Join our Mailing List

"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Buddhists in Ladakh perform special ritual in honour of Buddha's first sermon

March 23, 2009

By Jigmet Vangchuk.
March 20, 2009

Leh, Mar 20 -- Hundreds of Buddhists in Ladakh
recently performed mass prostrations to mark the first sermon by Lord Buddha.

Gochak, a tantric Buddhist ritual commonly
practised by Tibetan Buddhists, was performed as
part of a religious ritual of penance.

Tantrism, a form of Hindu mystical ritual with
ancient yogic techniques, focuses on attaining the sublime.

Gochak is celebrated during the first fifteen
days of the Tibetan lunar calendar, which
Buddhists in Ladakh follow. Lord Buddha is
believed to have turned the first wheel of his sermons around this time.

Considered one of the most sacred fortnights of
the year, it sees Buddhists moving from village
to village, traversing nearly 50 miles by prostrating at every few steps.

"Gochak prostration is of the body laying on the
ground and with triple refuge mantra recitation.
It is started with 100 prostration at one place
and performed till late evening to be started
early in the morning. This ritual has been taking
place since ancient times," said Changchuk Rabstan, a performer.

Devouts leave their homes in sub zero temperature
and begin the journey early in the morning. On
the way there are others who play their part in
the ritual by serving steaming cups of butter tea
to the participants in the procession.

The ritual is practiced to consciously make an
effort towards subjugating the ego in an effort to realise the self.

The Gochak fortnight ends with a festival at the
Matho monastery situated about 18 miles from Leh.

Over 700 monks practice tantrism at the 15th
century Matho monastery which belongs to the
Sankya sect of Mahayana Buddhists. Here the monks
deliver oracles at the end of the fortnight-long mass ritual.

Buddhism a 6th century B.C. religion, which
essentially developed in protest against the
caste system of Hinduism, later absorbed some tantric Hindu rituals.

Besides Hindu rituals, tantric Buddhism also
includes Chinese influences and elements of a
third century Tibetan religion called Bon.

Unlike other sects of Buddhism, which condemn
ritualism and worldliness, the tantric sect
revolves around rituals and magical traditions.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank