Devoted to Promote tourism in Nepal

Religion in Kathmandu Valley

The religious life of the valley has been influenced tremendously by ideas from both India and Tibet, as a result of the trade and mixing of cultures.

vajrayoginiNepal was not prey to the destructive Muslim invasions of India, except in 1349, being virtually cut off from the Indian subcontinent by vast tracts of impenetrable forest. Malaria on its southern borders, and the Siwalik Hills and Mahabharat ranges all added to the difficulties. To the north, the massive barrier of the Himalayas also stood to defy the encroachment of outside civilizations. But there have always been passes and triage routes across the Himalayas and, indeed, access across the Terai in the south. Traders and men of religion have always continued to brave such obstacles in order to trade and spread their ideas. So, despite all these natural barriers, Nepalese culture was still subjected to a wealth of ideas, both from inside and outside.

Over the centuries, India was ruled by many Hindu dynasties and invaded by Muslims. Buddhism lost sway both to Islam and to the entrenched Hindu culture and religion in India. However, along with Jainism, the Buddhist ideas did survive these Hindu and Muslim onslaughts and continued to influence many parts of India, as well as the valleys of Nepal to the north. The Jains have much in common with Buddhists, believing in particular that all life forms are sacred and should not be killed.

Much later the Moghals, another Muslim dynasty that emanated from Ghazni in modern-day Afghanistan, held power in India. Buddhism continued to develop, and different schools of thought evolved. Two branches spread out, across the Indian subcontinent as far west as Bamiyan in Afghanistan, and into Southeast Asia as well as north into China and across to Japan. In India, Buddhism always competed with Hinduism, and did not come to rival that great religion. In Nepal Buddhism was stronger, although much modified in expression.

Hinduism has changed very little over the centuries, despite many other ideas that have arisen there. Perhaps surprisingly, one of the basic tenets of Hinduism is that there is only one true God; the same God who is also worshipped by Muslims, Christians and Jews alike. In popular Hinduism, the three main aspects of God are depicted by the Trimurti– Brahma, the Creator; Vishnu, the Preserver; and Shiva, the Destroyer. Within these three aspects, God’s representation is further subdivided into hundreds of gods and goddesses and their various vehicles and dwelling places. So in all the festivals where we see worshipping of one or other of the gods and goddesses, people are actually worshipping the one God in various different forms.

In Kathmandu, Pashupatinath is the main Hindu temple; Boudhanath is the main Buddhist temple, while Swayambhunath is worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists alike. As well as the Hindu and Buddhist temples, there is also a mosque, Sikh temple and a Christian church, and all religions coexist in perfect harmony.

Excerpts from Kathmandu: Valley of the Green-Eyed Yellow Idol authored by Bob Gibbons & Sian Pritchard-Jones

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This entry was posted on October 28, 2013 by in Telling the Tale and tagged , , .
Saujanya Timalsena

It's a reflection of my imagination, creativity, ideas, opinions and thoughts. Personal blog on topics whatever comes to my mind and ones that I feel like writing.


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