Nicholas Roerich Estate Museum in Izvara
Nicholas Roerich
Estate Museum
in Izvara

Shambhala

Gods of Kuluta


The gur, priest of the gods, is the most revered person in all Kulu. He is all clad in white, in a homespun woolen mantle, with a small cap on his black and gray hair. His nose is aquiline and he has sparkling deep-set eyes. His legs are also covered with white.

The gur is seated on a rug, and having completed the burning of his incense, he gives every one of us a flower as a sign of the grace of the gods.

The gods are very satisfied, he informs us, We did not offend them. On the contrary we have even collected their images near our house, bringing them from an old ruined temple. There is the statue of Juga-Chohan on horseback, there is also the goddess Kali, the Rishi Kartik Swami Nansigang, Parbati and several images of Nar-sing, the protector of this place.

“Tell us, gur, have you seen Narasimha?” we ask him. “We heard that many people have seen the protector of these regions.”

Before the gur had time to answer, a Hindu school teacher, who was present, replied:

“Certainly many of us have seen Narasimha. The old Rajah, who became the protector of this valley, wanders at night-time near his former castle and along the mountain paths. All your servants here have seen how on a moonlight night, a tall, majestic figure with a long staff has descended the mountain and disappeared under their very eyes. ... I have myself seen Narasimha twice. Once in this very house. The protector entered my room at night, and touching me, wanted to tell me something. But it was so sudden that I became frightened and the vision disappeared. Another night I returned by the mountain road from the castle homeward. And I met the protector himself, who said: ‘Why walk so late when everybody already sleeps?’ You can ask Capt. B. and the wife of the planter L. They both know of apparitions of Narasimha.”

And the old gur, chewing his thin lips, said:

“I have seen Narasimha. And also the goddess. She came to me as a small child and blessed me for my initiation as gur. I was very young at the time. At the gates of the temple I imposed a fast on myself and sleeplessness for seventy-two hours. And in the morning after these hours had passed, an unknown little girl came to me. She was about seven years old, dressed in superb robes, as if for a festival, although it was an ordinary day. And she said to me: ‘Your task is fulfilled. Go and act as you decided!’“

The gur has told us much about the great local Rishis: the gods in the valley live in prosperity. They have plenty of property and land. Without their sanction nobody is allowed to fell a tree. The gods visit each other as guests. Many people have seen the gods traveling. Sometimes they fly, sometimes they walk with great leaps propping themselves on sticks. Of course, besides that, several times every year they have triumphal processions with drumbeats and trumpets as accompaniment. In the store houses of the temples are hidden rich garments, pearls, gold and silver masks—all attributes of the gods.

The wife of the planter L. told us that indeed, staying once overnight at the Naggar castle, she was awakened by a noise in the neighboring room and on the threshold a white figure appeared of medium height, but she became terribly frightened and the figure disappeared, making such a loud noise that two English ladies, sleeping next door on the other side, became very much frightened. And with the same noise the figure moved along other parts of the castle. Mrs. L. also saw another interesting thing. On the maidan of Sultanpur she saw a dog running, pursued by a white transparent figure.

A Brahmin in a large yellow turban told us how the local gods help the inhabitants of Kulu valley.

“Some misfortune happened in the house of a man, and in terror he fled up into the mountains, seeking the help of the gods. Three days he spent on the rocks. Some one invisible brought him food and a voice said: ‘You may return home.’ And the man returned and found everything in order. Another man went into the mountains of Manikaran and secluded himself in meditation. An unknown yogi appeared before him and surrounded him with radiant light. From that day on all the inhabitants of the valley followed that man, paying him homage and trust. This was about fifty years ago. If you want to try to see a Rishi, go up into the mountains, to one of the mountain lakes. And in fasting and prayer stay there, and perhaps one of the protectors will appear before you.”

Thus the people of Kulu regard their deities with familiarity. In this ancient place, as in Naggar, and in Manali, are gathered all the great names. The law-giver, the Manu himself, gave his name to Manali. The great Arjuna, in a miraculous way, laid a passage from Arjuna-gufa to Manikaran, where he went to the hot springs. After the great war, described in the Mahabharata, the Pandavas came to Naggar and high above the Thava temple they built their castle, the remnants of which arc still being shown. Here also in Kulu valley lived Vyasa, the compiler of the Mahabharata. Here is Vyasakund the sacred place of fulfilment of all wishes. In Bajaura, near the river Beas, stands a temple connected with the name of Geser Khan. Coming from the side of Ladak, the great hero here overtook his enemies and defeated them. On the same river Beas, called in history Hypathos, near Mandi, Alexander the Great, once stopped. A hill is shown there connected with the conqueror’s name. On the top of the hill are some ruins.

Here also in the neighborhood lies the famous lake Ravalsar, the place where the great teacher Padma Sam-bhava stayed. Thousands of pilgrims visit this remarkable place, coming from beyond the mountain ridges of Tibet, Sikhim, Ladak and Lahoul, where Buddhism prospers. From Kulu came the famous propagator of Buddhism, Santa Rakshita. It has been ascertained that Kulu and Mandi are the sacred lands Zahor, which so often are mentioned in ancient records. Here after the persecution of the impious King Landarma were hidden the most ancient books. Even the place of these hidden treasures is indicated approximately.

In Naggar is shown the cave of the famous spiritual teacher Pahari Babu, who converted the cruel Rajah into leading a pious life. It is a lovely, quiet place, hidden among dense deodars and pine trees. A small brook gurgles and birds call to each other. A Brahmin guards the sacred cave, which has now been adorned by a Temple. The chief deity of this temple is an image of—as the Brahmin calls Him—Taranata. He brings the image out of the temple, and one cannot fail to recognize in it Tatha-gata, the Gotama Buddha—the Teacher. In this way the Hinduism of the hill Paharis has become blended with its predecessor—Buddhism. In other temples also one can see, besides Shiva, Kali and Vishnu, images of Buddha, Maitreya and Avolokiteshvara. And all these memorial images are reflected in the gathering of the three hundred sixty Rishis, the protectors and holders of this blessed place.

One cannot omit to mention that under the name of Trilokanath—Lord of the Three Worlds—in upper Kulu, as also in Chamba State and Lahoul, Avolokiteshvara is worshiped. This is confirmed by the typical aspects of the images.

On the border of Lahoul, which is also an ancient former Tibetan principality, on the rocks, are inscribed images of a man and a woman up to nine feet high. It is said that this was the height of the ancient inhabitants. It is curious, that in Bamiam, in Afghanistan, where there are also huge images on the rocks, these are also connected with a legend of the height of ancient giants.

The earthquakes in Kangra have destroyed many of the temples, but the memory of the people preserves the names of heroes and teachers. Here also are erected monuments of a different character, reminding one of things which might well be forgotten. In Mandi and in Kulu you can see big stone stelae like ancient menhirs, with some time-worn images. In close groups stand these granite blocks, hiding some secret. What is this secret? What memory do they recall? These memorials refer to all the generations of local rajahs, and show the number of their wives, who were buried alive together with the body of their deceased sovereign. This is the cruel custom, against which Akbar had already fought; sometimes this unifier of India rushed personally on his steed to prevent the cruel fate of the innocent women.

These stones speak of the past. But to the north of Kulu rise the white peaks of the main Himalayan range. Beyond them lies the road to Lahoul and Ladak and the main white giant is called Guru-Guri Dhar—the Path of the Spiritual Teacher. This conception unites all Rishis into a great whole, leading the way to the Heights.

In this Silver Valley the Great Shepherd called to life all living beings by the silvery sounds of his flute. He calls toward joy. And the apple-trees, pear-trees, cherry-trees and plum-trees respond in their enthusiasm of blossoming. The willow-tree opens its fluffy blossoms, apricot-trees turn lilac, the vigilant nut-tree unfolds in rich yellow, and as a healing nectar flows the aromatic sap of the deodars.

Under the apple-tree, covered with rose-colored blossoms, the eternal Krishna, on his silver flute, plays his divine songs of regeneration.

Naggar
1929



Museum Address: 188414, Izvara Village, Volosovo District, Leningrad Region, Russia.
Phones: +7-813-73-73-273 (group tours); Phone/Fax +7-813-73-73-298 (general)
Museum Director: Cherkasova Olga Anatolievna E-mail: isvara_museum@mail.ru