Sunday, August 21, 2016

Rounding up

My return to Kailash is over and done with, but my research project around it is only getting started! I'd initially thought to try to find out how encounters with pilgrims/travelers from different traditions shaped people's views of the sacredness of the mountain, but I have no language in common with most of these travelers, and am too shy to chat people up anyway. Instead, I undertook to study some of the videos travelers make of their trip, at least some of which are in languages I know. I started today with some videos which turned out to have been edited by touring companies for specific groups - all aimed at Hindu pilgrims (the vast majority of non-Tibetans). It was fun to revisit the route we traversed three years ago, and to see places now familiar in different
seasons. I also saw things I didn't get to see, since they're part of what's called the "inner kora," closed to anyone who hasn't done the "outer" circumambulation thirteen times. But that's for ordinary Buddhists and Hindus! A turbo-charged Hindu group in 2012 (most from California) did the inner kora before even embarking on the outer. Indeed, the narration explained in a clever inversion, one turn around Nandi (part of the "inner kora") counts as thirteen of the outer! These lucky yatris also got to visit the cave in Kailash's south face where, Nepali astrologers (sic!) say, seven Vedic rishis meditated: below you see all of them, happily subordinate to Lord Shiva, master of the mount. Inner and outer, multiplicity and supremacy, and stories galore: much to explore!

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