In the summer of 2008, I followed a group of Tibetan protestors in Kathmandu throughout their entire day - preparing banners, moving from their dwelling site to the protest site surreptitiously (Nepal police were expecting protests, so Tibetans in large groups were likely to be waylaid), and rehearsing nonviolent protest techniques.
Previous protests had involved struggle - the shouting demonstrators would approach the Chinese embassy or consulate and refuse to move. Most of the photos I (and so many other photographers) got were the same day after day - lots of pushing, pulling and gnashing of teeth. Though I very much supported the demonstrators, I felt it was becoming predictable, and righteous anger is difficult to sustain day after day, for several hours, on an organized basis.
Protestors included Tibetan laypersons, always some monks, and usually a few nuns.
One day, there was an unusual number of nuns involved. That day, the technique changed. The nuns just lay down on the pavement, shrouding themselves with Tibetan Snow Lion flags. It was so unexpected, even the police started laughing. Their gentle prostration turned everyone's expectations on their heads.
These nuns were so sweet, shy, and humble. I reflected on their daily lives in the Tibetan Buddhist world. They don't get many of the privileges afforded to the monks, and their education is often just learning to recite and memorize scripture without the higher teachings of philosophy. Several projects (Kopan Monastery for Nuns in Nepal, and Tenzin Palmo's Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in north India) have begun to redress this situation, all with the blessings of HH the Dalai Lama.
In Tibetan tradition, Dakini (Tibetan Khandro) is a female embodiment of enlightened energy. Some Dakinis are full-fledged deities, but others are semi-divine and wear human bodies."The outer-outer dakini is a dakini in human form. She is a yogini, or Tantric practitioner in her own right." With or without the 'higher' philosophical teachings, the nuns naturally embodied the Enlightened Female Energy - Dakinis of Peace.
Please copy this photo and share it anywhere you like (just don't charge money for it). Because my computer crashed shortly thereafter, this is the largest file I have for it, and it's too small to sell commercially. But when you look at it, see the Dakinis flying.
Related reading: .
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.