Lesson about Life and Death: Is Pashupatinath is worth visiting destination for Non-Hindus?

Is Pashupatinath worth visiting for Non-Hindus
Is Pashupatinath worth visiting for Non-Hindus

A morning walk to Pashupatinath can bring us the lesson about birth and death in Hindus perspective. It is the Oldest and Biggest Hindus Temple in Nepal.

The name Pashupati comes from Sanskrit “Pasupati” means the lord (nath), protector (pati) of animals (pashu).

Pashupatinath temple locate on the banks of the Holy River, Bagmati. It’s around 5 km north-east of kathmandu city and UNESCO regard it as culture UNESCO world heritage.

The architecture of main temples at pashupatinath is a pagoda style derives from stupa architecture in ancient India. These styles have several levels and roofs and it represent the sacred mountains.

They establish countless smaller temples, including 518 temples and monuments around the main temples.

You also can find Shiva Linga’s everywhere around this temple. In an open courtyard behind the main temple, there is a maze of 504 Shiva lingas.

As a sacred-biggest and oldest Hindus temple, this temple is remarkable for Hindus. Hindus peoples held ceremony and festival in this temple.

But what about Non-Hindus, is it also worth it for Non-Hindus to visit Pashupatinath?

While the main temples only accessible for Hindus, in other hand Nepal Government promoting these temples as a tourist destination for western and foreigner whose have a different belief.

Despite of the question “if lord Shiva is for all human being, why Pashupatinath as temple only allowed for Hindus?”

Pashupatinath is worth visiting destination in Kathmandu. Shiva lingam remind us about life creation, whereas Cremation lead us to remember that the body is not immortal and will return to the five elements and origins: air, water, fire, earth and space.In complex outside of the main temple, we can see cremation in Hindu’s way and Shiva Linga. It will give us a deep meaning lesson to learn about life and death in Hindu’s perspective.

Throughout the Hindu’s system, Pashupatinath means lord of all animals.

Some scientist observes that behavior of higher mammals similar to human behavior. This includes non-learned, inherited or hereditary patterns of attitude to ensuring the survival of a species.

These attitudes include revenge, rejection, tribal loyalty, greedy and our urge to procreate, sometimes threatens. So like Lord Shiva, we are as a human also need to overcome animal behavior inside us, and go beyond of that.

Pashupatinath Temple: When it began?

The most famous legend tells the story they built the temple on the site where Shiva lost one of his antlers when he was in the camouflaged as a deer.

He and his wife, Parvati, reach the bank of Bagmati and amaze with the beauty of the river, valley and forest surrounding. Then, Lord Shiva and Parvati then changed themselves into deers and wander into surrounding forests.

One of his antlers fell in the forest, then become the first Lingam for worship. This Shiva Linga disappear thousand years ago before it found. They said whoever showed up before the lingam would not be reborn as an animal.

The origin and historical of Pashupatinath itself is unclear.

They find the factual history of Pashupatinath existence early in 400 A.D. Then Lichchavi King Prachanda Dev reconstructed the temple in the 5th century and in the end of the 17th century the present main temple of Pashupatinath change again because termites ruin the old ones.

Air, Water, Fire, Earth & Space: Cremation in the Hindu’s Way

Is Pashupatinath worth visiting for Non-Hindus
Is Pashupatinath worth visiting for Non-Hindus

Pashupatinath, the oldest and biggest temples in Nepal, become one of point of culture significance for Non-Hindus traveler who excites in culture and religion belief about Hinduism.

The one highlight of Pashupatinath is Ghats or cremation spot alongside of holy river Bhagmati. Here, we can look at ritual cremations of Hindus, at Pashupatinath Ghats.

There are also The Arya Ghat that specialize for the Cremation of members the royal family. They cremate all Hindus, except babies, children, and saints, in the morning, by the next dusk or dawn.

Hindus believe in Reincarnation. When they die, the soul is not dying and reincarnates. It will go into a different physical body or life form.

Hindus believe in Karma, which the soul’s next incarnation depends on the actions of the individual in their previous life.

Hindus, as mentioned in Vedic text, cremate their deaths body because the burned disintegration of the body brings the release of the soul faster than burial, which supports the psychic relation between souls with secular life that has just ended.

The departed soul hovers close to its astral body after death. It still attached to the physical body and its old surroundings. Funeral rituals and burning of the body is spiritual liberation. This is for telling the departed soul that death has come.

The funeral chants communicate to the departed soul and requesting the soul to let go of the attachment.

They ask the departed soul to continue its spiritual journey and invite Gods and deities to save the soul in its transformation.

As expressed in the prayer from the Rig Veda: “Release him again, O Agni, to the fathers. Now starts for his destiny. Putting on new life, let him find the living, let him rejoin with a new body, All-Knowing One!”

Hindus do not believe in the bring back to life of the body and unity of every soul with its physical body, so they not concern with caring for a corpse.

An ancient text says, “A snake sloughs off its skin, a bird leaves its shell, even as if awake, the soul forgets experiences from a dream state, so does the soul wander from one body to another,”

They bringing the bodies into the Ghat side of Holy River, Bagmati and carry the dead body in the bamboo ladder and then purify the body in the water.

The body “holy bath” wash in a mixture of milk, yogurt, ghee or clarified butter, and honey. The body may also wash in purity water. Those who washing the body should recite mantras while the body take a holy bath.

After they finish to clean the body, they tie the big toes together, and place the hands palm-to-palm in view of prayer.

After that, they cover the body with three major sheet which is white, orange and red. White is the color of mourning and purity. Whereas red is the color of happiness, and color of God, and orange consider as a holy color. So those colors in the funeral represent purity, happiness and holy of God.

If the person who died was a married woman and died before her husband, they should dress her in red. While the person who died is a man or a widow, they should dress in white and yellow or orange for young unmarried girls.

First son will give the fire. If the wife die, then youngest son makes the first flame start from the mount.

They didn’t use petrol or kerosene to burn the body. But they use natural things like straw, butter and sugar to burn the bodies.

They cover the dry wood pyre with the body, recite mantras, places sesame seed in the dead person’s mouth, and showers the body and the pyre with ghee.

After that they draw three lines signifying Yama or deity of the dead, Kala or time, deity of cremation and the dead.

It takes 3-4 hour to finish the cremation ceremony, depending the structure of body. Hindus people burn the body because the universe and the human body comprise 5 element air, water, fire, earth and space, that use in our life.

Cremation returns the body to the five elements and origins. Ash from the cremation sanctified to the holy river.

Before creation there was a creation: The universe shape of Shiva Linga

Is Pashupatinath worth visiting for Non-Hindus
Is Pashupatinath worth visiting for Non-Hindus

The inner of main temple Pashupatinath is sanctum and Chatur Mukhlinga. Chatur Mukhlinga is a Linga that has faces carved on it on all four sides.

The height of these Shiva Linga is about 6 ft or 2 meters and the color is black. The faces look towards east, west, north, and south. Each face represents original incarnations of Shiva. They are Sadjyota, Vamdeva, Tatpurusha, and Aghora.

Sadyojata means “quick birthing”, the controlling Lord of Brahma, is the aspect of Siva that wields the power of creation. The direction is west. They relate him to the sphere of earth.

Vamadeva means “lovely”, the controlling Lord of Vishnu, is the aspect of Siva that wields the power of preservation. The direction is north. They relate him to the sphere of water.

Tatpurusha means “supreme soul”, the controlling Lord of Maheshvara, is the aspect of Siva that wields the power of obscuration. His direction is east, they relate him to the sphere of air.

Aghora means “non-terrifying”, the controlling Lord of Rudra, is the aspect of Siva that wields the power of dissolution. His direction is south, they relate him to the sphere of fire.

Earth, water, air and fire are the four elements of the universe.

The universe start with a ‘Bindu’, a Sanskrit word meaning “point” or “dot”. It started with an enormous explosion much bigger than millions of hydrogen bomb.

The explosion stretching and resonating in all the directions. Through that vibration the first sound came out that was ‘Ohm’ and then the light, the colors, the planets, stars, and all the creations.

The Shiva Linga is a form in which all the material from the cosmos wrapped in it. Shiva Linga is the symbol of our biggest universe.

Shiva Linga symbolize Shiva and Shakti that means the female, the womb inside the female or woman’s body, and male energy in one.

Goddess Shakti, the wife of Shiva, is the feminine generative power. While Shiva has the generative power, all of existence, all creativity and fertility at every cosmic level.

The same with the Shiva Linga, in all creations from God, everybody hold a female energy and male energy, both are in balance. So in a way we all are carrying Shiva Linga.

Womb is a sacred place because in the beginning all of us inhabit, in the womb and it protect us.

When you see that Shiva Linga you see a huge form upwards and an enormous form in a horizontal plane.

That horizontal plane is the Yoni you can say that is the female form (Womb) and that upward form that is the Lingam we can say that is the expanding form. That is the expanding energy.

You see that when you are close to this Shiva Linga; you experience an energy is coming from within.

This is because Shiva Linga has a vertical and a horizontal direction.

That shows the cosmos, expanding and growing.

The Essential Information of Pashupatinath

  • Temple is open in the morning and evening. It closes in the afternoon.
  • The inner Pashupatinath temple is not accessible for the non-Hindus.
    There are four doors. The inner door or inner temple courtyard remains open from 4 am to 7 pm for the devotee. The inner Pashupatinath temple where the lingam exist is only open from 5 Am to 12 PM for the morning ritual and 5 to 7 PM for the evening ritual.
  • Non-Hindus can look at the main temple from the next side of the river and have to pay entrance fee 1000 Nepali rupees or $10 for visiting the hundreds of small temples in the external premises of the temple complex.
    • There are three major festivals in the Pashupatinath. On this festivals day, Pashupatinath Temple will be with the biggest crowd.
      The Maha Shivaratri festival is one festival in the Pashupatinath temple to celebrate the birth of Lord Shiva. Thousands of Hindus pilgrim include India visit Pashupatinath temple during this festival.
    • The second festival is Teej. This is one of the supreme festivals of the Hindu women of Nepal. They fasting on a day and offering to the god.
    • Third festival is Bala Chaturthi. This is the festival to remember the lost one by the family member.
  • Taxi can reach Pashupatinath from the city center. If you’re in Thamel or surrounding areas, the cost shouldn’t cost over 500 rupees. It takes around two to three hours to see the entire temple grounds and take pictures of sadhus or watch a cremation.
  • You can watch the cremation and taking pictures but do it from distance to respect and give the family space.
  • To respect Mother Nature and become eco-traveler, please don’t throw your trash, save the trash in your bag and take water bottle with you as Kathmandu gets hot during the day.
  • You also need to be careful with the monkeys in the forest surrounding Pashupatinath, as they are kleptomaniacs. Don’t bring powerful smell of food with you, keep everything inside your bag and out of their reach.
  • Pashupatinath is near from Airport so if you’re heading to the airport after a visit the temple, you can exit through the south entrance and walk for 10-15 minutes or take a public bus for 20 rupees to the airport entrance.

Map & Directions to the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu

Worry-free Option; Travel with Guide.

These are recommendation tours. It’s custom trip and private tour to Pashupatinath.

Not only provide the guide but they also will provide pick up from and to your Hotel and visit the other point of interest in Kathmandu Valley likes ancient place (Durbar Square) and Other culture World Heritage in Nepal like Boudhanath and Swayambhunath.

A guide will help you understand the culture of the society in Nepal.

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Florensia Damayanti

Hi, I’m an Artificial Intelligence enthusiasm, 11+ years programming and application development Travel and enjoy observing people in a unique culture is my favourite things to do. I collect beautiful memories by visit Beijing, Singapore, Nepal, Hongkong, Poland, Germany, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary and Croatia and so many more. Nepal is one of my favourite country. It is the birthplace of the Lord Buddha and the home of Himalayan mountain.

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