Kalachakra Intiation, Day 8 Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh
It's a DalaiLama-Rama!
Too bad there are only three days left of this amazing event. There is so much going on you would need to bi-locate (the way the Lord Buddha evidently did to deliver the original Kalachakra sermon) in order to cover half of it.
The Tibetan equivalent of Woodstock has been taking place every night for the past 3 nights here, with about 30,000 in attendance so far - the largest Tibetan music event ever. All Tibetan artists, traditional and pop, from 7 to 11pm every night. The young Tibetan generation impress me with their simultaneous fascination for hip-hop, rock and Hindi movies, yet total reverence for the Dalai Lama and their traditions. Usually what happens in such situations is that the kids want to run away from the past completely and dis the religion as well. The Tibetan kids, at least the ones who are here, seem keenly aware of their responsibility to maintain their culture. Some, like my new friend Sangye (whose favourite band is the Black Eyed Peas), express a desire to succeed here in India (the regional land of opportunity) and then return, they hope, to an autonomous Tibet some day in order to help their people.
The Amaravati museum, containing sculptural friezes of the 200 AD MahaStupa, is chock full of Tibetans praying to the Buddhist relics as well as local Telugu folks who are just now learning about the Buddhist heritage of their homeland. Many Indian families took the opportunity to combine the historical event with a family outing. It was great to see the locals mingling with westerners and Tibetans, everyone appreciating the beautiful sculpture depicting scenes from the life of Buddha (first sermon at Sarnath, escape from the palace, and so on). Though the signs forbid it, Tibetans run their fingers lovingly over the ancient stones - carved into lotus flowers, dharma wheels, and various depictions of the Buddha - sometimes bowing reverently to place their head at the base of the pedestal. Everyone, Tibetan, Hindu and western, bowed to the sculpture representing the Buddha's feet. Telugu ladies expressed curiosity at the Tibetan ladies' intricate braided hair designs - often interwoven with colourful ribbons and elaborate silver ornaments.
Everywhere I go, I am confronted by local Indians keen to know about the event, the Dalai Lama and the significance of this juggernaut that has hit their hometown. They are full of questions: Who is the Dalai Lama? When can we see him speak? Where is the preaching place anyway? Does it cost money to meet the Dalai Lama? Why doesn't the Chinese government like him? Who is the Panchen Lama? Does Tibet have modern facilities like engineering and medical colleges? What is the meaning of the deep-voiced chants the monks are constantly singing? When can we view the mandala? Why are you carrying this piece of kusha grass? Does he speak only in Tibetan? Can we meet him and consult with him? What is the meaning of this puja and the meaning of Buddhism? These were all literate, educated people with vigorous curiosity about the goings-on. It seems the local Telugu papers' information had been scanty and sometimes inaccurate.
Other locals expressed appreciation for what little they knew of His Holiness - that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize, and that "everything he is doing is only for world peace."
Sirensongs: Indologist At Large
Somewhere between Kangra, Kashmir and Kumbakonam, India
Sirensongs moved to India in 2002 to complete her six years' study of the ancient temple dance, Bharatanatyam. Apprenticing with a revered master in Madras, she learned a great deal; however, most of it was not about dance.
Disillusionment and childhood memories of "Tintin In Tibet" have led her to adventures as a spiritual investigative reporter throughout India, Nepal and Sri Lanka; as documented on this blogsite, her Flickr photo portfolio and various newsmedia (see sidebar).
She holds a certificate in Spoken Sanskrit from Rashtriya Samskrta Samsthan (deemed university, New Delhi) and is a lifetime member of ABHAI (Assoc. of Bharatanatyam Artists of India). Sirensongs is inordinately proud of her ability to read street signs and argue (successfully) with taxi drivers in Malayalam, Hindi, French and Nepali languages.
Her Tibetan, however, is still a total disgrace. She's working on it.
Quote: "Why do people go to India to find themselves? India is where you go to LOSE yourself."
Unless otherwise noted, every word and photograph on this website, including the phrases "Spiritual Investigative Reporter" and "Indologist at Large," is original and copyright from 2005 into perpetuity by Sirensongs (yes, I have a real name I use for legal purposes). It is not public domain. It is not there for the borrowing. If you would like to use it, write and ask nicely. Karma is a bitch. Thank you.