Mata Tirtha: a Sacred Geography
Tucked away in the foothill of a mountain in the Kathmandu Valley, Mātā Tirtha defies the description of a sacred tirtha. It is neither situated between the confluences of two rivers nor is it dedicated to the God Viṣṇu, as are most of the tirthas in India. And yet, Mātā Tirtha continues to become popular within the valley among citizens of all faiths. What is unique about Mātā Tirtha? This paper sets out to trace its origins by examining its history, folklore, and the myths that surround the sacred site. Positioned as a tirtha, it is dedicated specifically to the mother—the mothers of all men and women whose mothers have passed away. For that reason, Mātā Tirtha stands out as unique. Nothing similar is to be found in India. In terms of geography, Mātā Tirtha has a unique place in the religious landscape of the Kathmandu Valley, while its historic sanctity dates back to the seventeenth century during the reign of King Pratapa Malla. Legend, however, pushes it back to an even earlier existence. Today, visitors of all religious persuasions come to Mātā Tirtha to honor their mothers who have passed away.
KeywordsMātā Tirtha Mother’s Day Kathmandu Valley Kirat Krishna Vaisnava Rani Pokhari Pratapa Malla
Nepal has not received as much attention from the Indologists as India has. The reasons are obvious: in Nepal, there are no large temples, save for Pashupatinath, and no major festivals such as the ratha yātrā of Jagannāth in Puri or the Kumbha Melā of Allahabad at Prayag, India. There are no saptapuris or chār dhāms, either. However, what Nepal does have is Mātā Tirtha, a unique sacred spot unlike any place in India. Mātā Tirtha is unique to Nepal, and it holds its own place for sanctity and popularity.
Grown out of local legends, Mātā Tirtha is strictly a regional religious site that has gained the reputation of being a holy Tirtha as one of the chār dhāms of India. Because all tirthas in India, except for Kedārnāth and Kāshi, are Vaiṣṇavite in origin, Mātā Tirtha by virtue of being a tirtha may also be classified as a Vaiṣṇava tirtha, as explained later. If there is one tirtha that celebrates the glory of the mother, Mātā Tirtha is, indisputably, it. It would not be inaccurate to say that there is no tirtha in India like Mātā Tirtha. It has its own myth rooted in Nepali culture, as we will see shortly.
In recent years, there has been growing interest among Western scholars in the fields of Nepalese anthropology and religion. But research on the legends and folklore of Nepal is severely lacking, even in light of the country’s rich cultural heritage deeply rooted in religion. The Kathmandu Valley is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites validating the place’s cultural importance. In this paper, I will take up a little known subject that has remained under the radar of both domestic and international scholars. There has been a smattering of newspaper articles and media highlights during the festival of Mātā Tirtha each year; but beyond that, there is no serious study that examines the origins and history of Mātā Tirtha. It is the author’s hope that this paper fills that lacuna.
Nepal is a religious country; its own origin is associated with the divine intervention belonging to both Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Because this paper deals with the Vaiṣṇava saṁpradāya (Vaiṣṇava tradition), I will deliberately use the Hindu version here to support my hypothesis that the origin of Mātā Tirtha has Vaiṣṇava roots. According to Nepal Māhatmya, the Kathmandu Valley1 was once a huge lake.2 The God Viṣṇu, wishing to take up residence in the valley surrounded by beautiful mountains, released the waters of the lake by cutting the cliff to the south side of the valley. After Viṣṇu made the valley habitable, civilization took its roots and thrived, and we see this today in the many temples, shrines, images of gods and goddesses, and festivals associated with them.
However, the twelve Nāgas that had lived happily in the lake with their families were not pleased when the Blue Lake was drained.3 God Viṣṇu convinced them to stay so that they could protect the land by regulating rainfall and crops. Some of them had already left the valley, but the remaining nine Nāgas—the chief of whom was Karkota—stayed when Vishnu offered them sanctuary in Taudaha Lake, a small lake to the southeast of the valley. To keep the Nāgas happy, the inhabitants of the valley established an annual Nāga Panchami festival in their honor. This lake is still protected by the people of the valley. All human activities, including fishing, swimming, and eating in and around the lake, are prohibited to show respect for the resident Nāgas. In return, the Nāgas have protected the valley from natural disasters and have provided bountiful crops and abundant rainfalls. The valley inhabitants do believe that the Nāgas are responsible for their success, happiness, and growth. As a result, we see images of Nāga everywhere in the Valley—in private homes, public buildings, temples, stepwells, and even in streets.
Mātā Tirtha: A Hallowed Ground
As the land of many gods and goddesses—both Hindu and Buddhist—Nepal, like India, is home to many tirthas. A tirtha is a holy pilgrimage site located near a water source, be that a lake, pond, river, or sea. It is believed that India is home to one hundred and eight such holy sites, which span the entire country, of which four dhāms are the most famous. These holy sites are all sacred abodes of Viṣṇu,4 where hundreds of thousands of Hindus gather during special occasions. Kumbha Melā is one such example.
Mātā Tirtha, which I will specifically focus on here, is unique to Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley. The description of the glory of Mātā Tirtha is nowhere to be found in Indian sources of history, mythology, or legends, albeit there is a brief mention of Mātri Titha in the Mahābhārata during the wanderings of the Pandavas.5 Otherwise, Nepal’s Mātā Tirtha is strictly a regional- and geography-specific Tirtha, the origin of which ostensibly points to the Kathmandu Valley. And yet, even within Nepal, it is largely known only among the people of the Kathmandu Valley. That the site was in existence well before the seventeenth century is clear when we examine the information contained in the Gopālarāja Vamsāvali; Nepal Māhatmaya; Pratapa Malla’s Pilgrimage; Swayambhu Purāṇa; and a stone inscription of Rani Pokhari.
The stone inscription located near Rāni Pokhari (Queen Pond) states that King Pratapa Malla (1624–1674), upon constructing the Pokhari (pond) in 1670,6 poured the waters of Mātā Tirtha and fifty-one other tirthas with the intent of making the Pokhari holy.7 That the Mātā Tirtha was in existence at the time of King Pratapa Malla is further evident from the handwritten manuscript titled Pratapa Malla’s Pilgrimage, currently housed in the Bhaktapur Museum.8 The manuscript provides detailed descriptions of his travels to various tirthas, both in Nepal and India, for the purpose of collecting holy water that he poured into the waters of Rāni Pokhari, attesting to the historicity and thus valorizing the sanctity of Mātā Tirtha.
Rāni Pokhari, as the story goes, was built to console Maharani Bhuvana Lakshmi after the death of her youngest son, Chakravartendra Malla.9 Under the pretext of earning religious merit while collecting holy waters from the fifty-one sacred tirthas, Pratapa Malla went on a pilgrimage to various tirthas throughout Nepal and India, including Mātā Tirtha. This, indeed, is an important piece of information for establishing the legitimacy of the site under discussion. Although the Rāni Pokhari stone inscription extolls the religious merits one reaps by taking a ritual bath in that pond, it simultaneously valorizes the sanctity of Mātā Tirtha. For example, the Rāni Pokhari stone inscription claims, “The waters of these tirthas [Mātā Tirtha and others are in this lake]; the many rewards of each single tirtha [are in this lake]; [for] all these many tirthas are in this lake. Whosoever performs all the religious duties, such as oblation to the gods, oblation to his ancestors, [and] evening oblations, etc., after having taken his bath in this lake, will obtain the merits and rewards attaching to the performance of the duty of bathing in all these tirthas.”10
To bolster its sanctity, the inscription further states, “No one is to commit any sin against the lake, such as digging within any part of these precincts, the committing of suicide, etc. If anyone does commit [such offences] the sins attaching to the entry into a crore [one million] of forbidden places, the eating of a crore of forbidden foods, the killing of a crore of Brahmins, the killing of a crore of cows, the killing of a crore of gurus, the killing of a crore of children, the killing of a crore of women, the destruction of a crore of Sivalingams; the sins attaching to all these tirthas; the sins attaching to the destruction of Paramesvar and Paramesvari who live in all these tirthas [shall be upon] his head.”11
Because Mātā Tirtha is a regional tirtha—a geography-specific one—it is not mentioned in any texts nor is it known to the majority of citizens of India. Hence, its popularity has not reached to the far corners of India or even Nepal. Except for a few newspaper articles, there is absolutely no scholarly study of the site. The present author has limited resources and hence any shortcomings that the readers may notice are his own.
The origin of Mātā Tirtha may be very ancient, according to earlier historical timelines. The first Kirāt king Yalambar laid the foundation for the Kirāt Dynasty around 900 BCE, after defeating the last ruler of the Abhir Dynasty, who ruled the Kathmandu Valley. When Kirāts occupied the valley, they made Mātā Tirtha their capital.12 If we accept this information as accurate, it certainly takes us back to the time before Nepal’s established historical period of the fifth century C.E. from which time the stone inscription of King Manadeva has survived.
Nepal and India, though politically separate countries, are closely connected by their cultural and religious roots. Their roots, in fact, are one. However, in some cases—such as local legend, myth, and oral history—Nepal has not turned to India for inspiration for its Vedic sources from which most of the currents flow. Nepal seems to walk on its own path. For example, the Nepal Mahatmya, Swayambhu Purāṇa, and Swasthāni Vrata Kathā, regional Māhatmayas of about the fifteenth century, feed many of the stories regarding the origins and cultural history of Nepal, although they may seem to go against their Indian sources. But at the end, they converge in the Indian roots. These three texts are in fact the products of Nepal which provide some information on the origin of Mātā Tirtha. For instance, the story of the child Kṛṣṇa losing his mother is of Indian origin and takes place at Mātā Tirtha, clearly a locale of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. What is going on here? Is this a misunderstanding of geography or displacement of information?
Associated with Mātā Tirtha is a story pointing to Indian origin, which depicts how Devaki, Kṛṣṇa’s foster mother, left home to explore the surroundings of Māta Tirtha. When she did not return home at the expected hour, the boy Kṛṣṇa—missing his mother—became anxious and went out searching for her. Exhausted, he finally reached a place where he saw Devaki taking a bath in a pool, fed by spring water. Elated, he hugged her and told the story of his ordeal to find her. To console Kṛṣṇa, Devaki told him, “Then, let this place be a place for children to meet their lost mothers.”13 And so it came to be called Mātā Tirtha, and it has since been a holy tirtha to pay homage to departed mothers. The annual festival of Mātā Tirtha takes place in this small hamlet, where thousands of sons and daughters from the nearby cities and villages of the Kathmandu Valley come to perform sraddha (death anniversary rites) and take a holy dip in the pool of Mātā Tirtha in memory of their departed mothers.
According to the Swayambhu Purāṇa, a text central to Nepali Buddhists, there are twelve holy tirthas in the Kathmandu Valley,14 but Mātā Tirtha is not one of them. On examining the list of tirthas found in the Swayambhu Purāṇa, it is apparent that they share in common the fact that each is located at the confluences of various rivers of the Kathmandu Valley. Since Mātā Tirtha is not at a confluence of two rivers, it is, therefore, not included among the twelve tirthas by the Swayambhu Purāṇa. However, Mātā Tirtha’s importance has not historically been reduced by the omission because, in 1699, King Paratapa Malla is believed to have visited Mata Tirtha to collect water for Rāni Pokhari, a large pond, he built for the queen.15 Furthermore, according to three types of classification of tirtha found in the Skanda Purāṇa, Mātā Tirtha falls into the category of Sthawar Tirtha—that which does not move, something stationary. As a Sthawar Tirtha, its waters, like a river, do not move. As a holy place, it has been there for a long time, remains there, and is likely to stay there for many generations to come.
Mother’s Day in Nepal is called Mātā Tirtha Aunsi. On that day, children present fruits and mithāi (desserts) to their mothers to show respect, love, affection, and devotion. Fruits and mithāi are sweet and a symbol of love, so they are appropriately given to beloved mothers, who are likewise considered kind and sweet. In return, the children receive their mothers’ love and blessings. Also, on Mother’s Day, in connection with the Mātā Tirtha, it is customary to build or install, according to one’s capacity, a temple with a drinking fountain or a resting place in loving memory of one’s mother. Some include items such a small bell, copper plate, or even a spoon with the mother’s name inscribed on it.16 A son or daughter who has lost a mother visits Mātā Tirtha to take a dip in the sacred pond and perform a shraddha (ancestral rite) in the precinct. Since children usually out-live their mothers, most people will be eligible to take this pilgrimage and participate in the tradition at some point. In other tirthas, pilgrims of all ages can go with impunity, whether their mothers are living or dead. At Mātā Tirtha, however, it is believed that bad luck falls upon living mothers if their children visit the Tirtha, even by mistake. Not surprisingly, children with living mothers typically avoid visiting Mata Tirtha at all costs.17
According to one popular story of the hoary past, the origin of Mātā Tirtha is associated with a cowherd in the employment of a certain king. One day, the cowherd, whose mother had passed away, took the cows to graze at a new location. Here, he discovered a pond with crystal clear water. As he sat at the edge of the pond and gazed in the water, he saw the reflection of his dead mother’s face. According to legend, this happened on the day of aunsi (amabasya)—the dark moon during the month of baishāk (April/May), in a small hamlet southeast of the Kathmandu Valley. The boy returned every day to the same spot to share his food with his mother.18 Thus, Mātā Tirtha was born.
Today, though, motherless children visit Mātā Tirtha not to see the faces of their dead mothers, but to pay homage to them, even though, for a time, the Tirtha had real magical power, as mother Devaki herself blessed it as a meeting place for children and their dead mothers. As the legend goes, when a particular young woman heard about the magical power of the pond and traveled to the spot, hoping to see her dead mother’s face in the water as had countless other people, the magic did not work. Despite her longing and persistence, she could never see her mother’s face in the reflection of the pool. Heartbroken, the woman decided to commit suicide by drowning in the pool. This was a mark of transgression, as committing suicide is considered inauspicious in Hinduism. So from that day on, no reflection of departed mothers would be promised to appear to any man or woman whose mother had passed on.
Devotion has not wavered, though. While the miracle ended, the tradition lives on. Love and devotion for the mother are what have kept the tradition alive, even after the original and magical meaning of the tirtha stopped working. The power of love for one’s mother—bhakti, in this case—replaced the tradition (prathā) of viewing of the mother’s face (mukh herne) in the Kathmandu Valley, as evidenced by the thousands of pilgrims who continue to go there year after year without disappointment. The children are happy to be at Mata Tirtha with their love and devotion, expecting that their mothers would receive their remembrances.
Mantra for Liberation
Some additionally perform the ritual at Mātā Tirtha for liberation from rebirth through a mother’s womb. The priests who perform shrāddha—a ritual offering of food to the departed souls by the sons at Mātā Tirtha—encourage pilgrims to chant a four-line Sanskrit mantra in connection with the purpose of obtaining liberation from rebirth. The purport of the mantra19 is that a person [a son] who takes a bath in the Kunda [Mātā Tirtha] after performing a shrāddha in loving memory of his departed mother attains moksha, thus freeing himself from rebirth in a mother’s womb. Although this mantra is often used at Mātā Tirtha before taking a dip in the pool, those who cannot travel to the site in the Kathmandu Valley can recite it at any holy site.
The festival of Mātā Tirtha occurs in vaisāk kṛṣṇa sudi, during the dark moon of April–May. However, the mantra clearly states that the month in which the bathing and shrāddha take place is māgha (January–February).20 Because of this discrepancy, I am inclined to believe that the mantra may have been appropriated from other sources for Mātā Tirtha. The origin of the mantra will not change the sanctity of the Tirtha, though, as its value lies in its supernatural power—to liberate one’s soul. The soul will not be required to return to the mother’s womb. The tirtha, whether Mātā or another holy tirtha like one of the chār dhāms, has the power to liberate the pilgrim.
The popularity of Mātā Tirtha also might be due to the fact that it is one of a few tirthas in South Asia that is less arduous and peril-free. Furthermore, it is the only tirtha specifically dedicated to the mother. Since we all came out of the mother’s womb, the mother is an important part of our lives. The fetus grows in her womb for nine months, solidifying the bond between mother and child and creating a stronger biological and emotional bond between a child and its mother than with its father, at least initially. This bond between mother and child is as eternal as it is chthonic in nature.
Case for a Vaiṣṇava Tirtha
Although Nepal is popularly believed to be the land of God Śiva, Kathmandu is dotted with Vaiṣṇava shrines, temples, and rivers. Chāñgu Nārāyaṇa, Ichañgu Nārāyaṇa, Matsya Nārāyaṇa, and the Viṣṇumati are but a few examples. Chāngu Nārāyaṇa, a major ancient temple site that is historically connected to the fifth century Licchavi King Mānadeva, is dedicated to Viṣṇu. Viṣṇumati, one of the main rivers of the Kathmandu Valley, bears the name of God Viṣṇu. This sacred river is believed to have originated as the River Ganges (Gañgā) from the pada (feet) of God Viṣṇu,21 hence the name Viṣṇumati.
Vaiṣṇavism has historically enjoyed as much, if not more, popularity as Śaivism in the Kathmandu Valley, for example, during the Malla Period (15th through the 18th centuries). Vaiṣṇavism was a preferred religion of many of the Malla kings as attested by many shrines, temples, and images of Viṣṇu, his avatārs, and his consort Lakshmi, throughout the Valley. The famous Krishna temple in the Indian sikhara style was built by Siddhi Narasimha Malla, the king of Patan, who was a great devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and it is said that he had once a vision of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa standing in front of his palace. The next day he decided to build a temple on the exact spot to commemorate the vision. As a Vaiṣṇava temple, the inner sanctum contains the images of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa; narrative scenes from the Mahābhārata and the Rāmāyaṇa decorate the outside friezes of the temple. The temple built entirely of stone stands out as a unique structure in the middle of many pagodas built of red brick.
The story of Devaki and her child, Kṛṣṇa, which I cited earlier, a simple and yet heart-touching story that shows the deep love between a mother and her son, alludes to Viṣṇu simply because he is the incarnation of the god. The story in which a cowherd takes cattle to the forest to graze where Mātā Tirtha is located is also relevant for such a connection. This setup is reminiscent of many of the Kṛṣṇa’s past times when he was growing up as in Vrindavan. We know from stories in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa and the Mahābhārata that cow herding is associated with Kṛṣṇa, making it a Vaiṣṇava story. The pilgrimage of Mātā Tirtha on the day of aunsi (i.e., amabasya) is also significant, as it is the same fortnight of the New Moon during which Lord Kṛṣṇa was born.22 This astrological fact connects Mātā Tirtha to be a Vaiṣṇava tirtha.
Because people of all religious faiths visit the site to pay homage to the departed souls of their mothers, Mātā Tirtha does not carry a strict label of Vaiṣṇava affiliation, although initially it had a connection with Kṛṣṇa. In fact, near the site of Mātā Tirtha, a Buddhist stupa stands which was built during the Malla period. Today, regardless of their religious affiliation, Hindus of all sampradāya and Buddhists visit Mātā Tirtha to perform rituals. The videos where several Buddhists are seen performing rituals according to their own tradition are clear evidence that Mātā Tirtha is indeed a tirtha shared by all faiths and religious traditions.
Because every human being is born from the mother’s womb, he or she had a mother at some point. For giving life to their children, mothers hold a special place in society. They are honored and respected even after they have left their physical bodies. Their memories remain, carried on in many forms, such as Mother’s Day and the shraddha anniversary. Mātā Tirtha is another form of honoring one’s mother through water. According to popular legend, a son saw his deceased mother’s face in the pool of Mātā Tirtha. From the experiments conducted by Dr. Masaru Emoto,23 it is evident that water reacts to human thought and speech. Hence, it is likely that the boy who was deeply touched by the death of his mother may have seen the apparition of his mother as he thought of her while gazing in the pool.
The story of seeing the face of a deceased mother may have caught like wild fire. As people started flocking to the place, it gathered momentum as a sacred tirtha. As popular expression has it, the rest is history. The Mātā Tirtha has come to stay as a favorite tirtha for the large number of sons and daughters who have lost their mothers. It is in that role that Mātā Tirtha is best known as a meeting place between the dead and the living. In that capacity, Mātā Tirtha through the medium of water has come to play an important role. Therefore, visiting it is a way to give thanks to the mother—by remembering her at a pool of crystal-clear water, containing the substance of life. The body of water is the body of the goddess. That is ever more reason to keep the tradition alive by making it known to all.
Before 1769, the term “Nepal” was applied to the valley of Kathmandu. Even after many parts were brought under the statehood of Nepal, the valley, as late as the 1960s, was known to many people living in the far corners of the land, as Nepal.
Daniel Wright, History of Nepal; Stella Kramrisch, The Art of Nepal; Asia Society: New York, 1964, p. 15; Mary Slusser, Nepal Mandala: A Cultural Study of the Kathmandu Valley, Princeton University Press: New Jersey, 1982, p. 8; Swaymbhu Purana, Nepal Mahatmya, and Gopalaraja Vamsavali all say the same thing.
Nepal Mahatmya translated by William P. Forbes in association with V.K. Chaube contains tales about the Vaisṇava origin of the Valley. See The Glory of Nepal: A Mythological Guidebook to Kathmandu Valley Based on the Nepala Mahatmya and Himavatkhanda. Varanasi: Pilgrim Publishing, 2000.
Subhadra Sen Gupta, Tirtha: Holy Pilgrim Centres of the Hindus, Saptapuris and Chaar Dhaam. Rupa: New Delhi, 2001, p. 3.
A sacred place situated on the outskirt of Kuruksetra where if one bathes would be rich in children. See Sloka 58, Chapter 83, Vana Parva of the Mahābhārata. Quoted by Vettam Mani in Puranic Encyclopaedia. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, reprinted 1996, p. 493. However, J. A. B. van Buitenen translates Mātri Tirtha as Ford-of-the Mother. [W]hen a man bathes there, his offspring increases and he attains to unending prosperity. See The Mahabharata, 2 The Book of the Assembly, 3 The Book of the Forest. Ed. By J.A.B. van Buitenen. Chicago: The Chicago University Press, 1975, p. 380.
Deepak Shimkhada, “Pratapamalla’s Pilgrimage: An Historical Painting from Nepal” in Oriental Art, Winter 1984/85, p. 368. The Rani Pokhari inscription is dated A.D. 1670 which supports the date of the manuscript of 1699, just a year before the inauguration of the Pokhari as the dedicatory stone inscription suggests. For the full text of the inscription, see T.W. Clark, “The Rani Pokhari Inscription, Kathmandu” in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 20, No. 1/3. URL: http://hnks.islor.org/sici?sici=0041-977X%2S1957%2920%3Al%2F3%3C167%3ATRPIK%3E2.0.CQ%3B2-D
Clark, op. cit.
Clark, op. cit.
Clark, op. cit.
Sanasam Sandhyarani Devi in India Nepal Relations: Historical, Cultural and Political Perspectives, VIJ Books India Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi 2011, p. 6.
Quoted by Padmakshi Rana. I have not been able to verify this story in any of the texts I have read so far. Unfortunately the author did not cite the source from where this was taken. See http://magarstudiescenter.org.np/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Festivals-of-Nepal.pdf
Swayambhu Purana, p. 19.
Shimkhada, op. cit.
Bishnu Prabhat, see Prajna Sanskriti Kosh (in Nepali). Kathmandu: Nepal Academy, 2017, p. 356.
I remember as a young boy of ten when I first visited Mātā Tirtha with my parents. Although both my parents had lost their mothers, my mother was still alive, so I was not allowed to go with them to the Kunda. I was left with another adult in a tent a few hundred yards before the Kunda while my parents went to the Kunda for a dip and to perform a shrāddha for their departed mothers. I have a vivid memory of the time, probably because I was terrified as I waited for my parents to return. That afternoon, the wind was blowing hard, and the tent in which I was left was shaking violently as if it were going to fly off.
According to legend, the mother never came out of the pond in a physical form. The boy saw her reflection only in the water. When he accidentally dropped his food in the pond, his mother put it in her mouth which led to the practice of performing shrāddha annually at Mātā Tirtha.
Snātvā karōtima y: Śrād’dhaṁ māghō: Kr̥ṣṇakuhau dinē.
Viyōga na bhavēnmātu: Vārdhakyē̕pī suniścitamma.
Tr̥ptā bhavati tanmātā snānamātrēṇa cātra vai.
R̥ṇa: Pramucyatē sad’dhō mātr̥garbhasthitōbhdavai.
Rough translation: After taking a bath in the pond on the dark fortnight of the month of Magha, one who gives oblation in loving memory of one’s mother, he will not be required to return to his mother’s womb. He attains liberation.
Op. Cit. See endnote xix above for the full text of the mantra in Sanskrit.
Appropriately, its alternate name is Viṣṇupadi as the Vaiṣṇavas believe that the River Gañgā too is issued from Viṣṇu’s foot (pada). Please also see Mary Slusser, Nepal Mandala, op. cit., p. 351.
Not in the same month. The birthday of Krishna is called Kṛṣṇa Janmāsṭhami, which usually falls during the month of August or September according to the lunar calendar.
Emoto, Masaru, Hidden Messages in Water. Atria Books, 2005.