The festival “The Realm of Tibetan Buddhism” was held at the International Centre-Museum named after Nicholas Roerich. Buddhist monks from Drepung Gomang, the largest monastery in Tibet, visited the Museum named after N.K. Roerich for the fifth time to introduce the Muscovites to the centuries-old Tibetan culture and spiritual traditions.
In her address to the participants of the event Mrs Natalia Cherkashina, Deputy Director General of the Museum named after Nicholas Roerich, said that the Museum named after Nicholas Roerich and the monastery of Drepung Gomang are linked with bonds of a long-term friendship. It is no accident, since all the members of the Roerich family studied Buddhism.
The highlight of the festival was the creation of the mandala of Buddha Shakyamuni. A sand mandala is a ritual diagram symbolizing the metaphysical structure of the Universe and depicting a Celestial Palace which, by the monks’ prayers, gets inhabited by the God in whose honor the mandala was created. The legend has it that this mandala was originally drawn by Buddha Shakyamuni himself.
The history of mandala creation started back in the 6th century B.C. Mandalas are built of pounded colored minerals using a special instrument for sand blowing, a conical tube called “chak-pa”.
For six days the monks were skillfully arranging millions of colored grains. Following the previously drawn plan, they created an amazingly beautiful and complicated ornament.
After contemplation and meditation, the mandala was destroyed to the sound of sacred mantras, this ritual symbolizing the impermanence of all things.
Gyal Tsang Rimpoche, head of the Buddhist delegation, expressed his gratitude to the International Centre of the Roerichs and the Foundation “Drepung Gomang Centre” for their hospitality and the excellent organization of the event. At the end of the ceremony Mrs Natalia Cherkashina, Deputy Director General of the Museum named after Nicholas Roerich, presented the monks with colorful publications about the Museum named after N.K. Roerich for the library of the monastery.
The colored grains of the destroyed mandala were dispersed over the Moscow River and distributed among the participants of the ceremony.
It was not so long ago that the ceremony of the sand mandala creation and destruction was accessible only for the initiated monks, but now everybody can participate in it. Many people who visited the Museum named after Nicholas Roerich during the festival had a chance to see this ritual which constitutes an inalienable part of Tibetan spiritual culture.
The festival was finished with the fire puja ceremony. This ritual, preserved since ancient times, eliminates bad karma, gratifies the gods, and helps people follow the path of spiritual development.