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Shaivism in Nepal – Worship of Hindu God Shiva in Nepal

Shaivism is the most widely followed Hindu sect in Nepal and it has a deep impact on the life and culture of the people of the region. To Hindus, Nepal is the abode of Shiva – Pashupatikshetra.

Shiva is primarily worshipped in the form of Shivling in Nepal. Shivling with face and without face is worshipped here. Mukhalinga or linga with face is much more prevalent in Nepal than in India.

There are two types of Mukha Linga – with one face and with four faces.

The formed and formless form of Supreme Deity in the form of Shiva is worshipped by followers of Shaivism.

Shaivism Origin Nepal

The shrine of Pashupatinatha is the most important temple in Nepal. Shiva as Pashupati is the guardian deity of Nepal and the shrine dates back to the prehistoric Kirata period.

All the kings of Nepal invoke Shiva as Pashupati and they have mentioned in the inscriptions that they are dedicated to the feet of Pashupati.

The extraordinary four-faced murti of Pashupatinatha is the epitome of Nepali – Shaiva concept. The four faces on the formless linga makes Pashupati the personification of the universe.

This is a benign form of Shiva raising one hand in blessing.

Pashupatinatha Temple

Pashupatinatha Temple is a classic example of pagoda style in staired-plinth and many-tiered terraced roof. The temple was built before 477 AD. The rituals and pujas in the shrine were restored by Adi Shankaracharya. The priests of the temple are from South India.

Access to the Pashupatinath temple is granted to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs.

Shivratri (February or early March) is the most important festival observed in the temple. During this period, Hindus from around the world arrive to have darshan of Shiva.

The temple is held in high reverence and awe by Hindus. Every Hindu wants to visit the shrine at least once in his lifetime.

Bhairava Worship in Nepal

The Bhairava Sect is an important aspect of Shaivism in Nepal. The samharamurti or destructive form of Shiva is given importance by this sect. This form of Shiva is seen throughout the Nepal Valley.

The classical texts of Tantra mention sixty-four Bhairavas with equal number of female counterparts known as Yoginis. But the Nepali Shaivism do not follow classic number or names. Majority of them are indigenous folk deities elevated to suit the higher ritualistic cult of Shaivism and Tantra.

Some Bhairavas are identified with their originating spot as Nuwakot, Bhaktapur and Chitlang.

Some represent cosmic aspects like Mahakala, Unmatta, Ananda and Akasha.

Some are representations of classical or folk deities like the Londekonde.

The most famous Bhairava Temple is the Mahakala Bhairava in Khatmandu city center.

Other important Bhairavas worshipped in Nepal are Akasha Bhairava of Asan, Indraloka, Panchali Bhairava and Tiger Bhairava of Kirtipur. But the marvelous murti of Unmatta Bhairava situated in the sacred Kathmandu complex of the Pashupati temple, surpasses all in its grand design and the unique expression of intoxicated male virility.

The influence of the Bhairavas on the life, culture and art in Nepal is very significant.

Natha Shaiva Sect

Another important Shaiva sect in Nepal is the Natha sect. Yoga, Siddha and Kanfata are associated with the Nathas. The main center of this sect is an ancient pagoda style inn situated in the heart of Kathmandu city. Kathmandu, also known as Kantipuri, got its name from this ancient monument built with the wood of a single tree.

Guru Gorakhanatha is believed to have resided in Nepal. He was honored by medieval kings and modern dynasties.

The yogis of the Nath Sect followed the eight principles of Yoga propounded by Patanjali. They subjected themselves to physical torture to for yogic achievements.

They also formed militant groups to support Hindu kings.

There are nine respected Siddha Nathas in Nepal.

The Chaugrha Matha in Dang District of Nepal was established by Yogi Ratnanath, who was a Siddha Natha.