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I am an ardent blogger and a web enthusiast. My blogs include varied topics from the picturesque details of my travelogue to theology and worldly facts. My passions are reading English and Tamil classics, Management Topics, Playing Tennis and taking long walks. I live with my wife in Bangalore. Visit regularly my children in Michigan and Colorado to spend time with them and three grandsons. Please brief your opinions there in when you read my blog :- http://divinenotes.blogspot.com.

Friday, February 23, 2018

           
                         






      


                                           

 Tour of Nepal - April 2017
A Spiritual Yatra to Muktinath
         ( Day 1 - Part 1 )

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ॐ तत्पुरुषाय विद्महे महादेवाय धीमहितन्नो रुद्रः प्रचोदयात्॥
करचरणकृतं वाक् कायजं कर्मजं वा श्रवणनयनजं वा मानसंवापराधं ।
विहितं विहितं वा सर्व मेतत् क्षमस्व जय जय करुणाब्धे श्री महादेव शम्भो ॥


Day 1,  April 13, 2017  (Thursday )

Nepal Muktinath Yatra was organised by Bhaktivedanta Academy for Spiritual Education and our Yatra Coordinator was Sri Madhavananda Dasa.

13th April ‘17 :-- ‘ Hare Krishna ’.!  We started on the Yatra by Jet Airways 9W 0818 at 5.55 am. from Bangalore Airport . We collected two boarding passes - one for Bangalore to New Delhi and the other for New Delhi to Kathmandu. Our check in baggage was booked directly to Kathmandu. We arrived at New Delhi by 8:45 am and proceeded to the International Departure Counter -  complied with the  Immigration process.  After security check we hurried to Gate No:12 to board 9W 0282 Jet Airways.
                                          
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                                   Indira Gandhi International Airport -  New Delhi

There was a call announcing our names as we were delayed due to the slow process at the Airport.  At one point we noticed it would take 8 more minutes to reach the boarding gate. We made a fervent request to one of the officials which met with  immediate and favourable result. We were transported by a buggy and felt relieved as we boarded the waiting aircraft at 11 am. Jet airways provided a good breakfast and a mini lunch  (Jain Veg).

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   View of The Himalayas from the Aircraft                         Aerial View of Kathmandu

We arrived @  the ‘ Tribhuvan International Airport ‘, Kathmandu, Nepal’s Capital City by 1:30 pm. Nepal standard time is 15 minutes ahead of IST. Both Indian Rupee and Nepalese Rupee can be used for transactions. 1 INR equals 1.6 Nepali Rupee. We completed immigration formalities and got the Visa stamping in the passport. Indian Voter Card is also acceptable as a valid ID in Nepal.

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                 Tribhuvan International Airport @ Kathmandu                              
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The airport is  small and crowded. After collecting our baggage we waited for the other yatris of our group who arrived by IndiGo. By 3:00 pm we left by van to ‘Mirage Lords Hotel’ for stay. Though the official language is Nepalese we found on the way ( display boards)  the writings were in Devanagari script..  

5:30 pm --We refreshed ourselves and assembled in the hotel lobby to listen to our
Guide Sri Madhavananda Dasa about Nepala Mahatmya and Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu and it was quite interesting as the narration touched new frontiers..

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‘Nepala Mahatmya’Narration in the Lobby          Mirage Lord’s Hotel Reception

Legend ! :-

Nepal is a landlocked Central Himalayan country in South Asia with China forming the border at the North, and India in the South, East and West. The name Nepal is the learned Sanskrit form and Newar is the colloquial Prakrit form. Nepal has a population of 26.40 million..
The word Nepal is mentioned in Nepala Mahatmya of Skanda Purana.
5000 years  ago, in Dwapara Yuga Sri Krishna visited this place..Many Rishis and Sages lived here under the guidance of a renowned sage ‘Ne’. Lord Krishna instructed ‘Ne”  Rishi to protect and  promote  the culture and spiritual knowledge of the place.. Hence the etymology  ‘Ne Palita Desa’ which became Nepal in course of time. In ancient times Kathmandu  was a beautiful and enchanting valley called Sleshmantaka Vana..It is described as “Kshetranam Uttamam Kshetram ”   by Sri Markandeya Rishi in Skanda Purana of Nepala Mahatmya in 30 chapters. Nepal is surrounded by mountains, hills, valleys, forests and beautiful gardens and adorned by the flowing waters of  Bagmati or Vagmati River..

In the ancient times, Lord Shiva whose abode was Mt. Kailash or Kasi Kshetra, came to Sleshmantaka Vana along with Goddess Parvati. He was immensely attracted by the beauty of the place and took the form of a deer and the Goddess assumed the form of a doe, a female deer. They spent their time happily together. In the meanwhile Lord Brahma and other Devas wondered about the whereabouts  of Lord Shiva and His consort. They started searching for them and finally arrived at Sleshmantaka Vana. They observed a deer with a single horn and three eyes and also noticed a female deer near by. Recognising their true identity the Devas requested Lord Shiva and the Goddess to return to their sacred Mt.Kailash abode.. They refused as they were enchanted by the beauty and serenity of the Sleshmantaka Vana.. Later the Devas approached Lord Vishnu  for a solution who devised a plan to capture Lord Shiva. He went for the  single horn of the deer and held it tightly which broke into four pieces.  Lord Shiva declared that  he would stay here as Pashupatinath with four faces facing the four directions and the fifth one facing skyward.. The broken horn is worshiped as a ‘Linga’ but over the passage of time, it was buried and lost. Centuries later when some herdsmen found one of their cows showering milk on earth, they dug at the spot to discover the Linga of Pashupatinath below the soil.

Pashupati means Lord of all pashus. It is believed that whoever beheld the Linga that appeared would not be reborn as an animal..

Legend II
Kamadhenu the holy cow once took shelter in the cave of Chandravan Mountain. It used to go to a particular spot and shower milk where the Shiva Linga was buried. People removed the soil and found to their surprise a beautiful Lingam. They started worshiping it.

Legend III
Daksha Prajapati father of Sati Devi performed a yagya at Kankhal, Haridwar. He did not invite Lord Shiva his own son in law. Unable to bear the insult Sati Devi immolated herself in the sacrificial fire. Lord Shiva wandered about carrying Sati Devi’s charred body which was subsequently cut into 108 pieces by Lord Vishnu’s Chakra. Lord Vishnu wished to appease Shiva in this manner. The places where the parts of the body fell became the ‘Shakti Peetha Sthals.’ Guhyeshwari Devi is supposedly the Shakti of Pashupatinath, denoting the secret Knowledge of the Goddess  had fallen here. The shrine is located 1 Km from the Pashupatinath Temple on the banks of Bagmati River.
( Reference in Lalitha Sahasranamam: 707th  Nama “ Guhya Roopini “ )..

Bagmati River has its source from Mrigendra Shikara which is named after the Supreme Lord Narasimha. After slaying Hiranyakashipu  he came here for rest. The Lord assumed the form of Mrigendra Shikara. Prahlada who followed Lord Narasimha started meditating here. Lord Shiva was amused to watch the hide and seek game played  between the Supreme Lord and His bhakta, Prahlada. Lord Shiva could not help laughing and the foam from his mouth started flowing as  Vagmati or Bagmati River (‘Vak’ means  the mouth) . Lord Narasimha appeared before Prahlada and blessed him. We followed our guide Sri Madhavananda Dasa and repeated in chorus :-
“ Pashupatinath Ki Jai’, Mrigendra Shikar Ki Jai’, Bhakta Prahlad Maharaj Ki Jai’, ‘Sleshmantaka Van ki Jai’, ‘Nepal Kshetra Ki Jai’, Bagmati River Ki  Jai’ .
We were engrossed  in the detailed narration by our Guide. We then left for the Pashupatinath Temple  by van (2Km) at 6:30 pm and were rewarded with the ’Arati Darshan ‘ by His Grace.

Pashupatinath Temple:-
Pashupatinath temple is a famous sacred temple dedicated to Pashupatinath and is located on the banks of Bagmati river in the eastern part of Kathmandu.The temple complex is on UNESCO  World Heritage Site’s list since 1979. This extensive temple is a sprawling collection of temples, ashrams, images and inscriptions raised over the centuries along the banks of the sacred Bagmati river. Photography is strictly prohibited inside the temple..

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.                                      Pashupatinath Temple  Entrance   
                                                                            
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                                              Arati  @ Bagmati River
                              


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                                           Lord Pashupatinath   
The Deity                   

The sanctum sanctorum has a stone Mukhalinga with a silver yoni base bound with silver serpent. The Lingam is 1 metre high and has faces in four directions.these faces represent various aspects of Shiva viz :  (1) Sadyojata or Barun facing west  (2) Vamadeva or Ardhanarishwar facing north (3) Tatpurusha facing east (4) Aghora  facing south and
(5) Ishana facing  the zenith or skyward and also representing the five elements viz. Earth, Water, Air, Light and Ether. East face has protruding hands holding a Rudraksha Mala in the right hand and a Kamadhenu on the other..

The five faced Mukhalinga is called Panchamukha Linga. .The five faces relate Shiva to the five classical elements, the directions, the five senses, and five parts of the body. Any creation has to be made out of these five gross elements.

The Pashupatinath Shiva Linga is always dressed in golden vastra unlike the other Lingas in Nepal and India. Pouring milk and Ganga jal is done only during abhisheka by the main priest. The unique feature of this temple is only 4 priests can touch the Linga. They are from South India and Vedic Dravida Brahmin Scholars from Karnataka  who had undergone curriculum in Shri Shankaracharya Dakshinamurthy Peetha, Sringeri. They are known as Bhatts.The other priests and helpers are known as Bhandaris who are not qualified to perform puja or touch the Lingam.

The temple courtyard has four entrances from four directions. The main entrance is on the west. Temple hours: 5am to 12 Noon and 5pm to 7pm. Devotees are not allowed to enter the innermost Garbhagriha but are allowed to have darshan from the exterior premises of the outer garbhagriha.

An earthquake which happened in 2015 damaged some of the outer buildings in the World Heritage Site but no damage  was done to the main temple complex.  Also the Sanctum sanctorum was left untouched.




Belief :-
It is believed that the Jyotir Linga of Pashupatinath in Kathmandu is the head over the body of 12 Jyotirlingas in India. According to Shiva Purana, this Shivalinga is the bestower of all wishes. Mahashivaratri festival is celebrated with pomp and show in a grand manner which attracts nearly 8 lakhs devotees.

As we entered the temple we saw a huge Nandi ( the bull companion of Shiva ) facing the  Five faced Pashupatinath idol. On the right side is a tall idol of Hanumanji covered in vermillion. As we went on  a pradakshina we came across a tall Trishul with a damaru and other decorations.  There is  also a huge bell. On the eastern side there are shrines for Lord Krishna and Surya. There is a small  grinding stone fixed on the floor with another stone kept on it to rotate free. Some people were seen lifting the stone and moving it in a clockwise motion. Though we did not know its significance we emulated their action. There is a stone carving of Jala Narayan in lying down posture on the floor. There were many monkeys perched on the lamp shades jumping from one end to the other. It was amusing to see them grab the bananas in quick pace from the hands of devotees and throw the skins back on their heads.

We went to the Bagmati river bank to witness the arati ceremony. With great devotion, the mantras were  being chanted and singing was continued as the arati was being performed in the opposite bank. The water level was low in the river. Then we proceeded for the arati darshan at the main Shrine.  The ritual starts at the west side and goes around inside the sanctum sanctorum. The silver doors on the other three sides are opened and the devotees go on a parikrama on the outer raised prakara after climbing 3 to 4 steps. We too  had the good fortune of having  the arati darshan of Lord Pashupatinath in the evening of 13th April 2017, being the first day of our yatra.  We went around a few times and had wonderful darshan from all the four entrances and  received  the blessings of the Lord .

There is a humongous sized idol of Kala Bhairava ( Bhairav Nath) in one of the shrines in the outermost prakara. After the darshan at the  temple we went for shopping near the temple complex. Some went for Rudrakshas ( Eka Mukhi) and most of the others for Crystals, Beads, Corals, and the likes, though the time left at our disposal was hardly 30 minutes. We found bargaining helped a lot to avail discounts. Nepal is famous for Rudraksha (the tear drops of Lord Shiva). Rudraksha beads are the original Vedic Beads of Power worn by the Gods, Yogis and Sages since time immemorial on their paths towards enlightenment and liberation. The beads are very powerful in the cure of physical, mental and emotional disorders. Nepal produces 25% and India 5% of the world’s total Rudraksha beads. There are 1 to 21 faces in Rudraksha variety each having a major deity, planet, Beeja mantra and benefits. It is the seed of a broad-leaved evergreen tree in the genus Elaeocarpus.



By 8:30 pm we had  buffet dinner in Hotel Narayana - hot rotis, tasty dal, mixed vegetable sabzis, plain rice, papad, hot pickles and a cup of thick curds. We spent some time after dinner in the shops within the complex  looking at the display.

We returned to Mirage Lord’s Hotel by 9:30 pm and after being briefed about the next day’s schedule retired to our rooms. Day one proved to be a long day as we had left our homes very early in the morning . We were extremely happy and joyous since we had a wonderful darshan of Lord Pashupatinath in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal.

“ ॐ नम: शंकराय ‘ Sankara means giver of blessings ( San = blessings; Kara = The Giver )

Natarajans.
                         







      





       






                   



     








             


       





                   


     







             

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