Hinduism: Trinity of Three Gods
Hinduism generally is regarded as the oldest formal religion in the world. It was originated some 3500 years ago and followed by Aryan tribes, spilling over the Hindu Kush from Inner Asia, and mixing with the urban civilization of the Indus Valley and with the tribal cultures of hunting and gathering people in the area. The Hindu’s basic beliefs are recorded in the Vedas-a collection of over one thousand religious hymns. These texts form the theological and philosophical precepts of Hinduism.
Hinduism has a basic trinity of three gods – Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, personifying creation, preservation, and destruction. Most Hindus, while revering Brahma, do not usually include his worship in religious ceremonies as his role in the universe is regarded to be essentially completed. However, Vishnu and Shiva are most widely followed by Hindus. Vishnu, the savior, has been known to come down to earth in a mortal form when earth is in trouble or when evil is sensed. This occurrence is called an “Avatar”. Nine such instances have been seen, with Lord Buddha being the most recent one. Two of Vishnu’s other incarnations, Rama and Krishna- the heroes of the classic Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata respectively and are especially important to the Hindus.
Shiva, the destroyer, is the most “popular” or most sought after God among the three. He is believed to have three forms-Natraj, the god of artistic skill, an anthropomorphic form and the Lingam form. He and his consort, Parbati, have been said to reside in the Himalayas therefore many Lord Shiva temples have been erected in Nepal. It is believed that Parbati transforms into Ma-Shakti to destroy evil. Another widely worshipped god in Hinduism is Ganesha, god of wisdom, who is believed to be responsible for deciding between success and failure.
Hinduism is polytheistic. It incorporates many gods and goddesses with different functions and powers. They are considered merely different manifestations or aspects of a single underlying divinity. Hindus in Nepal worship many gods at different times and for different reasons, however, they may choose one god as a favorite deity and focus much of their worship around this deity. Each deity has special forms of worship and special celebrations: these festivals form an integral part of worship in Nepal.
There are many pilgrimages for Hindus in Nepal. Places where God is supposed to have been seen, where they were born or even proof of their presence
However, among all those pilgrimages there are few that are considered to be most holy.
The Pashupatinath Temple is a temple built in honor of Lord Shiva- The destroyer. Lord Shiva is worshipped as “Pashupati” which means “Lord of all living creatures”.
The temple area is recognized as a UNESCO World heritage site. Thousands of Hindus all over the world visit the temple throughout the year, but on Shivaratri, the day devoted to Lord Shiva (a day before the black moon in February), the temple will be swarming with devotees from all over. The Muktinath temple is in honor of Lord Shiva and is considered a “Place of salvation”. A dip in the ice-cold holy water coming straight from the mountains is said to wash away all your sins so you can start fresh. Janakpur is the holy pilgrimage is the birthplace of Sita, bride to Lord Ram, the 7th incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Pilgrims from both India and Nepal visit the place to pay their respects to Janaki Sita. Gosaikunda is a lake in Langtang, situated in the backdrop of the mountains. Legend says that Lord Shiva saved the world when he drank the poison created as a consequence of the Gods trying to create the Elixir of Life. To quench his thirst he sank his tridad into the ground for water, creating the Gosaikunda Lake. Such are the pilgrimages that the Hindu devotees travel from across worlds to witness. Each visit is fruitful and leaves you with a sense of peace and belongingness.
The holiest temple of Pashupatinath is the crowning glories of Kathmandu valley’s architecture. Whether you are religious or not, the temple is a place of beauty and not to be missed. Hindus pray to Lord Shiva as Pashupati (Lord of beasts) and want to be cremated on the banks of holy Bagmati River to get rid of the cycle of birth and death. If you are not a Hindu, you are not allowed to enter into the temple but you can have good view of the temple from Bagmati River.
Muktinath Temple is the symbol of the religious symbiosis between both Hindus and Buddhists. Thousands of devotees visit this divine temple, take holy dip in the Kunda, bath beneath of 108 waterspouts and pray for salvation from cycle of birth and rebirth. Whether you are religious or not, a trip to Muktinath is must as it provides a trek of a lifetime amidst barren valley and lofty Himalayan Ranges, and gives you an opportunity to learn about Himalayan culture and people.
Manakamana, the holy Hindu shrine dedicated to goddess Manakamana, stands tall in the historic town of Gorkha overlooking the Marsyangdi on the west and Trisuli on the right. In the past, pilgrims used to do the long arduous trek up to the hilltop but after an establishment of cable car; one can reach to the top in just 10-12 minutes. Hindus visit this temple of wish fulfilling deity before beginning a new journey or starting anything in their life believing it auspicious. Even if you have no wishes to make, this is a must visit place, offering a spectacular view and a unique look into Nepali people’s faith in the Goddess Manakamana.
Changu Narayan Temple
Situated 8 miles east of Kathmandu, Changu Narayan has to be on your priority list while visiting Kathmandu valley. This beautiful and historic temple of Lord Vishnu is often described as the most ancient temple in the Kathmandu valley. The temple is adorned by some of the best specimen of stone, wood, and metal craft in the valley and is one of the single-greatest concentrations of ancient art in Nepal. It stands as the epitome of culture, religion, history and faith of the valley, offering complete cultural development of the valley. A visit to this world heritage site is worth a trip.
Situated 9 km north of Kathmandu, a holy Hindu shrine of Buddhanilkantha, is especially popular for its reclining statue of Lord Vishnu resting on a bed of snakes. Hindus pray to the sleeping Vishnu with offerings of flowers and fruits. The tourists are not allowed to touch the deity; however, they can visit the temple complex. The temple offers unique pleasure and mesmerizes everyone by its beauty, quietness and holiness. It is a must visit and as someone has rightfully said “you can find your personal Shangrila” in the serene environment of Buddhanilkantha.