Monday, December 16, 2013

Chitral, Tirich Mir, Mt Meru & Oddiyana


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"Chitral is undoubtedly the most romantic, captivating and enchanting place in the majestic Hindukush range. It is a mountainous area in the extreme north of Pakistan. The landscape of Chitral is extremely mysterious, with its steep harsh mountains, lush green valleys, beautiful meadows and big glaciers, which have made it one of the most difficult and inaccessible areas of the world….

"Tirich Mir (alternatively Terich Mir, Terichmir and Turch Mir) is the highest mountain of the Hindu Kush range, and the highest mountain in the world outside of the Himalaya-Karakoram range, located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, and close to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

"… Patrul Rinpoche gives a more precise indication of where Oddiyana was in The Words of My Perfect Teacher (Tib. Kunzang Lamé Shyalung) when he describes the birthplace of Garab Dorje as being close to Lake Kutra in the region of Dhanakosha. Dhanakosha means ‘treasury of wealth’. This corresponds to a region between Chitral, Gilgit and Swat. John Reynolds suggests that “perhaps Uddiyana is actually a name of a much wider geographical area than the Swat Valley alone, one embracing parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and even Western Tibet (Zhang Zhung)."

"One of the major attractions of Chitral are the Kalash valleys-the home of the Kafir-Kalash or "Wearers of the Black Robe", a primitive pagan tribe. Their ancestry is enveloped in mystery and is the subject of controversy. A legend says that five soldiers of the legions of Alexander of Macedon settled in Chitral and are the progenitors of the Kafir-Kalash. The 3,000 strong Kafir-Kalash live in the valley of Birir, Bumburet and Rambur in the South. Bamburet, the largest and the most picturesque valley of the Kafir-Kalash, is 40km from Chitral and is connected by a jeep able road. Birir, 34km away is accessible by a jeep able road. Rumbur is 32km from Chitral. Their picturesque headgear is made of woolen black material decked out with cowrie shells, buttons and crowned with a large colored feather. In parts of Greece even today some women sport a similar head covering. The Kalash people love music and dancing particularly on occasions of their religious festivals like Joshi Chilimjusht (14th & 15th May - spring), Phool (20th - 25th September) and Chowas (18th to 21st December)…..

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"Gurdjieff (Meetings with Remarkable Men, NY 1974) uncovered some lost manuscripts in Armenia which referred to a so called 'Sarmoung Brotherhood' whose beginnings were, according to tradition, "founded in Babylon as far back as 2500 B.C., and which was known to have existed somewhere in Mesopotamia up to the sixth or seventh century A.D. [i.e., up until the Moslem invasion]." He was eventually to locate a survival of this brotherhood at Garam Chasma, on the Lotkho river, in the region of the Chitral……

"It was amongst the Sarmoung Brotherhood, at the temple of Houdankr, in the Lotka Valley of the Chitral (northern Pakistan) that the Russian mystic Gurdjieff claimed to have been introduced to the inner mysterium. And Ouspensky notes in his In Search of the Miraculous (NY 1949, p.102), Gurdjieff was taught that….'Every ceremony or rite has a value if it is performed without alteration.... A ceremony is a book in which a great deal is written. Anyone who understands can read it. One rite often contains more than a hundred books.'.

Chitral Valley at an elevation of 1128 meters has Afghanistan on its North, South and West.It is surrounded by the Wakhan, Badkhshan, Asmar and Nooristan area of Afghanistan in the north, west and south-west. On its southern boundary lies Dir. In the east lies Gilgit agency and Swāt Kohistan. The narrow strip of Afghan territory, Wakhan, separates it from Tajikistan. The 7,788 meters (25,550 ft) Trichmir, the highest peak of the Hindukush mountain, dominates this 322km long exotic valley. No mountain in the region is less then 4000 feet and more then 40 peaks have an altitude of 20,000 ft. Chitral is divided into small valleys by the mighty Hindukush range.

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"Modern name Koh-i-Mor located in the Paropamisade region between the river Kunar and Swat in the land of Ashvakas. This name, however, refers to the Meru mountain of Chitral, Tirich Mir, distinct from the Deva-Meru in modern Diamar….The Venus Blueprint: Uncovering the Ancient Science of Sacred Spaces….By Richard Merrick

Nanga Parbat (literally, Naked Mountain Urdu: نانگا پربت [nəŋɡaː pərbət̪]) is the ninth highest mountain in the world. It is the western anchor of the Himalayas around which the Indus river skirts before it debouches into the plains of Pakistan. It is located in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, and is locally known as 'Deo Mir' ('mir' meaning 'mountain').…'The Pamirs and the Source of the Oxus. (1896) George Nathaniel Curzon. Royal Geographical Society, London, p. 16.

P. D. Ouspensky…."About schools and about where Gurdjieff found the knowledge, which he beyond a doubt possessed, he said very little and just hinted at it. He mentioned Mount Athos, Sufi schools in Persia, Tibetan monasteries, and Chitral schools in central Asia and eastern Turkestan. He referred to dervishes too, but all this was always in a very indefinite manner…..

"Gurdjieff ……people were haunted at that period with the idea of a spiritual World Centre concealed in the heart of Asia (Saint-Yves d’Alveydre with his “Argattha” and Madame Blavatsky with her “Shambala”) from which an “Elite” directs the destiny of humanity—somewhat in the way that people earlier were intrigued right into the Renaissance with the idea that the Terrestrial Paradise might possibly still exist in some unattainable region on earth. Anyhow, Bokhara and not Mecca was for him the secret centre of Islam, where the Naqshbandîya Sufis—supposedly infiltrated by the Khwajagân—were concentrated until the close of the nineteenth century….. the sources of the “dances” and “rituals” to monasteries in Sari in Tibet, Mazari Sherif in Afghanistan, Kizilgan in the Keriya Oasis in Chinese Turkestan, and Yangi Hissar in Kashgar….. Gurdjieff also writes that he had access in Central Asia “into a monastery well known among the followers of the Mahometan religion” where he became “absolutely convinced that the answers for which I was looking… can only be found… in the sphere of man’s subconscious mentation”; again, that he went “to a certain Dervish monastery, situated likewise in Central Asia,” where he spent two years in the study of hypnotism and the mechanism of the functioning man’s subconscious sphere.” Bennett guesses that this must have been a tekki (community centre) of the Yesevi order, a fraternity founded by the shaman-raised Ahmed Yesevi (born about 1042)—the first of the Turkish Khwajas and called by the Turks Bab-Arslan, or Lion Father—at Yesi which was to become Tashkent. Because of their affiliations with shamanism the present-day Yesevis are said to be unfavorably regarded by other Sufi orders, but this affinity is just what would argue favorably with Gurdjieff, given their stress on cosmology, and the use of music, rhythm, magic, shock techniques, and perhaps also the “stop exercise” which was later to feature in his method. Another clue dropped by Gurdjieff refers to the religious exercises of the Matchna monks in the eastern Gobi desert who had connections both with the Yesevis and with Tibetan tantric Buddhism. All this is very complicated; but then, Gurdjieff was not a simple man......

"When Giuseppe Tucci strongly proposed the idea (in 1940) that the land known as Uddiyana was finally identified as the Swat valley, he did not know Patrul Rinpoche's text (translated in 1994). Instead, he based himself on two medieval Tibetan travelers who had visited Swat and believed it to be the legendary region that produced such well known adepts as Garab Dorje, Padmasambhava, Luipa and Tilopa - not to mention their mainly female teachers; the women who made this country famous as Paradise of the Dakinis. Tucci had translated these medieval texts and published them as Travels of Tibetan Pilgrims in the Swat Valley - and from then onwards, most authors and translators kept reciting and reprinting the mantra "Uddiyana is Swat" until almost everyone believed it. ….Understandably, the majority of scholars (among those interested in Tibetan history and culture) was so excited that Uddiyana had finally been located in space/time (i.e., geography and history), that only a few noticed that the same Giuseppe Tucci - 30 years later - also had to report that ceramics found in the royal tombs of Leh (Ladakh) stand in clear relation with others that were found in Swat [1970, page 244]. Although Tucci does not say so explicitly, this does show us that we're dealing with a cultural realm larger than the small valley along the Swat river alone. For another decade or two, Tucci's original assessment was generally believed, much quoted, and thus multiplied,."….

"…At some point, however, due to unconvincing investigations in Swat - and probably due to a publication I am not aware of - the scholarly community gets more cautious and the concept of Uddiyana shifts away from the Swat Valley to a larger region: in fact the whole area of mountain ranges (and mountain peoples) from North-eastern Afghanistan to the Kailas range in the far West of Tibet. …Writing in 1994, Robert Thurman cautiously formulates in his glossary to the Bardo Th�dol that Uddyana (Tib., U rgyan) is a "Buddhist country in northwestern India (perhaps present-day Pakistan or Afghanistan)". [1994, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, page 273] ……John Myrdhin Reynolds. Having discussed Tucci's apparent discovery and the subsequent failure of archeology and art-history to back up this claim, he concludes that perhaps Uddiyana is actually the name of a much wider geographical area than the Swat Valley alone, one embracing parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and even Western Tibet (Zhang-zhung)…….

"….Uddiyana is not only the region into which the 14th Dalai Lama fled when forced to leave Tibet (an idea based on a personal communication with Jane Sperr), it also includes the very ancient Odiyana Pitha (Bhimasthana Tirtha) much cited by Sircar, as well as Jvalamukhi Pitha (sacred to both Hindu and Buddhist Tantrics); two of the ten most important shrines on the Indian sub-continent dedicated to the pre-Vedic Mother Goddess whose worship survived all attempts at displacing her. At the same time, this larger definition shows Uddiyana to be the most likely mediator for injecting Persian concepts into Bon, transmitting Kashmir Shaiva-teachings into Tibetan Buddhism and combining the early Mahayana of India with Tantric teachings and aspects of folk-religion, a mixture that helped shape the later Vajrayana of Tibet and its surrounding regions."….

"…The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir (7,708 m or 25,289 ft) in Chitral District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It divides the valley of the Amu Darya (the ancient Oxus River) to the north from the Indus River valley to the south. To the east the Hindu Kush buttresses the Pamir range near the point where the borders of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan meet, after which it runs southwest through Pakistan and into Afghanistan, finally merging into minor ranges in western Afghanistan."…...

"The Chitral valley, which is bounded by mountain ranges in which many peaks reach 5,000-6,000 m, can be entered only by following the riverbanks upstream or by crossing several high passes. The latter include the Dorah (Dūrāh) from Badaḵšān in Afghanistan, the Baroghil (Barūγīl) from the Wāḵān corridor, the Darkot (Darkūt) from Yasin (Yāsīn) and the Shandur (Šandūr; 3,720 m) from Gilgit in Pakistani-controlled Jammu and Kashmir, and the Lowarai (Lowarāʾī, 3,118 m), from the neighboring administrative district of Dir (Dīr) on the south, all at elevations above 3,000 m. The location of Chitral at the point where Central Asia, Inner Asia, and South Asia meet is reflected in its heterogeneous population. A dozen languages are spoken, reflecting both ancient indigenous elements and later arrivals."…..

"In antiquity there was considerable traffic from Badaḵšān through the Dorah pass, across southern Chitral, and through the Lowarai pass to the ancient Buddhist monasteries in Swat. Although little is known of the medieval history of the area, in the 4th/10th century it was subject to the king of Kabul. "….

"There are also a few non-Muslims in Chitral, including especially the “Kalash Kafirs,” numbering only about 3,000; they live in the Berer, Bomboret, and Rumbur valleys along the right bank of the Chitral river contiguous with the Afghanistan border. They are polytheistic and constitute the last remnant of the religious and social group that predominated from Kohestan to Kabul before the coming of Islam. In 1314/1896, under the aegis of ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Khan, the Kafirs in the Afghan tributary valleys of the Konar—the Bashgul (Bašī Gol), Pēč, Waigul (Wāīgol), Parun (Pārōn), and Kantiwo (Kāntiwō)—were forcibly converted to Islam. Missionaries from Deoband in Uttar Pradesh, India, are now actively proselytizing among those who remain in Chitral."…..

"Naropa, known as Abhayakirti (‘jig med grags pa) Jnanasiddhi, was born in Kashmir into the Brahmin caste, according to Taranatha and other sources, who say that he was born in a place called Jambu (Shrinagar, according to Guenther) ."…..

"…..a major reason for so many Indian Buddhist sages coming to Central Tibet from Kashmir, and notably, the famous Padmasambhava from Uddiyana, was the simple fact that Tibet then ruled much of this region. Nothing is really reported concerning Padmasambhava’s life in Kashmir. He lived, some say, with wandering yogis and sadhus, in exile from his homeland. Others report that it was during this period that he acquired knowledge and skill in various crafts. In Kashmir he earned the name Sthiramati, ‘the Youthful Genius.’”….

"….It is often reported that the war-like activity and expansion of the Tubo Empire in Central Tibet pressed the Himalayan peoples living in the west to block their advances on the one hand, while they were forced to fight the Muslims on the other. The Dharma Fellowship notes that between “720 and 726 the King of Baltistan moved his seat to Gilgit out of fear of the Tibetan advance….Although the King of Baltistan remained loyal to his alliance with China, the nobility and peoples of Baltistan are said to have gone over to the Tibetan side…Mention of tribute from the King of Kapisa in 748 ascertains that by that date Uddiyana had become a vassal state.”……

The Pamirs and the source of the Oxus….. By George Nathaniel Curzon ….Royal Geographical Society (Great Britain)


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….December 2013



  1. Nice Article. You are almost there..
    I too came to similar conclusion after quite research into these mattters,
    would like to talk to you more

  2. Quite an authentic account of the region of Oddiyana.