Brief Introduction to Muktinath
Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa is a sacred
place for both Hindus and Tibetan Buddhists at 3750 meters (12,300
feet) at the Annapurna Circuit in the Himalayas
of Nepal. It is a great example
of how two religions can share the same holy spot with mutual respect
In Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa all the elements are represented, not only
earth, air and holy water,
but also fire.
Beside trees are growing
at an unusual altitude. For this and reasons unseen yogis from both
religions do their meditation at Muktinath.
Vishnu & Shalagramas
For Hindus, beside the
natural fire representing Brahma
and the holy
waters, the central meaning of the Muktinath area is the veneration
of the god Vishnu in the
form of ammonites (shilas) called Salagrama-Shilas.
There are many stories
which tell of Vishnu turning into stone and all of them are
closely connected to the holy Kali Gandaki River. This river,
also known as the Salagrami, is a few hours walking from
The building in 1815 of the Buddhist-Hindu
temple of Vishnu and Chenrezig at Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa
was initiated by the Nepali Queen Subarna Prabha who considered
Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa Salagrama.
The Purana legends (300-1000 AD) mention Salagrama
being the most holy spot connected to the Gandaki River. Salagrama
is one of The
108 Temples & Celestial Abodes of Vishnu referred by the
hymns of the Alwars of the 1st millennium CE. Although the
veneration of Vishnu is central nowadays, there is also a
connection with Krishna as well as with Shiva.
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Salagrama, Muktikshetra and Muktinath
It is difficult to understand the exact status of Muktinath-Chumig
Gyatsa within Hinduism. There is no debate about the Gandaki River.
However some Hindu schools have doubts regarding the status of
Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa as a Hindu pilgrimage site*and have the
opinion that the
Celestial Abode of Vishnu connected to the Gandaki River (Salagrama)
is the source of the Gandaki
or a cave near to it. One of the reasons for their opinion is
that contradictory to other Hindu pilgrimages sites connected
to a holy river, one has to walk away from the holy Gandaki River
for several hours to reach the site. Another reason is that 'Muktinath'
as such is not mentioned in Hindu scriptures like the Mahabharata
and the Puranas. The
name 'Muktikshetra' does appear in the Varahapurana
(c.144:v.122), but as the area near the Gandaki River
and not as a spot in the mountains.**
Lama Wangyal pointed out the bottom line though, when he was
asked what his opinion is in the very matter: "Look at the
many, many Hindu pilgrims visiting Muktinath; no doubt this is
a pilgrimage place for Hindus."
One Hindu Guru connected to Muktinath is Lord Shri Swaminarayan,
Satguru of Sabij Yoga, the goal of which is the realization of
and service to God Supreme. At the end of the 18th century this
Satguru practiced severe penance in Muktinath for two and a half
months and attained the highest degree of proficiency in Nishkamvrat.
In 2003 his followers funded the new
wall around Muktinath and raised a small
monument for him at Muktinath.
Information on Muktinath
For more information, please, have a look at the Muktinath menu
on the top of this page. In the Picture Album you can find pictures
of Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa with Hindu and Buddhist backgrounds.
The MFI Map of Muktinath shows
the compound with its temples. This site contains also a satellite
picture of the Gandaki area.
the website PyramidKey.Com, Susan Griffith-Jones' blog 'The
Living Pyramid'. provides backgrounds on Muktinanth. See
parts 8-13 in particular. As an introduction, please, see A
Series of Visits to Muktinath.
For references used to write this introduction, please have
a look at the Reference Page. See
our copyright notice
if you want to use the content of this website.
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* See the
comment at IndianTemples.Com
**The status of Muktinath-Chumig
Gyatsa as the most holy spot connected to the Gandaki River,
Salagrama, is questioned
based on the Varahapurana chapter144,
verse 182, mentioning an area "from Muktikshetra
to Salagrama" of the distance of "15
yojanas" indicating Muktikshetra and Salagrama
are not equivalent and Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa can not be Salagrama,
since it is only a few hours walking from the Gandaki River
while 15 yojanas is about 195 km.
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