Continued from yesterday…
At the moment I am sitting in the soft early morning light of Dal Lake in Srinagar. The contrast between Ladakh and here is phenomenal. I will get into it somemore later but I want to finish the story of Ladakh first.
The day we had at Hemis monastery was a fitting introduction to the people, the religion and the area. Ladakhans are predominantly Buddhist and have traditionally been somewhat of a matriarchal society, certainly women here have much greater freedom and autonomy than anywhere else I have experienced in India – admittedly a limited sampling – and the society reflects that. Women seem to hold the land, they work alongside the men, and can marry and divorce by their own choice. It certainly makes for a comfortable environment for a bunch of independent western women!
Over all I find them to be a most courteous people and “happy” if one can broad stroke such a thing. There seems to be a security within their Buddhism which provides a practical and very pragmatic base for their lives. One must strive to become a good Buddhist of course but they recognize that the realities of life will sometimes preclude following the tenets absolutely. I have to say I really like a religion which is so understanding of human frailties!
Tsering has been doing his patient best to educate us, in a small way on some of the intricacies of the religion and like most I suppose, it looks exceedingly simple until you start delving into it and then it is like a calm lake on the surface with a whole world underneath. There are two main philosophies of thought which form the backbone and innumerable waypoints from there. I may be wrong but it appears that unlike virtually every other major religion, the adherents of each philosophy don’t fight each other – which is extraordinary if you look at the histories of various religious wars through the ages.