DR2535 PRESENTATION<br />Tibetan Pilgrimage<br />By Robert White.<br />
Pilgrimage to lakes, mountains and caves.<br />In Tibetan culture pilgrimage is an important display of religion available...
Mount 	Kailash<br />
Local gods and Buddhist holy places<br />The ritual performance of pilgrimage involves the circumambulation of a mountain ...
Politics and statecraft<br />The process of “Buddhicisation” allows the state to intervene in local areas and break down l...
Comparative examples<br />A myes rMa chen is local god mountain, pilgrimage centres around one route usually performed on ...
Comparative examples continued<br />The main ritual acts include the recitation of mantras and prostrations, the date of p...
Myths and legends.<br />A good way to highlight the complex relationship between the two religious traditions at pilgrimag...
mTsho sngon-po.<br />
First origin myth<br />In one origin myth pertaining to the lake the story goes that “A long time ago the site of the lake...
Second origin myth.<br />In another story pertaining to the lake it is told “ there was no lake in the time of the king sr...
Differences<br />With both stories being oral narratives it is hard to ascertain the dates of their origin, and which one ...
The benefits of pilgrimage.<br />Pilgrimage can be performed for various reasons.<br />It can enable an individual to rest...
References.<br />Buffetrille, K.  1998.  Reflections on Pilgrimages to Sacred Mountains, Lakes and Caves. In Alex Mckay, P...
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  1. 1. DR2535 PRESENTATION<br />Tibetan Pilgrimage<br />By Robert White.<br />
  2. 2. Pilgrimage to lakes, mountains and caves.<br />In Tibetan culture pilgrimage is an important display of religion available to the laity.<br />Spatial conceptions of mountains and associated lakes come under the term Gnas, meaning sacred space or place, and are often referred to as “fathers” and “mothers”. Caves within mountains often act as meditation/retreat centres.<br />Textual sources pertaining to pilgrimage are only found after the 13th century, the practice was most likely brought back by Tibetans who had travelled to India.<br />Pilgrimage sites act as a matrix for an evolving synthesis of different religious traditions, both Buddhist and indigenous.<br />
  3. 3. Mount Kailash<br />
  4. 4. Local gods and Buddhist holy places<br />The ritual performance of pilgrimage involves the circumambulation of a mountain and/or lake.<br />In indigenous forms of religion mountains are conceptualised as yul lha- territorial deities, networks of mountains as gods mirror Tibetan social organisation insofar as they model kinship networks. Mountains are “related” to other mountains.<br />The process of “Buddhicisation” means the ritual appropriation of local mountain gods into a larger Buddhist system.<br />This occurs by the subjection of local deities into the Buddhist pantheon, and the construction of Buddhist buildings around pilgrimage sites, textual legitimacy is given to a site by guides which help portray the site as Buddhist sacred space.<br />
  5. 5. Politics and statecraft<br />The process of “Buddhicisation” allows the state to intervene in local areas and break down local autonomous socio-political structures.<br />By subjecting local mountain deities and bringing them into wider Buddhist systems, the state subjects the power of the specific locality and legitimises its own national power.<br />Deities of local significance become deities of national significance and the act of national pilgrimage reflects this.<br />This change is symbolised in the change of iconography associated with the mountain, anthropomorphic images of local gods become images of the actual holy mountain.<br />
  6. 6. Comparative examples<br />A myes rMa chen is local god mountain, pilgrimage centres around one route usually performed on horseback, hunting is carried out around the mountain ( against the basic Buddhist precept of no killing). Ritual requests are addressed to the warrior god rMa chen spom ra, despite the monastic association of the mountain with the Buddhist deity Cakrasamvara. The process of “Buddhicisation” is underway but not complete.<br />In contrast Mount Kailash is textually associated with certain prophecies of the Buddha, four temples surround the mountain representing the four cardinal points and act as prostration places. The circumambulation can be done by one of three routes, depending on the pilgrims spiritual capacity: ordinary, tantric or Arahat- reserved for the saints.<br />
  7. 7. Comparative examples continued<br />The main ritual acts include the recitation of mantras and prostrations, the date of pilgrimages is decided by the Buddhist calenderical system and only occurs on auspicious days.<br />Both examples show a pilgrimage site at either end of the spectrum of the process of “Buddhicisation”, however it should not be thought of as a linear monolithic process.<br />Sometimes the two traditions of religion confront each other at pilgrimage sites sometimes they exist in a peaceful cohabitation, sometimes one is transformed into the other.<br />
  8. 8. Myths and legends.<br />A good way to highlight the complex relationship between the two religious traditions at pilgrimage sites is to look at the oral narratives which are associated with the places.<br />This time we will look at the sacred lake mTsho sngon-po which lies at the foot of snowy mountains.<br />The circumambulation of the lake takes a route 300 kilometres in circumference.<br />In the middle of the lake lies an island with a hermitage, only connected to the mainland during the winter when the ice is thick enough for the monks to walk across.<br />
  9. 9. mTsho sngon-po.<br />
  10. 10. First origin myth<br />In one origin myth pertaining to the lake the story goes that “A long time ago the site of the lake was a vast plain, at its centre was a spring. An old women who lived near by, each day sent her daughter to the spring to fetch water. The old women in her wisdom knew the spring was no normal one and always warned her daughter to make sure and replace the stone which covered the spring. However one day the daughter forgot and the water kept on flowing, filling the whole plain and destroying ten thousand houses”. This also explains the older name of the lake- Khri-gshog rgyal-mo-the queen who destroyed ten thousand.<br />
  11. 11. Second origin myth.<br />In another story pertaining to the lake it is told “ there was no lake in the time of the king srong btsansgam-po; the place was covered with pastures and inhabited by nomads. The minister mgor returned from China with the princess Wencheng and a disagreement arose between the king and mgor who wished to keep the princess. The other ministers cast mgor out, with his son he travelled to A-mdo where the lake is now. His son wished to make tea but could find no water, his father directed him to a large stone which together they lifted, to find a spring. Mgor’s son forgot to replace the stone and the water flowed out furiously, they fled to higher ground. Once safe they looked back to see the tantric monk padmasambhava hitting the water with a stick and stopping the flow” this is how the lake was created.<br />
  12. 12. Differences<br />With both stories being oral narratives it is hard to ascertain the dates of their origin, and which one predated the other.<br />What is important is they both still narrate the origin of the lake and exist in the story-craft of the area, therefore both represent different cultural-religious traditions.<br />The first story has no mention of Buddhism or politics and the state, it could be said to be a local narrative with a specific geographical focus.<br />The second story not only narrates the origin of the lake but widens the geographical focus, the state and king are involved, as is a Chinese princess, and a Buddhist saint appears as the hero figure. This narrative has a much wider national importance.<br />Both stories exemplify the plural and contextually situated, relational process of “Buddhicisation” which can be found encompassing Tibetan pilgrimage sites.<br />
  13. 13. The benefits of pilgrimage.<br />Pilgrimage can be performed for various reasons.<br />It can enable an individual to restore social status if they have committed a “crime” which was offensive and affected the whole community.<br />For example going on pilgrimage is said to wash away the defilement generated by incest.<br />
  14. 14. References.<br />Buffetrille, K. 1998. Reflections on Pilgrimages to Sacred Mountains, Lakes and Caves. In Alex Mckay, Pilgrimage in Tibet. Curzon, Surrey.<br />Buffetrille, K. 1999. The Blue Lake of A-modo and its island: legends and Pilgrimage Guide. In Toni Huber Sacred Spaces and Powerful Places In Tibetan Culture. Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. Dharamsala, India.<br />

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