Divinities of Nepal
Brahma, the self -created god of creation, is
said to have created the cosmos. Brahma, in art
forms, is depicted as a god having a long beard,
radiant skin, wearing white robes, with four arms
and at times mounted on a goose.
Legend has it that
this event urged him to create a new world for
himself. After the world was created he started
feeling unbearably lonely, so, he created a female
partner for himself with whom he fell in love
at the very first sight. The female (also identified
as Savitri and Saraswati), who was extremely beautiful,
was awfully embarrassed because of Brahma's passionate
behavior towards her. She tried to run away from
Brahma, but whichever direction she tried to escape
from a new head of Brahma would spring up. The
female finding no other alternative sprang up
toward the sky and another head of Brahma sprung
up. Brahma grabbed the helpless female who was
his daughter as well as wife. In this way Brahma
got his five heads but it is believed that his
fifth head was cut off as a punishment for his
sinful affair with his wife-daughter.
Indra, traditionally regarded as the god of heaven,
is the most worshipped and most popular Hindu
god among the plethora of Hindu gods. The vedas
describe him as the valiant fighter who destroys
devils and drought and gives people rain and food.
This could be the reason for his popularity. The
Puranas too speak highly of Indra, often dramatizing
his numerous battles against non -Aryans. Indra-
Jatra is a very famous festival celebrated in
order to honor Indra.
Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and fine arts,
is often portrayed having a pure white form seated
on a full blown lotus or mounted on a hansa (swan).
The hansa is often regarded as our inner-consciousness
and is said to be capable of driving away Avidya
or ignorance. Among her four arms the two lower
arms are shown playing the veena and the upper
hands are shown holding a book and a rosary. Manjushree,
the Buddhist goddess of knowledge and inner- vision
is also worshipped equally as Saraswati is worshipped
among the Hindus.
is a festival celebrated during spring by students.
According to an age- old tradition a young child
is introduced to the alphabets for the first time
on this day.
Kumari, the virgin goddess, represents the state
deity of Nepal known as Taleju and is said to
be the incarnation of Kanya Kumari. A kumari candidate
is selected for a highly honored Hindu temple
from a Buddhist family of Shakya clan. Once she
is selected, she is highly honored by both Hindus
and Buddhists including the king. She is taken
out of her temple to participate in several festivals.
Once a Kumari attains puberty, she loses this
divine status and the selection for another kumari
begins and she is made to leave the temple.
The famous Kumari
temple is situated right across the historical
Gaddi Baithak Hall at Basantapur in Kathmandu.
There are different Kumaris in Patan, Bhaktapur,
Bungmati, Thimi and other Newar towns.
Hanumana or the monkey god is worshipped as the
god of protection. He is said to be full of shakti
or strength, thus, his whole body is shown to
be red. He symbolizes courage, strength and loyalty.
The statues of Hanumana are found in most palaces.
The images of the Hanumana always show him with
closed eyes. It is said that he never married
and does not like seeing females, especially unmarried
female. People believe that he can destroy them
if he catches sight of them.
The five Dhyani Buddha's- Vairochana, Akshobhaya,
Rathasambhava, Amitabha and Amoghasiddhi, represent
the five basic elements of which the world is
made- Earth, fire, water and ether. These Buddha's,
described as the progenitors of the five kulas,
or families, termed as Dvesa, Moha, Raga, Chintamani
and Samaya, are associated with the fulfillment
of desires as well as the attainment of Nirvana.
Buddhist philosophy conceives these gods to be
the manifestation of Sunya or absolute void. We
often find the images of the Dhyani Buddha's in
Stupas. Akshobhaya is placed facing the east,
Amitabha facing the west, Amoghasiddhi facing
south, Ratnasambhava facing north and Vairochana
in the center. Except for Vairochana, which is
considered to be the preciding deity of a stupa,
all the other Dhyani Buddha's are seen in meditation.
In most stupas the central Buddha is either hidden
or seated next to Akshobhaya.
Though there are
only five Dhyani Buddha's, sometimes an additional
Dhyani Budda- the Vajrasattva is also included.
Vajrasattva is regarded as the priest among the
Dhyani Buddha's and is seen holding a Vajra on
his right hand and a ghanta(bell) on the left.
Ganesha, the god of good luck, wisdom and success,
is a very popular deity worshipped by Both Hindus
as well as Buddhist's in Nepal. The figure of
Ganesha is childlike and unique as it has an elephant
head, a big round belly, an exceptionally short
body and four or more hands. His upper right hand
holds a hook, representing the right path to follow,
and the lower hand is seen holding a noose, representing
self- restrain. The rosary on his third lower
hand represents concentration, which is very important
for the development of spiritual knowledge, and
his lower four hands are in a gesture that assures
his devotees fearlessness, indicating that he
is the protector. A religious text describes the
bulky body of Ganesha as the cosmos and his elephant-like
shape as the embodiment of cosmic intelligence.
A legend has it that he even broke his most valued
tusk so that Vyasa, a great Hindu Vedic writer,
could write the Mahabharat.
The god Kumara, the brother of Ganesha, has six
heads representing the six senses ( including
the extra sensory perception).Kumara has six different
names- Kartiyeka, Gangeya, Skanda, Sarvanabha,
Sadahana and Subrrahmanya. Kumara. It is believed
that he was born from the eye of lord Shiva. Hence,
making him the eternal child of divine wisdom.
However, he is also regarded as the god of welfare
and divine wisdom. The worshipping of Kumara begins
with the cleaning of the house with cow-dung mixed
with red clay. Then a figure of a lotus with six
petals is drawn with yellow rice powder and vermilion.
According to Hindu Pundits, the six Chakras inherent
in the human body is the medium through which
Kundalini is to transfer its energy into the Samadhi
or Yoga. On special festivals young boys are made
the kumara and are taken out in procession. The
main kumara festival is Kumara sasthi, which falls
on May. On this festival cleaning of the neighborhood
is an important event besides the processions.
Laxmi is the goddess of wealth and the consort
of lord Vishnu. Laxmi is among the most worshipped
of all gods and goddesses in Nepal. One of the
most important festivals, among the multitude
of Nepali festivals, is Laxmi puja. Laxmi puja
is significant for those who celebrate it for
it gives them a reason to hope for financial progress
in the years to come. The celebration is usually
done with elaborate preparations. Lights play
a huge role during Laxmi puja since it is celebrated
at night. Oil fed clay lamps are kept burning
throughout the night. Laxmi puja is also known
as the festival of lights.
Mahakaala is one of the highly fascinating Vajrayana
Buddhist deities. In art forms the deity is portrayed
as dark, dwarfed and big bellied, with a mukuta
or headdress with skulls set in and a garland
of human heads. He holds a Kurtri (flaying knife)
in his right hand and a kapala (a skull cup) on
the other. He has three eyes, opened wide giving
him a fierce look, and teeth dripping blood. He
wears tiger skin as girdle and snakes as various
ornaments. Though he looks fierce, he is said
to be very kind hearted. According to Sadhanmala,
a very old Buddhist text, the number of arms and
heads Mahakaala would have depended on the nature
of purpose he was called for. He could have one
face with two, four or six arms or even eight
faces with sixteen arms. It is popularly believed
that his fierce look is not to scare every other
person but to scare away evil.
or Bunga Dyo
The Buddhist rain-god, Bhunga dyo or Rato Machindra
is also known as Karunamaya Lokeshwara (The most
compassionate god of the universe). Bunga Dyo
is worshipped in its male as well as female form
like umaneshwara, Laxminarayan, Praynayopaya and
so on. There are two temples of Machhendra, one
is at Bungmati, which is about 8km away from Kathmandu
and one is at Patan.
The festival of
Bhunga dyo begins every year on the first day
of Baishakh (March-April) and continues for a
month or so. Since Nepal is an agricultural country
the monsoons are very important for the Nepali's.
This festival frees the farmers from worries about
not getting ample amount of rain as this festival
implies the worship of the rain god. During this
festival a chariot carrying the Machindra is pulled
and thousands of people participate.
Bheemasena is one of the heroes of the Mahabharata
and the god of trade and commerce. Bheemasena
is portrayed in images as a red- faced deity with
angry eyes and a thick black moustache. He is
often shown lifting a horse in the air and pressing
an elephant under his knee with a huge cobra and
a lion watching in awe. This fierceness in his
images is meant to symbolize his determination
to kill Dushshasan, his enemy who had insulted
Draupadi by trying to denude her in public.
Bheemasena is worshipped
widely by Nepali traders. Several guthi's (a sort
of trust) are devoted to the regular service of
One of the most
remarkable statues of Bheemasena can be seen in
Patan Bheemasena temple built by Shreenivas Malla
in the early 18th century.
Krishna is by far the most widely worshipped around
the world. The devotees of Lord Krishna take him
to be a spiritual guide, a karmayogi, a highly
perfected man of good action, a supreme statesman,
a protector of the poor, an eternal lover and
so on. He is taken to be a versatile divinity.
In art forms Krishna is depicted as a divine lover
of gopinee girls. Though, his love is different
from that of mortals as the single-minded devotion
between the gopinee's and the lord is supposed
to symbolize the single-minded devotion to god.
It is believed
that Krishna could put all his devotees into a
trance by playing his magic flute. In art forms
he is shown holding a flute in his hand and his
leg slightly bent in tribhanga mudra.This gesture
represents his involvement in karma-yoga (continual
action)which keeps the world in order. So, our
saints call him the Karma-yogi, the highly perfected
man and the god of action.
The Geeta is a
divine gift of Lord Krishna for the people of
the world who aspire for illuminating inner vision.
his various forms of incarnation
Vishnu Dharma Purana
(an old Hindu text) describes Vishnu as the preserver
of the universe and the upholder of Dharma. According
to the Geeta, whenever lord Vishnu sees Dharma
declining and the weak and innocent suffering
He comes down in different forms of incarnation
to undo the wrong. The different incarnations
of Vishnu could be:
Fish : Manu, the and the first founder
of human civilization, was saved from a terrifying
flood by Vishnu in the form of a Fish. The flood
is said to have been caused by Hayagriva, the
most cruel sea-monster dwelling deep in the ocean
with innumerable fierce marine animals.
or Kurma- The tortoise : When Vishnu
saw the sins of Danavas or devils weighing down
the earth he assumed the form of a tortoise and
dived deep into the sea to raise the earth on
his back and changed the earth to its natural
3.Varaha- The Boar : When a demon
named Hiranyakashyapa drowned the earth, Vishnu
rushed to rescue the earth incarnated as a Boar
(Varaha). He plunged into the water and rescued
the earth by killing the demon.
man-lion : Vishnu, in this incarnation
killed Hiranyakashyapa by tearing open his stomach
for his attempt to kill his own son- Prahlad,
the most sincere devotee of the Lord Vishnu.
Dwarf Brahman : In this Avatar (incarnation)
Vishnu reclaimed the earth from Mahabali, the
lord of all the three worlds, by visiting Bali
in this avatar and asking him to give the land
measured by three steps. As soon as Bali agreed
he got back to himself and in three steps covered
the universe and won it.
: The heroic Brahmin with a militant
personality Vishnu in this form, with an axe on
his right hand and a bow on the next, is said
to have annihilated all the 'kshatriyas' (warrior
class) in 22 battles.
: The highly perfected human-god Vishnu
incarnated as Rama, the ideal king and the here
of the Ramayana, killed the king of demons- Ravana.
8. Krishna : The most widely
worshipped incarnation of vishnu. This incarnation
of Vishnu killed the ogress Putna when she tried
to kill him by feeding him poisoned milk when
he was a child. Later, Krishna subdued the most
fatal cobra- Kaliya.
: The supreme teacher Buddha, the enlightened
one, was born in Lumbini of Nepal at about 563
B.C. This incarnation of Vishnu was born to guide
suffering souls to the right direction. He has
taught lessons of humanity, truth and peace.
or Kali ( The last incarnation ) : The
last incarnation of Vishnu has yet not come, but
people believe that it will appear at the end
of the Kaliyug. It is believed that this incarnation
of vishnu will come mounted on a horse, killing
all the evil and saving only pious souls.