Sunday, July 12, 2015

Mukthinath yatra -6

Darshan of Muktinath 

The Muktinath complex is a big complex consisting of many shrines with  Muktinath shrine in the middle. There is an impressive gate with Garuda along with his consorts welcoming all those want liberation. The whole compound is now surrounded by a compound wall which was built by the devotees of Swami Narayan, who  practiced severe penance here at Muktinath  and attained proficiency in Nishkarmvat. Later he propogated Sabij yoga, the goal of which is the realization of and service to God. There is a monument inside the complex for Swaminarayan in which the feet of Lord  Vishnu is also installed.

Entrance arch of Muktinath complex 

( Garuda  & snakes)

Diagram of the Muktinath temple complex

Three giant prayer wheels  near the entrance 

Nearer to the entrance are three giant prayer wheels. According to the Tibetan Buddhist faith, turning a prayer wheel containing 100 million mantras on paper accumulates the same merit as having recited those same 100 million mantras.There are a row of small prayer wheel behind the gate. 

Vishnu paduka Mandir 

Swami Narayan

The devotees this Swami constructed the compound wall off rrhe complex recently

Yagna Sala 

Thirumangai Azhwar Tamil  Hymns

The first shrine which we see once we enter into the comple is Changtho Gompa, one can find the beautiful statues of Buddha, Avalikitheswara and Padmasambhava in this shrine. The Buddhist Lamas and nuns who take care of the complex stay in this Gompa.  Next to the Gompa is the yagna Sala in front of this building  the board with the Sweet Tamil  hymns of Thirumangai Azhwar is kept. We felt proud that at this elevation also Tamil has vibrated. Now with all the flights, buses, bikes it is very difficult to reach Muktinath, but in those days how Tirumangai Azhwar and other great saints  would have travelled we wondered. 

Shiva - Parvati
Giant Shalagrahma shila

Next shrine is the Shiva-Parvathi shrine, this is in Panchathayana  style with Shiva in the middle and on  four corners four smaller shrines for Ganesha, Rama, Krishna and Vishnu. In the central shrine we can worship Shiva Parvathi as icons and there is also a giant Shalagrama the anionic form of Shiva. Nandhi the mount of Shiva also installed in front of the Lord. This is the only purely Hindu shrine in this complex. Where as the all  other shrines are holy for both Hindus and Buddhists. This shrine also built in typical pagoda style with three storeyed roof. 

Central Mukthinath Shrine 

On the opposite side we have the monument of Swami Narayan called Vishnu Mandir, about which we saw earlier with feet of Vishnu. The path way to the central shrine is lined with tall trees which is a specialty of Muktinath and a stream of Kali Gamdaki  also flows on one side.  We slowly walked towards the main central shrine. Between the Vishnu Mandir and the main temple of Muktinath there is a monument referring to those who contributed to the temple.

Two tanks 

We were very happy when we reached the main temple. It’s only by the grace of Muktinath one could come near Him and worship him. We were lucky that he called us.  We first took bath in the 108 water falls surrounding the shrine and in the two tanks. The 108 water falls represent the 108 Divya Desams and this thirtham can wash away any bad karma  forus Hindus. Where as for Buddhists these  represent  the 84 Mahasiddhas. When Padma Sambava visited Muktinath along with the 84 Mahasiddhas they brought the holy  Manasarovar water  here for the benefit of pilgrims by poking a stick into ground miraculously from those 84 holes 84 springs of water came out from the ground. So the water is believed to be the sacred water  it tastes both sweet and cooling.

108 water falls 

This is described in the following way in Tibetan Buddhist  scriptures:

At the one hundred and eight springs,
The  eighty accomplished masters
Each made a reservoir in the earth.
From the heatless turquoise  Lake Manasarovar
They brought the finest, blessed water.

"In a future time of decline,
There will be many sentient beings who will commit negative acts,
Such as those of immediate retribution.
They will be reborn in the hell of unceasing torment.
To guide those sentient beings,
We consecrate
The hundred and eight springs,
That even by drinking a mouthful of this water,
They will not have to experience the sufferings of such torment:
Let alone other forms of suffering."

They thereby expressed their great wishes for beings' benefit.
After having concealed this as a precious treasure,
One hundred and eight springs later appeared.

( For all the details about Muktinath w.r.t Buddhisn the source  is my sincere  thanks to them )

Cow's mouth 

 Now the waters of Kali Gantaki has been diverted into these 108 streams. The water was very cold when it touched our body it was as if 1000 of blades,  but the body adjusted quickly to the cold water,  we circumbulated the temple in this waterfalls and had the ritual bath in both the lakes. The spout of the water fall is in the shape of a cows mouth ( Gomukh)  the exceptions being the first and the last spout which is in the shape of  dragon.

A beautiful carving on the front door 

After the ritual bath  we entered the main shrine, In front of the Muktinath shrine  there is an entrance pavillion, as a shelter in the winter.  This pavilion is attached to the Muktinath temple only some decades ago,  the doors of the pavilion are adorned  with  intricately carved wooden statues which is a treat to the eyes. There is one circumambulation path and we came around the path on the  left side  of the pavilion is situated a  Yagna pit above it, the statues of Ramanuja one the acharyas of Shrivaishnavaism and most influential philosophers of India,  Andal, Manavala Mahamunigal are installed  by Chinna jeeyar Swamigal in the year 2009. 

Sri Murthi 

The building of the current main temple is initated by Queen Subarna Prabha, the second wife of Shah Rana Bahadur (1775-1806), King of Nepal, after she had a dream. In 1815 AD  the temple at Muktinath was built, as can be read on a bronze plaque in the temple. It  is built in the typical pagoda style of a Hindu temple in Kathmandu Valley and is three storeyed. It is   dedicated to the Lord of Salvation ( Mukti Nath),  Lord Vishnu,  the Buddhists call him  asChenrezig( Avalokitesvara). There is an interesting story about the statues.

In the past, Avalokithesvara  and the two dakinis to his right and left, were self-arisen statues, made of copper. They resided in the region of Dzum-lang but saw that their benefit for sentient beings would take place in Chumig Gyatsa. They flew through the air and arrived here. The king of Dzum-lang searched everywhere for them and heard that they were located at Chumig Gyatsa. To bring them back to his country, he came with a strong army of his subjects. As they carried the statues back to their previous home, they reached as far as Drak-zur [literally, Cliff-Corner, the point after which Chumig Gyatsa can no longer be seen]. They managed to carry the statues no further and had to put them on the ground. Then the king, his sons, and subjects were unable by any means to lift the statues again. Unable to do anything else, the king brought the statues back to their new home and enlarged its location. He then returned to his country. From that time forth, when people from Dzum-lang visit this place on pilgrimage, they cry to the statue, complaining, "Since you no longer live among us, we have to undergo great hardships crossing a river on our way here." This custom continues to the present day.

முக்தி நாராயணரின் திருமுக மண்டலம்

Buddha  Nara- Narayana

In the sanctum Lord Vishnu is seated in a lotus  holding Conch, Chakra, lotus and mace in his four hands along with His consorts Shree Devi and Boo Devi..  Buddhists worship them as Dakinis The compassion in His eyes is really mesmerizing. The statue is covered with copper and life size, it appears as if Muktinath is  talking with us He is decorated with silver crown, ear rings,  silk, pearls  diamonds and Garlands. The bed of Lord Vishnu serves him   as a his umbrella here. Along with them  are the statues of Buddha, Nara-Narayana (some call them as Lava-Kusa sons of Lord Rama), Lord Ganesh, the mount of the Vishnu Garuda in standing position with folded hands ready to seve the Lord. In Tibet Garuda is known as Khuyng and  is a protective spirit in Tibetan Buddhism, mountain and clan deity, and a tutelary figure of lamas and spirit-mediums; the bird which serves as messenger of Mahakala.      

Ramanuja Ganesh  Garuda

The hymns  of the Thirumangai Azhwar end with visit Muktinath indicating that it is very difficult to come here.  Azhwar in his hymns tells that the Lord Muktinath is Rama and Krishna,  the incarnations of Lord Vishnu, so he tells  devotees to visit  Muktinath. He also tells that the Lord who is  residing in Kanchi (Thiru ooragam), Kumbakonam and Thirupper (some of the 108 Divya Desams of Lord Vishnu)  is the Lord resing at Muktinath.
 Mukthinath, Ramanuja and Garudan are adorned with Thiruman the sign Vaishnavites.  We felt blessed to have His darshan and chanted the hymns of Azhwars before him. The nun presented the Holy water (Thirtham) and Satari the holy feer of the Lord on our head as a mark of blessing as it is done in the south Indian Vishnu temples and gave us prasadam. Thirumangai Azhwar in his last hyman tells one to just chant the thousand names of the Lord at Muktinath for liberation. Our whole group  sat in the circumambulation path and chanted the one thousand names of Lord Vishnu. We also conducted a yagna in the yagna pit and prayed to Ramanuja. 


Vishnu Sahasranama chant 

Mukthinath, Ramanuja and Garudan are adorned with Thiruman the sign Vaishnavites.  We felt blessed to have His darshan and chanted the hymns of Azhwars before him. The nun presented the Holy water (Thirtham) and Satari the holy feer of the Lord on our head as a mark of blessing as it is done in the south Indian Vishnu temples and gave us prasadam. Thirumangai Azhwar in his last hyman tells one to just chant the thousand names of the Lord at Muktinath for liberation. Our whole group  sat in the circumbulation path and chanted the one thousand names of Lord Vishnu. We also conducted a yagna in the yagna pit and prayed to Ramanuja. 

Yagna Sala 

Ramanuja Andal and Manavala  Ma Munigal 

Other than these shrines there are two more Gompas in the complex, one is situated in the Northern corner  located at a higher elevation to the central shrine and is called the Narsingh Gompa. In this shrine is the statue of famous Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava  the statue was sculpted by him so as to look like him before he left for Tibet.

There are many little stupas or chortens at Muktinath. One is very special. If one  leans with their elbows on the wooden bar in the opening of this chorten and put their  head down to the bottom, they  can hear the sound of a water operated prayer wheel. Some can  hear the muscial sound of  Dakinis or the goddess Naga. It is even said that any deaf person can get rid of deafness with the help of this musical sound.

Eternal fire 

 In the southern corner of the Muktinath complex, the Mebar Lhakang Gompa - also called the Salamebar Dolamebar Gompa or the Jwala Mai Temple, is situated. It is here that one can find the eternal burning flames of natural gas: Sale Mebar  (burning soil); Do Mebar (burning stone) and Kla Mebar (burning water).The 'burning water' (natural gas coming through a water stream while brunring) inside the Fire Gompa represents the union of the opposite elements. Some Hindus interpret them as a gift from Brahma,  who is said to have made offering here by setting the water afire. Other Hindus at the site mentioned they belief it's a manifestation of Brahma. Others mentioned that it is Agni, the fire-God or Jwala Mai, the goddess of fire.

Outwardly, it is the lord-protectors of the three kinds of beings.
The fire from water is All-Seeing One (Chenrézi);
The fire from earth is Gentle Splendor (Manjushri);
And the fire from stone is Lord of Secrets (Vajrapani).

Inwardly, the three poisonous obscuring emotions are burned:
Fire burn in the water of purified desire;
Fire burns in the earth of purified anger;
And fire burns in the stone of purified stupidity.

Secretly, this is the non-dual union of the male and female deities:
Fire burns in the water of transcendent knowledge;
Fire burns in the earth of skilful means;
And fire burns stably within the stone of union.

The Gompa is now used a study place for the nuns and children  ofwho take care of the complex. 

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