Himalayas, Tibet and Nepal
Photographs from the Himalayian regions of Spiti and Kinnaur, Nepal and Tibet.
The photographs in this collection were taken by Ven. Dhammika during three trips he made through the Indian Himalayas (Lahaul, Spiti and Kinnaur) in 2007-8 and Tibet and Nepal in 2009. The writings on these areas below come from his Guide to Buddhism A-Z:
The Himalayas (Himacala or Himavanta) are the 2500 kilometre long chain of mountains that form the northern edge of the Indian subcontinent. The Jataka describe the Himalayas as ‘a vast region, five hundred yojanas high and three thousand in breadth’ (Ja.V,415. The Buddha called them Pabbataraja, ‘Lord of Mountains’ (S.II,137).
Shortly after his enlightenment he is said to have used his supernormal powers to visit Lake Anotatta which is now identified with Lake Manasarovar at the foot of Mount Kailash (Vin.I,27). Later in life he occasionally ‘sojourned in a forest hut in the Himalayan region,’ probably the thickly wooded hills of the lower Kumaon or the Mahabharata Hills of Nepal (S.I,116).
To the Buddha, the majestic sunlit snow peaks of the Himalayas were a symbol of goodness and purity. In the Dhammapada he says: ‘The good shine from afar like the Himalayas. The bad are obscure like an arrow shot into the night.’ (Dhp.304). See Meru.
Tibet is a sparsely populated mountainous country with India and Nepal to its south and China to its north and east. Envoys from the Tibetan king first brought Vajrayana Buddhism to Tibet from India in the 7th century, but the religion only became firmly established after the 11th century. Since then, nearly all Tibetans have been Buddhists.
In 1951 the communist government of China invaded Tibet and, after a revolt against their occupation in 1959, they began a brutal campaign to destroy Buddhism and Tibetan identity. Today, a degree of religious freedom has returned to Tibet and Buddhism there is undergoing something of a reformation. Some half a million Tibetan refugees in India still practise their religion with great devotion. A Buddhist monk, the Dalai Lama, is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, although he now lives in exile in India.
Nepal is a small country on the southern side of the Himalayas between India and Tibet. Buddhism in Nepal is first mentioned in an inscription dated 464 CE, although it probably reached the region much earlier. The majority of Nepal's population are Hindus but small groups of peoples - Tamangs, Gurungs, Jirels, Sherpas and the Newaris of the Kathmandu Valley - are mainly Mahayana or Vajrayana Buddhists. Theravada was introduced into the Kathmandu Valley in the 1940's and has gained considerable popularity since then. Buddhists make up about 12% of Nepal's population.
Text adapted from Ven. Dhammika's Guide to Buddhism A-Z (retrieved, June 21st 2011)
Ven Dhammika in Tibet, Nandadevi in Background
Photographs by Ven. S. Dhammika
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