Swoyambhu: the Self made land.
According the legends here, the Kathmandu valley has already seen a few civilizations come and go. We would be on the 3rd one, some scriptures say. Each time, Manjushree, a god form being all of Buddhas wisdoms, takes her large sword and makes a whole through the mountain, letting the water out of the valley. The legends say that Swoyambhu is the first one to rise up from the lake. Geologist find the same result in rocks study. The valley has been Under water a few times already and rises again. Manjushree is the protector of the Kathmandu valley, and one could think it is a form to give to earthquakes that have regularly been shaking the valley 1000's of years. Swoyambhu sits on top of a hill, the damages are very serious. So bad, that a couple days ago, during Buddha's birth, death and enlightment day celebration, the temple was closed to the devotees.
I used to take tourists around Swoyambhu, it's my favorite temple in the capitale. I shared with them the stories of the many Buddhas, the meaning of each symbol in the hands of the statues. The buddhist tradition here being very influenced by tantra, the stories are colorful. According to buddhist tradition, there is a Buddha for every age, the Buddha just being an awakened person. Each of the Buddha's say something to do in the time being. The last Buddha, known as the Gautama, said to meditate, he said we should sit and go deep Inside to truly understand the absence of Self. The one before him, said work was to be done. The next one will say something diferent, that is the Buddha's way.
Statue in front of main puja temple
The tradition waits for the next Buddha, Maitreya. The futur Buddha should come on a white horse, and have special attributes. Everyone waits for someone to save them and follow. But in times of crisis, it's better to count on one's own hands, as it is well shown here in nepal during this dificult time. If the media buzz is almost gone from the papers, the groups here keep packing the trucks and brining them to the villages. Nepal slowly wakes up from this nightmare, seing a Fallen Nepal, where all needs to be rebuilt. Kathmandu, lost about 50% of the city. Too much will not be able to be renovated. The heart and soul of the Nepales hurt. Mutu dehrai dhuk cha: the heart hurts a lot. The nepalese are mutu manche: men of the heart, and their heart cries in the middle of a ruined country.
Picking up the rumbles
The 25 april quake did not only destroy the villages and a capitale, it took with it thousands of years of national heritage. UNESCO site went down in a few seconds, the soul of the nepales died a little with each brick that fell. As the country was just getting out of a civil war and revolution during which they kicked out the last of the Hindu King, the country was on it's way to a slow development. But life decided other Wise, Manjushree shook the mountains again, a clean swipe, Nepal starts is at ground zero: all needs to be done. Tourists will book their tickets to a more settled part of the world, Nepalese will spend all their money in reconstruction, the governement will put millions in their pockets. This will clearly change the nepale politics scene, but no one knows how yet. The politics will be taken care of after Nepal starts recovering from the trauma. When the earth stops shaking, the Healing will start for the nation of mutu manche.
shambhala of legends you are.
The bronze statues lay on the ground, protected as they can be by the police and military. The wood work, the metal work, what is not stolen will be saved. The rest will be saved in photo archives of a once upon a time.
Article in french on Manjushree and more photos of Swoyambuh by Sonia JM.