Interior Vishnu/Lokeswar temple at Muktinath

Picture of the intererior of the Vishnu/Lokeswar temple, shared by both Hindus and Tibetan Buddhists. In the centre Vishnu/Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig) flanked by the Hindu godesses Laksmi and Sarasvati , the two Dakinis (non-human manifestations of the enlightened mind in female form) mentioned in the Clear Mirror quoted below.

This picture is taken in 1979 by C. Jest. At that time the nose of the main statue was mint. Twentyfive years later the top of the nose contains a little hole caused by the touch of the many pilgrims, especially of the last decade. To preserve the statue for further damage since 2004 no pilgrims are allowed in the little room anymore. One has to stay outside, just a few feet before the statue.


In front the idol there is a statue of Garuda or Khuyng. In Hinduism the bird Guruda is the mount of Vishnu. The Khyung is a protective spirit in Tibetan Buddhism, mountain and clan deity, and a tutelary figure of lamas and spirit-mediums; the bird which serves as messenger of Mahakala (wrathful aspect of Avalokitesvara).

In the past, the central, main figure and the two dakinis to his right and left, were self-arisen statues, made of copper. They resided in the region of Dzum-lang but saw that their benefit for sentient beings would take place in Chumig Gyatsa. They flew through the air and arrived here. The king of Dzum-lang searched everywhere for them and heard that they were located at Chumig Gyatsa. To bring them back to his country, he came with a strong army of his subjects. As they carried the statues back to their previous home, they reached as far as Drak-zur [literally, Cliff-Corner, the point after which Chumig Gyatsa can no longer be seen]. They managed to carry the statues no further and had to put them on the ground. Then the king, his sons, and subjects were unable by any means to lift the statues again. Unable to do anything else, the king brought the statues back to their new home and enlarged its location. He then returned to his country.

From that time forth, when people from Dzum-lang visit this place on pilgrimage, they cry to the statue, complaining, "Since you no longer live among us, we have to undergo great hardships crossing a river on our way here." This custom continues to the present day.

Source: The Clear Mirror


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Picture by Cormeille Jest © 1981 UNESCO, Paris, France