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Sacred Mountains , Mt. Kailash

Set in the Himalayan mountains of western Tibet, Mt. Kailash (or Mt. Kailas) is considered a sacred mountain that provides the waters of some of the lengthiest rivers in Asia. The mountain is associated with four different faiths that include Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. Followers of the indigenous Tibetan religion of Bon also see the mountain as a significant part of their culture. In this article, you will learn more about this important mountain in Asia.

Mount Kailash rises 22,028 feet into the sky, making it one of the highest and most rugged parts of the Himalayas. Flanking the mountain are two sacred lakes, including Lake Manasarowar , an important body of water because it is the highest body of fresh water in the world. The mountain is characterized by four steep facades that form an eye-catching diamond shape. The landscape surrounding the mountain is described as dry and rugged, but has breathtaking blue streams and other bodies of water.

The history of the mountain has its own myth and mysteriousness. In Hindu mythology, it was said that Shiva (the god of destruction and regeneration) lived at the top of a legendary mountain called Kailasa.

The mountain was seen in many religious sects of Hinduism as Paradise. This was the last location where souls traveled to, as well as served as the spiritual center of the world , in their eyes. In written works, the four faces of the mountain was said to be made out of ruby, gold, crystal and lapis lazuli. It raised “84,000 leagues high.” Kailasa was positioned at the center of six mountain ranges that was described as symbolizing a lotus. Four rivers flowed from the mountain that went in the directions of the four quarters of the world. The waters divided the world into four separate regions.

In Hinduism, the holy mountain’s importance is seen with the Ellora Caves in India. The caves are home to the largest and most important rock-carved temple that is dedicated to Mount Kailash. It is the Tibetan Buddhists that believe Kailash serves as the home of the Buddha Demchok, who represents supreme bliss. Some of the people believe that this is the location where Buddhism displaced Bön as the primary religion of Tibet.

Legend has it that the champion of Tantric Buddhism (Milarepa) traveled to Tibet to challenge the representative of Bön (Naro-Bonchung). They were two magicians that became locked in a battle of sorcery. However, neither one of the opponents could attain an advantage over the other. Eventually, an agreement was made that whoever could make it to the top of Kailash first would be declared victorious over the other.

Naro-Bonchung quickly made his way up the slope using a magic drum, while Milarepa sat still and meditated. His followers were in awe of his response. However, when Naro-Bonchung was just about to reach the top, Milarepa suddenly sprang into action and surpassed him while riding on the rays of the sun. He won the contest and that is one of the legends about how Buddhism was brought to Tibet.

In Bon (a religion that predates Buddhism in Tibet), the mountain was seen as the home of the sky goddess Sipaimen. As for the Jains, the mountain Kailash was called Mount Ashtapada and was regarded as the site where the founder of their faith, Rishabhadeva, reached liberation from rebirth.