Pashupati or Shree Pashupatinath (Nepali /Hindi: श्री पशुपतिनाथ) is an incarnation of the Hindu Lord Shiva as "Lord of animals". He is revered throughout the Hindu world, but especially in Nepal, where he is unofficially regarded as a national deity.
Pashupati (Sanskrit: पशुपति Paśupati), "Lord of all animals", is an epithet of the Hindu god Shiva.1 In Vedic times it was used as an epithet of Rudra.2 The Rigveda has the related pashupa "protector of animals" as a name of Pushan.
"Pashupatinath" is derived from three Sanskrit words: "pashu" (organism), "pati" (protector), and "nath" (Lord). In Nepali and Hindi, the additional honorific "Shree" is sometimes prefixed as a display of respect or devotion; thus, Shree Pashupatinath, Respected Protector and Lord of all living things.
The five faces of Pashupatinath represent various incarnations of Shiva; Sadyojata (also known as Barun), Vamdeva (also known as Uma Maheswara), Tatpurusha, Aghor & Ishana. They face West, North, East, South and Zenith respectively, and represent Hinduism's five primary elements namely earth, water, air, light and ether.3
Puranas describe these faces of Shiva as 3
|“||Sadyojata, Vamdeva, Tatpurusha & Aghora are the four faces,
The fifth is Ishana, unknowable even to the seers
Though Nepal is an officially secular state, its population is predominantly Hindu, and Pashupatinath is revered a national deity. The Pashupatinath Temple, located at the bank of the river Bagmati, is considered the most sacred place in Nepal. In myth, Pashupatinath started living in Nepal in the form of a deer, when he saw the Kathmandu Valley and was overwhelmed by its beauty.
A Pashupatinath temple is sited on the banks of the Shivana river in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, India. It is one of the most prominent shrines in Mandsaur, and Lord Shiva in the form of Lord Pashupatinath is its primary deity. Its main attraction is a unique Shiva Linga displaying eight faces of Lord Shiva. The shrine has four doors, representing the cardinal directions.4
- For use of the name Paśupati (Devanagari पशुपति) in the Shiva Sahasranama, and translation as "Lord of all animals", see: Sharma, p. 291.
- For translation as "Lord of all Animals" and use as an epithet of Rudra, see: Kramrisch, p. 479.
- Encyclopaedia of Saivism, Swami P. Anand, Swami Parmeshwaranand, Publisher Sarup & Sons, ISBN 8176254274, ISBN 9788176254274, page 206
- Pashupatinath Temple website
- Flood, Gavin (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43878-0.
- Flood, Gavin (Editor) (2003). The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell. ISBN 1-4051-3251-5.
- Kramrisch, Stella (1981). The Presence of Śiva. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01930-4.
- Michaels, Axel (2004). Hinduism: Past and Present. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-08953-1.
- Possehl, Gregory (2003). The Indus Civilization: A Contemporary Perspective. AltaMira Press. ISBN 978-0-7591-0172-2.
- Sharma, Ram Karan (1996). Śivasahasranāmāṣṭakam: Eight Collections of Hymns Containing One Thousand and Eight Names of Śiva. With Introduction and Śivasahasranāmākoṣa (A Dictionary of Names). Delhi: Nag Publishers. ISBN 81-7081-350-6. - This work compares eight versions of the Śivasahasranāmāstotra. The Preface and Introduction (in English) by Ram Karan Sharma provide an analysis of how the eight versions compare with one another. The text of the eight versions is given in Sanskrit.
- Zimmer, Heinrich (1972). Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-01778-5.