Guhyeshwari temple is one of the oldest and holiest temples of the country. The temple is dedicated to Guhyeshwari the incarnation of Goddess Parwati or Adi Shakti. The main shrine of the temple contains the Shakti Peetha of the Sati Devi. It is about 1 km east of the holy temple Pashupatinath. The temple is said to be the Shakti Chair of the Pashupatinath Temple. It is an important pilgrimage destination for Hindus, especially for the Tantric worshippers. The temple’s name originates from the Sanskrit words Guhya (secret, hidden or cave) and Ishwari means Goddess. Literally the name Guheshwari stands for the goddess of the cave and the origin of the name aligns with Hindu legend of Sati, herself immolation when she turns into Adishakti, the goddess of cosmic energy at Daksha yagna.
Guhyeshwari temple is located in the Gaurighat of the Kathmandu valley. It is located on the southern bank of the Bagmati valley. This temple is a famous destination for special occasions like weddings, bratabandha and poojas. It portrays the female side of the divine. This temple is also known for its Tantric rituals. It is believed that people who want to gain strength visit this temple to worship Mother Goddess. Lying just below the forest and different monuments, Guheshwari temple holds many myths and stories. The surrounding area of this holy temple is peaceful yet powerful.
Design of The Temple
The temple is built in the pagoda style and was constructed by the King Pratap Malla in the 17th century. The pagoda style temple has a distinct interior. Instead of the standing figure of the Goddess ,it has a flat figure parallel to the ground in which the devotees have to bow down to worship the main shrine. Next to the shrine , there is the divine pond known as the Bhairav Kunda. The devotees put their hand inside this holy pond and whatever they get is considered holy and is accepted as a blessing from the divine. The aura you get here while visiting is strong and vibrant. The temple stands at the centre of a courtyard and is topped with four gilded snakes that support the final roof.
According to Hindu Myths, when the father of Sati Devi, Daksha Prajapati was performing a yagya, he invited all gods except Mahadev to the ceremony. So Sati went to her father’s yagya ceremony and asked him why he did not invite her husband. He began making fun of him in front of the whole guest. He answered that Mahadev drank alcohol, smoked cannabis, slept in cemeteries, wore a serpent around his neck, had dreadlocks, covered his body with ash and wore a tiger. Hence, he was not a suitable person to come to such an important yagya. Unable to withstand such an insult to her husband, Sati jumped into the yagya fire and gave up her life. Mahadev was so furious by the death of her beloved wife, he sent Virbhadra and Bhoot Gana to kill Daksha Prajapati and destroy the yagya.
After extracting his vengeance, Mahadev started to mourn over his dead wife’s body . He travelled the world carrying the body of the Sati on his back. During this time, Vishnu released his Sudarshan Chakra and wounded Sati’s body so that it could be infested by insects and rot. The Sati’s body part started to fall from the body and wherever her body part fell became shakti peethas and places of devotion. There are 51 Shakti Peethas also correspond to 51 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. One view is that Guhyeshwari Temple marks the spot where Sati’s hip or hind part is said to have fallen.
The actual meaning of the guhya is often mistaken with the word vagina. But the genitals of Sati Devi is said to have fallen at another Shakti Peetha worshiped by the name ”Kamarupa-Kamakhya” in Assam. It is also believed that it is the place where both the knees of the Sati Devi have fallen.
Each Shakti Peetha of the temple is dedicated to the Shakti and a Kalabhairava. In this temple , the Shakti is Mahashira and the Bhairava is Kapil. The goddess is worshipped at the centre of the temple in a water jar that is covered with a layer of silver and gold. The water jar rests on the stone base which covers the underground natural water spring from where water oozes out from the edges of the base. It is mentioned in mantras such as Kali tantra, Chandi Tantra and Shiva Tantra Rahasya. The powerful incarnation of the goddess shows her as many and different coloured headed goddesses with innumerable hands. While visiting this temple, the Guheshwari temple is visited before the main Pashupatinath Temple. This temple is worshipped first and then other temples are visited. It is because of the belief of worshipping Shakti before Shiva.
Newari Vajrayana Buddhism considers this temple to be the sacred Vajrayogini in the form of Vajravarahi. They believed that it is the location of the root of the mythical lotus upon which the great Swayambhunath stupa rests. It is also known to be the umbilical cord that nurtures and protects the Kathmandu valley. In Tibetan language , the place is called pakmo Ngulchu ( Varahi’s womb fluid). The water which flows from the spring of the temple is believed to be vaginal discharge, like amniotic fluid of Vajravarahi. The Newar community performs various pujas at Guhyeshwari temple. They also arrange many feasts during the festivals. That’s why this temple has the important religious and traditional values in both Hindu and Buddhist cultures.
The temple is mostly crowded during the 10 days of the Vijaya Dashami. The devotees from all over the country as well as neighbouring India come to offer their prayers and worship Goddess Maheshwari. A lot of importance is placed during this time. Statues of different forms of Durga are also placed around the main shrine at this temple. Guheshwari Yatra is another main festival of the temple in which the pilgrims start the tour Guheshwari, following Pashupatinath temple and ending at Hanuman Dhoka, Basantapur. This tradition has been practiced in Nepal from the early days. This yatra takes place in the month of October or November or during the auspicious festival Vijaya Dashami according to the Lunar calendar.
The weather is warm and pleasant throughout the year. But mainly pilgrims visit this temple during the month of September or October as the main festival of Hindu Vijaya Dashami falls during this month. The temple is packed with the devotees during the 10 days of the Dashami.
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