Mythology

Whether it is in Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism or Jainism, Himalayas since ancient time has been a cradle of mythology. Interestingly, mythological tales make Himalaya more intriguing and mystical.

Hindus regard Himalayas as an abode of God Shiva and hence is regarded very sacred. Ancient Hindu scripture, Rig Veda, has referred to Himalaya as a deity. It is believed that a sage from India through meditation saw the image of Himalaya ranges in the stomach of Lord Krishna, the eight incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Sama Veda has also inscribed Himalaya as the centre of the earth. Mahabharat boasts that Yudhishtra, the eldest brother of Panch Pandav, ascended Himalaya peaks to reach heaven and this pursuit is known as Swargarohini. Swarga means heaven and Arohini means ascent. Skanda Purana, sacred Hindu scripture, says that one can get free of all the sins by merely looking at Himalayas. From ancient times, sages used to travel to great Himalaya for meditation and spiritual enlightment.

Early Hindu mythology has it that during the rule of King Milinda, sage Nagasena enlightened the king about the divinity of Himalayas. Several tales are intertwined with Himalayas; sons of King Sagar on the way to their kingdom after grand victory unintentionally stepped onto the path of a sage who at the time was in deep meditation. This broke up the sage’s concentration and in extreme anger he instantly cursed the sons to turn into ashes. The sons pleaded for forgiveness and mercy. Eventually, the sage said the sons will be freed of the curse only upon sprinkling holy water of Ganga onto them. Bhagirath, a descendant of Sagar King, took upon himself the responsibility of freeing Sagar dynasty of this curse. Bhagirath meditated in Himalayas for years to please Goddess Ganga. So pleased was Goddess Ganga with the devotion and worship of Bhagirath that she agreed to flow onto the sons of Sagar King on one condition that Bhagirath must foremost has to worship Lord Shiva to release her from his matted hair which is where the goddess resides. Bhagirath did as he was told. Consequently, Lord Shiva released Goddess Ganga to flow from his hair. So powerful was the water flow of the goddess that Bhagirath could not control it and unfortunately the water out of control and extinguished the holy fire that sage Jahnu had set up for puja in the himalaya. Jahnu got very furious and angrily drank up the entire river. Bhagirath sought Jahnu’s forgiveness and finally Jahnu released river Ganga from his ear. There is a mythology which also says that Jahnu released river Ganga from his thigh. Eventually, the holy water of goddess Ganga was sprinkled onto the cursed sons of Sagar King and with this the curse was washed away.

In Tibet, Himalayas is worshipped as mother of the earth and looked upon as the greatest source of inspiration and perseverance. According to Tibetan mythology, Bodhisattva made an outlet through Himalaya and with this originated Tsangpo, great river of Tibet.

Bhutanese mythology claims that Guru Rimpoche came to Bhutan riding on a flying tiger in the year 747 AD. He rescued Bhutan from demons and spread Buddhism in Bhutanese Himalaya.