Hi guest, Register | Login | Contact Us
Welcome to Phayul.com - Our News Your Views
Sat 07, Dec 2019 10:00 PM (IST)
Search:     powered by Google
Photo News
Statements &
Press Releases

Book Reviews
Movie Reviews
News Discussions
News Archives
Download photos from Tibet
 Latest Stories
Self-immolations exemplify courage and strength of Tibetans in the face of adversity: His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Anti corruption activist gets 7-year sentence
Kashag's lawyer fails to appear before Tibetan apex court
Family of latest self immolator detained by Chinese police
Prague to sign a “sister city” agreement with Taipei months after cancelling another with Beijing
Beijing fumed after US House passes Uyghur bill
Trial for Tibetan anti-corruption activist to begin 13 months after detention
French police dismantle makeshift camp housing 600 Tibetan asylum seekers
Bureau office urges JNU to exempt Tibetans from fee hike
McLeod Ganj’s iconic ‘Gossip Benh’ demolished for road-widening project
 Latest Photo News
Shrutika Sharma from Nainital, Uttrakhand, wins the Miss Himalaya Pageant 2019, seen with her are first runners up Shalika Rana and second runners up Sapna Devi. Oct. 13, 2019 Phayu Photo: Kunsang Gashon
Nearly 3000 Students from eight countries listened to teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Three day annual teachings for youth began today. June 3, 2019. Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is being escorted to the teaching site at Tsuglakhang temple, May 13, 2019. Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
more photos »
Everest hero finds incredible religious treasure trove in Nepal
IANS[Monday, February 28, 2011 12:18]

Kathmandu, Feb 26: In 2004, two years after he climbed Mt Everest for the seventh time, American mountaineering legend Peter Athans took part in a charitable cataract operation project in northern Nepal that changed the lives of nearly 300 beneficiaries.

Today, the event has led to a stupendous discovery that, once fully understood, could throw light on one of the oldest religions in the world, its link with India and the connection between Tibetan and Zoroastrian death rites.

'I made a lot of friends during the eye camp,' says Athans, better known worldwide as 'Mr Everest' for his ascents as well as efforts to rescue endangered climbers during the black year of 1996, when 15 people died while attempting the world's highest peak.

'Some of them took me to a cluster of (man-made) caves that remain hidden from the human eye due to the height and the difficulty to get inside... There was no knowledge of who created the caves and I thought this was an intriguing mystery, worthy of further research and discussion,' Athans said.

In 2008, the government of Nepal and the Department of Archaeology signed an agreement with Sky Door Foundation, an NGO started in Nepal by Athans, to explore the caves and make an inventory. Two years later, the exploring team came across major finds in the network of caves in Mustang, a remote mountainous district in northernmost Nepal that was once part of an ancient Tibetan kingdom.

The expedition has found caves designed at different levels, much like an apartment block, with the lower levels usually used as granaries and the uppermost being burial sites.

In between, the space contains murals that though now fading and crumbling down are still exquisite, two immense libraries containing almost 10,000 ancient manuscripts in old Tibetan script, some of which are beautifully illuminated, and the remains of 27 people, the oldest of whom dates back to 100 years before the birth of Christ.

The manuscripts, which are being translated, are mostly about the Bon religion, one of the oldest religions in the world that grew in Tibet pre-dating Buddhism and yet showed many similarities with it, especially about the life of its founder Tonpa Shenrab.

Like the Buddha, Shenrab too came from a royal family but renounced the royal life and worldly pleasures when he was 31 to seek enlightenment. The folios also carry illustrations of many Bon leaders whom researchers are struggling to identify due to the paucity of information about the religion.

The cave artefacts show a fusion of Tibetan and Indian religious art. Some of it shows the influence of the art that prevailed in India during the Gupta empire of Hindu kings who ruled from 320-480 AD.

'Some of the murals have images of men and women who were Indian mahasiddhas (yogis with supernatural power),' says Leisl, Athans' wife, who records the expeditions through documentaries. 'Each image has a quatrain as caption, the first line giving the name of the mahasiddha, followed by biographical details.'

The human remains, many of which DNA analysis indicated belonged to people from northwest India, could prove a link between Zoroastrianism, born in Iran before the 6th century BC, and the ancient Tibetan practice of sky burials that still exists in Nepal and China.

'While the earlier skeletal remains are unmarked, the 5th century remains show cut marks,' says archaeologist Mark Aldenderfer.

'Nearly 67 percent of the bodies were de-fleshed, after which the bones were deposited inside the cave tombs. This mortuary practice could be a link between the Zoroastrian way of disposing of a dead body by offering it to the vultures in the Towers of Silence and the more stark way in the Tibetan plateau, where the bodies are chopped up and then left for the vultures and other animals,' he said.
Print Send Bookmark and Share
  Readers' Comments »
Depth of Tibetan civilization (Sumtsul)
Your Comments

 Other Stories
2008 Tibet monk protester succumbs to illness: report
The Karmapa case: Lies, plants and damage control
Dalai Lama's Office denies talking about Karmapa with US Envoy
Everest hero finds incredible religious treasure trove in Nepal
Photo Galleries
Phayul.com does not endorse the advertisements placed on the site. It does not have any control over the google ads. Please send the URL of the ads if found objectionable to editor@phayul.com
Copyright © 2004-2019 Phayul.com   feedback | advertise | contact us
Powered by Lateng Online