In many mythologies, mountains are natural homes to divine and immortal beings. As such, it’s no surprise that the world’s mightiest mountain range, the Himalayas, is subject to mysterious whisperings of mysterious beings hidden away in the remote and unaccessible valleys of the Himalayan mountains.
One popular legend is definitely the legend of Gyanganj. It is said to be an ancient Indian and Tibetan tale of a city-kingdom of mysterious immortal beings that are hiding from the world deep into the Himalayas, but influencing it in various subtle ways when needed. It is said that Gyanganj is cunningly camouflaged or even existing in a completely different plane of reality. This could be why Gyanganj has managed to avoid being discovered by modern mapping techniques and satellites.
Hidden in a valley in the remote Himalayas, it is said, is Gyanganj, a home for immortals. Call it Shambala, Shangri-La or Siddhashram, believers say it is this celestial kingdom that shapes our destiny. It was during an impromptu meeting with intellectuals and seekers at Punjabi poet Amrita Pritam’s house in Delhi, India, that Sai Kaka (Guru) casually revealed: “I have been to Gyanganj several times over the past half decade.” Or, rather, he is taken there every time by a sage—for spiritual instruction and immortal teachings.
On questioning, he replies in chaste Hindi that Gyanganj exists on a different plane, a higher dimension—a shambala (a fabulous, mystical and spiritual kingdom according to ancient Tibetan Buddhist and Indian Hindu/Buddhist traditions). But, yes, on the gross level it has parallel locations in known places on earth.
After reading about Gyanganj the question comes up if there could be a secret territory in our midst, which has escaped all geographical surveys for normal observing beings? Is there really a place that provides the perfect environment, conditions and opportunities for spiritual evolution? A place from where thousands of immortals and faultlessly sage beings plan the evolution of the human race, in fact, of all sentient beings? The belief that such a place exists, camouflaged and secluded somewhere in the deep Himalayas, has filtered down through the ancient Indian and Tibetan traditions. Also in current times there are many references to it like the mentioned testimony of Guru Sai Kaka who declare he has been there himself many times. But what are the references in Buddhist traditions?
In Tibet, this legendary land of spiritual enlightenment Gyanganj is also known as Shambala. Shambala is a Sanskrit word which to the Tibetans means “the source of happiness”. It’s not heaven on earth, but a mystical kingdom that guards the most sacred and secret spiritual teachings of the entire world, including the well known Kalachakra (the Wheel of Time), which is the pinnacle of Buddhist wisdom.
Buddhists trace Shambala to Gautama Buddha who is said to have assumed the form of the Kalachakra deity before his death and delivered his highest teaching to a group of adepts and gods in south India. Among those who were present was King Suchandra. He was the first king of Shambala and he wrote down the sermons by Gautama Buddha and took them back with him to Shambala.
Some old Buddhist texts give instructions to find Shambala, though directions are obscure. It is assumed that only accomplished (enlightened) yogis will find it.
The kingdom is hidden in the mists of the snowy Himalayan mountains and can only be reached by flying over them with the help of ‘siddhis’ or spiritual powers. Chögyam Trungpa, a Tibetan Buddhist lama, used the “Shambhala” name for certain of his teachings, practices, and organizations, referring to the root of human goodness and aspiration. In Trungpa’s view, Shambhala has its own independent basis in human wisdom that does not belong to East or West, or to any one culture or religion.
James Hilton’s novel, Lost Horizon, about the lost kingdom of Shangri-La, and also the popular TV-series ‘Lost’ were inspired by the legend of Shambala. Shambala means a remote, beautiful, imaginary place where life approaches perfection, like utopia, in short. In Hindu scriptures such as ‘Valmiki Ramayan’ and ‘Mahabharat’ there are references to Gyanganj also known as Siddhashram.
Guru Sai Kaka has said:
“From God’s viewpoint, there is non-duality. Creation and dissolution are part of the continual flow.” Though there can be no evolution in a flow, Sai Kaka concedes that Gyanganj is engaged in transforming world consciousness. Maybe with the collective consciousness rising, Gyanganj will become more manifest and easily accessible to human beings.
There are also numerous other testimonials from the past of people who have been to or experienced the presence of Gyanganj like the story of a Western army officer mr. Farrel in 1942, the story of the Indian yogi Sri Shyama Charan Lahiri (also known as Lahiri Mahashay) as published in the book “An autobiography of a Yogi”, by Swami Yogananda.
In the Tibetan Buddhism, Shambhala is a mythical kingdom hidden somewhere in Central Asia, a “Pure Land, a fabulous kingdom whose reality is visionary or spiritual as much as physical or geographic.” Considered a place of eternal tranquility and happiness, Shambhala is a place which according to the Kalachakra Tantra, can be seen only by those who deserve it. The Kalachakra says that when the world falls in the abyss of war and greed, the 25th king from Shambhala will emerge to usher the world into a better era.
For centuries, historians and exploreres have tried in vain to locate Shambhala. So much was the belief that it existed, that Heinrich Himmler even sent a German Nazi expedition to Tibet to look for this place.
The Dalai Lama said in the Kalachakra festival in 1985, “ Although those with special affiliation may actually be able to go there through their karmic connection, nevertheless it is not a physical place that we can actually find. We can only say that it is a pure land, a pure land in the human realm. And unless one has the merit and the actual karmic association, one cannot actually arrive there.“
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