24 September, 2012

The Tibetan World of the Indian Himalayas: An Ethnography of the ‘Garden of Dakini’

The Tibetan World of the Indian Himalayas: An Ethnography of the ‘Garden of Dakini’

By- Tanase Jiro

Research Scholar & Teacher

In the Lahul region of Himachal Pradesh, Hindu and Tibetan cultures coexist. This region is also known as ‘Garsha Kandoling’ to Tibetans, which means ‘Garsha, a garden of Dakini’.

The people of Lahul live 3,400 metres above sea level in a challenging mountainous environment. Most of the original inhabitants are Mongoloid, and believe in Tibetan Buddhism. Their traditional ways of life are also Tibetan-like, and suitably adapted for the rigours of life at high altitude.

This book is based on fieldwork conducted from 1987 onwards. In the first half of the book, anthropological data about Lahuli society is presented. Various topics such as the means of inheriting wealth, gender issues, and marriage customs (including the practice of adopting a bridegroom into the bride’s family) are discussed. The discussion is thematically focused on the issue of opposing principles between the household (Kyum), and family (Jinmad). Polyandry, a unique form of marriage in Tibet, can be understood as a means of mediation between these principles.

The second half of the book describes a utopian religious movement that developed in the early 1960s and which later led to the tragic journey undertaken to discover Demojong, a Beyul (hidden country) that was said to exist near Kanchenjunga. The leader of this movement—Terton Tulshuk Lingpa (1916-63), was a Ningmapa yogi from Tibet.

Following India’s Independence in 1947, Lahuli society and culture has been transformed dramatically. But as this intimate portrait drawn by a Japanese anthropologist shows, the people of Lahul have successfully re-organized and adapted their way of life, whilst preserving their traditional values and religion.

Tanaase Jiro researches and teaches Anthropology in the School of Human Cultures at the University of Shiga Prefecture, Japan

ISBN  978-81-7304-957-6    2012   140p.   Rs.475/Pounds 35

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