Tibetan sacred texts speak of a mystical kingdom called Shambhala, hidden behind snow peaks somewhere north of Tibet, where the most sacred Buddhist teachings – the Kalachakra or Wheel of Time – are preserved. It is prophesied that a future king of Shambhala will come with a great army to free the world from barbarism and tyranny, and will usher in a golden age. Similarly, the Hindu Puranas say that a future world redeemer – the kalki-avatara, the tenth and final manifestation of Vishnu – will come from Shambhala. Both the Hindu and Buddhist traditions say it contains a magnificent central palace radiating a powerful, diamond like light.
Shambhala is considered as an extraordinary place. In Sanskrit, Shambhala means a place of peace, happiness, and tranquility. Although no one knows the exact location of Shambhala, it is supposed to be a mystical place which is both visible and invisible. Shambhala is believed to connect the higher world to the earth.
Shambhala has found its mention in many religious scriptures. In sacred Tibetan books like Kanjur and Tanjur, Shambhala is cited as a hidden kingdom located in the north of Bodh Gaya, the Buddhist shrine in North India. It is quoted as an oasis surrounded by snowy mountains glistening with ice. In fact, some lamas describe it to be a place hidden in the mists.
Nicholas Roerich and His Quest for Shambhala
Nicholas Konstantiniv Roerich, a recognized artist, author, archaeologist, humanitarian and peacemaker along with his wife Helena Ivanovna, a musician and a healer, arrived at the port of Mumbai, India on December 2, 1923, to start their exploration in Central Asia. They stayed at Darjeeling, an English town overlooking the great Kanchenjunga ranges in the Himalayas.
Roerich came across many people who filled him with various legends surrounding the Shambhala during his stay in India. According to him, people in India spoke many languages but still understood each other. Roerich says that this understanding is possible only in the time of Shambhala. Based on these inferences, Roerich hoped to be the first westerner to paint Shambhala.
Roerich painted the Warrior of Light illustrating a winged white warrior and his horse in the clouds to depict soldiers defeating the enemies of Shambhala. Although Roerich never actually came across the Shambhala, he painted many artistic pieces based on the legacy he gathered during his travel.
Myths on Shambhala
Shambhala comes associated with many meanings. It is an inner enlightenment where the human will reach one day. According to Indo-Tibetan tradition, there are thirty-two kings of Shambhala.
Rigden Djapo is one of the kings of Shambhala who is thought of as the person who will lead his army against the battle of evil forces.
Vishnu Purana, the sacred text of the Vaishnava branch of Hinduism, describes Shambhala as the birthplace of Kalki, the final avatar or incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Shambhala is also described as the wonders of nature. It is supposed to be a place full of rich vegetation and hot springs located in the middle of snow-clad mountains.
Another legend related to Shambhala is that of Gesar Khan. Gesar Khan is considered as a Buddhist hero who will be the next incarnation of Shambhala. It is believed that Gesar Khan will unite with his army and destroy the evil to create peace and prosperity on the earth.
It is said that people who went looking for Shambhala were never seen or found again. Although it is not proven if this unknown kingdom exists, people are still trying to find out its existence.