I was lucky enough to visit Pashupatinath Temple during my time in Nepal this Autumn, it's the most exquisite Hindu temple & it's existence dates back to 400BC. It's home to the sacred linga or holy symbol of Lord Shiva & is adorned with many pagodas & beautiful statues, colours & flowers. There are many legends that speak of how the temple of Aalok Pashupatinath came to be, here's one just as an example, just to get a feel……..
The Legend of the Cow
Legend says that Lord Shiva once took the form of an antelope and sported unknown in the forest on Bagmati river's east bank. The gods later caught up with him and grabbing him by the horn, forced him to resume his divine form. The broken horn was worshipped as a linga but over time it was buried and lost. Centuries later astonished herdsmen found one of his cows showering the earth with milk. Digging deep at the site, he discovered the divine linga of Pashupatinath.
And so the temple came to be on the bank of the Bagmati River.
I was at the temple with a small group & the Nepalese Shaman Bhola Banstola, we sat opposite the main entrance, on the far side of the river. We were there to understand the beliefs on a good death & liberated souls, according to the Hindu practice. Whilst we sat on the far river bank, we had the privilege to witness a loving family bring their departed mother/grandmother/wife/sister, to one of the special places for cremation on the banks of the river opposite us & right before the gates of the temple. Her body was laid on a slab of stone that descended down to the river, her feet were bathed & she was blessed with the sacred holy water of the river. Her family prepared the fire nearby, beautifully decorated with fresh flowers, their colours awakening the spirits. To be cremated here in this sacred place is the greatest gift a family can give to their loved ones. To have a departure from this earth bound body, in this most holy place, with sacred prayers & blessings, fills the soul & brings a light filled journey home.
The greatest wish is to become a liberated soul, a soul that no longer has to incarnate on the Earth. The liberated soul is no longer subjected to the impurities of illusion, attachment or karma. The soul becomes forever free & untainted, it attains the highest world of Brahman, Vishnu or Shiva. They are no longer bound by a dimension or place such as Earth.
To witness such a ceremony was such an honour, it was filled with such beauty & love, rich in it's simplicity, sacred & very moving. The element of Fire being the dynamic force to transport the soul home.
What I love about these sacred ceremonies is the openness around death, nothing hidden, but everything holy & with beauty, working with the ancestors & spirit guides to enable light filled transitions.
I'm lucky enough to practice the beautiful work of psychopomp, (the guidence of souls) it's part of my Shamanic Practice to help release or guide souls onward to the other realms. I've had countless experiences of how that work can help families & loved ones heal & how shifts in beliefs create better deaths. There is no death life is eternal or so you can vision it to be……
The work of Death & Dying is a life's journey, but never an end…….
Lightdancing & blessings Shona xxxx