Tuesday, 3 August, 2021

Bhrikutimandap Sans Statue Of Bhrikuti

Parmeshwar Devkota

Names of certain places do not match perfectly. Bhrikutimandap of Kathmandu is among such places.
Located in the heart of Kathmandu, Bhrikutimandap is an open air park. It is a popular venue for various national and international events such as trade fairs and political gatherings. The place is named after our national luminary Bhrikuti. But there is no image or statue of Bhrikuti, who was the daughter of Amshu Verma. He was the most influential King of Nepal (605-621AD) during the Lichhavi period. Born in 616 AD, Bhrikuti got married with Tibet’s powerful King Songtsen Gampo in 632 AD.
Needless to say, Bhrikuti's marriage was of great strategic importance. A shrewd and powerful King, Amshu Verma had given his daughter to Tibet's King for avoiding probable invasions from the north. As her father's wish, Bhrikuti played roles accordingly.
Bhrikuti worked on two fronts. First, she prevented possible attacks on Nepal from Tibet. Thus, she protected the sovereignty of her motherland. Second, she did not take wealth with her as marital dowry. Instead, she took the Buddhist philosophy, artefacts related to Buddhism and skilled craftsmen and artists with her to Tibet. She taught Buddhism to the primitive Tibetan society and also constructed some structures to give a facelift to Tibet's capital Lhasa.
She is credited with building the Red Palace on Red Mountain in Lhasa which was later turned into the majestic Potala Durbar. The temple she built is known as House of Wisdom Temple. She is still respected in Nepal and China for maintaining good relations between the two neighbours. She is recognised as Bhrikuti Devi and an incarnation of Harit Tara in her birthplace.
It is necessary to construct a mandapa, but not a Mandala in fond memory of Bhrikuti. The terms-- mandapa and mandala-- sometimes confuse us. Both the words are derived from Hindu and Buddhist philosophies. So, some people may use them synonymously. But that is not the case. A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol drawn on a paper, wall or landscape in Hindu and Buddhist cultures. It has two sides: external and internal. The external side of mandala deals with the universe while the internal part covers meditational one.
A mandapa, on the other hand, is a veranda-like pavilion which is used for a religious purpose. This is also used during happy occasions like cultural programmes, performances and marriage functions. There are various types of mandapas. The mandapa with walls is called closed mandapa; whereas the mandapa without walls is called an open one. For example, our famous structure, which is named after this city, is the Kasthamandapa. It is an open mandapa.
To honour our national icon Bhrikuti and add beauty to the Exhibition Road in Kathmandu, a mandapa with a tall idol of Bhrikuti inside the park should be built.
When such a mandapa along with a statute of Bhrikuti is installed at the centre of the park, it will help remind us our old cordial marital relationship between Nepal and Tibet. This will be like the Naulakha Temple (Ram-Janaki Temple) in Janakpur. Since time immemorial, this has reminded us of our long and deep relations with the southern neighbour, India.