Paśupatinātha Temple

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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Pasupatinatha Temple, PaZupatinAtha Temple, Pashupatinaatha Temple

Paśupatinātha Temple is one of the most important places of pilgrimage associated with Lord Śiva. It is in Nepal. Nepal, got its name by its association with a great sage called ‘Nemi Muni’.[1] He is said to have lived near this temple and taken care of it. Nepal is full of the temples, of which the temple of Paśupatinātha is the most important and the holiest. According to the local traditions it is at least 1500 years old.

Historical Lore of Paśupatinātha Temple

The legend goes that Lord Śiva and his divine spouse Pārvatī, while wandering in the Himalayas came here, liked the place very much and settled down as a ‘mṛga and mrgī’.[2] When the gods of heaven started searching for the ‘missing’ couple, they found a strange deer with one horn and three eyes, moving about, along with a female deer. Recognizing them as Śiva and Pārvatī, the gods tried to take them back to Kailāśa[3] but failed. Śiva gave up the deer form, assumed the jyotirliṅga shape[4] and settled down on the bank of river Bāgmatī which is now in Kāṭhmaṇḍu, the capital of Nepal.

Paśupatinātha Temple as per Nepālamāhātmya

Since he had assumed the shape of a paśu or animal, but is really the pati or Lord of all livings beings, he is known as ‘Paśupati’ or ‘Paśupatinātha’. The Nepālamāhātmya[5] of the work mentioned earlier, declares that this temple of Paśupatinātha is surrounded by the rivers Kauśikī, Triśulagaṅgā and another ‘holy river with cold waters’. ‘Śivapuri’[6] is towards the north.

Renovation of Paśupatinātha Temple

The temple was destroyed by the Muslim invaders in A. D. 1350 but was rebuilt by the king Jayasinharāma. The present structure was built in A. D. 1692 in two stories since the old one was destroyed by the white ants.

Liṅga of Paśupatinātha Temple

The liṅga in the main shrine is made of black stone and has four faces. Each has a pair of hands in different mudras.[7] The scalps have matted hair on the three faces and the fourth face, half man and half woman is that of Ardhanārīśvara.


  1. Skāndapurāṇa, Himavatkhanda, 11.60
  2. Mṛga and mrgī means deer-couple.
  3. Kailāśa is the abode of Śiva.
  4. Jyotirliṅga means the liṅga of light.
  5. Nepālamāhātmya 15.3-5
  6. Śivapuri is the Kailāsa mountain.
  7. Mudras means the poses.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore