The western gate has a statue of a great bull or Nandi, which is plated in bronze. On each side of each door, there are niches of various sizes, which contain gold-painted images of guardian deities. It contains a 1.8-meter black lingam with four sides (chaturmukha), with representations of Pashupati and images of Vixnu, Surya, Devi, and Ganexa. Vasukinath is located east of Pashupatinath.
In the vast complex of Pashupatinath, there are many more temples, shrines, and statues, some of the ancient and important. To the south of the main temple, for example, is Chadeshvar, a lingam with inscriptions from the Licchavi period, dating from the seventh century.
To the north, there is a temple of Brama of century IX. On the south side is Dharmashila, a stone where sacred oaths are given and where there are statues of several Shah kings.
In the northeast corner of the temple, courtyard stands the small pagoda temple of Vasuki, the king of the Nagas. Vasuki is shaped like a naga (the mystical serpent) from the waist up, while the underside is composed of a tangle of snake bodies.
According to local belief, Vasuki came to reside there to protect Pashupati. It is common to see devotees to walk around and to venerate Vasuki before entering the main sanctuary.
The preferred place for women to bathe is Gauri Ghat, located to the north. On the left bank of the Bagmati, opposite the main temple, there are 18 votive shrines, the Shivalaya Pandra, built to hold lanyards in memory of the dead between 1859 and 1869. In the complex, there is a nursing home for the Missionaries of Charity, the Catholic congregation founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Daily Rituals of Pashupatinath Temple are as follows:
- At 4:00 am: The west door opens for tourists.
- 8:30 am: After the arrival of priests, idols of God are bathed and cleaned, clothes and ornaments are changed for the day.
- 9:30 am: breakfast is offered to the Lord.
- 10:00 am: Then those wishing to worship are welcome. It is also called pharmayashi worship, under which people ask the priest to perform a special pooja for their specific reasons. Pooja continues until 1:45 pm.
- 1:50 pm: Lunch is offered to Lord in the main Pashupati temple.
- At 2:00 pm: The morning prayer ended.
- 5:15 pm: In the main Pashupati Temple, the evening Aarti started.
- At 6:00 pm: Ganga Aarti is the center of an attraction along the banks of the Bagmati. This aarti can be seen only on Saturday, Monday and on special occasions. Ganga Aarti, along with Shiva’s tandava hymn written by Ravana, is done on Ganga Aarti evening.
- 7:00 pm: The door is closed.
Abhishek in Pashupatinath temple
Abhishek in the Pashupatinath temple starts from 9 am to 11 pm. This time the temple is opened by all four doors. For Abhishek, devotees have to pay for a slip of 1100 rupees which can be taken from the counter. It includes many prayers including Rudrabhishek.
The special thing is that Abhishek is done in the same direction in which direction the face of the deity is visible. It is written in the ticket about which line to be used for the Abhishek in the temple. If the ticket is written in advance, then the devotees have to stand in line in front of the Eastern entrance. At this time priests will consecrate the eastern face of Shivling.
Entrance to Pashupatinath temple
The holy Pashupatinath temple has four gateways in four geographical directions. The main entrance is situated in the west and there is the only one which is opened every day while the other three doors are closed during the festival. Nepalese migrants and Hindus are allowed to enter the temple premises only.
The practice that protects Jain and Sikh communities with Indian ancestors, do not allow the entry of the temple complex along with other non-Hindu tourists from the Hindu West. Other tourists are allowed to visit the main temple from the adjoining shore of the Bagmati river and a small fee is charged for the small temples that beautify the outer premises of the Pashupatinath temple premises.
Any devotee is not allowed to go to the innermost sanctuary. However, they are allowed to see the idol from the premises of the exterior sanctuary.
Interesting Facts about the Pashupatinath temple
1. Pashupatinath temple is not only religiously important. It is historically is in existence since 400 A. D.
2. Pashupatinath Temple is located on the west bank of the Bagmati river. This temple is considered a masterpiece of Hindu architecture. There is a building in the main temple that has golden peaks. It is a cube in shape and four main doors are covered in a silver sheet. Apart from this, a two-storeyed roof was constructed from gold-covered pure copper. The main attraction of this temple is the huge image of Shivling and Shiva’s bull Nandi.
3. This is considered to be the human form of Lord Shiva. It is seen in the form of an incomplete statue which is tuned to the earth below the waist. Every year this idol rises above the waist and it is believed that if the statue gets elevated above, the world then will be destroyed.
4. The priests here are called Bhatt. Bhatta is also called Bhatt here. Bhatt is a highly educated Vedic of Karnataka, Dravidian Brahmin scholar. Unlike other Hindu temples, the priest of Pashupatinath is not hereditary. On the Rig Vedic texts started by Kashi Math in Pashupati Yoga, priests are selected from a group of scholars educated by Sri Shankaracharya Dakshinamanya Sringeri, and the education of Samveda is taken from Haridwar.
After passing through a severe test on Ved and Shiv Agavs, after being selected by the Raj Guru of the Pashupatinath temple for the priest. And fulfilling all those norms, they are rewarded and then the selected priest is sent to Kathmandu. This pujari will perform the worship of Lord Shree Pashupatinath.
5. There are many distinctive artistic paintings and sculptures in different parts of the temple. On each side of the temple’s doors, there are pictures of many deities and apsaras. Almost all these paintings have been done in gold.
6. The Arya Ghat has special significance in the Pashupatinath temple. Because it is the only place near the Ghat temple, which is considered sacred. Apart from this, this Ghat is considered very auspicious and therefore a funeral is performed here for the members of the Royal Family of Nepal.
7. Due to the earthquake in Nepal on April 25, 2015, many of the surrounding structures and the tourism sites included in the UNESCO World Heritage list turned into dust. But there is no flame on the Pashupatinath temple and the temple still stands like this. Just a few cracks appear on the walls. Local people and devotees consider it a sign of divine power. While others argue that the architecture and a strong base of the temple are the main factors that helped Pashupatinath temple to face the effects of an earthquake.
8. This temple, situated on the banks of the Bagmati River, has spread to 240 hectares of land.
9. According to mythology, after the battle of Mahabharata, the Pandavas asked for the measures to be free from the sins that they had by killing their relatives with Lord Krishna and Bhishma. Knowing only after seeing Lord Shivani, they will be free from the sins. They went to the Himalayas.
Seeing Pandavas, Lord Shiva disguised as Buffalo and concealed himself in their flocks. Bit Pandavas recognized him. So Lord Shiva buried himself deep in the ground.
As Pandavas grabbed the tail of the buffalo, the tail emerged as kedar ath in India and its head emerged as Pashupatinath in Kathmandu. This way, Pandavas by touching the tail freed from the sins. Since Lord Shiva emerged as good in the form of Animal, he is called Pashupatinath.
10. According to one legend, before the construction of the five-storeyed Pashupatinath temple, the shrine of the shivalinga was present as dewalay. As time passed, the work of maintenance of the temple was increasing. Therefore, the medieval king of Nepal, Shivdev, had rebuilt the temple of Pashupatinath. Later, the Mallas built the gajur of the temple.
11. Pashupatinath has a statue of birupakshya on the back of the temple. This idol is also known as the statue of Kali n Nepal. This statue is also one of the old idols of Nepal. He is considered to be the human form of Lord Shiva.
12. Pashupatinath temple is considered as the main center of the system of learning. It is believed that the four Vedas’ principles also came out from here. It is believed that Shiva Ji lives in this temple.
13. Regarding the philosophy of this temple, it is believed that if a devotee sees the Lord Shiva jyotirlinga before seeing the Nandi in the temple. He will never be born as an animal in the next life. But if a devotee sees Nandi before Jyotirling, then it is certain to be born in the form of an animal. Thus, the importance of the philosophy of this temple is also to be born again and again in the human form.
14. One of the 12 Jyotirlingas located in different parts of India is situated in Jyotirling, Nepal’s Pashupatinath temple. 12 Jyotirlingas are considered to be the body of Lord Shiva and the head is Pashupatinath Jyotirlinga.
15. The temple of Pashupatinath of Nepal is also one of the 8 major religious places of Hindu religion. According to Shiva Purana, this Jyotirlinga is capable of fulfilling all the desires of human beings.
16. It is believed that the Jyotirlinga of Pashupatinath temple of Nepal is like the stone of Paras, which has the properties of turning iron into gold.
Pashupatinath Crematory Temple in Kathmandu and Cremation Ritual
It is important to understand that cremation in the strict sense of the word in Hindu culture is not a funeral ritual. After all, every person lives many lives, passing through different stages of “samsara” (multiple rebirths).
And if a person lived correctly, then in the next life, he proceeds to the next stage. Most of all, Hindus dream one day not to be born, going into the state of “moksha” – the completion of this cycle of rebirth and liberation from the material world. Moksha is practically synonymous with Buddhist nirvana: the highest state, the ultimate goal of human aspirations.
It is believed that one of the ways to increase the chances of reaching moksha is burial in the right, the most sacred place. In India, this place is the city of Varanasi, in Nepal – the temple of Pashupatinath in Kathmandu. Because of this, it attracts Hindus from different parts of the country and the world (quite often there are cases when Hindu bodies are brought from the USA or the UAE for cremation).
In order for reincarnation to happen correctly, the soul must be freed from the flesh, and that soul must be adequately destroyed. This is very important because otherwise, the spirit of the deceased will be relentless.
And his evil fate (the eternal wandering between the worlds of the living and the gods) will affect the members of the whole race. Therefore, the process of body burial is very important and has many details and nuances.
Interesting facts about cremation in Nepal:
1. Cremation is so attractive to Hindus because it carries the remnants of the body into all five elements important to Hinduism: water, air, earth, fire, and the ether (spirit). That is why the ash remaining after the cremation is partially dispelled, partially washed into the river.
2. Not all Hindus are subject to cremation – for example, it is not used for small children (since it is believed that children are already sinless). And they are simply lowered into the river or buried. Also, the bodies of saddle hermits are not cremated (they are also simply buried).
3. Cremation is a rather expensive treat. The price goes up to $ 200, which is a completely overwhelming amount for the vast majority of Nepal residents. The high price is due to the popularity of the place, as well as the high cost of firewood. Those who cannot afford cremation in Pashupatinath are cremated with less pathos, in less holy places. There is also a practice when the poor collect the remnants of firewood from foreign funeral pyres. In turn, representatives of wealthy families can use expensive tree varieties for cremation (for example, sandalwood).
4. It is not enough to pay money – you also need to wait for your turn for cremation, since there are much more dead than burn sites. Therefore, an electro-crematorium was built on the territory of the complex not so long ago, the creation of which is ten times cheaper. However, it is not very popular, since such cremation loses its basic meaning, which is to return the body to the five elements that generated it.
5. The bodies of the deceased representatives of the higher castes are burned north of the bridge over Bagmati. And there is a special pedestal for members of the royal family. To the south of the bridge are pedestals for the lower castes – they are depicted in the main photograph of the post.
6. In Pashupatinath, unlike the famous Indian Varanasi, cremations are still on a smaller scale, so there is no such feeling of horror and other reality. The smell of burnt meat is almost invisible.
7. The color of mourning in Hinduism is white, so all participants wear clothes made of white fabrics. As a sign of mourning for a year after the death, the “main relative” of the deceased wears white clothes.
The cremation ritual is quite complex and includes a chain of successive events.
1. It all starts with the washing of each member of the funeral ceremony. According to tradition, bathing should be performed in the river, but it is rather dirty and silted. So each gatha has special taps with water, under which all participants of the procedure are rinsed.
2. While the body is waiting for its turn to be cremated, relatives put it near the water, so that it touches the feet of the deceased. It symbolizes cleansing from the sins that he amassed during his lifetime.
3. After washing the deceased, the clothes are cut off and wrapped in white cloth. Remnants of clothes are let down in Bagmati, from where local boys happily catch them.
4. By the beginning of the ceremony, all male participants are dressed in white clothes. Women usually do not take part in the active part of the process and act only as observers.
5. The deceased, who had previously been wrapped in a bright yellow fabric, was opened his face, and his relatives poured water on him five times. One of the men of the family shaves his head, leaving only a strand of hair at the back of his head, and is dressed in white clothes.
If the father has died, it is done by the eldest son, if the mother is the younger son, if the wife is the husband. He sets fire to branches from the sacred fire and walks around them around the body five times (because the body goes off in five elements). After which the relatives sit next to the platform to look at the fire.
6. It is possible to kindle fire only in a natural way (that is why the electro-heater is not popular). If a woman died, they do not completely burn her pelvis, if a man – they leave a rib.
The shaven man lets this charred part of the body in Bagmati and extinguishes embers from the bucket through his left shoulder when it is over. Then he collects the remains of the ashes of the deceased, enters the river and disperses with a shovel through water or buries it in sludge.
7. Usually the professional “body burner” is always involved in the procedure – it belongs to the untouchable caste, the rajah house podcast. Their fate – unclean types of work, which include the burning of corpses. Unlike other untouchables, the caste of house-raja has money, which even the element of raja in the title hints at.
8. For a fire, firewood is laid out in a special way, to which rice straw is necessarily added. It is this straw who provides strong smoke, but it is an obligatory element of the ritual.
9. Every day, these people clean the territory, sift and wash ash, coal and burned soil through a sieve in order to find jewels that relatives have no right to remove from the deceased.
10. With the right approach, the body burns completely on the fire in 3-4 hours. Relatives may not stay until the end, and often only the hired representative of the house-raja caste watches the end of cremation. The remains of ash and firewood are washed into the river.
11. After the funeral ceremony, the relatives of the deceased should not talk to anyone, meet, or even touch each other. Since all of them for a while become “dirty”, untouchable. Only after the ritual of cleansing and absolution in 11 days will they be able to return to ordinary life. The ritual is held here, in Pashupatinath, in specially designed chambers.
The procedure itself takes place quite graciously, relatives with care and love perform all the actions described above. Thereby expressing their love for the dead and putting their whole soul into it.
The Pashupati area is considered one of the most important places of pilgrimage for followers of Hinduism. Thousands of devotees, both from the country and abroad, arrive at the site every day.
On special occasions like in the Ekadasi, Sankranti, Mahashivratri, Teej Akshaya, Rakshabandhan, Grahana (eclipse) or in the Poornima (full moon day) the atmosphere of the place becomes festive and people congregate in greater numbers.
During the celebration of the Shivaratri festival, the Pashupatinath temple is illuminated with oil lamps and remains open throughout the night. Thousands of devotees take ritual baths in the Bagmati River during the day of the festival and observe fasting throughout the day. On the occasion of Maha Shivaratri, hundreds of sadhus (sages) from different parts of Nepal and India come to this place.
The Hindus came en masse to the ancient Pashupatinath temple in Nepal to celebrate the Shivaratri. According to the authorities, 150,000 Indian pilgrims visit the temple along with devotees from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka.
During the festival, the temple experiences an increase in sadhus, or sacred Hindu people, from India and other parts of Nepal. Sadhus are a special attraction in the temple. People will not only pray but also see them.
On the occasion of Shivratri (the night of Lord Shiva), the temple is decorated in the best possible way with flowers and garlands of flowers on all the doors, passages and balconies of the temple. A large number of ascetics come from all over Nepal and adjacent India, gathering on the temple grounds to worship the Lord of the temple.
Pilgrims also fast all day, perform ritual dives on the Bagmati River and pray to God for happiness and prosperity. Another special occasion celebrated here is the Teej festival, which is frequented mainly by women who arrive in the temple, usually wrapped in red sarees, to pray for a long and happy married life with their partners.
The controversy of the year 2009
The priests in the temple are known as Bhattas, and the High Priest is known as Mool Bhatt or Raval. This fact and the allegations of corruption in the temple have caused a malaise among a large Nepalese population. In January 2009, after the forced resignation of the main priest of the Pashupatinath temple, the government of Nepal led by the Maoists hired new priests to lead the temple.
This appointment was challenged by the Bhandaris of the temple, who were not against the new appointment of priests, but on the way to do it. Finally, the appointment was revoked by the Supreme Court of Nepal. However, the government ignored the court’s decision and continued its wishes.
This led to public outrage and protests over the lack of transparency. A Maoist paramilitary group attacked protesters and as a result, there were more than a dozen people injured. Legislators and activists from opposition parties joined the protests, declaring their support for the Bhandaris of the temple.
After long dissatisfaction and the protests of Hindus, both from home and abroad. The government was forced to reverse its decision, which had been declared illegal by the Supreme Court, and the Brahman priests were reinstated.
Tourism and exclusivity
There is a lot in store for tourists visiting the Pashupatinath temple. The main building of the temple is built using the Nepalese pagoda architectural style with a two-layered roof of copper clad in gold. At the top, the temple has a massive gold tower.
Although non-Hindus are not allowed within the main temple or internal santersuits of other temples, they can prauble anywhere else in the temple complex. The complex’s ascetics are usually tourists and, with their interesting costumes, are often photographed by tourists and foreigners photographers.
Tourists can also watch the Hindu cremifications ceremonies on the Eastern margins of the Mamgami River. As Pashupatinath is considered the Lord of all animals, deer and monkeys can walk without fear in a nearby deer park and in the gardens of the temple, and no damage is inflicted to such creatures by anyone.
Tourists, however, are advised to keep their objects of the value of the monkeys in the area. Other unique attractions in the temple include the dharmashila, a sacred oath that takes the stone, an imposing statue of a giant bull, a statue of four faces and several small and large temples.
Threats and Conservation
The Hindus believe that the temple of Pashupatinath is since it is the abode of the supreme deity, Lord Shiva, who is responsible for the destruction of the world itself. When the 2015 earthquake in Nepal left temple complex buildings virtually unharmed, while other buildings in the vicinity collapsed. Hindu devotees believed it to be a divine miracle.
Currently, the temple complex is well maintained by the Pashupati Area Development Trust. The popularity of the temple in the Hindu world and among international tourists. And its high revenue generating capacity motivates the Nepalese government to repair and renovate temple buildings regularly to maintain its popular status.
Birupakshya Statue of Pashupatinath Temple and the interesting story
The meaning of birupakshya is kurup which means ugly or deformed. The statue of birupakshya can be seen at the ghat of Pashupatinath. It is made of stone and can be seen as half buried in the ground.
There’s an interesting story related to this statue. It is said that birupakshya was born in a very poor family. As soon as he was born, his father went out of his home to earn some money. Here his mother alone raised her son with great difficulties.
As he reached 7 years old, he asked his mother about his father. He then decided he would also go and search for his father. If he is alive, he will bring him back but if he is dead he will conduct all the rituals and then only will return home.
Time passes and he turned from a child to a seventeen years old teenager. But he still couldn’t find his father. One night, he took shelter in one of the caves in the jungle. There he finds one middle-aged lady whose face he couldn’t see in the dark.
Both of them were drowned in the lust and slept together. In the morning, when he woke up he turned to see with whom he had sex last night. He was devastated when he saw his own mother.
It turned out that his mother also came to the jungle looking for him. He then went to Pashupatinath in deep remorse. And asked the Lord Pashupatinath to show him the way with which he can free himself from the guilt. But at the time, Lord Pashupatinath was intoxicated with ganja and bhang. He told birupakshya to drink molten copper.
Birupakshya did as said by the Lord. But as he pulls the lid of the vase in which he was melting copper. His face was burnt totally. That’s why he was called birupakshya. He was very furious with Pashupatinath so he went cursing and kicking the lingas of Lord in Pashupatinath.
One time he saw Lord Buddha meditating in Pashupatinath. He went to Buddha and again asked him the way for his remorse. Buddha has a string of mala and asked him to mutter with the mala till it tears in its own. He sat in the place where at present there is a statue of birupakshya.
A long time passed but the mala didn’t tear. He then threw the mala away. He saw a small child eroding a sheet of iron. He went to the child and asked him the reason. The child told him that his clothes are torn, he would erode the sheet, make needle and sew his clothes.
Seeing this patience of a little child, he too decided to resume his task. But the people as they saw him bury him in the ground because he was cursing Pashupatinath before.
And so it is believed that as soon as birupakshya will completely come above the ground. He will take revenge with people by destroying the Earth. Then Lord Shiva will come and kill him ending kalyuga and beginning satyuga.
It is believed that from the day he accidentally had sex with his mother, kalyuga began.
Pashupatinath temple and the features that are found in this vast area all come with some incredible legends. As you hear these stories, each story forces you to believe in them and hold you spellbound.
The Bagmati River and the surrounding area
The surroundings of the temple are also of great beauty: stone bridges, golden domes, temples, hanging houses, and beautiful nature. Many pilgrims of Hinduism and holy men or sadhus come to this temple. The saddhus submerge in the river to purify themselves.
The Bagmati River (for its religious value, similar to the Ganges of India) has a somewhat gloomy aspect for the visitor since there is great contamination. We must highlight the ashes of the funeral pyres and an atmosphere marked by the charm, surprise, and mystery of these wonderful places.
Guheshwari temple in Pashupatinath Temple
Guheshwari Temple was built in honor of the wife of Shiva, the goddess Sati (Parvati). The interesting name of the temple is a combination of two Nepalese words: guhya (literally – female sexual organ 🙂 and ishwari (goddess). Guhyeshwari Temple is one of the venerable holy temples in Kathmandu, Nepal.
This temple is dedicated to ADI Shakti. The temple is the Shakti Peetha next to the Pashupatinath of the Temple. It is said that this temple is the source of Shakti(energy) of the Pashupatinath of the Temple. King Pratap Malla constructed this temple in the 17th century.
The name of the temple comes from the Sanskrit words Guha (Secret) and Ishwari (Goddess). In Lalita Sahasranama, the seven hundred and seventh name of the goddess is referred to as Guhyarupini (the form of the goddess is beyond human perception, and this is a secret. Another argument is that the secret is the 16-syllable Shodashi Mantra).
It is believed that parts of Sati Devi’s corpse fell in another region when Shiva took her and roamed around the world in sorrow. The Guhyeshwari temple is located about 1 km east of Pashupatinath and is near the Bagmati embankment.
Temple-like shakti peeth
The mythology of Daksha Yagya and Sati self-immolation was of paramount importance in the formation of ancient Sanskrit literature and even had an impact on the culture of India. This leads to the development of the concept of Shakti Peeth and there to strengthen Shaktism. Huge mythological stories in the Puranas took Yagya of Daksha as the reason for its origin.
Shakti Peetha shrines or divine sites of the Mother Goddess. These are places that are believed to be enshrined with the presence of Shakti. Due to the fall of body parts of the body of Sati Devi, when Lord Shiva carried her and wandered throughout Aryavartha in sorrow.
There are 51 Shakti Peeth references to 51 Sanskrit alphabets. Each temple has shrines for Shakti and Kalabhairava. Shakti Mahashira and Bhairava are Kapala. This temple is worshiped by tantric practitioners and tantric rituals are performed in this temple.
During the Navratri festival, the king of Nepal, accompanied by his families, worshipped here after taking the holy bath in the Bagmati River. There is much belief related to the temple. It is believed that if the marriage takes place in the temple of Guhyeshwari, couples will be soul mates for another 6 births.
Sati (goddess) married Shiva and was resurrected as Parvati on her next birth. Women worship in the Guhyeshwari temple to improve the health of their husband. Worship done here leads to victory over enemies.
Pashupatinath temple the legend in itself. Each shivalinga, each mini temple, each structure and features present in the premises of Pashupatinath temple says some legend. The legends which force us to believe in the story. The legends which force us to believe once again in the spirituality, in God.
The only drawback that is being seen in the Pashupatinath temple is that it has been pertaining to the business. Many times when we visit the temple, it is clearly visible that the one who can pay a minimum of 1000rs do not have to stand in line with other devotees. He can instantly worship the Lord. Similarly, a devotee in his great devotion takes the milk from his home. But he is not allowed to offer anything on Shiva Linga.
We have to pay pujari who then offer the milk on the linga. Around the premises, the small traders sell the milk, flowers, garlands, coconut at a very high price. There used to be numerous beggars in the premises of the temple who sometimes are seen harassing the tourists and people. However, they have been now removed from the premises.
There is still a belief that non-vegetarian items should not be sold around the premises. But today we can see the stalls selling Momos and sausages.
Bagmati river which for Hindus are so sacred. But it has been polluted vastly. However, Bagmati purification project has been in operation now. It has been cleaned partially which is the positive development.
Pashupatinath temple will always be the most sacred shrine for all the Hindus all over the world.
Official Website of Shree Pashupatinath Temple Nepal
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