Mount Kailas, the breathtaking “Jewel of the Snows” which towers to 22,000 feet in the center of the Trans-Himalayan range in southwestern Tibet, is revered by Hindus as the paradise of Shiva and his beautiful consort, Parvati (“Daughter of the Mountain”). Author John Snelling notes that “the regular, architectural quality of its form irresistibly reminds the beholder of a great temple.”
The mountain, together with Lake Manasarowar at its southern foot, is the goal of Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims. Sanskrit texts compare it to the metaphysical Mount Meru, or Sumeru, the cosmic center of the universe. To Tibetan Buddhists Kailas is the celestial throne of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the “highest bliss.”
Lake Manasarowar, at 14,950 feet, is said to be the world’s highest freshwater lake. According to Lama Govinda, it is “shaped like the sun and represents the forces of light.... ‘Manas’ (Skt.) means mind or consciousness: the seat of the forces of cognition, of light, and finally of enlightenment.”
In his tranquil form, Shiva is the Maha Yogi, or Great Yogi. He is the quintessential ascetic whom all holy men and women seek to emulate. Hindu art often depicts him seated deep in meditation atop Mount Kailas, his long hair matted like a yogi’s and his body smeared with ashes. His snow-white face, benign and placid, symbolizes the ascetic ideal of desirelessness, serenity, purity and perpetual bliss.
Swami Swahananda says that Shiva’s “relation with devotees is of an intensely personal nature.” He says Shiva resides at Kailas, “but his most favorite place of residence is the heart of devotees.”
Pearls of Wisdom, vol. 27, no. 56, November 25, 1984.
El Morya, Ashram Notes, chapter 5.
Elizabeth Clare Prophet, June 28, 1993.
Shiva! Sacred Chants from the Heart of India, liner notes.
- John Snelling, The Sacred Mountain, rev. and enl. ed. (London: East-West Publications, 1990), p. 293.
- Lama Anagarika Govinda, The Way of the White Clouds: A Buddhist Pilgrim in Tibet (Boulder, Colo.: Shambhala Publications, 1966), p. 200.
- Swami Swahananda, Hindu Symbology and Other Essays (Madras, India: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1983) p. 96.
- Ibid., p. 98.