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Date Posted: 10:16
Author: ketch - 29 Jun 2001
Subject: Re: Ketch's Pictures of Mt. Kailas
In reply to: Bill - 29 Jun 2001 's message, "Ketch's Pictures of Mt. Kailas" on 10:14

Bill,

Thanks for the information. I haven’t seen that book, I’ll have a look at Amazon and some other booksellers to see what the reviews are like.

A book I like is “KAILAS On Pilgrimage to the Sacred Mountain of Tibet” by Russell Johnson (photographs) and Kerry Moran (text). The book contains 116 colour photographs of Kailas, the surrounding area and the pilgrims the authors met there. Many of the photographs are full-page illustrations. Unfortunately I do not have access to a scanner so I can’t post any of the pictures.

It is a great pity that the Chinese authorities do not show more respect for the religious sensibilities of so many people, including many millions of Chinese who regard Mount Kailas as sacred. I did not know about the proposed Spanish expedition, we can only hope that public opinion within Spain will dissuade them.

If the expedition goes ahead and is successful, the Spaniards may not be the first to reach the summit of Mount Kailas. Tradition states that Milarepa had reached the summit nearly a thousand years ago. The local Bonpo shaman Naro Bon Chun did not wish the Buddhists, led by Milarepa to establish a presence at the mountain. Quoting from the previously mentioned book.

”Naro Bon Chun was a powerful shaman who had practised in the region for many years when Milarepa and his band of disciples arrived at the shores of Lake Manasarova. Each magician claimed the region as his tradition’s own: the Bonpo by right of being first; Milarepa citing prophecies of the Buddha regarding a great snow mountain destined to become a major centre of religion. To resolve the dispute Naro Bon Chun suggested a magical contest, which he immediately began by straddling Manasarova , one foot planted on either shore. Milarepa wasted few words on a response. First he hovered over the lake, covering its entire surface with his body; then, for good measure, he balanced the entire lake upon his thumbtip. And the competition continued in this vein, the Bonpo always losing.

“The two magicians adjourned to Kailas, where the kora route still bears the marks of their battles. A flat boulder to the east of the Dolma la is pocked with indentations said to be the footprints of Milarepa and Naro Bon Chun. Each had embarked on the kora proper to his faith: they collided atop the boulder and began a great tug of war, which Milarepa naturally won – and dragged the Bonpo clockwise, in the proper Buddhist direction, all the way to Zutulpuk Gompa.

“Contests of strength, of stride, of house-building. Milarepa won them all. Exhausted, Naro Bon Chun proposed a final match; he who reached the summit of Kailas at dawn of the full moon day would earn ultimate victory. Early on the appointed morning, Naro Bon Chun appeared in the sky flying atop his magic drum. Milarepa’s disciples were greatly disturbed at the sight. ‘Master, he is approaching the summit!’, they warned, but their teacher remained calm, meditating. Suddenly the Bonpo found himself unable to ascend any further. It was as though he had come up against an impenetrable barrier – which the magical will of Milarepa indeed was. It was all the shaman could do to continue circling the mountain astride his drum.

“As the first rays of morning sun struck the dome of Kailas, Mila merged with them and was instantly transported to the summit. The Bonpo was so startled at the sight of his competitors sudden victory that he fell off his magic drum. It clattered down the length of the mountains south face, etching a deep vertical groove, and the assembled local deities roared in laughter at the absurdity of it all.

“Naro Bon Chun had no choice but to admit defeat. Humbly he requested Milarepa to give him a new holy site where his followers could continue to follow their own way. Picking up a handful of snow from the summit of Kailas, Milarepa tossed it eastwards in the direction of Manasarova. It landed atop a variegated peak which even in summer is marked by four diagonal slashes of snow. ‘There is your new mountain’ Milarepa said, and although the Bonpo monastery built on its slope long ago became Buddhist, the mountain is still known as Bon Ri, Bon Mountain.”




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