Welcome to Bhagwan Bahal,
You are in Bhagwan Bahal. It is also called as Bikramsheel Mahabihar. It is also the eldest bihar in the Kathmandu Valley. This area was known as Thamagram in the Lichhavi period. Thamagram was named as the eldest village. This area was changed from Thamagram to Singhakalpa Nagar. The Bikramsheel Mahabihar area of Singhakalpa Nagar was called Thabahil. Thabahil means the eldest Bihar. After that, the word ‘Thabahil’ was slowly changed into ‘Thamel’ and this area was called Thamel. Now, Bikramsheel Mahabihar is also known as Bhagwan Bahal.
Here you enter the wooden main door, reaching the middle of the open square. Of the many statues here, the Singha Sarthabahu is considered by locals to be important in terms of originality and archeology. The gold statue of Singha Sarthabahu was restored in 1996 and is about 7 feet high. The idol is kept in the sanctum sanctorum inside the closed gold door. But for those who want to worship the idol during Nitya Puja and Aarti, the priest is needed for the worship.
The central pagoda here is dedicated to the legendary merchant Singha Sarthabahu from ‘Dwapar Yug’ who went from Kathmandu to Tibet to trade. The story is famous throughout East Asia. The Pradhans here consider him their ancestor. The Pradhans (one of the Newar clans) worship the main idol as Singha Sarthabahu. Unlike other Bahals in the Kathmandu Valley, this Bahal is taken care of by the Pradhan dynasty. Generally, in Newar tribes, Bihar or temples are run or maintained by Bajracharya, Shakya or Tuladhars.
To the right of the temple, there is a closed section containing various historical objects. One of them is a handwritten manuscript with 2000 pages that is more than 2,000 years old. The book is called Pragyaparmita and contains the Buddha’s Formula. Another interesting fact about the book is that it is written in gold and silver ink. This book is written in Ranjana script. It is believed that this book was brought by Nagarjuna Buddha from Nagalok in the second century.
In history, it is mentioned that the great master of the eleventh century, Atisha, went to Tibet via Nepal. He lived in Bihar and studied philosophy and practiced Buddhism. During his stay, he rebuilt this Bihar. Bihar used to teach the Buddhism and provide shelter for Buddhists going from India to Tibet or from Tibet to India. This folklore indicates that Bihar may be older than expected.
You can also see the mandala right in front of the temple door. This mandala is made of gold. The temple has many other artefacts, sculptures and objects made of precious elements.
To the right of this intersection, you will find another large intersection called Agam Chowk. Spread over 40,000 square feet, this Bihar campus was studied by thousands of Buddhist monks in ancient times. The Nagarjuna Stupa is also located at this place.
Here are some of the artifacts and statues inside and outside of Bhagwan Bahal:
After passing two doors in the eastern part, one reaches the ‘Dalan’ with a 24-inch statue of Mahakal on the right. He is known as the ‘protector’ in Buddhist religion. Hindus worship the idol as Bhairav (form of Shiva, protector and destroyer). The structure of the statue dates back to the 17th century.
Mahamanjushri Bodhisattva and Saraswati
On the right side of the ladder descending to Mulchowk are the idols of Mahamanjushree and on the left side are the idols of Saraswati. It is believed that Mahamanjushri had supreme knowledge and manifested in 1000 forms.
There is a statue of Aryatara near the statue of Manjushri. Aryatara is an important figure in Buddhism and is known as the mother of salvation. It represents the virtue of success in work and achievements. This statue was carved in 1746 BS.
This male figured statue has 3 heads and 6 arms.
Kwapa: Dyo’s statue was restored in 955 Nepali Sambat. It is mentioned as ‘Kvachpar Devata’ on the stone inscription of the statue in Nepali Bhasa. Going inside Bihar, you can see the statue of Kwapa: Dyo on the left side. Kwapa: Dyo idol is made of very fine and shiny black stone that is depicted in a meditation posture. Kwapa: Dyo’s idol is called ‘Bhagwat Akal’ in Sanskrit language and it is worshiped as ‘Medicine Buddha’.
To the south of the chowk, in “Tun: Chok”, you will find the Chaityamurti from Lichhavi period. This idol is made of the same stone. The lower part of the statue resembles the statue of Bikramsheel Mahabihar. However, the elements used to make the statues are very different. The material used to make the sculpture is composed of materials from the Licchavi period.
Crossing the street in the south, one finds the idols of Kubera, the god of wealth and treasurer of wealth. Kubera is worshiped in both Hindu and Buddhist religions. He is worshiped for good luck and prosperity.
Rukmini Vanta Pradhan (2016): Bikramsheel Mahabihar
Bikramsheel Mahabihar, Working Committee
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