Mahendra’s video of a pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash, info about the area and Milarepa’s poem.
(If you do not understand German click on subtitles in bottom bar and if you have a good internet connection watch at highest resolution.)
This video documents my journey, in July 2003, through Nepal’s ‘Wild West’ and remote areas of Western Tibet with five other pilgrims and our Nepalese crew. We start from Simikot in Nepal and trek to the Tibetan border through scenic valleys alongside the rapid Karnali. We encounter mysterious Tibetans and Chinese officials. The ruins of Guge tell us a tale of ancient times…. The culmination of our trip is circling around Mt. Kailash and staying at Lake Manasarovar. Finally we return to Kathmandu via the Tibetan Plateau and witness a big temple celebration.
The mountain is located in the Transhimalayan mountain range, in one of the least accessible areas of the planet. To the south the Himalayas are stretched out, separated only by a narrow plateau. In proximity of Mt. Kailash four great rivers have their origin: Indus, Sutlej, Brahmaputra and Karnali.
The Kailash area is thus the main source for the life veins of the Indian plains, an area where human settlements have been existing for thousands of years. Therefore, the mountain is regarded as the center of the world and is a holy place for many religions. Every year many Tibetans, Hindus and Jainas visit the mountain on a pilgrimage.
The Tibetan mystic Milarepa describes the mountain in one of his famous poems:
That which is called the White Snow Mount Kailash,
Before seeing it, you hear of its widespread fame.
People say, “It is like a white crystal stupa!”
When you get there you see
It is a peak covered with snow.
This snow-covered peak is a mountain prophesied by the ancient Buddha.
It is the center of the world.
It is a place where white snow lions frolic.
This white crystal-like stupa is the palace of the glorious Chakrasamvara.
The snow mountains encircling are the dwellings of five hundred arhats.
They are an offering support for all the eight classes.
The hills and turfs surrounding it are fragrant places,
Which produce medicinal nectar that heals terminal illnesses.
It is a great meditation place.
It is a place where non-deteriorating samadhi is discovered.
There is no place more wonderful than this.
There is no place more marvelous than this.
According to the Hindus Lake Manasarovar was created by God Brahma in order to accomplish the ritual cleansing during the pilgrimage to the Kailash, Shiva’s abode. According to ancient Buddhist legends this lake is the king of all holy lakes in the world. Because the lake is fed only by the melting snow from the Kailash region, the water is particularly clear and transparent. Many picturesque Gompas and monasteries have been established on its banks.
The Kingdom of Guge (Tsaparang)
The nearby ruins of the capital of Guge, almost forgotten today, give a good impression of the Tibetan past. There are many reports of the cultural and ritual life at court. Once powerful rulers lived here; but in the 16th Century the king lost a war with the neighbouring kingdom of Ladakh and the city was given up.
Lama Govinda relates the following story in his book The Way Of The White Clouds:
The king of Guge, who was then residing in Tholing, sent a delegation to Bengal to ask the famous pandit Atisha to come to his court. Atisha declined the invitation, for his services were equally needed in his own country.
The King thought that his presents had been too small and therefore organised an expedition to the northern border of his country, where gold could be found. But unfortunately he fell into the hands of his enemy, the King of Garlog, whose country lay across the borders and who demanded a huge sum as ransom.
His son thereupon collected funds for the release of his father; but when he reached Garlog, it was found that the amount was not sufficient. Before returning, in order to procure the missing sum, he met his father. The King, however, exhorted him not to spend all his gold on an old man like him, who at the best had only a few years more to live, but to send it instead to Atisha and to tell him that he prized his visit more than his life, which he would gladly sacrifice for the cause of the Dharma. The son took leave from his father with a heavy heart. He was never to see him again.
Another delegation was sent to India. When they told Atisha all that had happened, the great teacher was deeply moved and exclaimed: “That king was really a Bodhisattva! What else can I do but obey the will of such great a saint!”
Osho talks about Mt. Kailash
Kailash has been a holy place for Hindus as well as for Tibetan Buddhists. But Kailash is absolutely desolate, it has no houses and no human population – no worshipers, no priests…. But whoever sits in meditation in Kailash will find it fully inhabited. From the moment you reach Kailash, if you are capable of going into meditation you will say that is inhabited by many souls, and wonderful ones too. But if you go there and cannot meditate, then Kailash is empty for you. […]
Just now I said that on Kailash there is some form of unearthly habitation. It is more or less certain that about five hundred Buddhist siddhas regularly stay there; five hundred individuals who are enlightened Buddhas will always remain on Kailash. If one of them wants to go on some other mission, he will not go until some other Buddha arrives to take his place. But a minimum of five hundred enlightened Buddhas must always stay there to make Kailash a tirtha [a place of pilgrimage].
Only when one reaches such a tirtha does one meet disembodied souls, but it is not possible to meet them unless there is some fixed physical location; otherwise where would you meet disembodied souls, which cannot be seen? So Kashi is a place where you can sit in meditation and enter that inner world to establish communication with such souls. A tirtha cannot be understood intellectually, because it has nothing to do with the intellect. The real tirtha is hidden somewhere near the physical indication of it…
Osho, Hidden Mysteries, Ch 2
Mahendra (aka Ananya) grew up in Munich; after school he travelled to India overland where he took sannyas. He ran the Vihan Center in Berlin, was a guard in the ashram, a DJ around the world, and also worked on the Ranch, video recording and more. Since 1993 he has been working in IT, video production, as a DJ, event organizer and chanter – and loves mountain hikes. www.planetoflove.net – vimeo.com