This book is about Vajrayana Buddhist
Vihara of Nepal. It is situated in Patan.
Since Vihara is very important in Newar
Buddhism, the book focuses on
theoretical aspect of Vihara in Buddhism.
The book tries to trace out the history of
Buddhism in Nepal. Lichhivi period was
the golden time for Buddhism to prosper. A
detailed analysis of historical aspect of
Nepalese Buddhism is made. Similarly,
general features of Nepalese Viharas are
also analysed. Historical as well as ritual
and Puja performed in the Ratnakar
Mahavihar, which is popularly known as
Hakha Baha among the Newars, is also
analysed. Similarly, the architectural
features as well as art of the Vihara is also
dealt in the book.
The other important aspect of the
book is about the Kumari of Hakha Baha.
Dr. Shanker Thapa (born 1957), MA in
Modern History, B.L. and Post-graduate
Diploma in Buddhism from Tribhuvan
University, Kathmandu, Nepal. Ph. D. from
Patna University. At present he is Associate
Professor in the Department of History,
Tribhuvan University. Recipient of
Senior Research Fellowship, Academy of
Korean Studies (1987 and 1997); Long
Term Research Fellow ICSK Seoul (1989);
Korea Foundation Research Fellowship
(1998), Faculty Development Fellowship,
Tribhuvan University and Research
Fellowship of Sumitomo Foundation
(1999). His research articles were
published in Nepal, India, Taiwan, Korea
and the Netherlands. He has written books
on Buddhism, Agricultural History and
Peasant Studies. Executive Editor: 'Voice
of History' a research Journal of
Department of History, Tribhuvan
Indra K. Bajracharya : Lecturer of
Mathematics in the Faculty of Education,
Tribhuvan University. She did M.Ed. and
Po t-Graduate Diploma in Buddhist
Studies from Tribhuvan University. At
present she has been doing Ph.D. from
She is the Recipient of Faculty
Development Fellow hip of FOE,
Tribhuvan University. he has published
re earch article on varied theme of Nepalese Buddhism in Voice of History,
Rolamba and Nepal Traveler.
The study of Vihara culture in Newar Buddhism is very important
in order to gain an understanding of Newar Buddhism. The role of
the Vihara Sangha continues to be prominent in rites, rituals and
other religious practices. All the Vajrayana Viharas are prototypes
of each other.
Various researchers have showed a keen interest in the study of
Vihara and studied using different conceptual paradigms and
models, but very few researchers paid attention to the study of
Ratnakara Mahavihara even though it occupies an important place
in the history of Buddhism in Patan (Nepal). This Vihara was an
educational center in ancient times. It is said that the famous Tibetan
Guru Marpa had his Dekha initiation at this Vihara, where he lived
for 3 years. This belief has made this Vihara even more important.
Different kinds of Buddhist rituals are performed in this Vihara
throughout the year and it has several rituals that are unlike those
of any other Vihara. This has made this Vihara unique in Patan. The
living tradition of Kumari is one of the important features of this
We regret that we could not access any of the written documents
that were preserved by the Ajus in the Vihara. Not a single member
of the Sangha gave us any kind of information during the research.
We imagine that there must be bahi Dhala Pau records and other
written documents in the possession of this Vihara, but in the name
of secrecy, they are not accessible to anybody. Instead, we
reconstructed the history of this Vihara from fragments of evidence.
One should know that history is being destroyed in the name of
The book is divided into nine chapters:
Chap. 1. This chapter contains the introduction, objectives,
limitations and research methodology applied during the research.
The introduction gives an overall picture of this book.
Chap. 2. This chapter discusses the conceptual aspects of
Viharas in general and Nepalese Viharas in particular. It focuses on
sub-themes such as the origin and historicity of the Vihara as well
as various other aspects of ancient Nepalese Viharas. In this chapter,
ancient inscriptions relating to the Vihara and the Bhikshu and
Bhikshuni Sangha are described. It also discusses the functional
role of the Viharas.
Chap. 3. In this chapter History of Buddhism in Nepal is dealt.
In the beginning, it traces about Tibetan sources on Nepalese
Buddhist history. Similarly, mythological tradition is also dealt to
proceed to authentic history of Nepalese Buddhism. It is analysed
on the basis of Swayambhu Purana and Bhasa Vamshavali. The
historical context of Swayambhu Chaitya and visit of Emperor
Ashoka are traced on the basis of classical texts. It further deals
with Buddhist history during the Lichhivi and Malia periods
analyzing existing inscriptional sources. Finally, history of
Theravada tradition of Nepal is also analyzed to some extent.
Chap. 4. This chapter focuses on the general features and
different kinds of modem day Nepalese Viharas, and describes
various other Viharas in Patan.
Chap. 5. This chapter is devoted to Hakha baha, which is the
main body of this work. This chapter discusses the heritage and
significance of Ratnakar Mahavihara and describes various
inscriptions, Kacha baha, baha Sangha and its organization.
Chap. 6. This chapter mainly focuses on the types of rituals
and worship which are performed at Hakha baha, and describes
several kinds of initiations such as Barechoegu, Achaluyegu and
Dekha. It also describes Guthis such as Sandepuja Guthi, Lainkebhu
Guthi, Sana Guthi, Bicha Guthi and other Guthis which operated
in Hakha baha. The roles played by the Sangha members are also
described in this book.
Chap. 7. Hakha baha has a distinct place among the Viharas
of Patan due to the Institution of Kumari. This chapter deals with
the tradition of Kumari at Hakha baha and mainly focuses on the
selection procedures and cultural and ritual aspects related to
Kumari. Along with this description, other Viharas' relationship with
Hakha baha which relates to Kumari worship is also explained.
Chap. 8. The main focus of this chapter is the description of
the structural features of Hakha baha. The architectural features,
art forms, and images housed in Hakha baha are described in this
Chap. 9. This chapter concludes the book, and is followed by
the glossary, appendix, bibliography and Index.
The research which we undertook was in fact a tough job for
us, but many individuals inspired and helped us throughout. It would
have been impossible to write this book without their help. We are
particularly thankful to Mr. Milan Ratna Shakya for his help.
We are very much thankful to Mrs. Millicent Allysa Pugh
(Thapa) who edited this manuscript. Her meticulous effort to go
through with tiresome writings is really praiseworthy. Especially,
we must thank her for editing skills and comments she made at
We are grateful to Min Bahadur Shaky a, a visiting lecturer in
the Department of Buddhist Studies, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur.
He kindly permitted us to use his library.
We would also like to say thanks to We cannot forget the
help of Hera Kazi Vajracharya of Bu Baha, Patan, who provided us
with some material during the research. His assistance proved to
be very helpful in writing this book.
We are also thankful to Gajanan Dhakhwa, for taking some of
the photos of Ratnakar Mahavihara (Hakha baha). We would also
like to thank Hasana Shakya for typing a part of the manuscript.
Last but not the least, we must thank Yen. Prajnamurti of
Anandakuti Vihara, a common friend of us and a student of
Buddhism at Chulalongkorn Rajkiya Mahavidyalaya, University
of Bangkok for his best wishes.
The term Vihara is called baha or bahal in Newari, but local people
pronounce it ba instead of baha. In the Kathmandu Valley, many
Viharas were established at different times. Since, Patan is
predominantly a Buddhist city, it has many prominent bahal which
were established by various individuals. At present, there are fifteen
main bahal in Patan. Most of the bahal have Kacha baha and Nani
affiliated with them and each baha has two names, one in Sanskrit
and the other in Newari.
The bahal are the centers of religious activities, and played a
role of immense significance in Buddhist cultural development.
The Sangha of the followers exists in each Vihara within its
boundary. In modern times, the major function of a Vajrayana Vihara
in Nepal is only to perform elaborate rituals. Nepalese Buddhism
has turned into a type of ritualized Buddhism rather than
emphasizing philosophical values.
The bahal in Patan are prototype of one another; there are no
major differences, however, minor variations may occur in Ratnakar
Mahavihara, one of fifteen main Viharas in Patan. Its Sanskrit name
is Shri Laksmi Kalyana Varma Samskarita Ratnakar Mahavihara,
but it is popularly known as Hakha baha or Ha baha. It was also
called Hatko baha, and it is situated at ward no. 18, Ga bahal, in
Ratnakar Mahavihara is one of the most popular bahals of Patan.
It has preserved its typical Buddhist art and architecture as well as
its ritual heritage. In this Vihara, there is the tradition of the living
goddess, called Kumari. This practice is unique among the Viharas
of Patan. Ratnakar Mahavihara Sangha has only Vajracharya
members whereas other Vihara Sanghas in Patan have both Shakyas
and Vajracharyas as members. The Sangha members become
Dyopala at the shrine of Kwapadyo in turns, from the eldest to the
youngest. A Dyopala is appointed only for the period of fifteen
days. The Sangha has a committee of ten elders who are called Aju.
One person is always in reserve, and acts as the Ajus' helper. The
eldest Aju is called Chakreshwar. He plays an important role during
the Barechuyegu (initiation) and Achaluyegu ceremonies. The Ajus
meet once a month on the full moon day for tantric puja (Agam
puja), and again on the tenth day of the dark half of each month for
a ritual feast. This Vihara has Sangha Bhojan Guthi (Sandey puja),
Acharya Guthi, Sana Guthi (death Guthi) and Bicha Guthi. Various
other rituals are also observed at this Vihara from time to time.
Statement of the Problems
The study of Viharas is of immense significance in the study of
Nepalese Buddhism. The Viharas of Kathmandu Valley in general
and Patan in particular playa major role in the cultural and religious
activities of the Sangha. The Sangha organization and its functions,
rituals, art etc., are important components of a Vajrayana Vihara. If
one intends to study the Sangha, the Viharas require a detailed study.
The Ajus also play a significant role in Vihara activities. They
are the ones who are responsible for preserving Buddhism in its
The tradition of the living goddess Kumari at Hakha baha is a
significant feature of this Vihara, which has made this Vihara more
prestigious than other Viharas in Patan. All of these factors have
made Hakha baha in Patan important.
Vihara, as the source of cultural tradition and its continuity,
requires a detailed analysis. As for the Hakha baha, empirical
research is always lacking in the analysis of its role in society and
Review of Literature
Viharas play an important role in Buddhist religion and culture,
but researchers have not yet studied them properly. It is possible to
study them from different perspectives, but there are only a few
researchers who have written about this Vihara.
The book entitled Buddhist Monasteries of Nepal mainly deals
with the monasteries of Kathmandu Valley. In this book, Hakha
baha is also described briefly. The description mainly deals with
the historical aspect of baha and some of its ritual activities, but
lacks an indepth analysis.
Another book, entitled Ratnakar Mahavihara Ka Sankshipta
Parichaya, in Newari, describes the history of the baha art,
architecture, Guthi and includes a list of the recipients of the
acharyabhisheka. Although this book is informative, but it is not
academic and is very brief. It does not even cover the main aspects
of Hakha baha.
The book Yalaya Bauddha Vihara Sankhipta Parichaya is mainly
about the Viharas of Patan. It also deals with existing Ajus, Kacha
baha and gives a brief history. It is in the form of a compiled book.
History of Nepal is also about Buddhism in Nepal, and mentions
that Hakha baha was tom down and was rebuilt at its present location
by the order of King Siddhi Narsingha Malla, in order to extend
the palace complex. No other facts are available regarding the topics
in this book." The Cult of Kumari Virgin Worship in Nepal also
deals with the Kumari of the Hakha bahai, which is also an
important aspect of the baha.
H. A. Oldfield's book Sketches from Nepal also gives a brief
introduction to Hakha baha.
An article written on Hakha baha by Indra Kumari Bajracharya
describes the history of Hakha baha, the structural characteristics
of the baha Sangha, Guthi, Kumari, and so on.
Aside from these works, no other separate work has yet been
done on Hakha baha. The baha is mentioned in various contexts in
independent studies. No other books and articles have been written
so far. The present research is different to all these published works
in terms of themes and the area of study.
The general objective of this research is to analyze different
aspects of Hakha baha. Some of the major objectives are as follows:
1. To analyze the conceptual aspects of Buddhist Vihara.
2. To make an assessment of general features of Nepalese
3. Critically analyze the historical aspect of Hakha baha using
4. To make an assessment of rituals and worship organized in
5. To describe the Hakha baha Sangha.
6. To examine the tradition of Kumari at Hakha baha and her
role in Buddhist rituals in Patan.
7. To describe the structural characteristics and evaluate the
art and architecture of Hakha baha.
Limitations of the Study
As the title suggests, this study is confined to Ratnakar
Mahavihara (Hakha baha) of Patan. The historical aspect of the
study is about its establishment, and was mainly based on the basis
of historical evidence. However, the other aspects of the Viharas
focus on current data, and most of the worship rituals, Guthi, Kumari
etc. were studied based on present activities. The analysis are mainly
Both primary and secondary data are used in this book, and
conclusion has been drawn based on these. Most of the information
has been derived from primary sources, which comprised of
historical documents such as metal, wood and stone inscriptions.
Senior Ajus and other Sangha members of Hakha baha were
interviewed, and the information they provided proved to be useful.
During the interview the legends and stories related to this baha
were also collected. All the research is based on an analysis of the
cultural heritage of Ratnakar Mahavihara.
Observation is another important method that was used to collect
information. The researcher observed various rituals and ceremonies
that were performed in the Vihara during the research and collected
relevant information. Secondary sources were also used in order to
authenticate the description. Other sources include various published
and unpublished thesis, related books, and journal articles. These
sources support the interpretation and analysis of various themes.
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