Religion in Nepal

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Religion in Nepal (2011)[1]

  Hinduism (81.3%)
  Buddhism (9.0%)
  Islam (4.4%)
  Yumaism (3.0%)
  Christianity (1.4%)
  Other (0.9%)
The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, gilded bronze. Nepal, 16th century CE

Nepal is a secular state. Prior to the movement for democracy in early 2006 and the sacking of King Gyanendra, the country was officially a Hindu state.

History[edit]

According to the 2011 census, 81.3% of the Nepalese population was Hindu, 9.0% was Buddhist, 4.4% was Muslim, 3.0% was Kirant/Yumaist, 1.42% was Christian, and 0.9% follow other religions or no religion.[1]

According to the 2001 census, 80.62 percent of Nepalese were Hindu, 10.74 percent Buddhist, 4.20 percent Muslim,[2] 3.60 percent Kirant (an indigenous religion), 0.45 percent Christian, and 0.4 percent were classified as other groups such as Bön religion. In 1971 Hindus were 89.4 percent of the population, Buddhists 7.5 percent, and Kirants statistically 0 percent. However, statistics on religious groups are complicated by the ubiquity of dual faith practices, particularly among Hindus and Buddhists. Moreover, shifts in the population's religious composition also reflect political changes.

The geographical distribution of religious groups in the early 1990s revealed a preponderance of Hindus, accounting for at least 87 percent of the population in every region. The largest concentrations of Buddhists were found in the eastern hills, the Kathmandu Valley, and the central Tarai; in each area about 10 percent of the people were Buddhist. Buddhism was more common among the Newar and Tibeto-Nepalese groups. Among the Tibeto-Nepalese, those most influenced by Hinduism were the Magar, Sunwar, and Rai peoples. Hindu influence was less prominent among the Gurung, Limbu, Bhote, Tamang and Thakali groups, who continued to employ Buddhist monks for their religious ceremonies. Since both Hinduism as well as Buddhism are Dharmic religions, they usually accept each other's practices and many people practice a combination of both.

Hinduism in Nepalese culture[edit]

It is even believed, according to Nepalese theology that Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva had come to Nepal in the form of deer.[3]

Establishment of Nepal by Ne Muni[edit]

He used to perform religious ceremonies at Teku, the confluence of the Bagmati and Bishnumati rivers.[4] He is said by legend to have selected a pious cowherd to be the first of the many kings of the Gopala Dynasty.[5] These rulers are said to have ruled Nepal for over 500 years.[6] He selected Bhuktaman to be the first king in the line of the Gopal (Cowherd) Dynasty.[4] The Gopal dynasty ruled for 621 years. Yakshya Gupta was the last king of this dynasty.However,this mythology can be challenged as no such name as Ne exists in Nepali or other Sanskrit-derived languages.

Flag of Nepal[edit]

It is believed that Lord Vishnu had organized the Nepali people and given them this flag, with the sun and moon as emblems on it.[7]

In a Hindu Purana, it is written that it was Lord Shiva who handed the flag to Lord Vishnu, and then Lord Vishnu to Lord Indra, for the purpose for battling demons.[8]

This type of Flag is seen in all Temples of Nepal and India. This is basically a design of flag that was carried by the Kingdoms since Hinduism was established. India managed to change the shape of its flag into a rectangular flag as it has all types of religions followed,eventhough it has the largest Hindu population of the earth; but Nepal held in the Hindu traditional flag and thus has a unique flag no other country has.

Gorakhnath and Gurkhas[edit]

It is said that Gorakhnath came to Nepal in the reign of the 8th Thakuri King.[9]

The Gurkhas of Nepal are the descendants of Gorakhnath of the Nath sect. Gorakhnath was a disciple of Machendranath, a backward-caste saint.

Machendrajatra is a national festival in Nepal to celebrate the birth of the saint. It is said that the Gurkha war-cry to this day is "Guru Gorakhnath ki jai".[10] It is more often said that their war cry is Jaya Mahakali, Ayo Gorkhali (Nepali: जय महाकाली, आयो गोर्खाली) (Glory to Great Kali, The Gorkhas are coming!)

According to a Terai myth, when the Pandavas were ascending to heaven, they all fell, but Bhima from the Pandava brothers was rescued by Gorakhnath.[11]

One Nepalese myth says that as Gorakhnath arrived in Nepal, the terrible dought in occurring in the period halted![11]

Buddha's lineage from Vedic Sages[edit]

Lord Buddha is said to be a descendant of Sage Angirasa in many Buddhist texts.[12] Scholars like Dr. Eitel too connect the name to the Rishi Gautama.[13]

Placenames from Hindu icons[edit]

There are many places in Nepal with names signifying icons in Hindu history.

Janakpur is a city, named after Raja Janaka, the father of Sita. The modern-city is the capital of the Janakpur Zone.

The Mahakali Zone is also the name of a collection of districts, named after Kali Maa. Within this zone, there is also the Mahakali River.

The Kapilvastu District is named after Sage Kapila.

The Vyasa Valley is the name given to the Kalapaani (near the Lipu-Lekh pass at the border between India and Tiblet) and Kailash Lake Mansarovar.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b 2011 Nepal Census Report
  2. ^ Becoming an assertive minority
  3. ^ History of Nepal: With an Introductory Sketch of the Country and People of Nepal By Daniel Wright
  4. ^ a b The Ancient Period
  5. ^ W.B., P. 34 Land of the Gurkhas
  6. ^ Balfour, P. 195 Cyclopædia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia, :
  7. ^ Gorkhapatra Corporation The Nepalese Perspective
  8. ^ P. 10 The Lotus & the Flame: An Account on Nepalese Culture By Dhooswan Saymi, Dhūsvāṃ Sāyami
  9. ^ P. 35 Nepal and the East India Companyby Bhairava Dat Sanwal
  10. ^ P. 98 A Handbook of the Fighting Races of India by P. D. Bonarjee
  11. ^ a b P. 329 Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics by James Hastings
  12. ^ The Life of Buddha as Legend and History, by Edward Joseph Thomas
  13. ^ P. 95 A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms By James Legge.
    Siddhartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha, was born in 623 B.C. at the famous gardens of Lumbini, which soon became a place of pilgrimage. Among the pilgrims was the Indian Emperor Ashoka, who erected one of his commemorative pillars there. The site is now being developed as a Buddhist pilgrimage centre, where the archaeological remains associated with the birth of the Lord Buddha form a central featureLumbini, the place where Lord Buddha was born, it has been a popular destination for Buddhist pilgrims alongside visitors from many parts of the world, which has become a symbol of peace and understanding for the world community. Lumbini like Buddha stands peacefully and calm, away from the crowds of the cities, on the southern plains of the country, surrounded by forests. Buddha was believed to be born in Lumbini as Prince Siddhartha, when his mother Queen Mahamaya of Kapilbastu stopped to rest on her way to her parent's palace in a neighboring country some 2,600 years ago. People here also believe that she chose the place because of its peaceful setting. Although there are no cities or heavy population nearby, there are plans to develop the area, with gardens, trees, canal, accommodation facilities and even a library..