You are here
How Shiva settled as Pashupatinath in Kathmandu Valley
This story tells the myth of the Pashupatinath temple and explains how Shiva and Parvati ended up in the Shlesmantaka forrest (Kathmandu Valley in Nepal) and setteld there as deers.
Shiva and Parvati arrive in the Kathmandu Valley and change into deers
While on a journey away form their resident Mount Kailash Shiva and Parvati came to the Kathmandu Valley and rested at the bank of the Bagmati River. Shiva was so impressed by the beauty and the surroundings of the Shlesmantaka forrest that he decided to stay. While nobody noticed Shiva and Parvati change themselves into deers (Mruga) and walked into the forrest.
In Shlesmantaka forrest Shiva and Parvati played hapily with the other deers and animals. The deer Shiva (now Pashupatinath) went to place like Siddhashrama, Bhrigu patana (A Bhrigu Patana is a place where people suicide them self by jumping head down from a cliff while in a meditative state), possible the clives from Kailasha hill that is directly north of the Pashupatinath temple, but there are more spots like this in the Kathmandu Valley). and Chandraka Tirtha.
After a while the people and the gods started to miss Shiva. Indra, Vishnu, Brahma and the other gods start to search for Shiva. Because without Shiva things are not going as smooth as with Shiva arround.
The gods searched everywhere but couldn't find Shiva. Then they start the searched the mountains and valleys of the Himalaya.
On the Munjavan mountain (Now called Shivapuri north of Kathmandu) they find Nandi (A bull who is Shiva's loyal devotee, vehicle and guard) who they first mistakenly see for Shiva himself because Shiva gave him a boon that made him look like Shiva.
After honering the high visit of the Gods. The Gods ask Nandi where they can find Shiva. Nandi tells them that Shiva already told him that one day the gods would ask where he was. And after that Shiva left. The Gods are now desperate not knowing what to do until Brihaspati the Guru of the Gods comes up with the idea that if nobody can find Shiva then only Brahma and Vishnu could find Shiva by seeing him while meditating. Indra agrees and asks Brahma and Vishnu to do so. Brahma goes in a deep meditation sees Shiva and speaks; "In the southern direction from this place, at the distance of one yojana (max 16 km¹), in the lap of the great Himalaya, at the foot of the lovely siddhadri hill, there is a wooded sanctuary called Shleshmantaka, Shiva is there". And so the gods descent from the Munjavan mountain to the Shleshmantaka forrest at the banks of Bagmati that once arose from the voice of Shiva. (The Bagmati is the Holy river that springs on Shivapuri and flows next to the Pashupatinath temple). Down at the river banks of the beautiful Bagmati where all kinds of different water flowers grow and ducks and crane bath they see an astonishing beautiful young lady. When they aproach her they now this beautiful woman must be Parvati. They ask Parvati where Shiva is and she tells the Gods that Shiva is southwest on the western bank of the Bagmati in the body of a deer. After telling where Shiva is Parvati vanishes into the ground. When they discover Shiva they ask him to come back, because the worlds are not the same without him. Shiva in the form of Pashupatinath refuses since he finds the Shlesmantaka forrest to good to leave. The gods decide to catch the deer, Vishnu, Brahma and Indra grab Pashupatinath at his horn. (The deer Pashupatinath has one golden horn on his head). But as soon as Vishnu. Brahma and Indra grab the horn the horn brakes into tree pieces and Pashupatinath dissapears in the sky. The gods then circle the hole in the ground and chant all the thousend names of Parvati and ask her for a boon so they can discover Shiva. Then to gods go on with searching Shiva in the groves and caves of the Kathmandu Valley, after climbing Mrigakuta the gods rest. From Mrigakuta they see the Mrigasthali forrest and decide to search it. After climbing a steep ill they see a beautiful surrounded by several other deers. The beautiful deer that shined like Mount Meru (the golden mountain and home of Brahma) had a single horn. The gods lay themself on the ground in front of the deer and start to pray and recite all the different names of Shiva. And ask Shiva to protect them again after wich they run down the hill and surround the deer. Then quickly Vishnu, Brahma and Indra grab Pashupatinath at his horn. But as soon as Vishnu. Brahma and Indra grab the horn the horn brakes into tree pieces and Pashupatinath dissapears in the sky. Sad that Shiva dissapeared the start to pray and mention all Shiva's name once more.
How the horns of Shiva's deer form became Shiva Lingams
Finally Shiva who is pleased with the devotion of the gods appears in the sky. Shiva speaks to the Gods . "If you are not sattisfied with my horn, what will you do with my body ? " At the end of my play on earth in a deers body, the perfect dharma has been established. All will attain liberation in this age by it. This land will be holy, and people will come here to live. The pieces of my horn will be the means, employed by you, Sirs, to establish my Lingams. Once my lingam form is established in this region, there shall be enough rain, and enough food. Here in my holy region will evil deeds of men be destroyed. There will be many holy places here and while i'll be here as lingam of light with shining faces, this realm will become very auspicious.
Shiva continous; Braha take the middle part of my horn that you have in your hands and install it on the bank of the Chandrabhaga river. This place will become famous as Gokarneshvara. The demon Ravana will do a big puja here one day. Vishnu take the lower part of the horn to the plains down below and establish it on a beautiful place.
The people from the lower worlds will call it Shringeshvara. And you Indra king of Gods take the upper part of the horn to Amaravati. When demons come to your city the lingam will be taken away by their king Ravana. He will take it to the eart and when he puts the lingam down for a rest he will not be able to move it again. That lingam will be known as the southern Gokarna. After having said this Shiva dissapeared and at the same moment a Lingam with five faces appeared on the western bank of the Bagmati. The Gods once more plead Shiva to return to Varanasi or Kailasha, but Shiva says he will stay here and that since he has lived here in the form of a deer he will now be known as Pashupatinath, Lord of all Aninmals. Whoever comes here and beheld my lingam will not be reborn as an animal. Those who go to the mountain Mrigendrashikhara and drink the sacred water of the Bagmati that originated here from my laughter will never reborn as animals. Who bathes in Pashu kunda and walks to Mrigasthali on foot and worshipped Kirateshvara will be released from all sins. Those men who circumambulate Mrigasthali on the 14th day of the dark moon in the month of Kartik (Oct / Nov) will go to heaven.
Then Parvati told Shiva that she also wished to stay here on the banks of the Bagmati. Then Shiva tells Parvati that in a previous life she was Sati the daughter of Daksha. Who gave up her life because her dad din't show respect to me Shiva. Because of the grieve of losing you i wondered arround the whole world with your body arround my neck. Vishnu then to save the world cut you up in many peaces with his Sundarshana chakra. The pieces scattered on earth and your concealed part fell near here on the bank of the Bagmati on the northern side of Mrigasthali hill, that holy place is called Guhyeshvari. Shiva continious that it is because of her love for Shiva that people will know her as Vatsala, the Godess who is affectionate like a cow towards her calf". May you always be housed to the south east of me. People who take a bath in the Bagmati behold you and worship me will eventually reach my heaven at Kailasha. Those who repeat the sacred mantras near me or near you as Guhyesvari will succeed with their efforts. And so Parvati stay close to Shiva on the banks of the Bagmati.
Brahma took his part of the horn and high on the banks of the Bagmati in the north he establishs the Gokarnesha lingam which rescues people from their sins. Those who make pinda offerings to their ancestors on the 15th day of the dark half of the lunar month of Bhadra (Aug / Sept) will bring them to realms of permanent hapiness. A person with great spiritual strength who throws himself off a cliff near Gokarnesha will have all his wishes fulfilled.
Other gods joining Pashupatinath in the Kathmandu Valley
When pashupatinath established himself on the banks of the Bagmati all the gods decided to join him in the Shleshmantaka forrest. The godess of time Kalika devi came from Radha and settled in Jayavagishvari.
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 godess 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 where back living in their heavens.
Finding of the Shiva Lingam at current Pashupatinath Temple
The cow Kamadhenu took shelter in a cave on the Chandravan mountain. Everyday Kamadenu went down to the place the lingam was sunken into the soil and poured her milk on top of the soil. After ten thousend years some people saw Kamdenu pouring milk on that same spot everyday, and started to wonder what that would be. So they removed the soil and found the beautiful shining lingam. After having a good look they dissapeared into the lingam, freed from sin and rebirths. More and more people came to look and more people dissapeared into the lingam. This was a big concern for Brahma.
Source: The Glory of Nepal, A Mythological Guidebook to Kathmandu Valley by William P. Forbes.