Buddhist, Hindus and Bonpo faithful consider Mt. Kailash as their sacred land. The mountain is known as the throne of “Shiva”, a powerful God in Hindu mythology. Buddhist considers it as Kang Rinpoche, the precious Snow Mountain. Devotee of Jain religion considers the peak as Mount Ashtpada. Rishabanatha, founder of Jain faith, believed that he gained spiritual liberation on the summit of Mt.Kailash. Bon-po, pre Buddhist religion in Tibet, believes that this is the ‘Nine storey Swastika Mountain’ that lead to the heaven.Mount Kailash ( Tibetan: Kang Rinpoche) is a sacred mountain in the far west of Tibet. Hindus regard the peak as Shiva’s symbolic ‘Lingam’and worship Mt Kailash, which is the Sanskrit name for the mountain. Bonpos believe the sacred mountain to be the place where the founder of the Bon religion landed when he descended from the sky. Tibetan Buddhists believe Kang Rinpoche, which means Precious Snow Mountain, is a natural mandala representing the Buddhist cosmology on the earth and the Jains believe this is the place where their religion’s founder was spiritually awakened.
A great mass of black rock soaring to over 22,000 feet, Mt. Kailash has the unique distinction of being the world’s most venerated holy place at the same time that it is the least visited. The supremely sacred site of four religions and billions of people, Kailash is seen by no more than a few thousand pilgrims each year. This curious fact is explained by the mountain’s remote location in far western Tibet. No planes, trains or buses journey anywhere near the region and even with rugged over-land vehicles the journey still requires weeks of difficult, often dangerous travel. The weather, always cold, can be unexpectedly treacherous and pilgrims must carry all the supplies they will need for the entire journey. How long have people been coming to this sacred mountain? The answers are lost in antiquity, before the dawn of Hinduism, Jainism or Buddhism. The cosmologies and origin myths of each of these religions speak of Kailash as the mythical Mt. Meru, the Axis Mundi, the center and birth place of the entire world. The mountain was already legendary before the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, were written. Indeed, Kailash is so deeply embedded in the myths of ancient Asia that it was perhaps a sacred place of another era, another civilization, now long gone and forgotten. It is said that the actual Mt. Kailas is located near the land of Shambala. It is not possible to go there without spiritual, psychic powers. The present so-called Mt. Kailas in Tibet is linked with the history of the Ramayana. In order to revive the dead and injured soldiers of Prince Rama (who were fighting the Raksasa army of Ravana in Lanka), Hanuman (the mighty monkey ally of Rama) was sent to fetch from Mt. Kailas the sanjiwini medicinal herb which restores life. Unable to recognise the plant, Hanuman picked up the mountain and brought in to Lanka. When the herbs were collected, Hanuman is said to have tossed the mountain back in the direction of the Himalayan range, intending to restore it to its original place. But, since it was tossed from a great distance, it landed lopsidedly and some of the snow dropped into Tibet. This is now called Tise (Mt. Kailas). From the Hindu devotional point of view, Mt. Kailas is the worshipful abode of the god Shiva. For Buddhists it is the place of Chakrasamvara(Tibetan: Demchog). There is also the story related about the contest between Milarepa and the Bonpo priest over the legitimate ownership of pilgrimage rights to Mt. Kailas. The contestants agreed that the one who first reached the summit of the mountain in the morning would be recognised as the legitimate lord of Kailas. At dawn on the morning of the contest, the Bonpo priest (Naro Bon-chung) started his journey to the summit riding on his ritual drum and beating it all the while. Milarepa waited until sunrise and rode in a flash on the rays of the sun to the summit, beating the Bonpo there. When Milarepa looked down and the surprised Bonpo looked up and saw him, so disconcerted and shocked was he that he dropped his drum and it broke in two and fell. It is said that the marks made from the falling pieces of the drum can still be seen on the mountain. There is also the story of Lake Manasarovar. It is related that Cakravarti raja Nug Bam was preparing cooked rice to feed the entire world. The strained hot water from this rice cooled and became Lake Manasarovar.
For Tibetans, pilgrimage refers to the journey from ignorance to enlightenment, from self-centeredness and materialistic preoccupations to a deep sense of the relativity and interconnectedness of all life. The Tibetan word for pilgrimage, neykhor, means “to circle around a sacred place,” for the goal of pilgrimage is less to reach a particular destination than to transcend through inspired travel the attachments and habits of inattention that restrict awareness of a larger reality……..By traveling to sacred sites, Tibetans are brought into living contact with the icons and energies of Tantric Buddhism. The neys, or sacred sites themselves, through their geological features and the narratives of transformation attached to them, continually remind pilgrims of the liberating power of the Tantric Buddhist tradition…….Over time pilgrimage guidebooks were written, giving instructions to pilgrims visiting the holy sites and accounts of their history and significance. These guidebooks, neyigs, empowered Tibet and its people with a sacred geography, a narrated vision of the world ordered and transformed through Buddhist magic and metaphysics. Sichuan Oprea Are we alone?