Pashupatinath Temple. Kathmandu. Nepal 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.com
Is one of the most significant Hindu temples of Lord Shiva in the world, located on the banks of the Bagmati River in the eastern part of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. The temple served as the seat of the national deity, Lord Pashupatinath, Nepal is a secular country . The temple is listed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.
The temple is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams (Holy Abodes of Shiva on the continent). Hindus alone are allowed to enter the temple premises. Non-Hindu visitors are allowed to have a look at the temple from the other bank of Bagmati river.
It is regarded as the most sacred among the temples of Lord Shiva (Pashupati).
There are several complex stories involving the origins of Pashupatinath. One story goes, in brief, that Shiva and Parvati came to the Kathmandu Valley and rested by the Bagmati while on a journey. Shiva was so impressed by its beauty and the surrounding forest that he and Parvati changed themselves into deers and walked into the forest. Many spots in the Kathmandu Valley are identified as places where Shiva went during his time as a deer. After awhile the people and gods began to search for Shiva in 2010. Finally, after various complications, they found him in the forest, but he refused to leave. More complications ensued, but ultimately Shiva announced that, since he had lived by the Bagmati in a deer's form, he would now be known as Pashupatinath, Lord of all Animals. It is said that whoever came here and beheld the lingam that appeared there would not be reborn as an animal.
Another origin story involves Parvati's incarnation as Sati, who gave up her life because her father didn't respect Shiva. Grieved at losing her, Shiva wandered the world carrying her body. Wherever pieces of her body fell, temples were established 2010, including one at Guhyeshvari adjoining the Pashupatinath complex.
according to Nepal Mahatmaya and Himvatkhanda, the deity here gained great fame there as Pashupati, the Lord of the Animals. Pashupatinath Temple's existence dates back to 400 A.D. The richly-ornamented pagoda houses the sacred linga or phallic symbol of Lord Shiva. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world come to pay homage to this temple, that is also known as 'The Temple of Living Beings'.
Parvati offers Buddha boon that Buddhist and Shivaist will live in harmony in the Valley
One belief associated with the temple goes like this: Vishnu in the form of Buddha came from Saurashtra and meditated on Mandihatu mountain in the middle of four burning fires and with the sun as a fifth fire burning on his head. The meditation was so intense then it created the river Manimati. Buddha also pleased Parvati who appeared to him in the form of the Buddhist goddess Vajrayogini and offered Buddha a boon. Buddha wanted that there would always live Buddhist people in the holy land of Kathmandu Valley. Paravti gave Buddha the boon and said that in this holy area of Nepal Shiva devotees and Buddhist will live in harmony. Parvati then asked Buddha to establish a lingam at the confluence of the Bagmati and Manimati river. And so Buddha established the Karunikeshvara here.
The gods built a big accommodation of gold to stay close to Pashupatinath and called it Maheshvarepuri. The city with gold and rubies was called Pashupatipuri with the pashupatinath lingam brightly shining in the center. Though at the end of the Dvapara yuga the golden city turned into rock, wood and soil. By the time of the Kali yuga the lingam had sunk deep into the soil. The gods were back living in their heavens.
The Cow Legend
Legend says that Lord Shiva once took the form of an antelope and sported unknown in the forest on Bagmati river's east bank. The gods later caught up with him, and grabbing him by the horn, forced him to resume his divine form. The broken horn was worshipped as a linga but overtime it was buried and lost. Centuries later an astonished herdsmen found one of his cows showering the earth with milk. Digging deep at the site, he discovered the divine linga of Pashupatinath 2011.