Rato Machhindranath, The Rain God

Amazing stories comes from festivals, religious beliefs, and the continuous practice of all the practices. Hindus practice a lot of festivals all over the world. More diverse a culture and a community become, more exciting and interesting stories for festivals is created. Similar story also exists for Rato Machindranath, god who brought rain to the drought and dying Nepal.

Long time ago, when Kathmandu Valley had no rain for more than a decade, King Narendra Dev, then king of Bhaktapur, went to Shantipur, Swoyambhu to meet Tantrik Shantikar (past life of Ja mana Gubhju) to seek advice on the drought that was killing many in the valley. Shantikar, then told King Narendra Dev that reason behind this drought is because Gorakhnath (a Hindu yogi and saint who was the founder of the Nath tradition) is meditating upon Naags (snakes). He also mentioned, once the Naags were let go by Gorakhnath, it shall rain again.

In order for Gorakhnath to let go of the Naags he was meditating upon, only one who could convince him was his Guru, Lokeshor Karunamaya. Therefore, Kind Narandra Dev from Bhaktapur, Tantrik Bandhu Dhatta (discipline of Shantikar) from Kathmandu and Lalit Jyapu Ratna Chakra from Patan went together to Kamaru Kashya of Assam to bring Karunamaya.

Interesting thing about Karanunamaya was, he was conceived from a demon queen, and was a youngest child of the queen. It was not easy to ask a demon queen to send her youngest child along with these three men. Henceforth, Tantrik played a trick and send a poisonous snake inside the stomach of the demon King, father of Karunamaya. The king started to feel sick and no one was able to cure him. Tantrik Badhu Datta stepped up and cured the demon king. The demon king then asked tantric, for saving his life, what did he want in return for this favor? Tantrik Badhu Datta asked if he could take his youngest son with them. The king was extremely angry and denied tantric’s request.

Karunamaya’s mother was scared that the tantric would use his power and take her son away, so, to save her son, at night, she covered him with her long dark hair. However, tantric was able to sort through her hair and get to the child. Tantric was able to take the child away. During this process Karunamaya, accidentally walked over a single strand of his mother’s hair, which is considered as one of the greatest sins in Hindu culture. Therefore, Karunamaya lost one of his hands. That is why when we see Karunamaya’s idol, one of his hands are broken as a curse for walking over his mother’s hair. Tantrik, then, took the soul out of Karunmaya and transferred his soul into a bee and kept it in a bronze vase. Demon king found out about this the next day and brought vase back from tantric.

It was important that Karunamaya came along with them. After demon king took the vase, Tantric decided to call four Bhairavs and tell them the whole story. After Bhairavs, found out about this, they carried Karunamaya and reached Bungmati. Therefore, the wheels of Chariot (32 hands long in height) for Machindranath represents four Bhairav, and the two snakes ridges represents the Karkotak Maharaj who helped the three soweres to bring Karunamaya to Kathmandu.

Afterwards, the king of Bhaktapur, Tantric of Kathmandu and Jyapu from Patan were confused on where to take Karunamaya. Since, all of the three had their own contribution on brining Karunamaya to end then drought. In ancient times, when you eat salt from anybody’s house, then you should be faithful to that person. Hence, the clever king of Patan, played a game. He suggested, both(tantric of Kathmandu, Jyapu of Bhaktapur) that they could invite the eldest man from Patan and let him decide on where they could establish Karunamaya and everyone agreed! The king then, invited the elderly to his home and offered him to eat yogurt with salt. Now the elderly has to be obedient to the king. The elderly man then, announced to all three that Karunamaya should be established in Patan. Soon after that the elderly man was buried the land he stood upon by gods. This place in Patan is called Etee tole.

Another myth is linked to this story when the chariot from Bungmati upon reaching Jawalakhel should hush down any noises or beating of drums because it is still believed that Karunamaya’s mother live among the trees and if she happens to wake up she will try to take her son back home.

This festival is held just before the monsoon season starts and being the compassionate god of rain and harvest. It usually rains during the first few days of the festival, like Machhindranath himself giving the blessing to the people of the valley. The chariot tour starts from the place it’s built i.e. Pulchowk, circling the city via Natole, Gabahal, Mangal Bazaar, Sundhara, Lagankhel, Kumaripati and finally ending at Jawalakhel.

Source : मध्यपुरथिमियाकलासंस्कृति


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