Muktinath

Muktinath

Muktinath is a sacred place for both Hindus and Buddhists located in Muktinath Valley at an altitude of 3,710 meters at the foot of the Thorong La mountain pass (part of the Himalayas) in Mustang, Nepal. The site is close to the village of Ranipauwa, which is sometimes mistakenly called Muktinath.

Within Hinduism, it is called Mukti Kshetra, which literally means the “place of liberation or moksh”. This temple is considered to be 106th among the available 108 Divya Desam (premium temples) considered sacred by the Sri Vaishnava sect. The ancient name of this place in Sri Vaishnava literature, before Buddhist origin[clarification needed], is Thiru Saligramam. This houses the Saligram shila, considered to be the naturally available form of Sriman Narayan – the Hindu Godhead. It is also one of the 51 Shakti peeth. The Buddhists call it Chumig Gyatsa, which in Tibetan means “Hundred Waters”. Although the temple has a Vaishnav origin, it is also revered in Buddhism because guru padmasambhava meditated there for some time. For Tibetan Buddhists, Muktinath is a very important place of dakinis, goddesses known as Sky Dancers, and one of the 24 Tantric places. They understand the murti to be a manifestation of Avalokiteśvara, who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas.

Legend

The Tibetan Buddhist tradition states that Guru Rinpoche, also known as Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, had meditated at Muktinath on his way to Tibet. This temple is praised by many saints of Hindu tradition. The scripts narrating the importance of this temple are available in Vishnu Purana with the Gandaki Mahathmya.

The waterway downstream from Muktinath along Kali Gandaki is the source of all Silas or Shaligrams that are required to establish a temple of Vishnu. It is considered to be one of the holiest places of pilgrimage for Hindus and Buddhists. It has 108 water springs, a number which carries great significance in Hindu philosophy. As an example of the mystery surrounding the number 108, in Hindu astrology, there are mentions of 12 zodiacs (or Rashi) and 9 planets (or Graha), giving a total of 108 combinations. There are also 27 Lunar mansions (or Nakshatras) which are divided into 4 quarters (or Padas) each giving a combination of 108 Padas in total.

Sri Murthy Mahatmyam

This is probably the only place on earth where one can find all five elements (fire, water, sky, earth and air) from which all material things in the universe are made, according to Hindu and Buddhist traditions. They are all found at the same place together in their own and distinct form. This place is near Jwala Devi temple.

The entire river Gandaki bed has Shaligram stones which are used to worship Lord Vishnu.
According to Sri Vaishnava philosophy (a sub-sect of Hindu philosophy), it is considered to be one of the most-sacred places of worship of Lord Vishnu, praised by Thirumangai Alwar in the compilation of Nalayira Divya Prabandha 10 Pasurams in Mudal pathu Iyndham thirumozhi

It is said that one has to be gifted to get the ‘darśan’ (divine presence), as the deity in the temple Lord Sri Vishnu murthi and Goddess SriDevi and Bhoodevi believed to give Jeevan Mukthi hence He is called MUkTHINATH

Travel access

Access is difficult because of harsh weather conditions in Mustang. The most suitable time to visit is from March to June. There are flights from Kathmandu to Pokhara and then to Jomsom Airport. From there, one can either trek all the way or take a jeep to Muktinath, a journey which passes many archeological sites and temples. Tourists are also known to charter a helicopter for a 45-minute flight, though this carries a risk of acute mountain sickness (AMS) and is only recommended for brief visits.

As a Shakti Peetha

The Muktinath Temple is considered to be a Shakti Peetha for a yatra. Shakti Peethas are sacred abodes of Shakti (primordial cosmic energy), formed by the falling of body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi, when Lord Shiva carried it and wandered. There are 51 Shakti Peethas revered by Shaktism, connecting them to the 51 alphabets in Sanskrit. Each Shakti Peetha has a Shakti shrine and a Bhairav shrine in its temple. The Shakti of Muktinath is addressed as “Gandaki Chandi”, and the Bhairava as “Chakrapani”. Sati Devi’s temple on the forehead is believed to have fallen here.

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