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Lahul and Spiti




Page: 23/27

Hindu Books > Temples And Legends of India > Temples And Legends of Himachal Pradesh > Lahul and Spiti

Temples And Legends Of Himachal Pradesh

Page22

According to one belief the object of putting on masks of grotesqueappearance is to give an. idea to the spectators of the types of dread monsters who are met by the soul after it quits the earthly plane. These masks are made after many imaginative figures of monsters, dragons, beasts, devils, imps, spirits and skeletons. The departed soul is frightened and perplexed by these terrifying figures and then the lama or some saint appears to protect it and guide it to a safe end. The theory obviously is an attempt to establish the supremacy of priesthood over temporal power and command allegiance from simple god-fearing common folk.

Another belief is that the lamas put on these masks to combat malignant spirits. The figures with demoniac appearances are the terrifying defenders of religion or righteousness and also stand for the horrifying aspects of the Bodhisattvas. Apart from what the popular belief goes, there is some meaning in these plays, which the initiates well understand. Killing the evil king is only an allegory, the real meaning is "Killing of one's own self." The dancers appear in eight different masks or there may be more but then they will be grouped in eight’s. These krodha or horrifying manifestations of the eight great Bodhisattvas helps the monks to acquire the highest insight.

A cloverleaf blade often topped by the head of a khyung (garuda) bird is a very typical ritual attribute called phurbu. It is one of the most important weapons of tantric deities used by the lamas for exorcising evil spirits or pinning down evil demons. This magic dagger is either made of wood, preferably khadira, or steel or even cast in bronze. Phurbus come invariably in use during ritual masked dance. During the tantric ceremonial the devil is summoned up and a spell is cast on him. It is with the phurbu that he is held fast.




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