Hidden Lands in Himalayan Myth and History: Transformations of Beyul (sBas yul) through Time
Hidden Lands in Himalayan Myth and History: Transformations of Beyul (sBas yul) through Time
170 St. George Street, Room 317 & 318
Time: Dec 15th, 9:00 am End: Dec 17th, 9:00 pm
Interest Categories: Religion, Study of (FAS), East Asian Studies (FAS), 2000-
The Centre for Buddhist Studies presents
Hidden Lands in Himalayan Myth and History: Transformations of Beyul (sBas yul) through Time
Friday, 15th December – Sunday 17th December 2017
Convened by Dr. Frances Garrett, Professor Geoffrey Samuel, Elizabeth McDougal and Ian Baker
Sponsored by the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Centre for Buddhist Studies at the University of Toronto, the Body, Health and Religion Research Group of Cardiff University, and the Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai Yehan Numata Program in Buddhist Studies at the University of Toronto.
Venue: Rooms 317 and 318, Jackman Humanities Building, University of Toronto, 170 St George St, Toronto, ON M5R 2M8
Friday, 15th December 2017
9.00 – 10.30 REGISTRATION AND TEA
10.30 – 11.45 Professor Geoffrey Samuel, Welcome and keynote lecture: “Hidden Lands of Tibet in Myth and History”
11.45 – 1.30 LUNCH
1.30 – 2.45 Dr. Callum Pearce, “Hidden Lands for Buried Villages: The Meaning of sbas yul in Ladakh”
2.45 – 4.00 Annie Heckman, “Opening Hidden Lands: Geomancy and Prophecy in the Life of Tangtong Gyalpo”
4.00 – 4.15 TEA BREAK
4.15 – 5.30 Amber Moore, “Twilight Worlds of the Yogin?: Landscape Interpretation and Ritual Construction at Guhye?vari and Sankhu Vajrayogin?, Nepal”
Saturday, 16th December 2017
9.00 – 10.15 Ian Baker, “Outer, Inner, and Secret Pemakö: The Tibetan Quest for an Immanent Paradise in the Eastern Himalayas”
10.15 – 10.30 TEA BREAK
10.30 – 11.45 Dr. Fabian Sanders, “Understanding Beyul Pemakö within the Space-Time of Guru Padmasambhava”
11.45 – 1.30 LUNCH
1.30 – 2.45 Elizabeth McDougal, “Shapeshifting Goddess: The Consecration of Pemakö’s Yang Sang Chu Region by the 20th Century Tertön, Dudjom Drakngak Lingpa (a.k.a. “Tertön Ngagey”)”
2.45 – 4.00 Dr. Samuel Thévoz, “First Manifestations of Pemakö in the Western world: Adrup Gönbo’s Impressions of France and Jacques Bacot’s Le Tibet révolté”
4.00 – 4.15 TEA BREAK
4.15 – 5.30 The 11th Lelung Rinpoche, “Opening Sites in the Hidden Lotus Land”
5:30 – 6.00 Jon Kwan, FILM: “Glimpses from a Hidden Land”
Sunday, 17th December 2017
9.00 – 10.15 Dr. Hildegard Diemberger, “Did Beyuls Play a Part in the Development of Tibetan Book Culture?”
10.15 – 10.30 TEA BREAK
10.30 – 11.45 Kerstin Grothmann, “The Hidden Land of Pachakshiri: Transformation from Cultural and Political Territory to a Unique Himalayan Travel Destination”
11.45 – 1.30 LUNCH
1.30 – 2.45 Barbara Hazelton, “Pilgrimage Guides of Padma-bkod: Walking the Body of Dorje Phagmo”
2.45 – 4.00 Dr. Lindsay Skog, “Beyul Khumbu: Hidden Valley to Activist Package”
4.00 – 4.15 TEA BREAK
4.15 – 5.30 FILM: Anna Balikci’s “Pang Lhabsol”
Abstracts and Bios
Professor Geoffrey Samuel (University of Sydney): Hidden Lands of Tibet in Myth and History
An opening presentation and discussion. The sources of the concept of beyul in Indian Buddhist thought and its initial development in the post-imperial period in Tibet will be traced, as will its historical evolution and the subsequent development of Western scholarship in this area. Particular attention will be given to the different kinds of beyul, their transformations over time, and the different ways in which scholars have approached beyul. The paper will conclude with a discussion of the possibilities for a more integrated and holistic understanding of the beyul phenomenon.
Geoffrey Samuel is Emeritus Professor at Cardiff University, Wales, U.K. and Honorary Associate at the University of Sydney, Australia, where he directs the Body, Health and Religion (BAHAR) Research Group. His academic career has been in social anthropology and religious studies, and his books include Mind, Body and Culture (1990), Civilized Shamans: Buddhism in Tibetan Societies (1993), Tantric Revisionings (2005), The Origins of Yoga and Tantra (2008) and Introducing Tibetan Buddhism (2012). His current research interests include Tibetan yogic health practices, Tibetan medicine, and the dialogue between Buddhism and science.
Dr. Callum Pearce (University of Aberdeen): Hidden Lands for Buried Villages: The Meaning of sbas yul in Ladakh
To go by local stories, beyul are seemingly ubiquitous in Ladakh: hidden in the higher valleys, beneath the mountains and even on the desert plain beside the region’s single airstrip. Yet descriptions of these places rarely accord with textual representations of beyul from elsewhere in the Himalaya, and there is no history of migration-pilgrimages as in other areas. In Ladakh the terms beyul and beyulpa are used somewhat loosely, and carry multiple connotations: beyul may be the sites of future villages, the domains of spirits or repositories of buried treasure, while the ambiguity of beyulpa allows these figures to connect the personal experiences of Ladakhis with the pan-Asian stories of threatening spirits and the actions of enterprising modern tulku. These oral descriptions often seem to echo accounts given by anthropologists working in the Nepal Himalaya, and suggest that the living beyul is something inherent in the landscape: not merely an item of myth and history, but with an
Callum Pearce is an anthropologist, currently employed as the Teaching Fellow in Asian Religions at the University of Aberdeen. He has recently completed a PhD in Social Anthropology at Aberdeen on spirits, landscape and perception among Buddhist laity in Ladakh, based on twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork in the Leh valley and central Zangskar. Prior to this he studied at the University of Oxford and the University of London
Annie Heckman (University of Toronto): Opening Hidden Lands: Geomancy and Prophecy in the Life of Tangtong Gyalpo
While the non-human turn and critiques of the division between nature and society are important themes in contemporary philosophy, their impact is just now being explored more fully in studies of Tibetan life literature. The 1609 life story of yogin, blacksmith, and civil engineer Tangtong Gyalpo (d. 1485) states that its protagonist opened numerous hidden lands, or beyul, along the edges of the Himalayas in southern Tibet. These hidden lands are among many sacred sites in the story where animals and deities both aid and challenge the yogin in his quest to collect iron, construct bridges, and establish reliquaries. Building on the work of scholars who have examined the transmission of Buddhist teachings via Tangtong Gyalpo’s visionary experiences, this paper sketches a geographical and historiographical account of the hidden lands appearing in his life story. Placing this narrative in conversation with other Tibetan texts about these specific hidden sites, such as pilgrimage guides, histories, and prophecies, this paper demonstrates the importance of non-humans, land features, and yogic accomplishment in shaping 17th-century southern Tibetan regional narratives.
Annie Heckman is a doctoral student in the Department for the Study of Religion. After receiving her MFA in Studio Art (New York University, 2006), Annie spent several years working in the visual arts as an educator, artist, and designer, teaching at DePaul University and at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Examining certain Tibetan texts as part of her studio research, Annie studied Tibetan language through the University of Chicago’s Graham School before relocating to Toronto to pursue further studies. She has since received the Dipty Chakravarty Award for excellence in the study of South Asian Society, History, and Culture, and the Phool Maya Chen Award in Buddhist Studies. Her research focuses on the agency of non-humans in Tibetan life literature.
Amber Moore (University of Toronto): Twilight Worlds of the Yogin?: Landscape Interpretation and Ritual Construction at Guhye?vari and Sankhu Vajrayogin?, Nepal
Sankhu Vajrayogin?, identified as Kha?gayogin? or Ugrat?r?/Ekaja??; the fierce guardian of dzogchen tantras and termas, is located North-East of the Kathmandu Valley near the ancient Newar town of Sankhu. Guhye?vari, a ?akti p??a, is referred to as V?r?h?’s Womb Fluid (phagmo mngalchu) by the Tibetans and is located in Deo Patan, the ancient Newar settlement of Kathmandu. These power places situated at major Newar centers along the trade route to Tibet, were both revealed from under pre-historic lakes and comprise two of the four principle yogin? sites of the valley venerated by Vajray?na Buddhists. I will be discussing the multivalent origin myths, narrative mappings and “hidden” meanings associated with these tantric sites and their related literature within the context the Newar social milieu of Nepal Mandal as it has historically interfaced with Tibetans. I utilize the undated Newar and Sanskrit Mani?ailamah?vad?na, Khenpo Menlha Phuntsok’s Balyul gnas yig and Orgyan Lingpa’s Ka’thang sde lnga as literary lenses into these ‘twilight’ worlds.
Amber Marie Moore is currently enrolled in the Ph.D program at the Dept. for Religious Studies, University of Toronto. Her present research, grounded in both textual finds and material/ritual culture, focuses on narrative emplacement of the Newar and Sanskrit Ma?i?ailamah?vad?na at Sankhu, Nepal in the tradition of the Newar Buddhist Vajrac?ry?s. Having completed her B.A. in Kathmandu on Tibetan Buddhist Studies and Himalayan Languages where she completed a translation of the Golden Rosary from Lonchenpa’s Khandro Nyingtik, she is also interested in shedding light on the opaque history of religious interface and transmission between Tibetan and Newar Buddhists. Having spent time in retreat in Tibet and Labchi mountain, Nepal, the ne of Korlo Dompa’s speech, she has guided pilgrims across the Tibetan plateau, from Yeshe Tsogyal’s cave in Nangchen, Kham to the Kathmandu Valley and Buddhist Heartland. The revelation of hidden sacred geography and texts in the tantric Buddhist context is a topic that has been close to her heart for more than 15 years.
Ian Baker (University of Strathclyde): Outer, Inner, and Secret Pemakö: The Tibetan Quest for an Immanent Paradise in the Eastern Himalayas
This illustrated presentation will chronicle Tibetan accounts of the Hidden-Land of Pemakö through the tantric Buddhist rubric of ‘outer, inner, secret, and innermost secret’, as it was applied to the landscapes of hidden-lands (beyul) and to Pemakö in particular. The paper will argue that such an approach allowed beyul to be considered simultaneously as geographical phenomena and mutable projections of human consciousness, and thus as fertile fields for deepening levels of tantric Buddhist practice. As a corollary, tantric Buddhist practice itself will be examined in light of increasing pilgrimage activity in Lower Pemakö in the wake of rapidly advancing infrastructure and ecologically impactful development. The presentation, and associated paper, will also offer a visual overview of Beyul Pemakö’s most iconic sacred sites, based on a series of ten expeditionary pilgrimages to the region between 1990 and 2015.
Ian Baker was honoured by National Geographic Society as one of seven “explorers for the millennium” for his ethno-geographical field research in Tibet’s Tsangpo gorges and his team’s documentation of a waterfall that had been the source of geographical speculation for more than a century, and which Tibetans describe as the portal to the innermost realm of Beyul Pemakö, the ‘Hidden Land Arrayed Like Lotuses’. He is the author of seven books on Himalayan and Tibetan cultural history, environment, art, and medicine, including ‘The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibet’s Lost Paradise’, which chronicles his research on the Himalayan phenomena of ‘hidden-lands’ (beyul) from a variety of perspectives. Baker has also contributed articles and photography to National Geographic Magazine, as well as written for academic journals and publications. He is currently affiliated with the Department of History at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.
Dr. Fabian Sanders (Shang Shung Institute) Understanding Beyul Pemakö within the Space-Time of Guru Padmasambhava
The life and deeds of the great Tantric master Guru Padmasambhava took place in the general framework of Indian and Tibetan cosmological traditions. Many of the activities of the Guru from O??iy?na seem to be concerned in particular with the preparation of a set of doctrinal and methodological devices intended to provide assistance to beings faring in particular locations – notably the Himalayas – and in particular epochs, like the remaining part of the “age of strife” (rtsod dus). One such device is definitely the gter ma tradition, and another less known one is the consecration of particular places as ‘hidden lands’ (sbas yul), designed to provide the circumstances for certain necessary processes to take place. In my talk I will try to put forward some ideas and reflections based on some relevant texts and oral traditions I have come across, with special reference to the sbas yul padma bkod, trying to find answers to a few questions while raising many more.
Fabian Sanders was born in Salo’, Italy, from German parents. After studying Chinese and Sanskrit languages he deepened his knowledge of Eastern, Central and South Asian traditions and cultures, finally focusing on those of the Tibetan world. He began working with the 9th Khalkha Jestun Dampa on the history of his lineage and his biography for his PhD Thesis and became a student of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu. Alongside his research on and translation of classical Tibetan texts, he devotes himself to the endeavour of carefully understanding the doctrinal principles and spiritual practices of the Himalayan region. Currently he teaches Tibetan language and translation for the Shang Shung Foundation and is academic director of the Shang Shung Institute for Tibetan Studies, UK branch.
Elizabeth McDougal (University of Sydney): Shapeshifting Goddess: The Consecration of Pemakö’s Yang Sang Chu Region by the 20th Century Tertön, Dudjom Drakngak Lingpa (a.k.a. “Tertön Ngagey”)
This paper looks at the emergence of the Yang Sang Chu region of lower Pemakö as a focal point for contemporary Pemakö pilgrims. It looks at the life and guidebooks of the 20th century Pemakö Tertön, Dudjom Drakngak Lingpa (a.k.a. Tertön Ngagey), and how these consecrated the Yang Sang Chu tributary region of the Lower Tsangpo River and firmly placed there the navel and secret chakras of the goddess Vajrav?r?h?, along with several of the 24 Sa?vara/Hevajra p??ha. Looking to the Tertön’s hagiography, néyig and the oral accounts of Pemakö pilgrims, the paper considers how focus on the geographical layout of Pemakö has extended southwards since the turn of the 20th century. It questions how Tertön Ngagey’s visions and writings have been forces behind this extension, and whether or not Pemakö’s most sacred centre, Chimé Yang Sang, has been
Elizabeth McDougal is a Canadian doctoral student at the University of Sydney whose current research focuses on the practice lineages of Eastern Tibet, particularly that of a nuns’ community in Nangchen, and their responses to a rapidly modernizing worldview in China since the 1980s. She lived and studied as a Tibetan Buddhist nun in India and Tibet for seventeen years, and completed an MA in Indian Philosophy in Varanasi, India, followed by an MA dissertation at the University of Sydney. Her fascination with Beyul is aside to her doctoral research, but relevant in considering the psychological qualities of Tertön Ngagey’s practice lineage and how they would have influenced his revelation of Pemakö guidebooks and sacred sites.
Dr. Samuel Thévoz (Robert HN Ho Family Foundation, Swiss National Foundation for Scientific Research): First Manifestations of Pemakö in the Western world: Adrup Gönbo’s Impressions of France and Jacques Bacot’s Le Tibet révolté
In my contribution, I intend to re-examine the first, multi-faceted, manifestations of Pemakö in the Western world and their “global” implications. Following on Pandit Kinthup’s heels, and prior to Capt. Bailey, the French explorer and Tibetologist-to-be Jacques Bacot gave an account of his quest for this hidden-land in his travel narrative Le Tibet révolté (which, interestingly enough, has not been translated into English). By the time Bacot’s travelogue was published in 1912, French readers had already had access in periodicals and newspapers to a guide-book to Pemakö of its own kind: the travel narrative of Adrup Gönbo to France in 1908 translated into French by Bacot. Based on this understudied material, I would like to argue that the multi-polar and geographically shifting uses of the toponym “Pemakö” at stake here highlight the process of the (re)discovery of this hidden-land in the specific context of the dawn of twentieth century and provide crucial insights into the “transformations of Beyu?l through time.”
Dr. Samuel Thévoz’s research focuses mainly on European travel literature to Tibet and modern Buddhism in theater. He is the author of Un horizon infini: Explorateurs et voyageurs français au Tibet (1846-1912). Paris: University Press of Paris-Sorbonne, 2010 and edited the re-print of Marie de Ujfalvy-Bourdon, Voyage d’une Parisienne dans l’Himalaya, Paris: Transboréal, 2014. Recent articles in English include “The French for Shangri-La: Tibetan Landscape and French Explorers” published in French Cultural Studies 25/2 (2014): 103–120; and “On the Threshold of the ‘Land of Marvels:’ Alexandra David-Neel’s in Sikkim and the Making of Global Buddhism” In Transcultural Studies 1 (2016): 149–186.
11th Lelung Rinpoche (Oxford University): Opening Sites in the Hidden Lotus Land
Follow in the footsteps of the 5th Lelung Rinpoche as we trace his two journeys to Pemako, prophesised by dakinis, and made in order to open sacred sites. Drawing on two separate first-hand accounts from the 5th Lelung Pema Shepa Dorje, the 11th Lelung Tulku will present material on his predecessor’s visits and shed light on a broad range of subjects to do with his auspicious journeys; including his motivations for going, who accompanied him, as well as obstacles he encountered along the way. We will discover more details, such as the methods used and ingredients required for the recognition and opening of significant sites within this sacred land, including the most useful places to pray, self-arisen objects, as well as introducing names of the locations and temples that were built in his time.
Lelung Rinpoche completed his Buddhist philosophy studies at Loseling College of Drepung University, India, becoming Geshe Tsorampa in 2004, then studied Tantra at Gyuto Monastery. His current work is focused on the publication of the 46 volumes of his predecessor the 5th Lelung. He has undertaken the responsibility to preserve this tradition by giving teachings and talks in monasteries and universities in the East and West. In reproducing the 5th Lelung’s work, he has special access to his works, including his accounts of the sacred Beyul of Pemako. In 2006 he founded the Geden Phacho Bhucho Preservation Centre in India and has since organised passing on the oral transmissions of many rare teachings to the younger generation. He is continuously engaged in researching and finding rare Buddhist texts and their oral transmissions, oral commentaries, rituals and empowerment lineages. He also gives teachings on Buddhist philosophy to general, academic, and practitioner level students in the East and West in an effort to bring happiness to all. Lelung Rinpoche is an Associate of the Tibetan & Himalayan Studies Centre at Wolfson College, Oxford University, and gives many talks there and at other academic institutions.
Jon Kwan (Film presentation): Glimpses from a Hidden Land
Go on a journey through time and space in the sacred hidden land of the Yolmo Snow Enclosure. Experience some of the sacred sites in the area, from Guru Rinpoche’s self arisen Sun and Moon cave, to the caves of Yeshe Tsogyal and Milarepa, through the eyes of pilgrims arriving there for the first time. Working with an original soundtrack, this artistic interpretation is intended to be a felt experience, inspired by the energy and feeling of being there, the profound history of the
Jon Kwan is a filmmaker working with traditional and 360 (VR) films. His recent work is focussed on supporting the Buddhist teachings and capturing the essence of sacred spaces, taking him across India, Nepal, Mongolia, and to teachings such as the Kalachakra and the Kagyu Monlam.
Dr. Hildegard Diemberger (University of Cambridge) Did Beyuls Play a Part in the Development of Tibetan Book Culture?
Beyuls were not only significant as sacred sites of spiritual realisation and secluded areas in which people could take refuge in times of turmoil, but they were also important sources of medicinal plants, wood, bamboo and paper plants. Combining recent research on Tibetan book technology with the study of the geography and history of various Beyuls, this paper explores the question of whether access to these hidden sacred lands facilitated the introduction of printing and the transformation of book culture in Central Tibet.
Hildegard Diemberger is the Research Director of Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies unit (MIASU) at University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Pembroke College. Trained as a social anthropologist and Tibetologist at Vienna University, she has published numerous books and articles on the anthropology and the history of Tibet and the Himalaya as well as on the Tibetan-Mongolian interface, including the monograph When a Woman becomes a Religious Dynasty: the Samding Dorje Phagmo of Tibet (Columbia University Press 2007), the edited volume Tibetan Printing – Comparisons, Continuities and Change (Brill 2016) and the English translation of two important Tibetan historical texts (Austrian Academy of Science 1996, 2000). She has designed and coordinated a number of research projects funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy and the Austrian Science Fund. She is currently the general secretary of the International Association for Tibetan Studies.
Kerstin Grothmann (Humboldt University): The Hidden Land of Pachakshiri: Transformation from Cultural and Political Territory to a Unique Himalayan Travel Destination
Prior to 1950 the Memba of Mechukha were known as Nänang and their valley, situated on the southern slopes of the Eastern Himalaya, as Pachakshiri. They are followers of the Nyingmapa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and developed as a dominant power in the area, controlling land distribution and acting to some extent as intermediaries in trade between neighbouring Tibeto-Burman-speaking highland societies to the south and Tibetans to the north. The paper will present an example of a non-monastic bca’ yig titled “The regulations for public guidance ‘What to adopt and discard by people’ or the new decree ‘Country filled with light’”. The text describes how the Hidden Land of Pachakshiri was discovered and explored by Buddhist masters from the mid-eighteenth century onwards, and gradually colonised by various people from the Tibetan plateau, the wider Tawang region, and Eastern Bhutan who established a single society in the hidden land. By providing an overview of the bca’ yig’s content and an account of the circumstance of how the present copy of the text came into existence, the paper will show that the text should not be treated as an account providing accurate historical facts about the exploration and colonisation of the hidden land, but rather as an account narrating how today’s Memba community imagines the establishment of the political and cultural territory. Territorial and political changes during the second half of the twentieth century in the region and the disputed status of the international border have continuously challenged the Memba in maintaining the valley as a hidden land. The paper will further discuss what strategies the Memba appropriate to negotiate between their transnational (Tibetan) and national (Indian) affiliation.
Kerstin Grothmann is a Ph.D. Candidate in Tibetan Studies at Central Asian Seminar, Humboldt University, Berlin. Between 2007 and 2009 she conducted research in Arunachal Pradesh (India) among the Memba community of Mechukha (West Siang District), as well as initial research among the Memba of Pemakö (Upper Siang District). Her research focuses on narratives of migration and settlement history, the community’s social organisation, and their territorial and economic practices in the context of shifting territorial rule and geo-political changes. She is author of the book “Wie der su?ße Duft der Blumen” – Die Arshe. Eine Untersuchung von Arbeitsliedern aus dem traditionellen tibetischen Bauhandwerk (Harrassowitz, 2011).
Barbara Hazelton (University of Toronto): Pilgrimage Guides of Padma-bkod: Walking the Body of Dorje Phagmo
In the ritual practice of pilgrimage to holy places in Tibet, ritual guidebooks are commonly used to help the pilgrim navigate the various sacred spots along a pilgrimage route. These handbooks are found in various forms, such as oral stories, hasty notes scribbled down and passed from pilgrim to pilgrim, simply printed guidebooks providing directions and explanations of the holy spots along the circumambulation pathway. They also come in the form of highly refined scholarly works doctrinally explaining multiple meanings of the sacred landscape, historically, biographically and in terms of tantric mandalas of deities and celestial pure lands. Using a number of these guidebooks, particularly revelatory guidebooks of Tantric adepts, this paper analyzes the important Tibetan hidden land of Padma-bkod in Southwestern Tibet. More specifically, it explores the phenomenon of this holy landscape as the body of the goddess Dorje Phagmo and the ritual pilgrimage of Padma-bkod as travelling through the ‘cakras’ of the deity’s body as a Tantric pilgrimage practice. The central inquiry of the paper is to explore the unique manner in which pre-modern Tibetan Tantric adepts envisioned their relationship with the environment as intrinsic to Tantric deity practice within their sacred mandalas, and how these practices were often intimately linked with the discovery of the ritual treasure texts (gter ma) in the form of pilgrimage guide books obtained through visionary experiences. This paper will discuss this complex system of concealing and revealing sacred knowledge and how it underpins and invigorates the pursuit of realization.
Barbara Hazelton, PhD Candidate at University of Toronto, Buddhist Studies. BA in Fine Art History and MA in Buddhist Studies. Dissertation on The King Gesar of Ling revelatory tradition. Research focus on Tibetan epic literature and performance. A practicing artist studying with a Thangka painter in Toronto. A background in Tibetan visual imagery and ritual through studies with Tibetan scholars and ritual specialists. A particular interest is the sacred landscape of Tibet as the confluence of envisioned imaginative world of landscapes, structures, liberation stories, rituals, pilgrimage routes and literature.
Dr. Lindsay Skog (Portland State University/University of Colorado) Beyul Khumbu: Hidden Valley to Activist Package
Nestled in the heart of the Himalaya at the base of Chomolungma (Mt. Everest) and surrounded by snow-capped peaks, the Sherpa homeland of Beyul Khumbu certainly gives the impression of a hidden valley. Yet, the status of Khumbu as a beyul (sbas-yul) remains contested for some. Regardless of this contested history, some Khumbu Sherpas along with others from outside the community have worked to mobilize Beyul Khumbu in order to support environmental conservation and indigenous rights. These efforts, however, have been meet with limited success. This paper will trace the history of Khumbu as a beyul from the rise of the Buddhist monastic community in the region through efforts to mobilize the sacred landscape within global environmental conservation and indigenous rights discourses. In so doing, this paper will explore the ways in which Sherpa relations with the Nepali state have shaped the uptake of the beyul concept among Khumbu Sherpas today.
Lindsay Skog is currently an instructor in the Department of Geography at Portland State University and the Division of Continuing Education at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her current research considers the role of spiritual and cultural values in human-environment relations with particular attention to adaptation to climate change. Dr. Skog earned her PhD in Geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2015. Her dissertation explores spatiality in the cultural politics of religion as claims of authority and territory from monastic institutions, localized place-based deities, and the state overlap in Khumbu, Nepal.