Maanasa Kailasa Yatra – 21

Sven Hedin writes of an Indian Fakir, Purana Poori of Banares, who traveled to many far and remote places, holding his hands folded, above his head, as a penance… This Fakir had traveled to Lhasa sometime in the 18th Century AD, and from there had marched 80 days to reach the lake “Maun Surwur”… It is interesting to see that Manasarovar was also referred to as Maun Sarowar, or the Silent Lake… Hedin gives a quotation from the Fakir’s travel chronicle – “The Maun Surwur is one lake, but in the middle of it there arises, as it were, a partition wall, and the northern part is called Maun Surwur, and the southern Lunkadh or Lunkadeh.”.

The Lanka Deh mentioned here is the Rakshas Tal. The Fakir’s account was published in 1792 AD, and it is presumed he must have traveled to Maun Surwur, a decade or so earlier.

Anquetil Du Perron (1731 – 1805 was the first French scholar of Indian culture. (He it is that translated the Upanishad-s which he read from a Persian translation, to Latin, under the name “Oupanekhat”…) Du Perron had received a map of the Maanas region, which Hedin believes was drawn by natives for the Moghul emperor Akbar. The map is shown below.

Anquetil-map

You can see in the map, that Rakshas Tal is called “Lanka Dhe” – The Lanka Lake.

And then in 1812, the William Moorcroft, a Britisher, visited Maanas. He was the first Britisher to do so (Those days, there were restrictions on westerners visiting Maanas. So he disguised himself as a Gosain, an Indian trader pilgrim, and went across). His map of the Maanas region is shown below…

moorcroft-map

In the above map, we see that Rakshas Tal is called Rawan Hrad… The Lake of Ravana…

We can say that Rakshas Tal, from whatever written history is there for us to access, has definitely been associated with the memory of Ravana – and has been variously known as Lanka Deh, Lanka Dhe, Lankadh, Raavan Hrad, Ravan Sarovar, Rakshas Sarovar, Rakshas Tal…

And so deep is the memory of Ravana etched in the subconscious of Indo-Tibetan peoples, that he finds mention in the Tibetan Buddhist lore as well. In that context, Ravana is said to have carried away three statues of Buddha to Lanka. In order to have a worthy altar for the statue, he decided to carry Mount Kailash away. At that time Lord Budhha came flying there, along with 500 arhats. Alighting on Mount Kailash, he pressed his feet on four sides, pinning down the mountain. Ravana was unable to lift the mountain. Then Buddha sat there and first taught Dharma to Anavatapta, the Lord of Lake Manasarovar. He then taught Lankavatara Sutra to Ravna, and blessed him (Source: Book “The Life of Shabkar – The Autobiography of a Tibetan Yogin” by Zabs-dkar Tshogs-drug-ran-grol)…

To this day, marks are shown on Mt Kailash, which the locals say are made by the rope of Ravana, as he tied it around Kailash, attempting to uproot the mountain…

In the previous post, we saw a mention of the famous hymn of Ravana – the Shiva Tandava Stotram… Given below is a link to another youtube video of that hymn… Very well rendered… Do have a look and listen…

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My good friend Ashutosh, on reading the  previous post wrote to me and gave me some very interesting information… Some quotes from his mail – “There is popular rendition of Shiv tandav strota in one breath in Rajasthan and MP. If you ever get to hear it, its mind blowingly awesome. Its without music but very very powerful…I happened to meet to someone who chanted it, it seems to be very popular among gaur brahmins of Rajasthan. They call it rudrika… and then you might already know the choice of ट vargas by Shri Ravana in this stotra….Apparently, the liberal use of Ta varga of varnamala called the shiva characters, is to put tongue in kechari mudra. Murdhanya consonants..  if you chant it fast in one breath you can notice yourself, tongue hitting the palette like a snake for the ta varga consonants and tongue moving seamlessly inside the oral cavity for the rest…

That was about the great Rakshasa King Ravana, who is associated with Rakshas Tal…

So it is that we have these twin lakes, Maanasarovar and Rakshas Tal, side by side, just a few kms from each other…

Rakshas Tal is to Manasarovar as Yama is to Yamuna… Rakshas Tal and Maanas being twin children of Kailas, and Yama and Yamuna being twin children of Soorya (Sun) …Rakshas Tal is eerie, as is Yama. Maanas is all cleansing, as are the dark blue waters of Yamuna… The water of Rakshastal is salty, in contrast to the pure freshness of Maanas. It’s waters are colder than that of Manas, the lake is stormier, the shape is crooked… As different as they are, the forces of the two lakes, however, go together… Indeed the two lakes are not separable. It is  said by Geographers, this was one lake, which got separated by land upheaval in the dim distant past.

From a spiritual point of view, if Maanas is inextricably linked with the story and the way of Rama, the Rama-Charita-Maanas, then Rakshas Tal is inextricably linked with that of Ravana, the Ravana-Charita-Hrad. And Rama and Ravana are two forces that appear together. Rama represents Soorya Vamsha – the lineage of the Sun. And Ravana, after his great penance at Kailasa, was rewarded by Lord Shiva with a crescent-moon shaped sword – the name of which was Chandrahaas – the Laughter of the Moon…. Maanas is the Solar force, and Rakshas-Tal the lunar force…

Lama Anagarika Govinda, sheds light on these forces, in his great work – “The Way of the White Clouds”… Below are some quotes from that book –

“And as every Indian temple has its sacred water-tank, so at the southern foot of Kailas there are two sacred lakes, Manasarovar and Rakastal, of which the former is shaped like the sun and represents the forces of light, while the other is curved like the crescent moon and represents the hidden forces of the night , which-as long as they are not recognised in their true nature and directed into their proper channels-appear as the demonic powers of darkness….

These sun and moon symbols are used in every Tibetan scroll-painting (thang-ka) in which Buddhas, deities, or saints are depicted. Sun and moon signify the two streams or currents of psychic energy, which move upwards to the right and to the left of the central channel or ‘median nerve’ of the spinal column. In Yogic meditation these two currents are integrated in the central channel and rise through it from one psychic centre or level of consciousness to the other, until the integrated stream reaches the highest multi-dimensional level of an enlightened consciousness. As Mount Kailas corresponds to the spinal column, it represents the axis of the spiritual universe, rising through innumerable world-planes (indicated by the actual horizontal stratification of the mountain , which is as regular and distinct as that of an Indian temple), from the human to the highest divine level, while the two lakes are looked upon as the reservoirs of the two streams of psychic energy.

It is interesting to note that even the geographical position of the two lakes corresponds to their relationship to light and darkness, day and night. Manasarovar is in the east, at the beginning of the day, Rakastal in the west, at the beginning of the night. In Tibetan Manasarovar is called ‘Tso Mapharn’, the lake of the invincible forces of the Buddhas (who are also called ‘Victors’), while Rakastal is called ‘Langag Tso’ or, more correctly, ‘Lha-nag-Tso’, the Lake of the Dark Deities .

Consequently the Tso Mapham is surrounded by a number of monasteries and retreats, while the other lake is completely deserted of human habitation, and in spite of its scenic beauty a strange and uncanny atmosphere seems to hover over it. Though it is held in fear, it is as sacred as its sister-lake, because even those powers which appear to us terrifying and destructive, or hidden in the darkness of the depth, are as divine as those which we worship as embodiments of light and goodness.

The interrelationship of these forces-solar and lunar energy, conscious and subconscious forces, the principles of light and darkness, male and female energies, action and contemplation, emptiness and form-is the great discovery of Tantric philosophy. He who realises its truth is fit to worship the awe-inspiring Master of Kailas, whether he sees him in the form of Shiva, the destroyer of this world of illusion, or in the form of Demchog, who like Shiva tears asunder the elephant-hide of ignorance and whose twelve arms signify the twelve links of the formula of dependent origination, taught by the Buddha Sakyamuni.

Only he who has contemplated the divine in its most awe-inspiring form, who has dared to look into the unveiled face of truth without being overwhelmed or frightened-only such a person will be able to bear the powerful silence and solitude of Kailas and its sacred lakes, and endure the dangers and hardships which are the price one has to pay for being admitted to the divine presence on the most sacred spot on earth.”

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Hark! Listen to the Songs of Silence! The twin Maun-Sarowars – the Maanas and Raakas!

*** To be continued***

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