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Pashupatinath Shivling – Symbolism Uniqueness and Importance Shivling at Pashupatinath Temple in Nepal

This Shivling worshipped at Pashupatinath temple in Nepal is of great importance in Hinduism due to its unique form.

Pashupatinath Shivling - Uniqueness and Importance

  • The Shivling worshipped in the temple appeared on its own or is swayambhu.
  • The Shivling is 6 feet high and is five-faced.
  • On the Pashupatinath Shivling, four-faces are in four directions and the fifth face is etched on the top of the Shivling looking upwards.
  • Each of the five faces is unique and different.
  • The right hand of each face holds a rudraksha mala and the left hand holds kamandalu (water pot).
  • The four faces symbolically represent the four Vedas and the four holy places in Hinduism.
  • The fifth face is associated with self-realization or moksha (liberation).
  • The Shivling is also known as Panchanana Shiva or Panchamukha Shiva Linga.
  • As per Shiva Purana, the Shivling was established in the form of Jyotirlinga.
This is not the Pashupatinath Shivling it is a representational image.
No one is allowed to take photos of Pashupatinath Shivling

Symbolism of Shivling at Pashupatinath Temple in Nepal

East Facing Pashupatinath Shivling
The east facing face is known as Tatpurusha. Jatta (hair in forehead) is visible in this form. He wears rudraksha mala. This face is also known as Kuber form. This form is associated with spirituality and he is far removed from the maddening world.

South Facing Pashupatinath Shivling
The south facing is known as Aghora. This face is both peaceful and fearsome at the same time. Shiva consumes everything at the end of an era with this face. The left earring is a snake. The face is the brightest among the four faces.

North Facing Pashupatinath Shivling
The north facing is known as Vamadeva. This face is half-Shiva and half-Parvati and is associated with Ardhanarishwara concept. Shiva has moon in his matted locks. The face is associated with creation.

West Facing Pashupatinath Shivling
The west facing is known as Sadyojat. This face is known as child form of Shiva. He looks like an innocent child. This face is also known as wakeful form of Shiva. This face is the worldly form of Shiva.
Upward Facing Pashupatinath Shivling
The upward facing face is known as Ishaan. This face is without any form – Nirakaar. It has the power of both Shiva and Shakti. It is associated with wisdom, eternal knowledge and moksha.

Story of Pashupatinath Shivling

Legend has it that Shiva was resting at this place in the form of a gazelle. Deva, the demigods, arrived at the spot and asked him to return to Kashi (Banaras). To escape from the Devas, Shiva jumped across the river. While jumping a horn of the gazelle broke into four pieces. Shiva then appeared here in the form of Chaturmukhi Shivling.

The temple was discovered when a cow used to shed its milk here daily. On discovering about the behavior of the cow, people cleared the area and discovered the Shivling. They tried to dig it out but could not find the end. Soon a fierce light appeared from the Shivling and it turned the people and things around into ashes.

Nobody could stop the fierce light emanating from the spot. Soon Vishnu appeared and hid the Shivling.

The merciful Shiva then apparead as Pashupatinath for the welfare of all animate and inanimate on earth. He gave refuge to all and thus he became Pashupatinath.

It is also believed that this Shivling is the form that Shiva took to quell the pride of Brahma and Vishnu who were arguing as to who is superior. Shiva appeared in the form of Jyotirlinga without any beginning and end.


The Shivling is mentioned in the Vedas - the oldest scripture of mankind.

There is no exact information regarding the origin of the temple. But is believed that first temple was constructed in 3rd century BC by King Pashu Preksh of Somdev dynasty.

The temple is located 3 km from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, at Devphatan on the banks of Bagmati River.

The temple is included in the UNESCO heritage sites.

The temple is also one among the eight sacred spots in Hinduism.

The shrine attracts thousands of Hindus from around the world.