Path of Buddha

FOLLOW THE PATH OF BUDDHA

Buddhism is an unworldly tradition and way of life that originated to teach people to appreciate life as it in a more meaningful way that leads to inner satisfaction and peace. They all follow the basic path and teach simple tenets that guide mankind to attain perfect enlightement and peace just like Lord Buddha. It aspires human beings to live in complete harmony with utmost kindness, sincerity and generosity.

Doing so involves training one’s mind to gain complete control over their thoughts and actions. Buddhism preaches to rely upon one’s own inner strength than external factors and it can be done at any moment of time, all a person needs is absolute determination and strong will to transform any situation good or worst. As, if we wait for better time to come on their own, we will never begin to find right motivation to practise Dharma. The greatest purpose of life, as per Lord Buddha was to provide a means of liberation and enlightenment to fellow human beings. And this can be achieved by gaining control over the mind. Explore more about the Path of Buddhism and educate yourself with its simple yet powerful wisdom teachings!

 

Dharamsala

While visiting Dharamshala, it feels like one has visited to a country dwelled by Tibetans. But the soul and the soil are truly welcoming. Located in Western Himachal region, Dharamshala is a prominent name in Buddhist tour to the state, as the home of Dalai Lama and all the Tibetans in exile. It is a well-known centre for studying Buddhism, its sutras, tantras, and major texts related to this. And now it has emerged as one of the major visited sites in Himachal Pradesh attracting scholars, pilgrims and tourists alike.In the upper Dharamshala, Mcleodganj is the actual residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The famous monastery known as Namgyal Gompa has larger than life images of the Buddha, Padmasambhava and Avalokiteshwara along with the golden prayer wheels. In order to understand the culture of residents at Dharamshala, a visit to Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts is a must do activity in the region.The hillside town of Dharamsala, stretches along the Dhauladhar mountain range in the upper reaches of the scenic Kangra district, amidst magnificent deodar, conifer and pine forests, tea gardens and mist-soaked hills. Since 1960, when it became the temporary headquarters of the Dalai Lama, it has been attracting seekers of spiritual enlightenment from all over the world. Dharamsala is divided into two distinct parts - Lower Dharamsala, and Upper Dharamsala with places like McLeod Ganj and Forsyth Ganj, which bear witness to the history of this area. The place is an excellent base for scenic walks and treks into the Dhauladhar range. A cricket stadium of international reputation serves as the home ground to the Himachal Pradesh state cricket team and for other international cricket matches, like the IPL. Because of its natural backdrop, it is one of the most quaint and attractive cricket stadiums in the world. Best time to visit is from March till October.

Lhalung Monastery

Tayul monastery namely Tayul Gompa is assumed as the oldest monastery in the Northern region. The monastery is standing tall in the midst the mighty mountains. It is located at an elevation of 3900 m above the sea level in the Bhaga Valley of Lahaul and Spiti. Satingri village is home to the Tayul Gompa that can be reached by a steep footpath from Upper Keylong.Interesting fables are associated behind the founding of the monastery. Once, Lama Serzang Rinchen of Khan Region in Tibet spotted this monastery when he was walking on and around the sacred Drilburi Peak. While walking on the peak, he spotted a small glade in the juniper forest. He showed the same to his pilgrimages, later he concluded that the place is an auspicious site to build a monastery and decided to name it as 'Tayul' which in Tibetan language means chosen place. Built in 17th century, the monastery is home to the Drugpa or Red Hat Sect of Buddhist monks.In the 18th century, the monastery was renovated by a Ladakhi, Tulku Tashi Tanphel who belonged to the Tagna monastery. He also decorated the monastery with murals. The most vulnerable possession of the monastery is the 12 ft statue of Guru Padmasambhava, besides the famous manifestation of Singhmukha and Vajravahi. There are 108 main wheels as well in the monastery, which keeps on self-turning on auspicious occasions. All the many wheels have an impression of "Aum Mani Padme Hunch." Last time the wheel self rotated was in 1986. There is an enormous collection of 101 Buddhist scriptures, of the "Kangyur" (Buddha's own teachings in their Tibetan translation) in the library of Tayul monastery. The library also has "Thangkas" which depicts about the life of Buddha. Multiples things are there to explore in Tayul Monastery. Embark on a short trip to Tayul monastery and catch the slice of finest Buddhist sculpts and art-works.

Kardang Monastery

It has been 900 years since the Kardang monastery was established in the foothills of the Himalaya. Kardang monastery is one of the oldest possession of Drukpa lineage. The monastery is historical because it is a part of Kardang village which was once the capital of Lahaul.The monastery is located at an elevation 3500 meters above sea level, on the bank of Bhaga River. As per the facts, the monastery was established in the later parts of the 12th century but was completely ruined after a while; later in the 20th century, it was constructed again by 2 lamas- Lama Norbu Rinpoche (died in 1952) and Lama Kunga. The monastery is famous all over the world for its religious significance and alluring architecture. The monastery houses a phenomenal collection of murals, paintings, frescos, Thangka paintings, old weapons and instrumentals like horns, flutes, drums, etc.   Kanrdang monastery is an important educational centre as well. The library of Kardang monastery is a vault which contains some of the finest books belonging to the bygone era. The monastery is stocked with Kangyur and Tangyur books of Buddhist scriptures written in Bhoti language; there are strips of paper on which the sacred mantra 'Om Mani Padme Hum' is written one million times. Every year in the months of June and July, the monastery hosts an annual Chaam dance where monks are dressed in dramatic masks and head gears. An important center of Buddhist, this charming monastery can enlighten the tourist with its architecture and breathtaking surroundings!

Shashur Monastery

Amidst the hilly terrains of the Himalaya rests a small and quaint Buddhist shrine called Shashur Monastery. The literal meaning of "Shahsur" is blue pines; it is completely compliments with the name of the monastery because it is surrounded by the blue pine trees which share shoulders with each other. Shahshur monastery is related to the Gelukpa order or red hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery was founded by the Lama Dewa Tyatsho hailing from Ladakh in the 16th century but its construction was stopped after awhile. Later, the construction of the monastery was restarted by Lama Dewa Gyatsho in the 17th century. It is also believed that Dewa Gyatsho stayed in the monastery till his death.Shashur monastery is perched at an elevation of 600 m above the valley, and one need to pass through hilly terrains and narrow valley to reach the monastery. Built in accordance with the Mandala concept whose basic form is a square having four gates containing a circle with a center, Shahshur monastery is praised all over India for its excellent architecture. The walls of the monastery are decorated with beautiful paintings showing the 84 Siddhas of Buddhism, 5 meter Thangka (beautiful silk painting with embroidery done all over it) and a statue of Namgyal. The monastery is at its best during the month of June and July as an annual festival is organized here. During the annual festival, colorfully dressed and masked monks perform the devil dance widely known as chaam dance. Shahshur monastery is a prominent Tibetan Buddhism learning center as well, which attracts tourist from not only India but across the world.

Kye Monastery

Overlooking Kaza from a height of about 13,500 ft, the Kye monastery is the largest in the valley and holds a powerful sway over the most populous part of the valley around Kaza. The gompa or monastery is an irregular heap of low rooms and narrow corridors on a monolithic conical hill. From a distance it resembles the Thiksey monastery near Leh in Ladakh. The irregular prayer chambers are interconnected by dark passages, tortuous staircases and small doors. Hundreds of lamas receive their religious training in the monastery. It is also known for its beautiful murals, 'thankas', rare manuscripts, stucco images and peculiar wind instruments that form part of the orchestra whenever 'Chham' is enacted in the 'gompa' during summers. Another interesting aspect of the 'gompa' is its collection of weapons, which may have been used to ward off marauders and also to maintain its control over people betraying a church-militant character. Thousands of devotees from all over the world attended the 'Kalachakra' ceremony which was performed in August 2000 by His Holiness Dalai Lama. 'Kalachakra' initiation is not just an elaborate puja or a religious congregation, it is a workshop on a grand scale to make an earnest effort by both the teacher and disciples to awaken their Buddha nature by the combined forces of teaching, prayer, blessing, devotion, mantra, yoga and meditation. It is an effort by every participant to try to discover the true and permanent peace for the sake of all others. The Buddhists believe, mere presence during this elaborate initiation ceremony stretching over a few days liberates the participant from suffering and bestows on him the bliss of enlightenment. The ceremony focuses on five main subjects - cosmology, psycho-physiology, initiation, sadhana and Buddhahood. A 'Kalachakra mandala' and 'Viswatma deitiy' in union with his consort are at the centre of this ceremony guiding the disciple through the tedious process of initiation.

Ladakh

Buddhism in Ladakh is ancient and widespread and a popular theme for cultural tours in Ladakh. The population of Ladakh is predominantly Buddhist and Ladakh has been deeply influenced by Tibetan Buddhism, which follows the Mahayana and Vajrayana schools. In these forms of Buddhism, Buddha is worshipped a deity who has attained Nirvana (freedom from the cycle of birth and death). Various incarnations of Buddha, known as Bodhisattvas, are also worshipped in monasteries. Many tourists undertake trip to Ladakh to explore, understand and learn from the ancient Buddhism which is practiced here. The mythology of Tibetan Buddhism has many tales of various spirits and demons. These representations of both good and evil qualities are depicted in the form of masks and their stories are enacted as masked dances during the annual festivals of various Gompas in Ladakh.Dalai Lama: The Buddhists of Ladakh regard His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as their supreme spiritual leader and as living incarnation of Buddha. The present Dalai Lama, who is the 14 Dalai Lama was originally known as Tenzin Gyatso. As a child he was recognized as an incarnation of the previous Dalai Lama, who had passed away in 1933. Tenzing Gyatso was brought to Lhasa and proclaimed the new spiritual leader of the Tibetan people on Feb 22nd 1940.Due his resistance to the Chinese occupation Tibet, the Dalai Lama became an icon of political as well as spiritual leadership for the Tibetans. The Dalai Lama left Tibet and came to India in March, 1959. Ever since, he has led an international campaign against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. He received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1989 for his leadership of the struggle for the peaceful liberation of Tibet.Some Common Buddhist Terms are: Gompas: A Gompa is a spiritual community where monks or nuns live and practice their religion. Gompas in Ladakh are also educational institutions and play a central role in the life and economy of the local community. Gompas are more than just monasteries and many have museums where tourists can view collections of Buddhist art. The annual festivals in Ladakh are celebration at the Gompas which is a colorful sight with masked dances and religious ceremonies drawing both pilgrims and tourists in large numbers. Chortens and Stupas: Chortens and stupas are dome shaped structures built over a square base. They are usually built in memory of a Buddhist monk or religious teacher. Some stupas may contain relics of holy men. Chortens are often decorated with Buddhist prayer flags and offerings such as oil lamps or flowers etc may be placed around them. Thangka: Thangkas are Buddhist religious paintings that depict episodes from the life of Buddha or various Boddhisatvas. Rich in symbolism and Buddhist imagery, Thangkas are religious artifacts and the art of learning to paint a Thangka is a discipline that requires extensive training. Mandala: A Mandala is a symbolic representation of the Universe according to Buddhist iconography. A colorful design made from sand on the floor of a monastery or painted on a wall or screen, a mandala is believed to have mystical powers that aid in meditation concentration and prayer. Mandalas often depict a palace with four gates, which open to the four principal directions of the Earth. Mandalas are used in the rituals of a monks initiation and are called the 'Architecture of Enlightenment' Mandalas made of sand are usually swept away after a prayer ceremony to symbolize the impermanence of life. The designs of the Mandala follow an ancient tradition and consist of concentric circles and intersecting lines. The process of learning to create a Mandala is part of the training of every Tibetan monk.Central Institute of Buddhist Studies: The Central Institute of Buddhist Studies in Ladakh is the premier for the study of Buddhism in Ladakh. Established in 1959, the institute was created by the combined effort of ten important Gompas of Ladakh. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, extended the support of the Indian Government to this institute of learning. The Institute currently offers courses from primary education to Doctoral Degrees and has 29 Gompas and nunneries affiliated to it. The Central Institute of Buddhist Studies is located in Choglamsar, about 8 kilometers from Leh.

Ambran

Far away from the idyllic mountains of Ladakh which reverberate with Buddhist chants, Nirvana-seekers can now hear the sacred hymns in the city of temples as Jammu will soon get its first Buddhist temple-cum-cultural centre, adding another landmark to the city where thousands of students from the coldest region of the state come for studies. Although work on the cultural centre at Channi Rama was started in 2006-07, so far, only a two-storey building has been completed for which land was provided by the government.  The work got stalled due to shortage of funds arranged by the All Ladakh Gompa Association which has decided to complete the building. When contacted, All Ladakh Gompa Association president Shedup Chamba said the remaining work on the centre would be started soon. “The delay was mainly because of fund shortage. It is a huge building and needs crores of rupees. All the funds are being collected through donations. We want to make it a living relic of a unique Tibetan Buddhist culture being followed in Ladakh region,” said Chamba.  Apart from a ‘gompa’ (Buddhist temple), the centre will have a conference hall, rooms for visitors and an information desk to give people a glimpse of life and religious ceremonies. It will also have a meditation room-cum-library.The building has been given a typical Buddhist prayer hall shape which sets it apart from other structures in the vicinity close to the Jammu-Pathankot national highway.  “For years, our students pursuing studies in Jammu have no place where they can assemble. They had to hire or rent costly hotels or auditoriums in the university to host social events,” said Sonum Dawa, member of the Ladakh Hill Development Council.  Jammu has a centuries-old connection with Buddhism. Around 30 km from the city centre, there is a place called Ambran on the banks of the Chenab river in Akhnoor where archaeologists found ruins of the Kushan period which ruled the state in the eighth century. A gompa and living quarters of monks was found at the site. Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama had visited the ancient Buddhist ruins in December 2012, highlighting its importance.

Dzongkhul

Dzongkhul Monastery or Zongkhul Gompa is located in the Stod Valley of  Zanskar in Jammu and Kashmir in northern India. Like the Sani Monastery, it belongs to the Drukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism.  Dzongkhul has traditionally been home to famous yogins. It is sited near the foot of a wide valley which leads to the pass known as the Umasi-la which joins Zanskar and Kishtwar.Its foundation is attributed to Naropa (956-1041 CE), who was a celebrated Indian Buddhist yogi, mystic and monk from the renowned Vikramshila University in Bihar. He is said to have meditated in one of the two caves around which the gompa is built and the monastery is dedicated to him. His footprint can be seen in the rock near the entrance to the lower cave.   The gompa contains images and thankas of famous Drukpa lamas.  Zhadpa Dorje, a famous painter and scholar created some of the frescoes on the cave walls almost 300 years ago. Impressions of Naropa's ceremonial dagger and staff are also said to be in the rocks in his meditation cave[6] which attracts many pilgrims. Until about the 1960s there were some 20 resident monks, but the numbers have dropped sharply in more recent times. It also contains a rich collection of precious artifacts, such as an ivory image of Samvara, a crystal stupa, and texts containing spiritual songs and biographies. Dzongkhul became a flourishing Kagyu meditation centre under the Zanskari yogi Ngawang Tsering (1717-1794).Dzongkhul is in a south-western side valley of the Bardur River. It is built directly on a rock wall with two caves behind. In front are about 10 stone houses which tend to blend in with the surrounding rocks from a distance. About 10 minutes' walk from the gompa is a high viewing spot similar to the one at Hemis Monastery with a beautiful view from the terrace.

Dhankar Fort And Monastery

This beautiful monastery is locked between the rocky spurs at the top of clif in the Dhankar village at an elevation of over 3,800 meters in the Spiti valley. It is a 16th century old fort monastery, which has also served as a prison in the erstwhile era. The Dhankar Gomba is over 1000 years old and is connected to the rest of the valley through a Motorable road, which is good for small vehicle only. There is a new monastery in the small village of Shichilling below the old monastery. The old monastery is associated with the Great Translator, Rinchen Zanggpo, and its complex comprises a number of multi-storey buildings perched together.The fort of Dhankar now lies in ruins, but still is a place worthy of a visit. From the remnants of the fort one can see vast expanses of the Spiti valley. It is also of art and historical importance. Founded between 7th and the 9th Centuries, Dhankar's old temple complex occupies the southern part of the steep mountain slope of the village. It is known by the name of Lha-O-pa Gompa (monastery of the followers of Lha-O). The monastery consists of a number of multistoried buildings perched together, giving a fortress like impression. There are five different halls including Kanjur, Lhakhang, and Dukhang where a life size silver statue of Vajradhara, the Diamond Being, is placed in a glass altar embellished with scarves and flowers. Most interesting at the Lha-O-pa gompa is the small chapel on the uppermost peak above the main monastery - Lhakhang Gongma. The building is decorated with depictions of Shakyamuni, Tsongkhapa and Lama Chodrag on the central wall. Dhankar's main attraction, although least publicised, is a fresh water lake about 2.5 km from the village at a height of 13500 ft. Set amidst lush green pastures, the lake offers an idyllic camping site. Some boating facilities are proposed to be introduced in the near future. Under the Desert Development Project of Spiti the common carp variety of fish has been introduced in this lake. No angling is however, allowed in the lake. There is no rest house in the village. If you plan to halt for night, do carry tents, sleeping bags and other provisions.

Mindrolling Monastery

One of the six monasteries of the Nyingma school of Buddhism, Mindrolling Monastery, was built in 1965 by Khochhen Rinpoche. Located at a distance of 10 km from the Clement Town, Mindrolling Monastery offers an amazing view of the neighboring town. The monastery was built to renew the Mindrolling Monastery in India. Everything about the monastery is simply grand: at over 60m tall its Great Stupa is believed to be one of the world’s tallest stupa and contains a series of shrine rooms displaying relics, murals, and Tibetan art. Impressive 35 m high gold Sakyamuni Buddha Statue, dedicated to Dalai Lama, is presiding over the monastery. Few years after its formation, Mindrolling Monastery started expanding and today it is the largest Buddhist center in the world. All the masters, teachers, and followers of Nyingma lineage consider Mindrolling monastery as an inspiring example of the practice of profound Dharma of Vajrayana Buddhism.Nagyur Nyingma College, one of the largest Buddhist Institute, is also a part of the Mindrolling monastery. This state-of-the-art institute trains monks to preserve the unbroken lineage of teachings and passes them on to the next generation of practitioners. Presently, the Mindrolling organization provides education to over 300 monks, starting from primary, secondary education till research. Mindrolling organization features a well stock library and retreat center, a branch of for nuns and western retreatants who are responsible for preserving the Jetsunma line.One can see some of the most magnificent examples of Buddhist art in the interiors and exteriors of the Mindrolling Monastery. There is a huge stupa, surrounded by large prayer wheels. Also, there is a Buddha Garden where one can see huge standing Buddha keeps a watchful eye, surrounded by a fence holding dozens more large prayer wheels. Adjacent to Mindrolling Monastery is a Tibetan Refuge Colony of Clement Town, featuring healthcare clinics, residential area, dairy, shopping complex and dormitories of young monks. A visit to this Mindrolling Monastery is rejuvenating and enthralling, which one should experience at least once in life. 

Bhutia Busty Monastery

At a distance of 2 km from Darjeeling Railway Station, Bhutia Busty Monastery or Karmaa Dorjee Cheoling Monastery is a Buddhist monastery located in Bhutia Busty area of Darjeeling, West Bengal. It is one of the popular and oldest Buddhist monasteries in Darjeeling and among the top places to visit in Darjeeling.This monastery was earlier located in Observatory Hill where the Mahakal Temple stands today. It was originally built there by the Lama Dorje Rinzing in 1761 CE. According to history, the monastery was completely ravaged during Gorkha invasion in 1851 CE and was rebuilt in 1861 CE. But due to many disturbances, it had to be shifted to its present location in the year 1879. However, the monastery in the new location was also destroyed by an earthquake in 1934 CE, after which it was restored and reconstructed by the King of Sikkim. The present structure is stunning and has been built in a traditional Tibetan style with Sikkimese influence. The monastery belongs to the Red Sect of Buddhists and has links with the Kagyu and Nyingma orders of Tibetan Buddhism. The main prayer room inside the monastery has a model of Buddha in a glass case and photos of His Holiness Dalai Lama. There are also the images of Tara Devi and Lakshmiswari who is a goddess with thousand hands and eyes. On the other side of the prayer room there is a large image showing Buddha's life story.Set against the mighty Kanchenjunga, Bhutia Busty Gompa is home to stunning murals that depict the life and journey of Buddha. The monastery has a huge library, which has collections of many Tibetan and Buddhist books. One can have a glimpse of the Tibetan life and culture from these books. Travellers can also have a look at the original copy of the 'The Tibetan Book of the Dead' at the library. Photography is completely banned inside the monastery.

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