Kathmandu’s Secret – Part 3 – Guhyeshwari Devi
SHIVA & SATI
This is the story of Shiva & Sati. Shiva is insulted by Sati’s father Daksh. Sati takes the insult personally. She throws herself into the holy ritual fire. Shiva is informed. He reaches Daksh’s palace. Picks up Sati’s dead burning body in his arms. In uncontrolled anger, He starts the Pralay-Tandav – the dance of destruction. Vishnu steps in. He feels Shiva can only be calmed if He is separated from the dead burning body. He unleases His Sudarshan-Chakra (Disc) with instructions to chop the body to pieces. The body is slashed in 108 pieces, each piece falling at a different spot in accordance with Shiva’s wild dance.108 `seats’ of `power’. 108 Shakti-Peeths. Power points on Earth for protection & salvation of mortals.
KAMAKHYA & GUHYESHWARI
Of primary importance amongst the 108 seats of power, are 51 seats which lay claim to the Goddess’s most important body parts. The lower private organs of Sati, got thrown into 2 different places. Amongst the primary 51 seats, her private parts – the ovaries & uterus fell at Kamakhya Devi in Gauhati, Assam, India – and the vagina & cervix fell some distance away at Guhyeshwari Devi in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Kamakhya Devi in Assam is also referred to as the `bleeding-goddess’. In correlation to the body part of Sati that fell here, Kamakhya has her periods in the Hindu month of Ashad for 3 days; it is believed that this blood flows into the Brahmaputra, and the river takes on a pinkish hue (which from a practical standpoint is also attributed to the immense vermillion that flows into the river on those 3 days).
SECRETS OF GUHYESHWARI
Coming back to Guhyeshwari in Kathmandu:
Guhya = hidden / secret / undiscovered / unknown / incognito.
Eshwari = the consort of Eshwara / Shiva.
In the Devi Tantra it is detailed that, that is exactly how she wishes to remain – as the hidden / unknown / undiscovered / secret consort of Pashupatinath.
Taking a walk from Vaishali Hotel into Thamel’s famous shopping lanes, I chanced into a bookstore one evening. A voluminous book titled – Tantric Wisdom Goddesses penned by a foreign author (whose name I cannot now remember) caught my attention.
Being a hefty-priced thick book, I had no intention of buying it; but I didn’t think it ethical to take notes either. But I did browse through the pages trying to remember as much of the interesting information, I could.
In keeping with this Deity’s wishes, I would not like to comment too much in depth; but I would like to share a recap from the book & from my travels:-
- If you have faintly read somewhere that she appears among the primary 51/108 Shakti Peeths, then you will at least ask for her & try to include her temple into your itinerary, even if her significance is not clear to you.
- But otherwise, Guhyeshwari is easy to miss. She appears nowhere on the local tourist guide’s agenda. So if you haven’t priorly read or heard about her, then chances are that you will miss paying a visit to her temple.
- When in Kathmandu, insist that your local guide takes you there, because he / she will most likely tell you that her abode has no significance & a visit is not essential.
- Guhyeswari is a mere 10 minutes drive from Pashupatinath, yet you will find her courtyard almost empty.
- Guhyeshwari temple is on an elevation from the road; large old temple; ancient architecture.
- In the midst of the temple compound which houses several other small, micro temples – is her sanctum-sanctorum. You have to descend to enter it. It’s as if she’s hiding in a small cave.
- Initially you may mistake her for a shiva-lingam – it looks just like one & you may keep looking around for a temple that’s more symbolic of a Goddess.
- But there she is – in `pind’ form / a large hump of a stone. That’s Guhyeshwari Devi.
- She has made a choice to remain secret & undiscovered like the symbolic private part, from which her energies arose.
- Here, in Kathmandu, she chooses to remain in shadow & solitude, so that her better-half, Lord Pashupatinath can fulfill his worldly responsibilities without her distraction.
- For those who have figured out her secret & seek her out … :-
- She is the goddess of soul-mate connections. In `Tantric Wisdom Goddesses’, it is said, that those who make a visit here are not too far from their soul-mate connections. A fleeting encounter in this life & a more fulfilling encounter in the next – is assured for all who make it to her altar.
- She is the goddess of marriage. A visit to her temple proves highly beneficial to those seeking / searching for a marriage partner.
- She is the goddess of marital fidelity. A visit to her temple assures ensures fidelity & commitment in marital ties.
- She is the goddess of marital longevity. A visit to her temple ensures a long & fruitful marriage partnership.
- And the most important perhaps – It is said you have to collect from Guhyeswari’s altar, the wishes which have been granted to you by Pashupatinath. She is the medium. He passes on the granted wishes to her – and she in turn – passes them onto you when you reach her altar.
- So in a way – though it’s easy to miss her – you can’t afford to miss her – else you risk leaving your bag of granted wishes back in Kathmandu itself.
- Her real secret lies in teaching you to look for – the unseen; the hidden; the subtle; the invisible.
- Her real secret lies in teaching you to look beyond the obvious that meets your eye & ear.
- Her real secret lies in searching for the soul hidden deep within imperfect bodies.
- Her real secret lies in connecting you to your own soul.
If Lord Pashupatinath is the God of imperfect life-forms & small, helpless beings – then Guhyeswari Devi is the perfect soul that is hidden deep within all of them & every one of us. The key is to find her to find yourself.