The Tales of Padmapani Lokeshwar, Sankata and the Mahankal Bhairava
King Narendra Deva along with the tantric priest, Bandudatta and a local farmer, Lalit travelled all the way to Assam, to bring Padmapani Lokeshwar to Kathmandu but since they faced a lot of “sankat” (dangers) along the way, the priest Bandudatta summoned Sankata, the “deity who removes dangers”.
In ancient Nepal, stories about gods and goddesses have existed from the beginning of time and they were an important part of everyday life.
They elaborated everything from catastrophic events to the uncertainties of the weather. All natural phenomena were attributed to higher powers. Natural forces were personified by the people and the stories gave meaning to the world around them.
Kings at the time were also seen as cultural heroes and legendary figures. They were often seen as protectors, saviors in a crisis and royal mythologies have been important part of the Nepali culture. Lichhavi King Narendra Deva was one of the legendary kings and many stories are associated with him.
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Padmapani Lokeshwar and Sankata
Once upon a time, during the reign of Licchavi King Narendra Deva who ruled from 643–679 A.D, Kathmandu was facing a prolonged period of drought that lasted for 12 years.
The king consulted astrologers who predicted that the drought happened because guru Gorakhnath was meditating to restrain the Nagas responsible for the rain.
They advised the king that the only way to release the snakes and to bring back the rains was to bring Padmapani Lokeshwar from Assam since guru Gorkhanath would end his meditation to greet Padmapani Lokeshwar after his arrival in the Kathmandu Valley and hence the Nagas would be free.
To end the drought, King Narendra Dev requested a priest who practiced Tantrika powers to summon the deity ‘Padmapani Lokeshwar ‘.
King Narendra Deva along with the tantric priest, Bandudatta and a local farmer, Lalit travelled all the way to present day Assam, to bring Padmapani Lokeshwar to Kathmandu but since they faced a lot of “sankat” dangers along the way, the priest Bandudatta summoned Sankata, the “Deity who removes dangers”.
Devotees worship Sankata to ward off evil spirits and dangers. It is believed that worshipping Sankata solves problems, difficulties or setbacks faced in day-to-day life. Devotees believe that worshipping Sankata and Mahankal Bhairav together gives protection in all aspects.
On their return, they brought both the deities with them and Kathmandu valley was blessed with rain. Interestingly, some see Sankata as Achalanatha, also known as Chandamaharoshana, who is an important deity in Tantric Buddhism.
The Sankata temple in Kathmandu is home to the deities Padmapani Lokeshwar on the lower floor and Sankata on the upper floor. Sankata and Karunamaya are worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists.
Rato Matsyendranath Jatra of Patan
The people in Lalitpur call Padmapani Lokeshwar as Rato Matsyendranath or “Bungadeya”. Bungaa meaning “watering place”. Rato Matsyendranath (Bungadeya), stays in Bungamati for six months. The large shikhara-style Rato Matsyendranath Temple in Bungamati used to be the home of the rain god until 2015.
The 2015 earthquake destroyed the temple and it is currently being renovated. The deity has since been placed in a temporary shelter in Bungamati. The deity resides in Patan for another six months. The process of moving him back and forth between Patan and Bungamati is celebrated as the Rato Matsyendranath Jatra.
King Narendra Deva stared The Rato Matsyendranath Jatra (chariot procession of the god) in Lalitpur. Every year, the residents of Lalitpur build a 60 feet tall chariot made out of bamboo and wood for the idol of Rato Matsyendranath in Patan. The devotees then pull the chariot through the streets of Lalitpur on a tour that lasts a month.
Once every 12 years, during the Barha Barsa Jatra (12 year festival), the chariot of the Matsyendranath is constructed at Bungamati. On the rare occasion, the chariot is pulled all the way from Bungamati to Pulchowk passing through Bhaisepati, Nakhu, Bhanimandal and Jhamsikhel.
The Legend of Mahankaal Bhairava
The Mahankaal Bhairava is considered as a ferocious manifestation of Lord Shiva. The deity is seen as the controller of time and a deity beyond death. The devotees believe that powerful deity invokes inner energies and protects them from enemies.
Long time ago, a famous priest who practiced tantric powers noticed something very strange in the sky. It was a patch of dark cloud floating above Tundikhel and a fierce figure was standing on it. The priest used his powers and discovered that it was none other than Lord Mahankaal Bhairava himself.
The excited priest went to the King of Kantipur and requested him to build a permanent home for Lord Mahankaal. The king agreed but Lord Mahankaal refused their request. He said he did not want to live in Kathmandu.
However, Bhairava promised to visit the temple on every Saturday. Hundreds of devotees visit the temple and worship the idol of Mahankal to get relief from misfortunes, bad luck, adversities and mischance.