Days: 9 / Difficulty: 2 of 5 (Moderate)
Trekking and Meditation to Halesi Mahadev (Maratika Cave). Lodge, 9 Days.
Maratika Cave (lit. ‘The Cave of Bringing Death to an End’) and Maratika Monastery are located in the Khotang District of East-Nepal, approximately 185 km south west of Mount Everest, at the hilly region between the holy rivers Dudh Koshi to the right and Sun Koshi to the left. In the local dialect it is also known as ‘Haleshi’. It is a place full of natural beauty, cultural inheritance and is popular among the Hindus, for whom it is associated with Lord Shiva, as well as Buddhists all over the world.
The Legend goes, that Lord Vishnu was the first ever devotee to pay homage to the Haleshi Mahadeva in the Satya Yuga, the ‘Golden Age’. Afterwards, the last 6000 years until now, many kings, sages, devotees, philosophers, thinkers, hermits, abbots and ascetics have been paying homage to this sacred place. It is taken as a place for fulfilling wishes and giving boons to the real devotees, that their wishes will been fulfilled.
For Buddhists his power-place is generally associated with Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche), where he and his consort Mandarava were blessed with immortal life by Buddha Amitayus. The caves of Maratika are mentioned in tibetan literature up from the 12th century. The ‘Sanglingma’, a Kathang (biography) of Padmasambhava discovered by Nyang Ral Nyima Öser, describes the original event, which made the Maratika caves a sacred place for Buddhists:
At the request of the Bodhisattva Avaloketesvara, the Buddha Amitayus once taught eighteen tantras of long life. The Dakini Sangwa Yeshe recorded them and hid the teachings afterwards in the Maratika-Cave. While Guru Padmasambhava was in the kingdom of Sahor, he met king Arshadhara’s daughter, a sixteen-year-old maiden called ‘Mandarava-Flower’, who endowed the qualifying marks of a tantric adept. The Guru magnetized her and took her along as his spiritual consort and support in practice. Later on, the Master and his consort went to Maratika, disclosed the mandalas of Buddha Amitayus and practiced the earlier by Sangwa Yeshe hidded long-life-tantras. After three months they had a vision of Amitayus, who appeared in the sky and placed the nectar-filled vase of immortal life upon their heads. So he blessed Master Padma to be the daka Hayagriva and Mandarava to be his consort, the dakini Vajra Varahi. Thus they attained the vidyadhara level of longevity beyond birth and death. While the Guru later went to Tibet to establish Buddhism there, Mandarava stayed in India, where she had a lot of deciples.
Other later written sources narrate this episode in the life of the great saint, for example the ‘Padma Thangyig Sheldrangma’ (14th century) a Terma (treasure-text) of Orgyen Lingpa. Also, the Samten Lingpa alias Tagsham Nuden Dorje, a Tertön (revealer of hidden treasures) from the second half of the 17th century, consecrates six folios to this episode in his biography of Padmasambhava and his consort.
In ‘Guide to the sacred places of Nepal’ also Khamtrul Choki Nyima (1730-1780) had written about Maratika-Cave. Brief introductions by H.H. Dalai Lama, Trulshik Rinpoche, Dudjom Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Chatral Rinpoche, Lama Ngawang Chophel Gyatso and Lopon Karma Wangchuk, can also be found in ‘The Guide to Maratika’.
We have choosen this short trek for ‘Trekking and Meditation’, because Maratika is believed to be one of the most holiest places in Nepal and by that reason very auspicious for meditation, specially for Buddhists, who want to make a short pilgrimage in combination with more intense meditation practice, which we can modify at your wish.
If you need Meditation instruction you can get this at day 2 a short introduction to Shamata Practice and then you meditate on your own on the trek.