Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Kinnaur & Spiti tales - 5 - Mummy lama of Giu village

Spiti valley means not only stark mountains, monasteries  and  blue sky. But it has  rich culture, mysteries and  legends in it. On the way to Tabo from Nako, along the Spiti river we took a  small detour to reach Giu village. Look at the Spiti river in this picture.Isn't she gorgeous in her turquoise blue ?
Spiti river on the way to Giu village
 Giu village also has an interesting  story like any other Spitian village. Our driver had told that he is going to take us to meet someone very old yet fresh. We were in surprise, when we entered  a small temple where the mummy lama was kept. It is kept inside  the glass chamber and worshiped by the locals. Look at this mummy carefully. It has skin, teeth, nails, hand as if holding rosary and hair. It wasn’t preserved to mummify like Egyptian mummies. No chemicals. But naturally mummified monk of more than 500 years old. Villagers believe that mummy lama is protecting their village in all respects. 
Mummy lama of Giu village

How does it happen ??? Spiti is a land of Buddhist culture and religion. Obviously many monks had lived here and were into  yogic practices.Even now you find monks and monasteries everywhere in Spiti.  Once, famine hit the village. A monk who was meditating in a posture with his chin supported by knees and hands holding japamala(rosary)  had died. May be due to starvation or he was trying to achieve nirvana by continuous meditation and starvation.This is very common in Buddhists and Jain traditions. People here believe that he had sacrificed his body to find a solution to deadly drought. After a few centuries,an Earthquake had slightly dislocated the entire region and  his body  was buried inside the earth.  It was naturally preserved in that cold deserts I guess. 

In recent years when Indo Tibetian  Border  Police(ITBP) was excavating  the area for some construction, they found  ‘him’! Apparently, during this operation, when the axe hit his head, blood came out of mummy’s  nose. We can still see the mark on his skull. For few years it was under the custody of ITBP. But travelers were finding it difficult to get access to see him. Hence, recently, it was moved to the newly built temple. Carbon dating tests of the mummy lama say that  it is older than 500 years ! Further studies have identified mummy as the 45 years old monk by name Sangha Tenzin of Gelugapa order from 15th century.
Having tea with Giu villagers

As we came out after seeing the mummy monk, there was a group of workers having their lunch and tea. When I tried to strike a conversation they enthusiastically welcomed me to their group and offered tea and lunch. How sweet !!  by the time our group also joined me. They gave all of us  tea and rotis from their lunch box. They posed  and were amused by looking at their pictures in our camera. 
Happy moments

Some were too shy. I loved each one’s smile as it was untouched by nuances of modernity just like the Spiti. When we left they didn’t forget to give their address asking us to post their pictures.

Have you come across any such stories ?  Pls share ...

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1 comment:

  1. Very entertaining read. Beautiful village and beautiful people. Vidhya