SWOYAMBUNATH

Swoyambunath, another popular sacred place for Buddhist people. In the name Swoyambunath “swoyambu” means self created and “nath” means master. It is located at the northwestern part of Kathmandu valley.

Each morning before dawn hundreds of Buddhist (Vajrayana) and Hindu pilgrims ascend the steps from the eastern side that lead up the hill, passing the gilded Vajra (Tibetan: Dorje) and two lions guarding the entrance, and begin a series of clockwise circumambulations of the stupa.

Mythology

According to Swayambhu Purana, the entire valley was once filled with an enormous lake, out of which grew a lotus. The valley came to be known as Swayambhu, meaning “Self-Created.” The name comes from an eternal self-existent flame (svyaṃbhu) over which a stupa was later built.

Swayambhunath is also known as the Monkey Temple as there are holy monkeys living in the north-west parts of the temple. They are holy because Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom and learning was raising the hill which the stupa stands on. He was supposed to leave his hair short but he made it grow long and head lice grew. It is said that the head lice transformed into these monkeys.

Manjusri had a vision of the Lotus at Swayambhu and traveled there to worship it. Seeing that the valley can be a good settlement and to make the site more accessible to human pilgrims, he cut a gorge at Chovar. The water drained out of the lake, leaving the valley in which Kathmandu now lies. The Lotus was transformed into a hill and the flower became the stupa.

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