Har Har Mahadev!!!
In this article we shall be talking about Lord Shiva and one of his many incarnations – Lord Pashupati. So let’s begin this enlightening and enchanting journey.
Lord Shiva is an integral part of the Hindu Trinity. Also known as Parameshwara (the Supreme God), Mahadeva (the Great God), Lord Shiva is the epitome of both calmness and power. He is the supreme God within Shaivism. Amongst the three Gods who make up the might Trinity, Lord Shiva is considered to be the destroyer or the transformer. Lord Brahma is the creator and Lord Vishnu is the preserver. Lord Shiva is usually depicted as an omnipresent yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash.
Pashupati or Shree Pashupatinath is an incarnation of Lord Shiva as the ‘Lord of all animals’. Although he is revered the world over, but in Nepal specifically Lord Pashupatinath is unofficially regarded as a national deity. The name ‘Pashupatinath’ has been derived from a combination of Sanskrit words. ‘Pashu’ meaning organisms, ‘Pati’ meaning protector and ‘Nath’ meaning Lord. Usually ‘Shree’ is added as a prefix to show respect and devotion. Thus Shree Pashupainath means the respected protector and Lord of all living beings. As mentioned earlier, Pashupati is an avatar of Lord Shiva and the male counterpart of Shakti. Shakti is a concept, a personification of feminine power and empowerment.
In the Vedic times, Pashupati was used as a designation of Lord Rudra, the God of wind. The Rigveda, which is one out of the four Vedas relates ‘Pashupa’, the protector of all beings’ with the name of Pushan. The five faces of Lord Pashupatinath represent the five incarnations of Lord Shiva. These incarnations are Sadyojata (also known as Barun), Vamdeva (also known as Uma Maheswara), Tatpurusha, Aghor and Ishana. These incarnations face the following directions – West, North, East, South and Zenith respectively. Also these five incarnations are a representation of the five primary elements of Hinduism – air, water, earth, light and ether.
The Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, Nepal is one of the most significant and well known Hindu temples of the world. It is located on the banks of river Bagmati and is considered to be the seat of the deity. The temple is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams (Holy abodes of Lord Shiva) on the Asian continent. The temple is immensely popular among local and foreign tourists and is listed among the UNECO World Heritage Sites. In ancient times only born Hindus were allowed to enter and pray in the temple premises. People of any other religion could only look at the shrine from the other side of the river. But over the years these norms have been relaxed and thankfully now everyone is allowed to enter the temple.
Although a myth but believed greatly, it is said that Lord Pashupati started living in Nepal in the form of a deer because he was flabbergasted by the beauty of Kathmandu valley. Thus the Pashupatinath temple is considered to be the most sacred place in Nepal.
In India, a temple dedicated to Lord Pashupati is located on the banks of river Shivana in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh. It is known for the eight faced Shiva lingam. The temple has four doors that represent four directions.
Call him Shiva, Pashupati or Mahadeva, he was and shall always be the supreme God.