took him back to Kailaash Parvat. There is another interesting belief associated with the idol of Viroopaaksh (Kali). The idol, half of which is already underground, is believed to be gradually sinking underneath the earth. Some Hindu believe that when the idol totally disappears underground, the universe will collapse, marking the beginning of a new era after Kali Yug. "Interestingly the idol is not sinking. It is exactly in the same state as it was 15 years ago." said Adhikari.
“However, what is important is the belief and the sentiments of people associated with these idols. “Pashupati Area Development Trust's decision to close the Eastern entrance has, in a way, played with the sentiments of people who want to worship Mrigeshwar Mahaadev and Virupaaksh. This place, which once used to be a major attraction of Pashupati, seems overshadowed by the PADT's irresponsible step. If it was closed on the ground of security, more police personnel should have be deployed instead of closing the gate. When asked, PADT treasurer Narottam Vaidya said that the gate will be opened as early as possible.
The 11 small stone Chaitya (Stoop), each with a Ling, lined up nicely to give a seemingly endless mirror effect. The unique feature of this Temple is that only 4 priests can touch the idol. This tradition is supposed to have started by Sage Shankaraachaarya in the 8th century, ostensibly to stop human sacrifice which was prevalent in that Temple in those times.
The temple is listed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.
Legends Behind the Temple
(1) According to a legend recorded in local texts, especially the Nepal Mahaatmya and the Himavat Khand, the Hindu god Shiv once fled from the other gods in Vaaraanasee to Mrig Sthalee - the forest on the opposite bank of the Baagmatee River from the Temple. There, in the form of a gazelle, he slept with his consort Paarvatee. When the gods discovered him there and tried to bring him back to Vaaraanasee, he leapt across the river to the opposite bank, where one of his horns broke into four pieces. After this, Shiv became manifest as Pashupati (Lord of Animals) in a four-faced (Chatur-mukh) Ling. There are many legends describing as how the temple of Lord Pashupati Naath came into existence here. Some of them are narrated below:-
(2) The Cow Legend : Legend says that once Lord Shiv once took the form of an antelope and sported alone secretly in the forest on Baagmatee River's Eastern bank. The gods later caught up with him, and grabbing him by the horn, forced him to resume his divine form. As the gods were using their force, the antelope's horn broke. The broken horn was worshipped as a Ling but overtime it was buried and lost. Centuries later an astonished herdsmen found one of his cows showering the earth with milk at that point. Digging deep at the site, he discovered the divine Ling of Pashupati Naath.
(3) The Linchchhavi Legend : According to Gopalraj Vamsavali, the oldest ever chronicle in Nepal, this temple was built by Supus Padeva, a Linchchhavi King, who according to the stone inscription erected by Jayadeva 11 in the courtyard of Pashupati Naath in 753 AD, happened to be the ruler 39 generations before Manadeva (464-505 AD).
(4) The Devaalaya Legend : Another chronicle states that Pashupati Naath Temple was in the form of Ling shaped Devaalaya before Supus Padeva constructed a five storey temple of Pashupati Naath in this place. As the time passed, the need for repairing and renovating this temple arose. It is learnt that this temple was reconstructed by a mediaeval King named Shivadeva (1099-1126 AD). It was renovated by Anant Malla adding a roof to it.
What to See :
The Pashupati story of the Mrig (deer) seems also associated with Mrigashiraa Nakshatra also. Since the story of holding the horns of the Mrig is there, this seems to be connected with the vernal equinox of the Vaidik period as concluded by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in his book entitled 'Orion'. We have the festival of Vat Shaileshwaree Jatra at the time of vernal equinox.
Created and Maintained by Sushma Gupta
Created on March 15, 2003 and Updated on February 12, 2013