The Kalachakra Tantra Raja Abhishek, an auspicious
Buddhist ceremony, is celebrated every alternate year in various
Buddhist centres in India or abroad. It is one of the holiest
presided over by high ranking priests of the sect.
July 1994 was almost a
landmark in the history of Jispa a desolate hamlet in the cold desert
of Lahaul. It was unbelievable that celebrations on such a large
scale could have taken place in this far and difficult to reach
highland. His holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama addressed the
massive congregation of more than 50,000 devotees of the faith, who
had arrived from far and wide.
The word Kalachakra
means cycles of time. The Kalachakra Tantra is a
profound Buddhist system of teaching and practice which encompasses
three aspects : Outer Kalachakra the external environment, the
universe and its cycles of arising and disintegrating, and our world
system and its cycles of sun, moon, and planets ; Inner Kalachakra
the sentient beings living in the universe, and the cycles of sun,
moon, and planets ; Inner Kalachakra the sentient beings
living in the universe, and the cycles of death and birth and
internal flows of breath and energy ; and Alternative Kalachakra
the practice of purification undertaken by an individual so that
ordinary death, birth and manifestation on both an individual and
universal level, which are usually uncontrollably subject to the
passage of time, become purified into the fully enlightened state of
The Kalachakra Tantra has
particular relevance for our world system. The Tantra was taught by
the Buddha in India, two and a half thousand years ago at the request
of the King of Shambhala, a place variously viewed as having been an
actual historical kingdom which existed beyond the Himalayas, or as a
pureland existing on another planet, not generally accessible, but
nonetheless strongly connected to our world.
All Buddhist teachings
are based on the Four Noble Truths the recognition that every
sentient being experiences suffering, the understanding of the causes
of this suffering, the recognition that if the causes are removed
there will be an end to the suffering, and the practical methods by
which to achieve liberation from suffering, or full enlightement or
Buddhahood. Within the Buddhist Tantras, the practice of Highest
Yoga Tantra leads to perfect Buddhahood. The Kalachakra Tantra is a
Highest Yoga Tantra, and as such is said to epitomize the apex of
Looking out over the huge
open space all around we were told that devout Buddhists came to
Jispa village in streams, numbering anywhere from fifty to sixty
thousand to participate in the Kalachakra Tantra Abhishek. The
administration of Lahaul and Spiti district had lined up all civic
amenities, medical assistance, transport facilities, law and order
machinery and every other arrangement essential for such a
The barren slopes all
around were dotted with tents where most pilgrims stayed. And for
food, it was not only the community kitchens run by the religious
sects, local administration and various monasteries but also the
people at large of Lahaul and Spiti volunteered to cater to the
guests. It was an open door affair for the local inhabitants
of Jispa and nearby villages, so informed the village Pradhan
(headman), Karma Choltan Tandor, Rather we were so
overwhelmed by this opportunity to participate in such a holy
celebration and serve our brethren from far and wide, that we started
making preparations months ahead, like stocking rations, fuel,
utensils, beddings and much else ; sprucing up the houses, farms and
the interiors of our houses on the whole.
His enthusiasm seemed to
be still at its very pitch as he started showing us around the place
where tents were pitched for the devotees and the huge grounds in
front of the monastery. The hills behind still supported a pole or
two carrying the colourful flags, a solitary reminder to the still
unbelievable massive event that brought a sea of humanity to this
serene valley and with it was brought a message of love, peace and
harmony to mankind.
Village Jispa is located
in Lahaul in Himachal Pradesh. Situated at a height of 11,000 ft.,
on the Manali-Leh road, it is 25 km from Keylong, the district
headquarters of Lahul and Spiti. Surrounded by snowclad mountains,
Jispa is a quiet, thinly populated village.
The arid mountainous
region of Lahaul is endowed with enough rain to cultivate lush green
terraced fields to grow peas, potatoes and hops for making beer.
Lahaul is known for its super quality potatoes.
The landscape is splendid
with coniferous hillsides that give way to poplars and sprawling
patches of wild flowers. The view of snow clad peaks from Rohtang
Pass is spectacular. All vehicles stop for an overnight halt at
About 80 percent of the
population is Buddhist. Amongst the major monasteries known as
gompas are Avalokiteshvara at Triloknath, Shashur Tayal, Guru
Ghantal, Kardang near Keylong, Gemur near Jispa and Tabo ki in Spiti.
Tabo monastery is stated to be the oldest. Its 1000th
anniversary and Kalachakra ceremony were celebrated with much
fanfare in 1996.
There is an air service
from Delhi to Kullu. The airport is located at Bhunter. Private
taxis and Himachal Tourism deluxe buses are available for Manali.
Package tours are also offered from Delhi to Manali to Leh via
Lehaul. Private tourist services also offer tours from Kullu, Manali
to Lahaul with halts at two or three destinations including Jispa.
The route is open from June to September.
available at the HPTDC Tourist Bungalow. Hotel Dekyd, PWD and State
Electricity Board Guest House provide facilities to officials. There
is a camp site too at Jispa, as also a mountaineering institute. One
can make bookings at HPTDC Bungalow through Himachal Tourism office