Swayambhunath Stupa is an oldest prehistoric Buddhist stupa of Nepal. Also knows as Money Temple. It is situated on a hillock lies two miles west of Kathmandu City. This is one of the world’s most glorious and famous Buddhist Chaitya built before more than two thousand years.
The hill of Swayambhunath is overgrown with evergreen trees bearing blossoms of gorgeous color and sweet fragrance. The bill also contains various rocks and mines of various metal. One can see the name of the god carved in stones in the Tibetan language. The Swayambhunath hill is a unique place for the religious minded people, the picnic party, the holidaymakers and the morning walkers or health makers. Swayambhunath hill formerly renowned for its different names such as Gosringa Parbat, Bajrakuti Parbat, Gopuchba Parbat, Padmagiri, and Sambhyangun.
Located 5000 feet above sea level and 250 feet high above the level of Kathmandu valley on a high green hill, the Swayambhu Chaitya is visible from far off places in Kathmandu valley. And one can see a magnificent view of Kathmandu city and its surroundings from the Swayambhunath Stupa Site. The main stupa of Swayambhunath Stupa contains innumerable quantity of subsidiary small Chaityas or Chabal(miniature stupas) shrines, sacred pillars and so on They Include a two-storied artistic pagoda style temple of Hindu goddess Harati Mata. Nearby is the temple of Hindu goddess Saraswati. It shows how the Hindu and Buddhist religion have mingled together in Nepal.
In the north side of the Swayambhunath stupa, there is a modern three-storeyed monastery run by Tibetan Karma-pa monks. The sound of drums, cymbals, and horns, the chanting of prayings monks can be heard from the Swayambhunath Stupa area. There is a big bronze image of Lord Buddha in the ground floor room of the monastery, the image is ten feet high, the largest Buddha’s image in Kathmandu.
In Swayambhunth there are other holy places named Basupur, Agnipur, Bayupur, Nagpur, Shantipur, Anandakuti, Dhyankuti and various rest houses lies scattered. Numerous restless monkeys were enjoying themselves nibbling greedily on the scattered grains thrown on the ground by the devotees as offerings to the god in front of Swayambhunath Stupa.
Near Swayambhunath there is a private school named Anandakuti Vidhyapith with a high reputation in Nepal. The Swayambhunath is a Stupa, the stupa is a large hemispherical mouds, representing the Garva (womb) serving the seat of creation as a monumental shrine with stone Buddha images tugged into niches around the base and with a cubical tower atop the moud bearing four pairs of mystic unwinking “all-seeing eyes” of Buddha painted in orange, white, blue and black colour facing four direction, in the centre of the eyes in the position of a nose is a figure resembling a question mark which represents the Vedic symbol for the one the figure signifying Buddha’s primary among other gods, and the eyes his eternal watchfulness over the whole people of the universe. In the upper side, most of their towers are further surmounted by a spire of successively diminishing rings of burnished metal culminating in a gilded umbrella representing the stages to heaven. The stupa is said to have been first introduced into Nepal as early as in the third century B. S.
There are 211 prayers wheels that encircle the white dome of Swayambhunath stupa that holds the sacred Mantras “Om Mani Padme Hun”. The Swayambhunath Chaitya which forms the main structure is made of a solid hemisphere of brick and earth supporting a lofty conical spire capped by a pinnacle of copper gilt. It is surmounted by a gold gilt square projection, which in turn is crowned by the Chudamani, a conical canopy of gilt rings.
The existence of this holy place of Buddhist pilgrimage has been traced from the very beginning of human settlement in the valley. Even the oldest mythology speaks of this holy place great Buddhist monk architect Shantisheel by name had constructed this Chaitya during the reign of Lichhavi King Brishavdev who had accepted Buddhist religion giving up the Shaivite cult. The Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the oldest and biggest stupas of Nepal.
Once the valley of Kathmandu which is about fifty miles in radius was in the form of a deep lake, surrounded by hills and forests, which was about sixteen miles in circumference. The lake was filled with clear green water where Karkotaka, the King of Nagas (serpents) lived. The lake was called Nagbas or the abode of Nagas (Serpents). Once there was a large city named Vindumati, where a certain King named Vindumas ruled over it. The King had a son named Vipasya Bhagawan who by converting many people into Vikshu or Buddhist. One day Lord Buddha send him with his pupils in Nagbas Lake ( Kathmandu Valley ) to threw some seeds and told his pupils that a lotus would grow out of it, and the self-existent in form of a flame would appear.
Meaning of Swayambhunath
Once quite suddenly and spontaneously, a certain lotus growing well out in the water of Naghrad spouted a brilliant fame with five colored rays it shone with gold and which burned precious stones brighter even than the sun. Who recognized as the miraculous manifestation of Adi Buddha or Swayambhunath self-existent god. That means “Swayam” means self and “Bhu” means birth in Newari language.
History of Swayambhunath
Later on after his death, a King named Arun from Arunagar happened to visit the lake and saw the incarnation of a flame like Diety in lotus and disappeared there. Again a King named Buddha Vipaswi from the city of Anupoorna came to the north mountain of the lake from where he saw the lame like Diety. He bathed in the water drank it, too a bunch of evergreen grass, offered it to the Deity and foretelling the future to his followers told the mountain that it would be called Phullchok, that the man of high lineage with gigantic the north, that would lotus of the flame like strength, Bodhisattwa by name, would come from dried the lake, that he would cause the diety to be made of gold, that a great stupa would be raised to it that he would build a large city and that the first tone of the city would be laid at its foot.
Later on Manjushree the incarnation of Viswakarma, the architect of gods saw in his meditation (Manjushree was created by Lord Shiva) as requested by the gods of heaven to dry up the water of the lake to establish Swayambhunath and Pashupatinath in that place) a golden lotus floating in the lake, with the flame like diety in it. He alone with his wife, King Dharmapala, and pupils mounted on the lion and came to the border of the lake. All were amazed at the sight of the flame like diety in the lotus. He offered a variety of jewels to the diety. He thought of drying up the lake and building a city on the spot so that people might come and worship the flame like diety. With this end in view, he went to the southern mountain which was lower than the rest, opened a passage named Chandrahas with his Saber. All the water ran out of the lake through the passage cut open by his Saber (Khadga). Manjushree allowed Karkotaka the King of Nagas (serpents) who had lived there for ages, to live in another lake named Taudaha and explained why he has dried up the lake to build the city on the spot in order to perform religious service to the self-existent Swayambhunath and Pashupatinath. He also told the Naga’s King Karkotaka to cause rain in due season so that the city might be well populated and also foretold that the self-existent Buddha called NE would come to the valley to multiply the community, and the valley would be named Nepal after him.
After the lake had been fully dried up, he found a large number of Jewels and Nagamani, gold, and riches which he deposited in the lake where Karkotaka was living. Afterward, Manjushree laid the foundation of the Chaitya Swayambhu or the temple of the self-existent on that very spot and covered the golden lotus with mud and stones there built a beautiful city called Manjupatan.
Later on, Manjushree placed Dharmakar on the throne of the city, gave him instructions to perform religious services and adoration of the self-existent and told him to be virtuous, liberal, strong and meditative. Dharmakara is regarded as the first King of Nepal. After Krakuchchandra, Dharmapala, Prachanda Dev and Gunkara came Santasri who was the taller and knower of all past, present, and future events by means of Yogic practice.
One day, as he was in deep meditation of the self-existent Santasri, reflected that the golden lotus decked with jewels are precious stone might be stolen by the people after the commencement of Kaliyuga or Iron-age. Consequently, after obtaining the degree of Vajracharya and on the advice of his tutor Gunkara, Santasri wanted to cover the golden lotus and its flame like diety beneath a stone and create a solid hemisphere of the structure of Chaitya.
Consequently, he dug a hole in the ground, placed the sacred flame and precious stone inside the hole. It is said that in order to perform their duties Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesa, four Mahoragas and eight Lokapalas had come to the place. Santasri brought a huge timber and placed it in middle of the foundation stone. After he built the Garbha with bricks and mud and placed the image of Aksobhaya Buddha in the east, Ratnasambhava in the south, Amitabha in the west, Amoghasiddhi in the north and Vairochana in the east. On the right-hand side Aksobhaya. He then placed four Buddha Saktis Lochana, Mamaki, Pandura and Aryaent in four intermediate spaces. He erected a square basement for superincumbent spire on the top of the hemisphere. The basement was surmounted by a torus. One can see a pair of an eye on each face of the basement. It is known as Panchachaksu. After that, the stir was raised above the basement.
He also built a monastery around the Chaitya, performed the ceremony of vivifying Swayambhunath and then offered him flowers, fruits, and sweets. Along with other varied images all around the Chaitya, he builds five temples for devotees. He placed the image of Vasundhara and Vasupura; the image of air and Vayupur; the image of the fire at Agnipur; the image of Naga at Nagpur. The fifth mansion was called Guhapur. He placed the secret gods at the center of it. After the completion of all these tasks, Santasri placed the image of six Bhairabas i.e. Prithvi-Bhairaba to the south of Guhapur: Ap-Bhairaba to the east of Swayambhunath; Tej-Bhairaba on the slope of the hill; Uaya-Bhairaba at the foot of the hill on the southern side; Akash-Bhairaba on the western side; Surya Bhairaba and his consort on the eastern road. In the middle of the eastern road, he placed the images of Kalinga, Purba Ganesa, and Dakshina Ganesa. After that, he placed the images of four Mahoregas and sacred circles. After he had completed all the works, he entered on a certain day. Guhapura to practice meditation and disappeared from the world.
Once in the reign of Gunakamadeva, it so happened that as a result of his innumerable acts of barbarity and licentiousness the heavenly deities provoked, got offended with him and showered heap of curses and consequently, there occurred famine for seven years in the country. The King then released his faults, went to Swayambhunath offered flowers, Sweets, fruits and worshipped him. He also confessed his faults and sins to his tutor santasri. Because of the distress caused by the scarcity of rain he went to Shantikara Vajir charya and requested him for rain. Shantikara Vajra sent for Karkotaka and his eights colleagues. All the serpents came up there and wrote their names with their blood on the leaves of the tree. At Shantipura, in Swayambhunath Shantikara Vajracharya collected all the leaves and displayed them in the sunshine and instantly there was rainfall in abundance.
Thus the people were relieved of peril. The serpent king Karkotaka who had been imprisoned by Shantikara Vajracharya underneath the stone steps was seen to have attained salvation from the bondage when King Gunakamdeva visited there one can see the stone step, where Karkotaka was shut up, even to this day. From the top of the hill, one can have a bird’s eye view of Kathmandu city.
Later on, Sakya Simha visited Swayambhunath and seated himself on the Lion-throne which was built by Viswakarma between the Chaitya of Puchagha and Manjushree. King Pratap Malla renovated the Swayambhunath Chaitya and offered thunderbolt (Baira). The last Malla king of Nepal Jaya Prakash Malla also renovated the Swa, bhunath Chaitya. Many Buddhist from Lhasa and northern region of Nepal also came to Swayambhunath to offer their worship.