Monday, November 9, 2015

The Myth, The Legend, The Taktsang Monastery: The Origins of Paro Taktsang

De’On Turner

Picture of Paro Taktsang taken by Bob Witlox

Six miles from the city of Paro on the edge of a 10,000 foot cliff, lies the legendary Taktsang monastery. Surrounding the monastery are hundreds of rocky slopes but this isn’t the only way to travel there. There are many paths to the monastery including cave and wild forest trails. While traveling there, one can find a temple which is called Lakhang. This place also serves as a resting place for travelers  when the journey gets tough. Besides the “resting temple,” there are several other mini temples and shops along the way to the monastery. These shops sell religious items such as bells, prayer wheels, incense, and more. Another interesting thing about the trip is that there are several waterfalls that can be seen. The most popular is one that falls from 197 feet into a sacred pool. Many travelers rest there to view the water and take pictures near the pool.

A waterfall at the foot of the Taktsang Monastery taken by Bob Witlox

The legend and history of this monastery is quite strange and requires an open mindset to fully interpret it. Some believe that a man named Guru Rinpoche, a Buddhist monk, flew to Paro Taktsang from Tibet on the back of a tigress. Some also go into more detail by saying that one of Guru’s students, Yeshe Tsogyal, took the form of a tigress and flew Guru to Paro Taktsang. Both stories are interesting and require some imagination.

Apparently Guru was so powerful that he had a reincarnation of himself whose name was Tenzin Rabgye. He actually constructed the monastery and it is said that his friends could see him inside and outside the structure at the same time. He also could feed a multitude of people from little amounts of food inside of bowls that never went empty.  It was Guru himself who founded the Nyingmapa School of Buddhism. Because of this, he is considered the saint of Bhutan. When he died in Nepal, some believe his body was magically transported to the monastery.  This shows an example of the beliefs that these people have and the importance of these people they worship and model after. This all ties in to having extreme faith in what you believe. Some of these accounts may sound odd to you but to someone else, it could be the very thing they base their life off of. The Taktsang monastery isn't just a "tiger's nest" hanging on a cliff, it is a foundation holding up a string of beliefs all throughout the region.

Works cited:
"Paro Taktsang." ThousandWonders. 2015. Web. 15 October 2015.

Witlox, Bob. Waterfall at the Foot of Taktsang Monastery. 2007. Photograph. Panoramio, 3 July
2007. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.

Witlox, Bob. Tiger’s Nest. 2007. Photograph. Panoramio, 3 July 2007. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

2011. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

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