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Mount Kailash

By Devik Balami at
Mount Kailash

Mount Kailash is a peak in the Kailash range and forms a part of Transhimalaya in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The mountain is located near the Lake Manasarovar and Lake Rakshastal which is close to the source of some of the longest Asian rivers- the Indus, Sutlej, Brahmaputra, and Karnali. The four religions; Hinduism, Buddhism, Bon, and Jainism; believes Mount Kailash to be the sacred place. Therefore the pilgrims with different beliefs visit this place to pay the homage. The other name for this mountain is Kangrinboqe and Gang Rinpoche.


The word Kailasa came from the Sanskrit language. It is believed that it could have been derived from the word Kelasa, meaning crystal from the same script. The Tibetan name for the mountain is Gangs Rin Po Che. Here, the word Gangs means snow peak similar to alp or hima and the word Rin Po Che means precious one, hence, the word Gangs Rin Po Che means precious jewel of snows. Sometimes, Gangs Rinpoche is also called as Kangri RInpoche which means precious snow mountains. If we look at the Bon scriptures, then we will find out that Mount Kailash is referred by different names. Some of them are Water's Flower, Mountain of Sea Water, Nine Stacked Swastika Mountain. Mount Kailash is also known by the name of TIse mountain. This word is derived from Ti Tse in the Zhang-Zhung language, which means water peak or river peak.

As for Hindu followers, the place is the sacred place where God Shiva resides. For Jains, this place is sacred because their first Tirthankara Rishabhanatha got enlightened. For Buddhist, it is the navel of the universe while for Bons, it was the abode of the sky goddess Sipaimen.

The religious significance of Mount Kailash

As in Buddhism and Bon religion

In the Buddhist scriptures, Mount Kailash is referred to as Mount Meru. It is believed to be in the center of its cosmology. According to Vajrayana Buddhism, it is believed that Mount Meru is the home of Cakrasamvara Buddha which is also known as Demchok. Symbolically, it represents supreme bliss. Also, it is also recorded that Mount Meru has numerous pilgrimage site associated with Padmasambhava.

While Bon followers believe that the entire mystical region and Kailash are the nine-story Swastika Mountain. It is the axis mundi, Tagzig Olmo Lung RIng.

In the Tibet, there is a legend associated with Mount Meru. Once, Milarepa arrived in Tibet with the purpose to challenge Naro Bonchung. Milarepa was champion of Vajrayana Buddhism while Naro Bonchung was champion of the Bon religion of Tibet. When they were on the field, both of them engaged in a terrifying sorcerers battle. But the battle couldn't be counted for the decision. Hence, they both agreed that whoever reaches the summit of Mount Meru, he will be the winner.

Naro Bonchung quickly sat on the magic drum and went towards the summit while Milarepa sat on the ground still and meditating. When Naro Bonchung was near at the top, Milarepa suddenly moved in and passed him by riding on sunlight, thus winning the challenge. He then flings a handful of snow on to the top of a nearby mountain which later known as Bonre. Therefore, this legend suggests that the region is also connected with the Bonpo.

As in Hinduism

Hindu believes that Lord Shiva resides at the summit of this mountain. In the Mount Kailash, he sits in a state of perpetual meditation along with his wife Parvati. He is also believed to be the Lord of Yoga and is regarded as the divine master of Yoga, Tantra.

As described in Vishnu Purana, a holy scripture of Hinduism, the mountain is made up of crystal, ruby, gold, and lapis lazuli. It is believed to be the pillar of the world.

As in Jainism

In Jainism also, Mount Kailash is known as Mount Meru. As mentioned in Jain Scriptures, Ashtapada, the mountain next to Mount Kailash, is the site where the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabanatha, attained enlightenment.

Hence in almost all religion, that is being followed in nearby areas places an important position to this sacred place.

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