The Origin of the ‘Swoyambhu Mahachaitya’

The origin of the Swoyambhu Valley and its human habitation, with its first town, Manjupattan, is based on the prehistoric legends of Swyambhu Naththe Swoyambhu Maha-chaitya.

Among all the established chaityas and stupas in the Asian continent, the Swoyambhu Maha-chaitya is one of the most ancient ones, and it is distinguished by its uniquely significant and artistic structures. It is a central symbol of the Buddhist heritage of Nepal.

The valley was, during the Golden Age, a large lake where the mythical serpents like Karkotaka, Takkayak and Kulika used to dwell. This lake was known as Kalirhad, where from time to time. Buddhas, Boddhisatwas, hermits, yogis, gods and goddesses besides other celestial beings used to come and have ablution in its water.

One day Vipaswi Buddha came and surveyed the scene below for the top of the Jamacho. He is said to have sown lotus seeds in the lake, from which a lotus flower with a thousand petals grew up. From this lotus flower came Shree Swoyambhu Jyotirupa-the eternal beacon, ever luminous. The five Tathagatas, Vairochana, Akshobhya, Ratnasanbhava, Amitabha and Amoghasiddhi appeared one on each side of the five differently coloured rays emanating from the Swoyambhu Jyotirupa.

Having heard about the appearance of Swoyambhu Jyotirupa, Shree Shikhi Tathagata went there from Arun Nagar and paid homage to Shree Swoyambhu Jyotirupa, from Dhyanacho. After a lapse of a long period of time, Viswobhu Tathagata went there and paid homages to Swoyambhu Form of Light (Jyotirpua), from Fulacho peak. After that Maha Manjushree went there from Maha Chin (Great China), and went straight to the mountain called Mahamandup Giri (Nagarkot in Bhadgau). Seated in the Samadhi pose on this peak, Manjushree began to ponder as to how he could drain off the water from the lake in the valley, so that people could traverse it, in order to pay homage to Swoyambhu Form of Light (Jyotirupa). He then cut open the mountain of Gokarna in the North, Aryaghat in the middle and Chobhar in the south, and drained off the water of the lake through Koduwa cliff, to the south towards India. Then he created lakes named Taudaha, Dhanadaha and Dwadasha Tirtha, where those serpents who had been dwelling in the lake in the valley could take shelter. The place where the seeds of the lotus flower were sown was known as Dharmoday Guhyeswori (Puran Guhyerswori near Balaju). He then created the first urban habitation called Manjupattan. Thinking that no urbanization was possible without a king, he enthroned one of his disciples named Dharmankara as king of Manjupattan. He then created Buddhist civilization, initiating the first inhabitants in the field of civics, craftsmanship, and the traditional Buddhist cultural heritage, such as Dashakarma Bidhi (ten ritual passages). This is the reason Manjushree was worshipped not only as the founder of Nepal, but also as Bagiswora Vidyapati-God of education. In honour of Shree Manjusree, a memorial chaitya was erected on the top of Parvasthan by Bhikku Gunakar and Shantikaryacharya, which is still extent. After Manjushree, there came Shree Krakuchanda Tathagata, to pay homage to Swoyambhu Jyotirupa, from Chemavati’s country. He then went to Siphucho. He wanted to ordain his pupils, Gunadhoja Brahman, Abhaya Nanda Chhetri and others as Bhikkhus. Having found no water, he created a river with his Vak Shakti (oral voice power). Thus he made water available. This river which was created through his Vak (words uttered by him), was named Vakmati (now Bagmati), and the place was known as Bag Dwar. After Krakuchanda Tathagata, Kanakarmuni came from Shobhavati country to pay homage to Swoyambhu Jyotirupa. Then came Kashyapa Tathagata from Benares (present Varanasi ) to pay homage to Swoyambhu Jyotirupa. When he returned home, he began to preach about Swoyambhu Jyotirupa in Varanasi. Having listened to the sermon about Swoyambhu Jyotirupa by Kashyapa Tathagata, the king of Gaud, Prachanda Dev, also visited the kathmandu Valley to pay homage to Swoyambhu Jyotirupa. He was very much impressed by Swoyambhu Jyotirupa. Thinking that in Kaliyuga (the era in time when Kali, the evil force), the Swoyambhu Jyotirupa might be desicrated by people, he wanted to enshrine the Great Eternal Self-originated Beacon into a chaitya. He then sought ordination as a Bhikkhu from a great and learned Pandit Bhikkhu Gunakar, who was a great devotee of Manjushree. After being ordained as a Bhikkhu, he was ordained into a higher order as an Acharya through the performance of Acharyabhishek (the ordination and consecration). His name on the first ordination was Shantishree Bhikkhu. After his higher ordination (Acharyabhishek), he was known as Shantikaryacharya.

As Shantikaryacharya, he enshrined the Swoyambhu Jyotirupa into a Mahachaitya, with rites and rituals. He then established Shantipur, Vasupur, Nagapur, Vayupur and Agnipur. The five puras (human habitats) represent the five elements called Pancha-Tatwo- earth, sky, air, water and fire. He is also said to have created six Bhairabas of six worlds (shatgati). Having completed all these as he had wished, he went into Shantipur, where he sat in Asphanik Yoga with the Chintamani lamp illuminating everything.

From now on, the Swoyambhu Jyotirupa was concealed and only the Mahachaitya covering the Jyotirupa was to be seen. After this Shakyamuni Buddha came and paid homage to the Swoyambhu Mahachaitya and delivered sermons on Swoyambhu Jyotirupa to the future Buddha Maitreya Boddhisato at the Gopuccha Chaitya in Swoyambhu. This Parawasthan is also called Dharmachakra Maha Vihar. Shakyamuni Buddha then went to Namudha (Nama Buddha). He preached a sermon there on how he had sacrificed his life, feeding the starving tigress, in his previous life.

When Shakyamuni Buddha taught about Swoyambhu Jyotirupa on Gopuchha Prabat Harati Yakcheni was present. She prayed to Shakyamuni Buddha determined to serve and provided protection for the Swoyambhu Mahachaitya, Vihars, Buddhist culture and children below 12 years of age. This is the reason why the temple where Harati Mai was enshrined is seen near Swoyambhu Mahachaitya.

Shanti Pur

On the northwestern summit about one hundred yards downward from Agni Pur is a oblong building surrounded on three sides by many chaityas with niched walls containing many images. This pur is named, ‘Shanti pur’ after the Bhiksu Shantikacharya; who is credited as going before King Gunakam Deva requesting to construct the Swoyambhu Stupa. This greatly accomplished meditation master is considered by many to be still living in this Pur-a period of approximately 1500 years. Originally, Shantikacharya was a king of Guar now West Bengal named Prachendra Dev, who having heard of Swoyambhu’s greatness from Kasyapa Tathagata came to Swoyambhu to pay his respects. He left his kingdom and in Nepal sought priestly ordination from Bhiksu Gunakar- a great pundit and disciple of Manjushree. He acquired great skill as a Tantric Master, skilled in the use of Mantras and mandalas to evoke spirits. He is said to have attained a longevity Samadhi known as Ashpanik; giving him ability to live indefinitely. A legend says that when he entered Shanti pur for the last time he stated that he will come out when there are no Buddhists in the Kathmandu valley – meaning that, since there are so many Buddhists in the valley you don’t need me.’ There is some historical records concerning the possible truth of this one record of written proof declared in writing by king Pratap Malla.

During the 11 th Century drought, when King Gunakam Deva was reigning Shantikarcharya was asked by the king to perform a ceremony that would bring rain into the valley. By means of Tantric ritual Shantikarcharya succeeded to attract nine serpent kings and their wives. With these serpents he begged that each of these serpents provide some blood so that for future use the could make a Nag Mandala. With their blood he painted a ‘Nag Mandala’ ( Dragon Magic Circle ). He then requested the serpents to promise to create rain as soon as the mandala be exposed to the sun. Shantikarcharya then put the scroll in a copper tube and retired again into retreat in the last room of Shanti Pur. This residence cannot be entered by anyone and has remained completely closed off since Shantikarcharya first went into retreat, accept for the occasion of king pratap Malla’s entry.

Entering again in meditation in the 11 th century he remained undisturbed until the drought of 1657-68. During this time upon request of the king Pratap Malla’s subjects, the king entered the cave. Arriving at the residence of this great Tantric Master the king found a skeleton like form with little flesh sitting in the meditation posture. The King requested to see the Nag Mandala, to which Shantikarcharya simply raised his hand pointing to the copper scroll above his head. The king took the scroll outside and exposed it to the sun, immediately rain fell. The king then returned the scroll. After returning and coming outside the king saw his headless shadow falling on the stone. The king then prayed that if his head be restored he would offer a gold coin every year to this shrine. His head was then restored. To this day the tradition of offering a gold coin has continued; accept now Guthisanthan, rather than the king offers the gold coin. The king in a work called, ‘Bristichintamanistotra’ (a hymn to rain at will) with his own pen tells how he saw Shantikarcharya still alive and gives a description of the dwelling place.

We can see the interesting history of this Tantric Master during the reign of king Brikha Dev in the fifth century, when he was active in the construction of the stupa and in pursuit of Tantric meditation skill under the guidance of, Gunakar’, the great Vajra Yana priest, to the reign of king Pratap Malla in the 16 th century.

Vayu Pur

A rounded boulder on the south-western summit represent the element wind. This boulder has no image on it, but enjoys a rather nice brick habitate in which worshipers may go and perform appropriate devotions to this wind spirit. It is believed that by pleasing this spirit calamities arising from wind storms can be avoided.

Agni Pur

On the north western corner of the Swoyambhu summit there is an elliptic shaped black stone, painted white, with three large black eyes. This stone represents the fire spirit ‘Agni’. There is no enclosure around this spirit’s image.

Vasundhara Mandir

On the south-western corner of the Swoyambhu summit there is a brick mandir with a copper roof inside of which there are twelve images. The image on the extreme left known as ‘Vasundhara’ is the central image of worship the other images are of the Buddha, Gods, Goddesses and Dharma protectors.

Vasundhara is a Goddess of the earth, or an earth spirit. Those who worship here do because they believe that by pleasing this goddess a bountiful yield of crops and grain will result. This deity existed prior to the Buddha and was often represented in Hinduism as a full vessel called ‘Kalash’ or ‘ Annapurna ‘ in Sanskrit. Sometimes Vasundhara is portrayed three faced with Laxmi on the left white in colour, Kumari on the right red in colour and Vasundhara in the center yellow in colour Laxmi is a goddess of wealth and is pre-Buddhist. Kumari is a protector of the dharma and also pre-Buddhist.

This mandir constructed in 1983 by U.N.E.S.C.O. has a beautiful canopy extending the entire length and breadth of the ceiling. The canopy is copper embossed with the Asta Mandala – the eight symbols of good fortune. The statues are mostly of black saligram. The one of Vasundhara is about fifty years old.

Nag-Pur (Dragon or Snake Sanctuary)

A rectangular shaped oblong stone about 6′ long and wide lain in an open pit is found next to the main stupaon its northern side. This stone represents the water spirit, and daily receives attention from worshipers who light lamps on the steel grating provided, or burn incense, hoping that by pleasing this spirit rains will be favorable for crops ete.

Manjushree Chaitya

Swoyambhu is a twin peaked hillock. Just below the monastery on the western peak there is a small chaitya with ‘Mani Wheels’ (Prayer Wheels) surrounding it. This chaitya was built in the place known as ‘Parawasthan’ by ‘Shantikacharya’ and bhiksu ‘Gunakar’, it is dedicated to Manjushree the god of wisdom. Manjushree is acknowledged as the founder of Nepal and is credited as having established the first city in the Kathmandu valley known as ‘Manju-Pattan’ near what is now Manjeswori. It is this Bodhisattva who with his wisdom sword cut open the mountains and drained the lake, forming what is now Kathmandu valley.

The Manjushree Chaitya, has a pair of stone feet representing those of Manjushree. Devotees daily come and worship here according to their traditions. It has become the most popular temple next to the Swoyambhu stupa itself. Once a year there is a large festival devoted to the worship of the goddess of speech, arts and learning ‘Saraswati’. On this occasion which falls ten days before the full moon of late January or early February, known as ‘Basant Panchami’, the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar the golden feet of Manjushree are displayed for public adoration.

Manjushree was built about one thousand five hundred years ago. At that time there was no Saraswati image in the chaitya. In keeping with ‘Vajra yana’, traditions a empty niche represented ‘Manjushree’. It was not until about 1700 that the image of Saraswati was installed in the empty niche. Thus in ignorance local people often refer to this place as ‘Saraswati, if one carefully looks inside the niche on the ceiling Manjushree will be seen bearing his wisdom sword.

The creation of temple and Tirthas (holy rivers)

Repatirthas (subholy rivers or branches)

After the construction of Swoyambhu Mahachaitya, and concealment of the Swoyambhu Jyotirupa, Pragyaparmita Dharmodaya Guhyeswori appeared. Then five Buddha representing five colours of the Swoyambhu Jyotirupa, namely VarIochana, Akshobhya, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha and Amoghsiddhi appeared. Then the Shaktis, (female partners) of the five colours of the five Buddhas namely, Vajradhateswori, Lochani, Mamaki, Padmani and Arya Tara appeared. Then five Boddhisavas (wise beings) namely Samanta Bhadra, Vajrapani, Ratnapani, Padmapani and khadgapani appeared from the Upaya (means employed) of the five Buddhas, and the pragya (wisdom) of the five Taras. Hence pragya and Upaya-pragya (sexual cohabitation). Among these five Boddhisatvas, Padmapani was a chief, and was also known as Padmapani Aryavlokitesvra. Padmapani Lokesvra created ten gods through the power of his Lokasansarjan (knowledge of the world and life) Samadhi (meditation). These ten gods were created from ten different parts of his body for the protection of the human inhabitants. He was then known as Sristikarta (creator) Lokesvra (lord of the world).

Swoyambhu Adi Buddha was venerated mostly in Kathmandu. In Devapattan near Pashupati, Shree Guhyeswori was gratly venerated, and in Patan Shree karunamaya Aryavalokitesvra the son of Amitabha, was given priority in worship. At the golden window of the Malla palace in Patan, Sristikarta Aryavalokitesvra was kept. Because of the great veneration in which they were held, Aryavlokitesvra, Shree Karunmaya and Shree Lokanatha were carved on the royal coins. Jokanathea Karunamaya was worshipped as creator in Patan. A large antique Tanka (painting on cloth) of the creator Lokesvra can be seen hanging in the National Museum, Chhauni in Kathmandu. Another worth-while monument, this one in stone, on which inscriptions of Stuti (praise)-verses in Newari-are still seen, is in the courtyard of Lokeswor (Janabha) in Kathmandu.

According to Swoyambhu Puran, Krakuchanda Tathagat came with his pupil Gunadhoja Brahman and Abhayananda Chhetri together with another seven hundred pupils and ordained them at Vakdwar, Siphucho, he then went to visit Manjupatan. He saw Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesvra wandering in the form of the deer in the Guhyeswori forest. Krakuchanda Tathagata preached on the future role of Mahesvara Mahadev Pashupati to his pupils and introduced Brahma, Vishnu Mahesvra to his pupils.

On account of Swoyambhu, the four peaks surrounding the Kathmandu Valley namely Jamacho, Dhynacho, Phlecho and Sipacho became very famous and holy. It is after Krakuchanda Tathagata’s visit that the rivers Bagmati Keshavati, Prabhavati and Vishnumati had sprung up. Accordingly, the heirs of Astaboddhisato (eight), Manilingeswor and Manichudaha at Sankhu, Gokarneswor of Gokarna, Kileswor at Sakwochangu (Sankhu), Kumheswor at Kwonti in Patan, Ganteswor Phanikeswor at Pharping, Ghandeswor at Chobhar, Bikrameswor at Holcho near Swoyambhu, lchangu beyond Holcho, appeared. After this, the holy rivers (punnya tirthas):- Gokarna, Shanta Tirtha at Guhyeswori, Shankar Tirtha at Shankamul in Patan, Raj Tirtha at Dhatil, Manoratha Tirtha at Khusingkhya, Kathmandu, Nirmal Tirtha and Bhachakhusi at Vishnumati Bhagavati, Kathmandu, Nidhana Tirtha, lakha Tirtha, Gyana Tirtha, Gyana Tirtha, karathusi, Chintamani Tirtha Tekhudobhan at Kirtipur, Promod Tirtha, near Kirtipur Danaga, Sulakhyana Tirtha, Bhajanga Jaya Tirtha were created. Then the lakes such as Taradaha, Agastyadaha, Taudaha, Manichudaha, Kwoduwa, etc. appeared. These are Upatiahas (brtnch or subsidiary Tirthas). After the creation of twelve Tirthas, Astamataika dwelling on Astapitha (eight pithase B rahmayani, Mahesvori, Kaumari, Baishnavi, Barahi, Indrayani, Chamunda, Mahalaxmi) came into existence Then there came into existence Astashmashana:- eight places of cremation, such as Chandrogra, Gahwor, Jwalakua, Kalanka, Attachas, Jaxmivanta, Ghorandha, and Krikalasa. There are eight chaityas, one of which was erected in each Shmashana namely Kayavajra Chaitya Ratna Vajra Shanta Vajra, Sankarvajra, Visowovajra, Ragavajra. There are eight Siddhas, each of whom are in meditation in each of the Shmashanas namely Kachchapada, Shawardad, Virupakchyapad, Gorakkhyapad. In this way these gods, goddesses, Bitarages, Tirthas, Sub-Tirthas, Shamashanas, Pithas, Matrikagana appeared after the Swoyambhu Jyotirupa.

Swoyambhu Dharmadhatu and The Supreme Buddhist Philosophy

From time immemorial through the traditional heritage Shree Swoyambhu Bagiswor Pancha-Buddhas have had an indelible initial influence on the life of the Nepalese. The influence is found in all walks of life. In culture, religion and philosophy, Swoyambhu with the five Buddhas, and its Panchas Tatva (five elements-basic ideas) have exerted great influence. We can realize the secrets of Swoyambhu Dharmadhatu with its theory of the Triple gem of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and the Pancha Gyana (five knowledges or perceptions) for the achievement of Nirvana, which is tranquil, formless and eternal.

  • According to the Adi Buddha Sutra Tantra, Adi Buddha has five forms:
  • First, the Adi Buddha Swoyambhu Form of light (Jyotirupa),
  • Second, the Adi Buddha Samanta Bhadra Tathagata,
  • Third, the Adi Buddha Vajradhar Tathagata,
  • Fourth, the Adi Buddha Vajrasatvo Tathagata,
  • Fifth, the Adi Buddha dharma Dhatu Bagiswor.

In Buddhism, Swoyambhu is well known by the name “Adi Buddha Jyotirupa Swoyambhu Dharmadhatu Bagiswor”. Although all these names seem one and the same, it has five different meanings:

  • Adi Buddha-Adi Buddha-eternal happiness, extinction, the state of void.
  • Swoyambhu-Samanta Bhadra Compassion, the Buddha-like mind,
  • Jyotirupa-Vajradhar body of power, light,
  • Dharmadhatu-Vajrasatava-perfection, purity,
  • Bagiswor-Namasangiti or Maha Manjushree-omnisclence, eternal wisdom.

Swoyambhu is called Adi Buddha because it is, form time immemorial, devoid of passion. Jyotirupa means eternal beacon originated from Adi Buddha. Swoyambhu denotes self-existence, non-created. From the omnipotence of Swoyambhu is also called Dharmadhatu Mandal has arisen. So Swoyambhu is also called Dharmadhatu. This is the reason why Dharmadhatu Mansal is placed in front of Swoyambhu.

The Pancha Buddhas formed into one as Bagiswor Maha-Manjushree, which is also known as Namasangiti. However for the happiness and welfare of many, Adi Buddha Swoyambhu appeared in Five Buddhas. Shantikaryacharya who is incorporated in the body of Vajradhar, concealed the Swoyambhu Jyotirupa and made Swoyambhu Mahachaitya over it. The first Adi Buddha was mentioned in the Swoyambhu Puran. One can find out about the 2 nd and 4 th Adi Buddha in “Gunakarandabyuha”; a description of the 3 rd Adi Buddha is found in Adi Buddha Mahayoga Tantra”. The fifth Adi Buddha is described in “Mayajala Tantra Namasangiti”. This is the reason why Adi Buddha Swoyambhu is often called “Shree Swoyamhu Dharmadhatu Bagiswor” as is seen inscribed on the stone inscription found in Parwasthan at Swoyambhu. Acharya Pragyakaramati has described it in his commentary on Boddhisattva-arcarya-avatara.

It is believed that Maitreya Boddhisattva will, in the future, come and teach on Swoyambhu Dharmadhatu, about the knowledge he received from Shakyamuni Buddha as explained in Gopuchha Parbat. This is the reason why Maitreya Boddhisatva has Shree Swoyambhu Chaitya shown over his head.

When you think of Swoyambhu Mahachaitya you think of Gopuchha Parbat on the top of which is found a tall, large stupa standing majestically in serene peace. This chaitya seems to have been made in its own unique style, attracting the attention of the people and engendering feelings of devotion and respect from visitors. There is a foundation stone of large circular form on which a “mandala” (magic circle) bearing images depicting the story of Swoyambhu. On this circular base in the shape of “patra” full of heaped rice, a chaitya stands scraping the sky. Around this chaitya in four directions, five Buddhas and four Taras are found, all of gilded gold. On this patra-shaped stupa is a 4-faced pillar (gavastimala in Sanscrit, – Chokul in Newari) with eyes painted on each side. Above this pillar a metal plate Toran with signs of the panchakula 5 clans of descendahts is attached. The Toran in called Halapu in Newari. On the top of this a pinnacle in the shape of an umbrella Chhatra, with flags called Goladhoja and Akasa dhoja fluttering garlands, the “Sutra of Sarbasugat Hridaya Dharani is inscribed and is seen shining in Ranjana (Newari) Between the pinnacle Gajur and the metal garland, disc-like steps are seen towering up one above the other (Troyodasha) Chakravali. Above these 13 steps, a small lotus-shaped top is placed. On this top, a diamond called ushnish Chudamani is installed. On the topmost part an umbrella with tassels is kept.

Shree Swoyambhu Mahachaitya is the symbol of Tridhatu-Kathmandu, Rupadhatu, and Arupadhatu. The “Tridhatu” means three world or realms namely Karmadhatu (realms of sensuous pleasure), Rupadhatu (realm of from) and Arupadhatu (realm of formlessness). On the top is the Padmakriti which means worldly entanglement. The dome of Swoyambhu means source of wisdom of all the Buddhas. The Pancha Buddhas around the dome are the symbolic expression of Pancha-Mahadhuta (five elements) and atma (mind of which all sentient beings including human beings are composed along with the six senses and the 12 lomks namely: contact, sensation, desire, clinging, coming to be, birth, etc., collectively known as ‘The twelve conditioned Links’. Pancha Buddhas are also ways and means by which, through the media of the knowledge of Swoyambhu Dharmadhatu, emancipation from the world can be achieved. These Five Buddhas are always ready to impart the way to Nirvana. The Five Taras-Lochani, Mamaki, Padmani Arya Tare and Vajradhateswori are the Shakti (female consort) of the five Buddhas. The image of Vajradhateswori is an empty nitched stone. All Five Taras or Shaktis are seen. The eyes above the dome are the eyes of the wisdom of Pragyopaya looking with vigilance for the attain rent of peace and happiness for people and animals alike. In another sense they are the eyes of Panchagyana Chakchhyu. The question mark is the Dibyarasmi-the symbol of the light that shines when the Tathagatas are in Samadhi. This light is also called Gabhasti Mala Rashmi. The Symbols above this are-the descendants of the five Buddhas, i.e. Chakra, Ratna, Padma, and Viswovajra. The thirteen steps above this (the Trayodasha Chakrabali) are the symbolic expression of preaching:- The knowledge of unsurpassed full enlightenment (Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi Dyana) for the people, gods, goddesses and hungry ghosts (Bhuta Pretas), to achieve initiation and thus, lead to that fully enlightenment state.

The names of the thirteen steps are:- (1) Pramudita, (2) Vimala, (3) Prabhakari, (4) Archismati, (5) Sundurjaya, (6) Abhimukhi, (7) Durangama, (8) Achala, (9) Sadhumati, (10) Dharmamegha, (11) Samantaprabha, (12) Nirupama, (13) Gyanavati Vajrabhumi. In Acharyakriyasangraha the descriptive connotation and the size of every part of Swoyambhu Mahachaitya is written in detail.

Brief description and measurements are:-

Circumference of the base (Bedika in Skt Pha : in Newari) is 32 Talaman in size representing 32 good omens (Lakchhyan). The height of the base is 12 Talman standing for the formula of dependent Origination or cause and effect (12 Pratityasamutpada). The dome (Patra Kriti or DhanyarshyaKriti) stand for the strength of the perfections (Dashabala). The pillar (Phikhadwar) or 4-sided part, on top of the base, indicates the preachig of the four Noble Truths (Chaturyastya Gyana). The metal garland Toran represents the four Samadhis (Chaturdhyana).

The umbrella (Chhatra) represents purity. The flags dhoja-purification of the heart. The pennants Pataka spread of merits. The jewel on the pinnacle Ushinsh Chaudamani –great compassion.

Historical Records of Swoyambhu

In the books called the Swoyambhu Puran is given the details as to who, when and what devotional services were performed from Swoyambhu

  • Swoyambhu Puran,
  • Brihat Dharmdhatu Puran, Bagiswor.

In Swoyambhu Puran there are two chapters as follows:

  • Description of the origin of Swoyambhu Jyotirupa;
  • Origin of Gopuchchha, Guhyadevi and Manju Chaitya;
  • Creation of Bagamati and Keshavati rivers, visit of Krakuchhanda, ordination of Bhikkhus;
  • Manichuda Tadagadi Makaradash – Sambhava ( about Manichud);
  • Bitarago Samutpatikathan;
  • Descriptions of Holy Tirtha and 12 Tirtha,
  • Descriptions of Upatirtha, Matirkapitha, and Shmshan:
  • Origin of Shree Dharpadhatu Bagiswor Mandal;
  • Covering of Swoyambhu Jyotirupa by Prachanda Dev and his initiation;
  • Description of Shantikar-Acharya’s Naga – Sadhan for Rain;
  • Merits of Puja – description;

In Brihat Swoyambhu Puran, there are eight chapters as follows:

  • the story of the origin of Dharmadhatu and the Lake kalirhad;
  • description of Puja – Phala of Swoyambhu Maha Chaitya;
  • Swoyambhu Maha Chaityas Bhattarakoddhesha Chhandopada;
  • Swoyambhu Chaitya Bhattarakoddesh Gramadi Samudbhtu;
  • Description of Tirtha, Pitha;
  • Sermons on Dharmadhatu Bagiswor;
  • Swoyambhu Chaitya Bhattarkoddesh Dharmadhatu Bagiswor Guptikarana;
  • Swoyambhu chaitya Bhattarkoddesh Nahapradhav Varna;

These two books of Swoyambhu Puran, deal mostly with the period from the visit of Vipaswi Buddha to the visit of Vipaswi Buddha to the visit of Emperor Ashoka to Nepal. From then onwards there were no written records kept. This Swoyambhu Puran however, also deals with those events which took place after the period of Emperor Ashoka. In this book you will find events relating to the visit to Swoyambhu of important people; about the works of distinguished scholars, and different types of devotional performance; reconstruction, and establishment of Trust Guthi etc.. in this way the book gives further historical information of the period after Ashoka’s visit, connecting further events relating to Swoyambhu with those of Swoyambhu Puran.

If we think of our tradition and cultural heritage, Swoyambhu Maha Chaita is, as stated in Swoyambhu Puran, thousands of years old. Some scholars are not sure about where, when and who delivered sermons on Swoyambhu maha Chaitya. In this connection however, we know that the Shakyamuni Buddha came from Lumbini and preached sermons on Swoyambhu Maha Chaita at Gopuchha Giri Puran syangu to the future Buddha-Maitrya Boddhisatvo. This event was related by Upagupta Bhikkhu to the Emperor Ashoka two hundred years after the death of Shakyamuni Buddha. Upagupta also related it in Kakkutarama Vihar. He said that the story had been retold by Ananda bhikkhu to jayshree Bhikkhu, who had been in turn passed it on to Jinashree raj Boddhisattvo who again had related it to Shanakashi Bhikshu. It is Shanabashi Bhikkhu who narrated it to Upagupta Bhikshu. In this way the Swoyambhu Puran Chronicle has been handed down orally from Ananda Bhikshu who was a contemporary disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha.

Emperor Ashoka conce decided to onvene an all Bhikkhn Sangha Sangayana conference in which books were to be complied. One of the books written was about Swoyambhu Dharmadhatu Bagiswor (Swoyambhu Puran). This conference called Sangayana was the first of its kind organized by the Emperor ashoka. Such Sangayana used to take place quite regularly in later years. The sixth Sangayana took place in Rangoon in 1953 organized by Prime Minister U Nu of Burma.

After Empetor Ashoea’s visit, came many other Siddhas, Yogis, Acharyas, Bhikkhus and kings to pay homage to Swoyambhu Mahachaitya.

The greatness of Swoyambhu does not depend only on tradition or legend, but also on the findings of archaeological excavations and ehronicles. There was a very ancient stone inscription of the pre-Lichhavi period found at Swoyambhu called, “Shankar – Deveonarendra”. From this inscription it is deduced that Shankar Dev, the grandfather of the first king of historical importance, records, Mana Dev is said to have given in dana (donation), a plot of land for the Trust Fund (guthi) of Swoyambhu Vihar. This stone inscription is rather difficult to read. Some people believe that the Trust land was given by Mana Dev himself, and not his grandfather. However that may be it is certain that there was a Vihar at Swoyambhu from that early period. We can also deduce that the Swoyambhu Vihar was already in existence two or three centuries before that, because it was inscribed on the stone that under the fine leadership of Shantishila Bhikshu, during the days of the great grandfather of Mana Dev, king Brikha Dev, a group of Bhikshus is said to have come to Swoyambhu Vihar. The old chronicles are found not only at Swoyambhu, but also at places like Gokarna and Badegau. In those inscriptions found at Gokarna and Badegau (on the way to Godavari) it is found that king Amsubarma was said to have given in Dana some land for the Swoyambhu Vihar and also founded a finance department for the Swoyambhu Vihar Trust. There used to be many stone inscriptions at itunbaha, Pashupati, Vatu in Kathmandu, Tabaha Vishnumati Bridge, Hymata, Buddhavari and Mhaepi near Balaju, but they are now lost or stolen, although some were destroyed by the Indian Muslim Prince Shamsuddfn llyas, who invaded Nepal. In some inscription it was mentioned that pilgrims from China came to visit Swoyambhu and offered a golden canopy in the seventeenth century. These used to be a stone inscription in the period of Vijayakama Dev stating that Maitrichandra Shakya Bhikshu had reconstructed Swoyambhu Maha Chaitya. This inscription which existed till sixty or seventy years ago at Swoyambhu, seems to be missing now. Many stone inscriptions including one which was reconstructed in 249 Nepal Sambat (about 700 years ago) also seem to be missing. It is a painful thing to hear in mind.

In the 34 th chapter of the Brithat Swoyambhu Puran appear quotations which can also be found in the history of the Chinese Tang Dynasty about the Swoyambhu Maha-Chaitya. The history of the Tang Dynasty is 16 or 17 centuries older than the Swoyambhu Puran found in Kathmandu. What Huen-sang, the Chinese pilgrim had described about the Kaliasskut Bhavan, is not found there, nor the ruins of the Kailesh Bhavan. Neither were attempts made to find the ruins of Managriha and Bhadradhivasa (houses) as described by the pilgrim Huen Sang, There is a well recorded history of Bhrikuti Tara, the daughter of Mana Dev, and also Shilamanju, the Nepali Buddhist Bhikshu, but the one about the famous artist Arniko, found in Tibetan history, is not found. The history of the Buddhist Bhikshu, Bhadra who went to China with Fahien for the propagation of Buddhism in China is not to be found in Nepal. It seems that many important historical books of ancient Nepal have either been stolen or sold to foreign countries. It is time that Nepalese scholars went to Tibet, China, India, England, U.S.A, France and Italy, for research in the libraries of those countries where many ancient valuable historical books are still preserved. In the Asia house Gallery in New York, a valuable Tanka is preserved. On the subject of this Tanka, on page 69 of the catalogue marked ‘ Nepal, where the gods are young”, edited by Shree Pratapadityapal, something is written about the reconstruction od Swoyambhu as follows:-

The powerful persons of Patan – Shree Jayapurandar Singh Deva’s elder brother and, on Nepal Sambat 685, reconstructed the Swoyambhu Maha Chaitya. Reconstruction is shown in a Tanka. The life of the people of that time and geographical sketches of the places a mentioned below are also shown. Shree Mahigala, Yaladesh, Shree Thasidesh, Shree Golwodesh Shree Vavadesh, Shree Thasidesh, Shree Kittidesh Shree Jaladesh Shree Khasadesh, Shree Yanvudesh, Shree Khopadesh (Bhaktpur). Shree Themidesh (Thimi), Shree Swodesh, etc. the images of the Pancha Buddhas- Vairochana, Akshobhya, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha and Amogasiddhi, which were installed on Swoyambhu in the 12 th and 13 th centuries before, which were said to have been already enshrined in the dome, (Garbhagriha) could only be seen form time to time when reconstruction took place.

Some significant inscriptions of the Pancha Buddha, Adi Buddha and Amitabha Tathagata are found in the Mahayana Sutra called “Sukhavati – Gyuha”. When Shakyamuni Buddha was sojourning at Shravana Javatana Maha Vihar of kind Ananthapindika (now near Gaya in Bihar, India ) he gave initruction on Amitabha Tathagata and to his chief disciple Sariputra.

Furthermore, in the Mahayana Sutra “Sukhavatibhyuha” some mention was made about Akshobhya and according to information found in page 156 in the “Bharatiya Kalako Viharkiden”, some record of Akshobhya Tathagata is also found in a book translated into Chinese in the 2 nd century. From the 4 th century you will also find some record of Akshobhya Buddha and Manjushree in a Chinese chronicle. In the book “Saddharmapundarika” written in Chinese in 286 A.D. something was said about Aryavalokitesvra – the son of Amitabha, as well as about Ratnasambhava Tathagata, Dharmadhatu. In “Gandabyuha Sutra and Gunakaranda- Gyuha” Vairochana Tathagata was praised. But in Kathmandu such books in which you will find some written records of Vairochana, Akshobhya, Ratnasambhava and Amitabha, as enshrined in the chaitya, relate to the 6 th century A.D. only. Chaitya with Pancha Buddhas can can also be found in Vajrakirti Maha Vihar in Patan. In the chaitya built during the Lichhavi period in Uttama Baha, Tyaga, in Patan you will notice something inscribed in pre-Lichhavi characters about Akshobhya Tathagata and Amitabha Buddha. When Princess Bhrikuti was given in marriage to the king of Tibet Shronchen gyal po, a dowry of many Buddhist images, one being- Akshobhya Buddha, was mentioned. One famous Siddha named Kanapa (Karnapa in Skt.) composed a Chacha (Tantrik song) of the Pancha Tathagata. In this way Acharya Anangavajrapada wrote very vividly in his Tantrik book titled “pragyopaya Binishchaya Siddhi”, about Vairochana, Akshobhya Ratnasambhava, Amitabha and Amogasiddhi, and their Shaktis: Lochani Tara, Mamaki Tara, Padmani Tara, and Arya Tara. The Shakti of Vairochana “Vajradhatesworai” was excluded. Pilgrimage to Swoyambhu

With great devotion and faith in Swoyambhu Dharmadhatu many pilgrims came from many places and countries.

Bhukkhu Dharmashree Mitra from Beneres. India a great and learned man came on pilgrimage to Swoyambhu Maha-Chaitya and lived in Swoyambhu receiving the Dikkchhaya (ordination) of Namasangati. Pandit Odiyanacharya from Kapilavastu, the kingdom of Suddhodana Raja, the father of Shakyamuni Buddha, came to pay homage to Swoyambhu. He is said to have practiced yoga sadhana at Phanakesworu, Gandheswori and Bikrameswori and attained Astasiddhi. Acharya Nagarjun from Vajra Parvat in Andhra Pradesh India came and lived at Swoyambhu for 12 years as Dyapala. He also stayed on Nagarjun parvat and preached Mahayana Buddhist philosophy. Also Acharya Vasubandhu from Gandar came on a pilgrimage to Swoyambhu Maha Chaitya is found on the Swoyambhu hill. Pandit Rati Sharma Brahmin from Kanakavati came to pay homage to Swoyambhu Maha-Chaitya. He is said to have constructed Kimdol Vihar.

AFTERWARDS Sunyashree Mitra Brahn in from Benares came to Swoyambhu, via Kapilavastu. He also went to Tibet. When he came back from Tibet he established Yampi Vihar in Patan, living there until his death. Shantarakkshhit Pandit came to pay homage to Swoyambhu. He studied in Shantipur Vihar at Swoyambhu with learned acharyas living in the Vihar. He then went to Tibet. After some time he came back again to Nepal to pay homage to Swoyambhu Maha Chaitya. He then went again to Tibet with Padmasambhava, who was from Kashmir, India, and who was staying at Swoyambhu performing rites and rituals to Swoyambhu. Maha Pandit Atishadipankara from an institution (Vidyapeeth) in Vikramshil, India, is said to have come on pilgrimage to Swoyambhu. After that Dharma Guru, Chanlotsaba, Lhangehava came on pilgrimage to Swoyambhu and stayed at Shantipur Vihar, studying from Guru Ratnarukchhit.

A famous Lama from Tibet, Shyampa Lama came and offered a golden Canopy (Toran) to Swoyambhu Maha Chaitya. In this way many Lamas from Tibet such as Guru Dhorje Chhewang, kagyupa Lama Thamche Khenpa Maghasabagyee Lama Biraratna, Lama Palden Yeshel Tashi, Lama Deva Dharma from Bhutan, learned Lama Shakyabhadra from Sigates, Tibet, Lama Tashi Namgyal, Bhutanese Lama Sherab Dhorje, Lama Shakyashree, Lama Suputra Sindha from kham, Tibet, Dharma a Guru Jhwanchhe Chhoeje from Lhasa, Thinchen. Nawa Norbu Lama, Tsiring Norbu, (all of them) came to reconstruct and renovate Swoyambhu. A Lama from Gantse Tibet named Kyanchha came all the way from Gongu village in Kham, Tibet, prostrating to pay homage to Swoyambhu.

Royal Faith in Swoyambhu

Emperor Ashoka came on a pilgrimage to Lumbini and went to pay homage to the stupa of Kanakamuni Buddha in Niglihawa. Then he came to pay homage to Swoyambhu Maha Chaitya, with his Guru Upagupta Bhikshu, his wite, Empress Tishyarakchhita, and his daughter Charumati. He rercted five Thuras in Patan, which were named after him as Ashoka Patan. Following in the footsteps of Emperor Ashoka, during the Lichhavi Kings’ reign, many chaityas were erected. Lichhavi king Brikha Dev studied under Shatashila. He then emdraced Buddhism. He is said to have done a lot of reconstruction work on Swoyambhu Maha Chaitya. The son of Brikha Dev, Shankar Dev donated land for a Vihar at Swoyambhu as Akchhaya Dana. The son of Shankar Dev, Dharma Dev constructed Dharma Shal at Sooyambhu. His son Mana Dev made an offering of a AChhatra (umbrella) and llan (canopy). The Thakuri king Ansubarma allocated money O the maintenance of Three Shegun Vihar and established a Guthi (Trust) organization. The Lichavi king Narendra Dev, who was so devoted to Swoyambhu that he always wore a belt around his hip, engraved with a Buddha image, and established a customer of placing Swoyambhu on the top of Matchhendra Nath Rath (chariot) during the Jatra (religious image festival) in Patan.

The Emperor (of China ) sent his emissary with a yellow robe to be offered to Swoyambhu. It is said that during the Sang Dynasty, the Emperor made an inscription describing Swoyambhu Maha Chaitya. The Malla king of western Nepal (Palpa-Tansen), Jitari Malla, Prithu Malla had great respect for Swoyambhu Chaitva. The Malla king Jayasthiti highly praised Swoyambhu, and his Minister Madan Ram Singh, it is said, helped a lot in the reconstruction of Swoyambhu. In this way the Malla kings Jyotir Malla, Laxmi Narsingh Malla, Parthivendra Malla, Bhaskar Malla and Jaya-Prakash Malla leant a helping hand to Swoyambhu reconstruction work. King Shivasingha Malla made an offering of a golden umbrella to Swoyambhu. King Laxmi Narsingh Malla made an offering of a Viman (a golden vessel), king Kabindra Jaya Pratap Malla offered a golden vajra, a Dharmadhatu Mandal and a golden pinnacle. Jaya Nripendra Malla made an offering of a Dibya Ghanta (bell), Jaya Prakash Malla and Jaya Ranjit Malla wrote many lyrical poems on Swoyambhu.

Not only kings but also queens seem to have made offerings to Swoyambhu, e.g. Queen lalamati, Anantapriya Devi, Bhuban Laxmi and Laxmi Devi, Even in the present Shah Dynasty, King Prithvi Narayan Shah, King Girvana Yuddha Bikram Surendra Bikram are said to have taken a keen interest in Swoyambhu reconstruction work and helped it. The present king Birendra Bir Bikram Shah paid a visit to Swoyambhu and had paintings on the wall of Shantipur repainted.

Buddhist cultural heritage originated from Swoyambhu

The foundation of Tirthas, Gumbas, Vihars, (monasteries), courtyards, Lachis, (Nani Chika) and mountains, hills and chaityas are derived fror Swoyambhu. Buddhist culture and customs have their original roots in Swoyambhu. In birth (Chudakarma Barechhwigu in Newari), marriage, Dikchhaya (ordination), and post-death ceremonies like Shradha, there is the original background of Panchagyana (five knowledges) and the Pancha Buddhas (five Buddhas) as originated from Swoyambhu. All the traditions and social life are shaped by the philosophical influence of the Swoyambhu Jyotirupa-the eternal beacome five colours-five Buddhas. Even in architecture, Swoyambhu Jyotirupa has influence, for the example in the craving of windows, doors, pillars and Torans above doors. In every walk of life people encounter the Buddhist atmosphere, prayer worship consciously; e.g., the Pancha Buddhas on the Toran is kept above the door so that the people going in and out always worship the Buddhas by keeping them over their heads as they enter and leave the place. Even at the foundation laying of a house Buddhist Stirobhav Sutra is chanted. The main supporting cross pillar of the roof is considered to be Vairochana Buddha and the five windows are worshipped as Pancha Buddhas in this sutra. Children beginning to learn to read and write will be taught the reading of “ Om namo Bagyi Sworaya”. “Om Namo” means homage, “Bagyi Sworaraya’. Means Swoyambhu Dharma Dhatu. When sitting in the sun sometimes a sudden appearance of clouds in the sky conceals the sun, and children used to say “Hukana dhasa To ! to ! Thana dhasa mato mato, toela matoela Shyangudya ya pali nipa Beagi” (newari), meaning – “The sun is there! Please sun; come as I bow to Swoyambhu.” From this we can understand that even from childhood, people have faith in Swoyambhu, which gives them the sun to warm themselves in winter. Whenever there is a traditional ceremony like Bare Chhuagu, Nayolwiagu (aju-initiation), Panchadana (giving alms to guruji), or a feast, Thasan dya or Chiba (chaitya) is the main object present, initiations and takes an important place. Even in Dikchhya, secret initions like Saptabhisheka, Dashabhisheka, or Chaturdashabhisheka, the Purehit, Upadhyaya will put on his head a Mukuta (cap) with the five Buddhas representing Swoyambhu. In all the Sutras, and Viharas, Nama Sangati Sutra Path, the Pancha Euddhas of Swoyambhu are given important priority. Bagiswora Dharmadhatu in the from of a chaitya symbolizing Swoyambhu is kept on top of the Lotus Flower. Part of the chaitya also expresses union of Swoyambhu Dharmadhatu and Nama Sangita as Fragyopaya – the secret wisdom of Shajayana. So even in stone craving philosophy is expressed and the form of ornament worn give the idea of the Pancha Buddhas. The ornament of Pancha Chusan such as Chandi (head-ornament or Luswa in Newari), Kundal (ear-rings) kanthi, (necklace), Rochak (pendant) Mekhala (waistband or gridle) is the expression of the Pancha Maha Bhuta (Congregation of five elements, earth, sky water, fire, air). All these Davas and Devis are the descendants of the Pancha Buddhas (five Buddhas):

The Five Buddhas; Their decendants

The descendants of Vaircchana

Ushnishayijaya, Namasangiti. Marichi, Sitatapatra, Mahasahashra, Pramurdani, Vajrabarahi, Agramatrika, Paramaswovajra. Yogambara, Kalachakra, Pragyaparamita, Mahapratyangira, Nairatma, Vajrayogini, etc.

Descendants of Akshobhya

Chanda Maharoshan Heruka, Buddha Kapal, Sambar, Mahamaya, Hayagruba, Yamari, Achal, Vighnantak, Vajrahunkar, Vajrajwalanalark. Trailokya Vijaya, Vajradhar, Vajrasatva, Bhutadamar.

Descendants of Ratnasambhava

Vasundhara, Jamvala, Mahapratisara, Ratnadakino, ratnabiramahakala, Prasannatara.

Descendants of Amitabha

Avalokitesvara (Padmapani), Mahabala, Padmanitare, Saptasatik, Hayagriba, Kurukulla, Bhrikuti, Mahashitavati etc.,

Descendants Amoghesiddhi

Vajramrita, Khadiravatitara, Mahashritara, Vashyatara Sitatara, Ayratara, Parnshaviri, Mahamayuri, etc.


On the western side of the Swoyambhu there is a pagodio style temple, twin roofed, that houses goddess, ‘Harati’ (populary known as, Ajima). Gold gilded roofs and intricate wood craving, together with metal plates of Buddhist deities, delicately designed and craved windows make this temple beautiful. Somehow the temple seems Hindu although it has no connection with Hinduism. The somewhat triangular shaped metal plates above the windows and door contain images of protectors of the Buddha and his dharma (law), Also, at the top of these plates we will notice a large bird known as the, ‘Garuda’, and a monster biting a snake known as, ‘Chhepa’. The ‘Garuda’, is the Vehicle for the Buddha of the northern direction, ‘Amogha Siddhi’. The Chhepa’, is interesting for it has it’s history in the Kathmandu valley. This dreadful animal Manjushree kept after draining the lake. Supposedly it is still living in the valley in an unknown place. It has become a sort of wrathful diety. Just as in the Christian tradition there are avangelists who teach the fearfulness of the hells in order to bend the sin inclined towards goodness, so also is the Chhepa a sort of wrathful diety that through fear of becoming a victim of this fierce creature leads beings to goodness. The stone statue of ‘Harati’, bearing five children is made of black Saligram. It was inst alled about 1800. there was earlier statue of Haraii, the history of which deserves some mention.

The King Ranu Bahadur Shah had three wives, one of whom he loved very much. His dearly loved of the three wives and his son fell ill with small pox and mother and son both perished. The king blamed it on, ‘Harati’, because she is supposed to be a reliever of children’s illnesses, and especially small pox. The king incensed it by burning human excrement, dug it up, broke it and threw it away. The one existing now was installed afterwards.

A popular legend exists about this goddess, its story is interesting to tell. At one time Harati was a ‘Yaksheni’, who was causing havoc by snatching up children and bringing them to one of the lower heavens where she enjoyed their company. When the number had reached five hundred kidnapped children the parents petitioned the Buddha for help. The Buddha skillfully stole tbe Taksheni’s favorite child. The Yaksheni, deeply grieved went before the Buddha and requested that her child be returned. The Buddha asked her to consider how great the grief of five hundred parents must be in light of her own grief at losing but a single child. As the Buddha asked her to consider in this way the Yeksheni was deeply moved and realized the great suffering she was causing others. She then returned all of the children and vowed that she would henceforth become a protector of children. She then became a goddess known as, ‘Harati Ma,’ Harati-protector, Ma-mother. Sometimes she is referred to as, Ajima’ (grand mother).

Interestingly a Goddess is mentioned in the ‘Mahawamsha,’ of ‘ Ceylon ( Sri Lanka )’. In this work a Yaksheni is said to have gone to the Himalayas with her five hundred sons. Accompanying her and her sons was a Yaksha named ‘Pandak’. Here in the Himilavas she is said to have taken refuge in Buddhism with the elderly monk, ‘Majjoantik’. Majjoantik, was sent to kashmir during the reign of, ‘King Ashok’ (265-228 B.C.) as the head of a religious mission. Sometimes she is referred to as, ‘Ajima’ (grand mother).

Harati Ma’, receives a good deal of attention daily from local people especially those families with young children. Everyday there are long ques of devotees waiting to make their offerings of duck eggs, yogurt, grains, butter lamps, incense, wine and other such offerings as are appropriate to please this goddess. The devotees. Hope that they can evoke a protecting wave of grace from this goddess by pleasing her; or if a member of their family is sick they believe that it is, Harati, who has hold of the sick child and that by pleasing her with eggs and sweets etc, she will release her hold on the child. Often she is covered with oil painted silver adorned with a ‘Tika’, given a sweet and showered with flowers, all as offerings of devotion.

Daily serious devotees make advanced arrangements with the Swoyambhu authorities to reserve a time slot to perform elaborate deyotions on a following day. They will invite a private priest who will begin a ceremony that usually takes about one hour. This ceremony differs fundamentally from those given for the transcendental Buddhas; but is pure Buddhist and held according to the Vajra Yana Tantric traditions. As the ceremony is taking place the family will make offerings, receive, ‘Prasad’ (blessed food), sacred thread etc. other without prior arrangements can make their offerings as the private ceremony is conducted but aren’t given priority in worship.

Significance of Swoyambhu

The supreme significance given to Swoyambhu Chaitya is kept on the pinnacle of the Ratha (chariot) of Matchhendra Nath (Shree Aryavalokitesvra Karunamaya or Bungadya in Newari), the son of Amitabha. In Samyek quthi which takes place once every 12 years. Shree Swoyambhu Maha Chaitya heads the line of the hundreds of other gods and goddesses for Puja during Samyek celebration. People also hold the traditional belief that it is beneficial to earn merit (punnya) by making lacs ( hundred of thousands) of small clay replicas of the chaitya (Lunchi Dya in Newari). When Baha-Puja is performed (visiting Baha in procession) it stars from Swoyambhu. The Mahachaitya is worshipped not only by the Buddhists but also by Hindus. Lore tells us how Shree Pashupati Nath venerated it by wearing a cap (Mukha) with the Five Buddhas on it (Pancha Buddha) in order to escape the wrath of Virupakchhya, who sought to destroy him. When he saw Pashupati Nath with a cap (mukha) with the Five Buddhas on his head refrained from harming Pashupati Nath as a token of high veneratian to the Swoyambhu Maha Chaitya. Even now Pashupati Nath puts on a Mukha on Mukha Astami (the eight day of Kartik Sukla-8 th day of bright half moon 15 th November approximately) once a year. On the Mukuta of Buddanilkantha is a corrupt form of Buddhanilkantha Naryan. This implies veneration to Swoyambhu Mahachaitya. In fact in Nepal, Hindus and Buddhists unitedly worship Hindu or Buddhist gods and goddesses, thus creating tranquility and happiness among Hindus and Buddhists. The example of religious tolerance is found in Krishna Mandir at Patan, built by Siddhinarsing Malla, where Krishna Murti (image), Shiva Linga (the male organ representing Shiva), and Avalokitesvra were to be found in their one above the other. These images are no longer found in their original place. ( it is believed, they have been stolen). Even architecture, as mentioned earlier shows Buddhist influence. For example the golden window of the palace in Patan has Padmapani, the son of Amitabha, Buddha, engraved on it. In many Viharsm, the replicas of Swoyambhu Chaitya are found. Examples are; in Kwababa, in front of Kwapdya or in the centre of the courtyard, you will find a small Swoyambhu Chaitya, which is the traditional way of showing devotion to Swoyambhu. Ajutapuli (the cap worn by Anju) has images of Pancha Buddhas (Five Buddhas). From the above mentioned evidence of the influence of Swoyambhu Maha Chaitya on society through customs, rituals, vihars, architecture and even in Hindu temples, it is clear that the people of Nepal have an unbounded faith in Swoyambhu.

One Comment on “Swoyambhunath”

  1. Yes, I spent some time visiting the other papricitants of this photo-heart connection!I love the image of the little table and the two chairs and especially the cloth and the little plant! This just screams Italy! Though of course it could be somewhere else where there are warm days and evenings and where people like to sit outside and watch the world go by! By the comfort of the thick cushions, I would imagine that quite a lot of sitting goes on out there!There is a feeling of intimacy and warmth coming from this composition. I love it!

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