HRIH bol! Just now while working on my reply, my 19 year old Grandson came up and gave me a gift. He did not know what I was working on at all, and in his whole life I have never received any similar thing from him. He purchased it on an “impulse” at the World Market in Springfield, Oregon. It is a tiny ‘Touching the Earth’ Murti of Sakyamuni Buddha! As soon as I saw Him, I recognised Him as a Burmese Bhumi-sparsa “Earth Touching” Sakyamuni Buddha! Going to Google Images I found this nice site with a collection of these Murtis, which had some almost exactly like the one that my Grandson just gave me! I feel that this is a special blessing upon my service! The Lord as Shakyamuni has come Personally to witness to His Identity as an Avatara of the Adi Purusha, Bhagavan, Purusottama HRIH! “The earth touching mudra can be recognized by the position of the right hand. The fingers reach downward with the palm facing toward the body. It is a symbol of the moment when Buddha summoned the Earth goddess to witness the moment in which he achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. For this reason, the pose is also known as ‘Summoning the Earth Goddess to Witness.’”
Here is the exposition that I was working on when Lord Shakyamuni Bhumi-Sparsa Personally arrived to encourage me!
The worship of Visnu and Avalokiteshvara at the Muktinatha Bhagavan Temple is an illustration of the fact that countless Bhakti Yoga practitioners in Nepal experience that They are actually the Same Deity, even the Same Person of the Trikaya Godhead, which in Buddhism is the Dharma Kaya, the Sambhogya Kaya and the Rupa Kaya. In Krishna-centric Vaishnavism, these Persons are Krishna, Baladeva and His Vishnu Expansions and ParamAtman.
Adi Purusha Dharma Kaya is Amitabha HRIH, is the FIRST PERSON OF THE TRIKAYA GODHEAD (Hari, Krishna)
Sambhogya Kaya is Amitayus HRIH, is the SECOND PERSON OF THE TRIKAYA GODHEAD (Baladeva and His Vasudeva Vishnu Expansions) Rupa Kaya HRIH is the THIRD PERSON OF THE TRIKAYA GODHEAD (Param-Atman the all-pervasive Holy Spirit)
This is the Heliopolitan and Judeo-Catholic Trinity of Heli-Ousios-Atomos, HERU-WASU-ATUM, ELI-YAHU-ADON.
While in Kathmandu Nepal, in1982, I was given high-level government and religious cooperation and assistence in my studies, because I was the much-publicized USA delegate to the Academic and Religious World Hindu Conference in Sri Lanka, and an invited Member of the Executive Committee of the World Hindu Organization under the leadership of the Rt. Honorable Former Prime Minister Nagendra Prasad Rijal and the Patronage of His Majesty (the late and lamented) King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev.
This patronage gave me access to most of the sites and religious sources that I wanted to study, the cooperation of murti makers, religious authorities, and the help of His Majesty’s Archeology Dept, and its Head. I was even given a personal tour of Holy Places, and the translation help on some of my visits, by Dr. Acarya Prabhakar Mishra and Dr. Rup Lal Batra!
In Nepal the main focus of my graduate-level Marylhurst College Course Contract Field Study was the historical, doctrinal and living/practised relationship between Vaishnavism, Buddhism, Shaivism, Devi worship and especially the Cult of Tara and the connections between Krishna-centric Vaishnavism (Vishnu worship) and Pure Land related Buddhism in Nepal and Tibet. There are very important ancient Vaishnava, Shaivite etc. and Buddhist sites in Nepal, and many Tibetan Buddhists fled to Nepal when the Communists invaded there and slaughtered many thousands of Buddhist monks and nuns, destroying their ancient temples and monasteries. Nepali and Tibetan religions and cultures are closely related in many ways.
One of the most striking things about Nepal, Kathmandu, and even the rural areas, was that on a daily basis, as I visited the active places of worship of these different religious groups, I would regularly see the SAME DEVOTEES over and over again! By this I do not mean at a single religion’s place of worship, but that in one day (or on other days) I would see and meet the SAME PEOPLE at a Vishnu and THEN AT a Buddhist and THEN AT a Shaivite and/or Devi temple or shrine! So, in Kathmandu it was common for people to actually participate in the religious practices of different and often COMPETING religions and their sub-lineages. In interviewing as many of these people as I could, I discovered that these multi-Rite/Ritya devotees all realized and readily admitted that the Names and Forms of Avalokiteshvara and His Shaktis were the SAME as the NAMA-RUPA Name-Forms of Vishnu and His Shaktis, and that ALL of the WRATHFUL forms of Mahadeva (Shiva) were ‘Dharma Protector’ Transformations of Vishnu or Avalokitheshvara!
Of course this was my hypothesis to begin with, from my long studies in America, but I never expected to hear humble uneducated peasants in Kathmandu and elsewhere in Nepal tell me that they knew by their own religious practise that HARI (Vishnu), HARA (Shiva) and HRIH (Amitabha Lokeshvara) were all somehow Persons of the Same Godhead!
However, when I interviewed the Buddhist religious leaders at these same places, they strenuously denied this, claiming “we do NOT worship Vishnu!” “We worship Avalokiteshvara who is NOT Vishnu!” “Avalokiteshvara is NOT Vishnu!” ‘Amitabha, Adi Purusha, Bhagavan, Purusottama HRIH, Vasudeva is NOT Krishna or Vishnu!’ These are some of the Names of Krishna-Vishnu that appear in the essential Sanskrit Buddhist Scriptures, like the Saddharmapundarika, and in Buddhist Litanies and Prayers such as those in the Cultus of TARA, where even entire Vaishnava invocations such as “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevayah” can be witnessed.
Thus, while admitting that their Buddhism was ultimately derived from India, and that their Scriptures were originally in Sanskrit, and many of the Names and Forms of their Buddhist TRI-KAYA from their Scriptures and Temples were Names and Forms of Vishnu, they altogether denied that their Buddhism was derived from Vaishnavism. These exclusivistic Buddhist ‘clerics’ were even frequently insulting and condescending regarding their own Buddhist adherants, who openly expressed their belief that there was no difference between Avalokiteshvara and Vishnu! As in Sri Lanka, where I found that the uneducated Theravadin Buddhist masses also worshiped Buddha as an Incarnation of Vishnu, the Mahayana and Tantra Buddhist leaders that I interviewed in Nepal were also adamant that the obvious Bhakti Yoga practices and devotional ‘other-power’ beliefs of the Buddhist masses there were LATE “corruptions” of Buddhism by ‘Hinduism’. [Elsewhere I have written extensively on this phenonmenon of the Buddhist 'CLERICAL' and monastic denial and rejection-of the Bhakti beliefs and practices of their own congregations.]
However, I had the blessing of the Darshan of Our Lord and Our Lady in thousands of Their Forms while in Nepal, and while cataloging these for my Degree work Field Study of cross-traditional iconographic attributes with sketches and photography, I also had the opportunity to visit many of the astonishingly skilled and learned metal Murti makers and Thangka painters of Nepal. This is where I encountered the most amazing proof of my long assertion that Vishnu and Avalokiteshvara are historically and theologically manifestations of the Same Deity. When I visited these Murti and Tangka makers and requested to see Murtis of Vishnu I was always told, something to the effect that:
‘we only make these specific traditional forms, and they are the same. They are worshiped as Vishnu by the Hindus and as Lokeshvara by the Buddhists. There is no difference to us, it is the same god, the difference is in the worshiper’!
So, the very knowledgeable Murti and Thangka makers know that thay are making ‘cult images’ for the worship of the Same GOD, and the masses of humble devotees know that they are somehow worshiping the Same GOD, and the Vaishnavas know that Avalokiteshvara is their GOD/Vishnu, but the specific Buddhist Leaders, who have been contaminated with the atheistic Theravadin Buddhist Teachings of Sri Lanka, look-down on the devotees of their own congregations who actually have faith in the saving ‘other power’ of the Persons of the Trikaya or Holy Mother Tara!
Thank you again for posting this link to the Temple of Muktinatha Bhagavan and its nice site! Reading there I was also happy to see their discussion of the importance of the worship of Kali-Gandhaki River Salagram Silas! I made a pilgrimage to the Kali Gandhaki to document the various kinds of sacred Vishnu Sila Stones there. These are often sold in the Temple market places, like that of Pasupatinatha in Kathmandu.