Buddhism in Ladakh

I must confess I know very little about Buddhism but I knew even lesser of this faith before I set off on my journey to Ladakh. Buddhism has a strange history in India. Buddhism was born in India, grew in prominence, spread to many other geographies and prospered in other countries. The faith however waned in India over the centuries. The importance of centres of education such as Nalanda (primarily Buddhism) diminished. However the region of Ladakh and surrounds still remained important Buddhist links originally more prominent but later giving way to more important centres such as Lhasa in Tibet.

Motif from Shanthi Stupa at Leh

My impressions of Buddhism were always that of a faith with no deity but of the Buddha so imagine my surprise when I read about the Gompas (monasteries and temples) in Ladakh and found them crowded with multitudes of deities including a series of Buddhas (Maitreya, Avalokiteswara etc.,). This was apparently due sto the influence of Hinduism and the Bon faith of ancient Tibet.

This motif was present throughout the exterior of the building at Shanti Stupa
Prayer Flag

And as with any other faith there is no single doctrine or school even within Buddhism and to an outsider like myself- everything can be completely confusing. Someday though, I hope to have a better understanding of this faith.

Shanti Stupa

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Nirmala says:

    I suppose in a country with so many gorgeous deities like ours a faith advocating no figure to worship,calling only for sacrifices, has no attraction.Probably one of the reasons for its fading away! Interesting blog.

  2. Lav says:

    Do you think that these dieties in Buddhism was something that happened as an adaptation to stay relevant in the face of Hinduism that has an overpowering presence in the sub continent? I also thought Buddhism was very abstract. So it is fascinating to here this side of it!! Very colourful, something that is very uplifting in all the pictures!! Very cool portrait!!

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