Sri Garuda, Part 5


BY: SUN STAFF - 3.9 2021

Garuda Stambha - Bhaktapur, Nepal

Sri Garuda, the transcendental carrier of Lord Visnu.

Bhaktapur Garuda

Adjacent to the City of Patan, Nepal is Bhaktapur. This holy dhama is home to a number of beautiful murtis of Sri Garuda, several of which reside in the famed Changu Narayan temple. Located at a height of 1541 m. in Bhaktapur, Changu Narayan is the oldest temple in the Kathmandu Valley, dating back to 323 A.D. The temple was erected by King Hari Dutta, a Licchavi king. He ordered the building of four hilltop Narayan temples around Changu Village (Doladri, in Sanskrit). The other temples are Ichangu Narayan, at the West, Sikhara Narayan, and Lokapalasvamin.

Built upon a single rock foundation, the impressive Changu Narayan temple holds some of Nepal's finest examples of devotional art in stone, wood and metal. Adorning the struts are the Dasavatar. A stone murti of Lord Krsna in his Universal Form is joined by a stone murti of Garuda, who is shown in half-man, half bird Vaisnava iconography, kneeling before the temple.

Sri Garuda, before Changu Narayan Temple

Inside the temple is another murti of Garuda, which the devotees offer sweets each year on Nag Panchami. This is done to memorialize Sri Garuda's epic struggle with the great naga, Taksaka. Drops of moisture which form on the murti are collected by the priests, and are believed to be effective against diseases such as leprosy.

Bhaktapur, Kathmandu Valley, Nepal


To the north of the temple is a 9th c. murti of Lord Vishnu seated on Garuda (Garudasana Vishnu). This image appears on Nepal's 10 rupee note. Another sculpture, from the 8th c., presents the Lord's Vishvarupa form. An 8th c. murti of Visnu Vikrant is there, depicting the Lord in His Vamana incarnation.

Intricately carved sculptures appear in wood throughout the temple, including beautiful images of the Devas, dragons, elephants, and various paraphernalia. Sri Garuda is carved in the lintel at each doorway.

A stone pillar in the temple was established by King Mandev in 464 A.D. This inscription to Manadev I, on the Garuda Dhwaja pillar, is the oldest inscription to have been discovered in Nepal.

Sri Garuda Stambha, Bhaktapur

The Vaisnava devotees pray to Changu Narayan as Garuda Narayan, while the Buddhists refer to the presiding Deity as Hari Hari Hari Vahan Lokeshwor. Buddhists revere Changu Narayan as Boddhisattva Avalokiteswara. They believe that while Garuda and Taksaka were engaged in ferocious battle, Taksaka was fearful of Visnu's assisting Garuda, and prayed to Boddhisattva Avalokiteswara for his own safety. The compassionate Avalokiteswara stopped the battle and brought peace to the adversaries. Vishnu then offered to carry Boddhisattva Avalokiteswara to Changu, thus the worship of Hari Hari Hari Vahan Lokeshwor. At Changu Narayan, Boddhisattva Avalokiteswara is shown separately as a stone murti behind the temple, while Garudasana Narayan, Vishnu on Garuda, is the presiding murti of the temple.

Sri Garudasan, Changu Narayan Temple