One of the sculptural marvels in South Asia has to be the Budhanilkantha Mandir. Situated approximately 10 kilometers from the center of Kathmandu, Nepal at the base of the Shivapuri Hill, is the largest and most beautiful stone carving in all of Nepal is the enigmatic Budhanilkantha temple.
It is said to be carved from a single block of black basalt stone of unknown origin. The statue of sleeping Vishnu itself is tall sculpture 5 meters in length. It lies in a reclining position within a pond of water, which represents the cosmic sea, which is 13 meters in length.
The statue depicts Lord Vishnu resting on the twisting coils of the cosmic serpent Shesha Naga. Vishnu’s legs are crossed, and the eleven heads of Shesha cradle his head. Vishnu’s four hands hold objects that are symbols of his divine qualities: a chakra or disc (representing the mind), a conch-shell (the four elements), a lotus flower (the moving universe) and the club (primeval knowledge).
Budhanilkantha means “Old Blue Throat”, a title which has been given to Lord Shiva. The myth of Shiva’s blue throat relates how the gods churned the ocean of existence and unleashed a poison that threatened to destroy the world. After begging Shiva to save them from their blunder and he obliged by drinking the poison. With his throat burning, the great god flew up to the range north of Kathmandu, struck the mountainside with his Trishul to create a lake, Gosainkunda, and quenched his thirst – resulting information of blue patch on his throat.
The water in Budhanilkantha is popularly believed to originate in Gosainkund, and Shaivas claim a reclining image of Shiva can be seen under the waters of the lake during the annual Shiva festival there in August, which attempts to explain the association. Local legend maintains that a mirror-like statue of Shiva lies on the statue’s underside.
The statue was sculpted and brought to its current location in Kathmandu during the reign of the sixth-century North-Indian Monarch Vishnugupta who went to Kathmandu valley during Lichhavi King Bhimarjunadev. Vishnugupta is generally considered to be the last recognized king of the Gupta Empire. Who ruled from 540 to 550 AD.
A farmer and his wife occupied a farm in an area and while cultivating the land, they struck the Deity. Immediately afterward blood began to flow from the ground and thus the lost deity of Budhanilkantha was recovered and placed in its rightful position. It is thought to be during Early Malla Dynasty of Nepal.
The Legend of the Nepal Monarchy
Pratap Malla is said to have had a prophetic vision, which resulted in his strong belief and fear that should the King of Nepal visit the Budhanilkantha temple, death would be imminent upon his departure. Continuing to the day Monarchy ended, the Hindu Kings of Nepal did not visit the temple.
Haribondhini Ekadashi takes place during the 11th day of the Hindu month of Kartik (October – November). Attended by many thousands of pilgrims, it is the principle festival for the year in celebration of the awakening of Lord Vishnu from his long sleep.