Shreyashka Vikram Raj Maharjan
Entering the premises of Boudhanath, at times feels as if I magically transitioned into an other worldly dimension. As I sat down, by the bench, I couldn’t but help but question, what makes Boudhanathso magical?
The sites and sounds at this tiny mescocosm, has a tint of serenity. From the melodious chants, to the aroma of incense, one can’t help but close their eyes and just escape in the magic. When a site amazes me, the first thing I do is photograph everything that gives the place life. The monuments, people, relics and buildings. Resting my camera atop the table, scrolled through the catches of the day. I looked up how the place was in ancient times, the pictures that came up made me wish I had H.G Well’s time machine.
The second thing on my list is looking up the history and seeking the masters who gave this its transcendent magic. Flipping through my archives of chronicles, I found the most accurate writings of the creation of Boudhanath in the pages of the “History of Kings of Nepal” compiled by Daniel Wright. As the legend go, King Vikrama-Kesari found that the shrine of his forefathers the Narayana fountain suddenly went dry. He was at dismay and grieved at the loss of the memorial of his forefathers and thus to find a malady he went to Buddha Nil-kantha for advice. “ The deity told him to consult the astrologers. He did so, and after some deliberation they said that it required a sacrifice of a human being possessed of the thirty-two attributes. The raja resolved to obey these directions; but thinking that to sacrifice a subject would be a sin, and to kill his own son, who possessed all the requisite attributes, would be cruel, he determined to be himself the victim. He therefore called his so Bhup-Kesari and ordered hum to kill, without looking at his face, a certain man, whom on the fourth day after that, he should find lying covered over on the fountain. The price, going there on the appointed day, in accordance with his father’s commands, and not knowing who the person was, cut off his head. Blood rushed out of the dhara, and the crocodile on the fountain turned back his head that he might not see a parricide. The son then went to wash his hands in the Ikshumati river, and was surprised to see swarms of worms floating in the water. On returning to his house, he heard a great noise of people shouting out that the price had killed his father. The prince then silently performed his father;s funeral ceremonies, and making over charge of the government to his mother, he went to Mani Jogini to expiate the sin of parricide. Seeing him very forlorn, the Jogini informed him that he could expiate his crime by building a large Buddhist temple, two miles in circumference, and having four circles of gods. The spot for the temple would be indicated by the perching of a kulang (crane) which would take it’s flight from the mountain. The bird accordingly alighted, the spot for the temple was marked out, and the work begun.” - Wright, 1877, 99-100
The stupa of Boudhanath is also called the “Stupa of a million due drops” as during the construction of the temple a great drought had over shadowed the Nepal Valley and the workmen made the bricks for the temple collecting water from dew. They also according to the legends, soaked their cloth in the streams wrang out the moisture. It is said, “When the bricks were being made, Barahi Devi to test their strength, came in the shape of a sow and trod on them. This visit being repeated the Raja inquired who she was and the Devi, acceding to his prayer, disclosed herself in her true form. The Raja to show his gratitude, placed her image at the entrance of the Buddhist temple which contained all the deities.” - Wright, 1877, 100-101
After finishing the temple, the Prince presented himself to Mani Jogini. She was well pleased with him for having punctually carried out the directions which she had given for building the temple, and said. “You have been cleansed from sin, and your grandfather who got the tree of riches and expended them in charity will again appear in the world, when three thousand years of the Kali Yuga have passed away, and he will change the era, when will then be known as Vikram Sambat, or the era of Vikramaditya.”
When hearing the legends today, they might sound out of place but that’s the beauty of time and lineage. It is a testament of how out of darkness comes light and that is what the stupa of Boudhanath is. It has been the centre of faith of not just the natives of this valley but also to travelling pilgrims who view the stupa with great veneration and hold it close to their heart. It is the same faith and devotion that lead to the stupa to be rebuilt the quickest among the the monuments that were affected by the 2015 earthquake.
The city around the stupa of Boudhanath might have changed. The traditional houses now, towers of steel and concrete, the streets leading to Boudhanath now paved with asphalt. But the stupa, which has withstood the test of time is still a remarkable example of faith and devotion.