Himalayan Nyingmapa Tibetan Buddhist Monastery, Manali

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। बुद्धं शरणं गच्छामि । धर्मं शरणं गच्छामि । संघं शरणं गच्छामि ।

Buddham Saranam Gacchami  | 
Dhammam Saranam Gacchami  | 
Sangham Saranam Gacchami  |

Sakyamuni | Buddha

This post is from the #TravelMemories , a trip to Manali – Rohtang – Solang some 7-8 years back. While going through my travel folder I chanced upon these photos and I was flooded with memories. I looked up the place on the net and found that there is hardly any detailed information about this monastery. There is only a mention under #MustSeeInManali #ThingsToDoInManali with basic one or two line about the place. Now I was doubly sure of the subject of my next post.

I have tried my best to make this post informative. If there is any err please do not hesitate to share so that it can be corrected. Please ensure what you share as correction is actually right.

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An overnight drive reached us to our destination sometime in the morning. After a shower and hearty lunch a friend & I decided to walk down to the Manali Mall Road market close by.  Hubby dear and the rest had decided to stay back and do their own thing.

While walking through the hustle and bustle of the market I noticed the Buddhist prayer flag. On going closer we realized it was a Buddhist monastery. We decided to go in and this decision was a good one.

OUTSIDE PREMISE, FACADE & MAIN ENTRANCE OF THE SHRINE

Prayer flag with mantras inscribed

A neat and simple building with modern touches which makes it different from the traditional Tibetan Style of architecture. It stands in center of a small park surrounded by residential and commercial buildings. Like “peace amidst the chaos“. Built in 1957 the structure of the monastery is in Pagoda style with yellow colored top.

The first look of the monastery near Mall Road Manali

Like many other Tibetan Buddhist temples/ monasteries, the pagoda of the Himalayan Nyingmapa Buddhist Temple is also painted a bright shade of yellow. Do notice the Buddhist deer symbol along with the Dharma wheel on roof of Himalaya Nyinmapa Buddhist Temple.

Trivia on deer symbolism in Buddhism:  “…….It symbolizes harmony, happiness, peace and longevity. When a male and a female deer are represented together beside a Dharma wheel it is a direct allusion to the first teachings of Buddha near Varanasi. In one of his past lives Buddha was a golden deer that spoke to men. Also according to Buddhism, deer are by nature timid & serene and their presence in a place represents the purity of the place where fear does not dwell. There are also Tibetan legends in which deer help men solve problems……”

Top view of the outside facade of the main shrine

The symbolic stupa or chorten near the mail shrine building. “……The shape of the stupa represents the Buddha, crowned and sitting in meditation posture on a lion throne. His crown is the top of the spire; his head is the square at the spire’s base; his body is the vase shape; his legs are the four steps of the lower terrace; and the base is his throne…….” There are eight different kinds of stupas in Tibetan Buddhism, each referring to major events in the Buddha’s life

Symbolic stupa seen on the monastery ground

The entrance of the main shrine is colorful with lots of Buddhist symbolic flat murals and dragon sculptures. Buddhist temples usually have outer gates and inner gates protected by statues or paintings of beasts, fierce gods and / or warriors that ward off evil spirits.

The colorful and decorative entrance to the main shrine

The principle colors in Buddhism are blue, black, white, red, green, and yellow, and each color except for black are aligned to a specific Buddha. The combination of these five colors symbolizes that it is the one and only Truth. These colors each signify a virtue and a character. The main color concept that exists in Buddhism is that of the rainbow body which is considered the “penultimate transitional state of meditation in which matter begins to be transformed into pure light.”

Another view of the entrance (from inside, out)

BUDDHIST PRAYER OR MANI WHEEL & MANTRA

I remember two of them; one as row installation around the main shrine and another a huge one in a room next to the shrine. There maybe more but this is what I can recollect.

The main shrine is encircled by a passage where there is a row installation of prayer wheels. One has to circle the shrine clockwise and turn the wheels as they walk. Turning or spinning the Buddhist prayer wheels is considered so powerful that, it is compared with the power of one hundred monks praying for the whole life.

Prayer wheels row installation around the main shrine

Buddhist mantra Auṃ Maṇi Padme Hūṃ ओं मणिपद्मे हूं is inscribed on the Mani wheel or Prayer wheel which is an integral part of Buddhism & Tibetan tradition. “…The concept of the prayer wheel is a physical manifestation of the phrase “turning the wheel of Dharma,” which describes the way in which the Buddha taught…” At the core of the cylinder is a “Life Tree” often made of wood or metal with certain mantras written on or wrapped around it. 

Massive Mani wheel in the room adjacent to the main shrine

Aum/Om is a sacred syllable found in Indian religions,
Mani means “jewel” or “bead”,
Padme is the “lotus flower” (the Buddhist sacred flower),
Hum represents the spirit of enlightenment.

Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written in Newari language of Nepal or Sanskrit and auspicious Buddhist symbols are inscribed on the outside of the wheel.

INSIDE THE SHRINE

When you walk into the shrine you are bound to be awestruck by the huge and beautiful idol of Buddha in golden, saffron and blue color. He is in the meditation posture (Dhyanasana) and holding a begging bowl in his left hand. The right hand touches the ground  in a mudra called Bhumisparsa or “calling the earth to witness” his inexorable path to enlightenment.

The two storey tall Buddha in a meditative pose
As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are.
Otherwise you will miss most of your life.
Buddha
Buddha in sacred colors of golden. orange and blue

His two favorite students flank him on his right and left side. Here am sharing just one photo as both are similar.

One of the two students seen next to the main statue of Buddha

SOME IMPORTANT FIGURINES INSIDE THE SHRINE

Padmasambhava, Pema Jugne also known as Guru Rinpoche, was an 8th-century Buddhist master. Padmasambhava is venerated as the “second Buddha” by the Nyingma school, the oldest Buddhist school in Tibet. He had helped construct the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet. In Tibetan Buddhism, Padmasambhava is credited with hiding spiritual lessons or revelations called terma.

Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche

In Tibetan and Japanese Buddhism, Hayagrīva (“having the neck of a horse”) is an important deity who originated as a yaksha attendant of Avalokiteśvara. He is identified as a Wisdom King or Vajrakilaya in Vajrayana Buddhism. He embodies the enlightened activity of all the buddhas and whose practice is famous for being the most powerful for removing obstacles, destroying the forces hostile to compassion and purifying the spiritual pollution so prevalent in this age.

Hayagriva or Vajrakilaya

Avalokiteshvara is the Bodhisattva of compassion. Bodhisattvas (Buddha-to-be) are enlightened beings who out of compassion don’t go into Nirvana, but instead stay back and help others to find salvation. The Dalai Lama is regarded as a manifestation of Avalokithesvara. At times the eleven headed Avalokiteshvara is represented with thousands of arms, which rise like the outspread tail of a peacock around him. In painting he is usually shown white in color (in Nepal he is red). His female consort is goddess Tara. In China he is worshiped in a female form, Guan Yin or Kuan Yin. The Buddhist mantraOm Mani Padme Huṃ‘ is said to be created by him.

Avalokiteshwara

Manjushri is the bodhisattva of  prajna or insight (wisdom) and literature in Mahāyāna Buddhism. In Tibetan Buddhism, he is also a yidam. The yidam represents awakening and in Vajrayana, he is an enlightened Buddha. He is also one of the three Bodhisattvas, along with Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani.

The three represent three critical concepts or virtues of the Buddha
Manjushri: wisdom and insight (prajna)
Avalokiteshvara: compassion and love (metta)
Vajrapani or Vajrakilaya: power and strength and protection

Manjushri

ROOM ADJACENT TO THE SHRINE

There is a room next to the main shrine that has a huge Mani wheel (photo shared above in the post), Bhavacakra and colorful wall paintings depicting Buddhas, bodhisattvas and other entities like notable Buddhist figures, both historical & mythical and narrative scenes from their lives. The painting of Buddha and Buddhist figures is subject to strict formal rules. One of the paintings on the wall is of Mahaparanirvana or Death of Buddha (Bottom – Right)

Some of the wall paintings

The Buddhist Wheel of Life (bhavacakra) is a symbolic representation of cyclic existence. It is usually found on the outside walls of Tibetan Buddhist temples and monasteries in the Indo-Tibetan region. This pictorial diagram presents basic Buddhist concepts such as karma and rebirth in a manner that can be understood by uneducated or illiterate people. The wheel is held by a devilish figure who represents impermanence symbolizing that the entire process of cyclic existence is impermanent, transient, constantly changing.

The Buddhism Wheel of Life (center photo if from the monastery)

The meaning of the layers in the wheel of life are:

  • The images in the hub of the wheel represent the three poisons of ignorance, attachment and aversion represented by a pig, a snake and a bird
  • The second layer represents karma
  • The third layer represents the six realms of cyclic existence
  • The fourth layer represents the twelve links of dependent origination
  • The fierce figure holding the wheel represents impermanence
  • The moon above the wheel represents liberation from cyclic existence
  • The Buddha pointing to the moon indicates that liberation is possible

We paid our reverence and came back excited with all the we saw but the rest missed. I am sure things must have changed / developed over the years in the monastery but I hope the post helps people understand the monastery in a better way,

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One of the rocks with Buddha painting found lying in the premises.

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle,
and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being shared
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Buddha

Sharing some AV on Buddhist mantra and chant below:

Sharing a zen doodle of Buddha that I had done in July 2018 . It’s a very humble attempt and I know there is lack of finesse. For me the act of doodling is a beautiful journey of peace and happiness.

Zen Doodled in 2018 —- Buddha

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HAPPY  TRAVELLING!
Monika Ohson | TravelerInMe

This published post is also being shared on:

#WordlessWednesday hosted by Natasha & Esha
and some more Sue ,  Betty  , Zina 

46 responses »

  1. Stumbling upon old pictures, watching photo albums, talking to those cousins for whom we hardly had time before…till 3 months back we hardly had time for all this.The whole world was in a hurry,now life has come back in a full circle.Indians are alive without house helpers!

    Beautiful colourful pictures Monika. Buddhism always attracts me. Jatak Kathayei was my subject of Ph.D. In these tales Buddha has always been depicted as deer. I so much wish to visit a monastery and your post just gave me a tour!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This phase we all are sailing in 2020 is a boon in some ways IF we choose to make it so. Humans have been given time to slow down and reconnect with themselves and nature too.

      Jataka Tales are stories from Buddhism, yes. You had such an interesting subject for PhD….. how did you decide on it? Isn’t it an unusual choice?

      I hope you visit one soon and for the time being I am so happy this post took you through one virtually 💙💜💙💜

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was more interested in modern world history, but professor suggested this topic. I found it challenging, so started working on it. Unfortunately due to personal issues after finishing almost 3/4 thesis, could not finish the rest.
        Theek hai, jo hua so hua… ab kya sochna. Ab jo hai, bahut achha hai. Today Apoorva got her 12th std result. Got 94 marks in three subjects of humanities. What else one can ask for 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wow!!! Congratulations 🎉 Apoorva. Well done 👌 abhi to party shuru hui hai. College admissions are delayed this time, right?

        Whatever happens happens for some good which we don’t probably understand. But yes it was an interesting subject.✨

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you very much Monika 😊
        This year admission process got over before results. Probably there was a lot uncertainty about pending exams. So colleges conducted online exams and interviews and based on that Apoorva got admission. So a lot relief now after the result.
        The only question is if this year any academic session will happen?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing place and amazing post! The photos are very beautiful. A world of symbols. I like symbols but to understand their essence is difficult. I red about the power of mantra OM. In one of my post I put this:

    I like your ‘zen doodle’. It’s a lovely way of meditation…
    Thank you, Monika! It was a pleasure reading you.
    All the best and Happy Today! 🙂
    Wishing you a fine weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A very, very interesting article about something I have never had the opportunity to read. Being supported by many wonderful photos, it was easy for me to understand and I really liked what I read. Buddhist philosophy seems to be a philosophy of peace, both within man and between people.
    Thank you for sharing with us and I will share with others!

    Have a great day, Monika!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That was on detailed and informative commentary dear Monika.

    Awe-inspired by how you have delved into every minute aspect and figures. Extremely informative post indeed.

    Always fascinated by Dalai Lama’s Buddhism. Though I practise Soka Gakkai Buddhism.
    Have visited plenty of monasteries in the past.
    Buddhism is a compassionate practise that teaches us to value every life. I’m so glad I’m part of it.

    Fabulous pictures and narrative, Monika.
    Thanks for lining up with us on #WW.

    Have a serene weekend! 💙

    Like

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