Tibetan Buddhism Culture – the Carved Stone (part 1)

As a hot travel destination, Tibet has the stunning natural landscape and unique national culture. Tibetan Buddhism is an important aspect of this distinct culture because it’s integrated into Tibetans’ daily life and affect their behavior for centuries. I have written about two symbols of Tibetan Buddhism, Tangka and Prayer Flag, today I am going to introduce another one – the Carved Stone. Hope will help visitors to enhance the experience of Tibet Tours.

A holy Tibetan Mani Stone Mound 


Background
Dated back to the 7th century, Buddhism entered Tibet after crossed the border of China and Nepal. At that time, Tibet was far from the center of China, and kind of closing itself due to the bad natural conditions. When Tibetans touched this religion, they found out a mental support like a man grabbed a lifeline when he was nearly drowned. Tibetan people were eager to learn Buddhism and believe in it. “A single spark can start a prairie fire”. Buddhism was developing quickly on the Tibet plateau and had some changes of Tibetan features. Finally, the Tibetan Buddhism was born in the 8th century and got most followers than other religion in Tibet. Tibetan people could not live without Buddhism. But because of the bad geography situations, not all the people can go to monasteries to pray, thus, the carved stones were made out to handle this case. People carved scripts on the stone for worship and passed this tradition generation by generation. When you travel to Tibet today, you can see such stones everywhere, sometimes in a large quantity in the remote area.

The Tibetan Mani Stone with Mantra


What is Tibetan Stone Carving
Mostly, the Tibetan people carve a Sanskrit mantra on the stone, “ मणि पद्मे हूँ”, translated in English is “Om Mani Padme Hum”, which is the most honored mantra literally means “the Jewels of the Lotus Lake”. “Mani” means “jewel”, in legends, this jewel comes from the head of Dragon King. The people who owned this jewel could gain power and get all the treasures in the world, no matter in the deepest ocean or on the highest mountain. “Padme” literally means lotus, which is known as the purest flower on earth according to Buddhism; in fact, it implies to Buddha, because Buddha is not emotional like human beings but as pure as Lotus. “Hum” means praying to achieve enlightenment. So, the total meaning of this mantra is to get enlightened with the help of Buddha, and live happily ever after. Tibetan people believe they will reduce pain and fear of illness or death by speaking this mantra frequently. That’s why you can see them murmuring mantra while shaking the prayer-wheel in every corner of Tibet. Besides, in Tibetan people’s opinion, the stones with this mantra have the power to protect them from bad things.

A Tibetan Mani Stone Mound with A Head Bone of Yak


With the development of skills, you can also find some stones carved with images of animals or Buddha. People call the stones with the mantra “Mani Stone” and put many of them together to make Mani Stone Mounds. When you trekking in Tibet, you will find these mounds usually with the prayer flags stuck in, and sometimes with the head bones of yaks or sheep. Outside of a monastery, at the mountain pass, or at the entrance of a village, you can easily find them lying on the ground quietly.



                                               ---to be continued

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