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RUMINATIONS ON PASHUPATINATH SHUT-DOWN

It was the mythical Ghatochkach who swallowed the sun for 6 months plunging the universe into darkness. Nepal feels like we are reliving the myth now with 16 hours of electrical load-shedding, trash heaps piled high on every street corner of the capital, business owners fleeing in droves to create a Nepali industrial corridor on the wrong side of the border, militant trade unionists shutting down the very means of their own livelihood and now the coup de grace, banish the Gods of Nepal so that no divine powers witness the wrath of a virulent political system brought upon a deserving populace.

There are many interesting stories about the power centres of Nepal. Mahankal the northern deity was brought down by the powers of earthly priests on its way to the south and it rests at the edge of Tundikhel in iron chains lest it fly back! Budanilkanth the sleeping Vishnu was rediscovered by farmers when their plows struck the buried statue drawing blood a millennium after it was consecrated. The cult of the Kumari was started by Malla King Jaya Prakash after he made imprudent advances on the female Taleju house deity during a game of dice. The deity vanished bringing in a period of pestilence to the kingdom and only after the newly-consecrated goddess Kumari blessed the king did Taleju forgive him. But there is no deity in Nepal as sacred as Pashupatinath, the Lord of the animals, residing in the deer forest near Kathmandu's international airport.

In the Eleventh Century A.D. the Bengal Muslim ruler Samsaduddin attacked Kathmandu and destroyed the Pashupatinath temple. King Rana Bahadur Shah in his mad grief over the death of his paramour, his junior wife a Mithila Brahmin girl, fired cannon balls at Pashupatinath, a king challenging the divinity of the God that could not save his beloved. The socialist B. P. Koirala was said to have expressed the view that Pashupati should be put in a museum after his successful revolution ended 104 years of Rana regime. Rana Bahadur was struck dead by his half-brother Sher Bahadur, Koirala was ousted by god-king Mahendra only after 9 months of enjoying a popular mandate as prime minister! Fate of the Muslim ruler is unknown but we do not challenge Gods lightly in Nepal.

Now over the dispute of who should be the head priests, Bhattas from South India enjoying this privilege since the Malla period or priests nearer home who could now do the worship equally well, Pashupatinath did not get its ritual morning bath and puja aarti for 8 days in a row! Needless to say that the controversy was in fact just another turf war between the new Nepal and the ancien regime over who would control the considerable resource generated there. Temples are now as important as customs offices, airport immigration, tax offices and the corrupt judiciary in empowering our political parties.

We await to see the wrath of Lord Pashupatinath or is he going to look the other way?

Comments

  1. you hit the nail on the head when you said "its a turf war".And like other govt agencies the Maoists want to bring the Temple under its thumb.What an irony-the atheist controlling the holiest shrine of Nepal.
    But I`m sure they will not succeed and this could be the beginning of their downfall as millions of Hindus here and abroad feel distressed.
    Govind

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