A life full of sacrifices, prayers and disciplines is how I will define the life of a lama’s in 3 simple words. The reason of sacrifices and disciplines is to achieve a pure soul while their prayers are for the shake of peace in this world. It is really surprising to see a community in this world has involved themselves completely for the peace whereas rest of the world is preparing for war. I hope their prayers always win over the rest of world.
I always wanted to know more about the life of a lama , so in my last trip , I visited Bylakuppe Monasteries(a place which is considered as one of the best place to get education on Buddhism in the world) located near Coorg , karnataka and tried to collect some information on their life.
Early morning when I was roaming in the nearby places of monastery and I found young lamas playing football. “WOW, am I going to witness something amazing” and the first thing which came in my mind was Hollywood movie (Shaolin Soccer). But it was nothing like what we saw in movies. They were playing normal football game. After their game, I tried to interact with lamas playing football but kid lamas are very shy, they don’t talk to strangers and try to hide themselves as soon as they see a camera. But I was lucky to finally get a chance to meet 3 lamas
Bdw, A perfect example of their peace prayers are flags hanging from the trees with different size and colors.These flags have mantra’s(holy words) written on them and when they wave in some direction with wind, they spread blessings in the area where the same wind is flowing which has touched the flags.
Lamas come to monastery at the age of 4-5 and are not allowed to visit their home/family for the first 3 years. Monastery is like a perfect school for the children is what their parents believe. They can also get education like us in outside school but every parents wish to provide their child very good Buddhism education.
After a small interaction with young lamas , I stepped inside the GOLDEN Temple (one of the major monetary ) and met 2 lamas. Both of them were staff member, one has just joined after his primary education while other was working from last 24 years. They elaborated me about the education system which every monastery dedicated to Buddhism studies follow. I guess you have a doubt regarding dedicated to Buddhism study. Yes , some monasteries don’t emphasize on study such as monasteries of china (I hope you remember Hollywood movies where lamas were learning kung fu. yes that happens in china and other countries). Indian monasteries are dedicated to only study and that is the reason students from all around the world come here to study Buddhism.
So he continued with describing education system of Buddhism and as per him there is no end of education in Buddhism but normal Buddhism education is divided into two part 1)The basic/primary education for 10 years 2)College for Higher education for 12 years
In both education periods,the methods of education are completely different from us. They chants mantra’s for hours(7am to 5pm) in temple with regular break for food and prayers. But the most interesting way of studying are debate sessions . A huge crowd of lamas gathered in the temple arena and make pair of two. One sit on the floor while other stand. The one who is standing will ask religious questions or sometimes will ask about topics on Buddhism followed by a CLAP. Yes, Clap. Everytime a question is being asked the one who is asking the question will make a clap. They even have different way of clapping as each clap represent a different meaning such as for wrong answer they use a different clap and for new question they use a different clap
Between primary and college education some lamas take break and become staff member by providing services to monastery such as cooking etc. While they are working as a staff, their restrictions are very less as compared to the one who are studying.But anyone violating the rules is punished during the daily gathering when everyone from particular monastery is present. Sometimes lama is asked to leave the monastery because of rules violation after which he can not join another monastery. This is nothing as compared to the punishment in Tibet where lama is painted with black colors and asked to leave the village if caught violating the rules.
After education of 22 years , it is believed that they have achieved something great in life which can not be earned by any job or education is this world and they are allowed to choose their future either by dedicating their life completely to monastery and Buddhism or they can return to their home and get married after doing some rituals.
The one who opt for staying with monastery can take a job outside but they need to provide services to monastery as well as follow the restriction for their entire life and dedicate their life to Buddhism. They are regularly involved in prayers and help common people as well during the prayer and meditation . It is believed that sometime during prayer when they move their head up , they see Buddha in the sky and that is the time when your soul is pure and your prayers has been answered .
The lama I met inside temple told me the reason why people feel peaceful when they come to Monastery temple. As per him , as soon as you enter from the gate of monastery you are being blessed by the status of Buddha over your head.Another interesting thing which lama told me is not to watch a lama doing meditation(when they are jumping) otherwise you will become blind. As per an old story , once a lama in Tibet was doing meditation in open ground and a deer saw lama doing meditation. The deer was not able to see anything afterwards and lama felt very guilty for that . So from that time , they do meditation only in closed area surrounded by wall everywhere.
I also came to know that they have different groups in Buddhism which can be observed by the dress they are wearing . In Bylakuppe there are 8-9 different monastery each one is different although they follow Buddhism. It is similar to what we have in Hindu and Christianity, different sub groups but we worship single god.
So monastery is the only way to worship Buddhism ?. No, People who believe in Buddha but either didn’t get chance to join monastery or didn’t wanted to worship with so strict rules also worship Buddha and their prayers also have the same purpose of peace in this world.
Not just people who follow Buddhism , there were people like me who have no idea about this place end up spending 2 days peacefully. Something was there in monasteries. Was it because I was away from the noise and pollution of city , was is because of the blessing from Buddha status on gate or those prayers chants had given me some moment of peace?. I am still not able to figure it out but when I met other people who came there for visit and was not lama’s, I had asked the question for which I had no answer.”Why are you visiting these monasteries”. Most of them replied “we can feel the peace here which we don’t get anywhere else”.
Strange but true as I have felt it too.I hope I get a chance to visit this place again and to know more these people.