The King's call for unity and peace through Kalachakra initiation is still relevant today. Observers of a Kalachakra empowerment are not asked to forsake their native religions, but to live up to their ideals and unite in brotherhood and sisterhood with others doing likewise.
Some scholars identify the barbarians mentioned in the Kalachakra literature as Muslims, but this is a hasty and irresponsible conclusion. The Sanskrit word for barbarian, mleccha , means anyone who speaks a non-Sanskrit language, eats beef, and behaves coarsely and crudely.
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Indians have used this term to label all invaders, starting from Alexander the Great. If we examine world history, invasions by barbaric forces inimical to spiritual freedom seem indeed to be cyclical. Although the Kalachakra literature describes many features of the barbarians that suggest they were Islamic — such as their tradition being founded in Mecca, being centered in Baghdad, men being circumcised, women wearing veils, special religious methods for slaughtering cattle, and so on — it does not seem that Islam in general is the reference.
During the early Abassad Caliphate, specifically during the second half of the eighth century and the start of the ninth, fanatic terrorist groups attacked the orthodox Sunni Muslim rulers in Baghdad, Samarqand and elsewhere, trying to overthrow the dynasty. These terrorists followed a religion that they called Islam, but which was actually a cult that adulterated the pure teachings of the Quran with many other doctrines, including those of Manichaeism, another religion of the time. The fact that the Kalachakra literature records the list of prophets of the barbarians as including not only Adam, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and the future messiah Mahdi, but also Mani, the founder of Manichaeism, suggests that the barbarians were in fact some of these terrorist groups.
After their defeat, many of them migrated to present-day northern and central Afghanistan where they encountered a multi-religious society of Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians and Muslims. Their coming would certainly have been seen as a potential invasion of barbarians, and the call for everyone to join together in harmony and follow purely the ethical principles of their own religions would have been made to the local Muslims as well.
This is an important point to remember in our present world. Each religion has its fanatic, fundamentalist, terrorist element. We must always take care not to confuse the policies of these disruptive small groups with the pure, original teachings of their mother religions. The Buddhist solution to barbaric terrorism and violence is for society to face them with ethical solidarity. This approach is not unique to Buddhism.
Nowadays many religious and political leaders around the globe call for a return to basic moral values. King Manjushri-yashas advised his people to examine their customs and those of the barbarians. If they found them similar, then their children and grandchildren would see no great difference between the ways of their forefathers and the barbarians.
That being the case, they would more easily accept barbarian rule.
The belief of Manjushri-yashas was that if we immediately resort to violence in dealing with all threats to ourselves and our society, we are no different from savage barbarians. We must seek peaceful solutions. From the above discussion, we can see that from a modern historian's point of view, Shambhala is most likely in what is now northern and central Afghanistan.
Kalacakra Tantra (Kalachakra Tantra)
The fact that major Buddhist monasteries in this area followed the pre-Islamic Iranian court custom of depicting the twelve signs of the zodiac around the ceiling of their main halls adds further support for this hypothesis. Figures representing the twelve zodiac signs also surround the Kalachakra mandala.
Thus just as different purposes call for distinct descriptions of the universe, the same is true concerning Shambhala. For explaining the calculations for the length of the shortest day of the year, Shambhala is the Mount Kailash area.
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For the sake of explaining historical cycles of invasions, it is northern and central Afghanistan. For the sake of a spiritual goal, it is a state of mind that can be reached only by intensive meditation practice. Shambhala, then, is simply a name given to various places relative to specific needs. Upon ultimate scrutiny, Shambhala cannot be found.
The relevancy of understanding this point is that it eliminates suspicion about the origin and validity of the Kalachakra practices. Traditionally it is said that Buddha taught Kalachakra years ago and that it was preserved in Shambhala and reintroduced into India through a transmission received in a vision.
To most modern people this sounds rather incredible and they naturally doubt whether Kalachakra is an authentic teaching of the Buddha. Dharmakirti, a seventh-century Indian Buddhist master, has explained that if a teaching is consistent with what Buddha has expounded and is effective for achieving its stated goal of liberation or enlightenment, then we can say that its source is Buddha's omniscient mind, whether or not the historical Buddha actually delivered it.
What Is Kalachakra Tantra?
Thus, for the purpose of gaining confidence in omniscient mind, we can label the source of the Kalachakra teachings as Buddha and Shambhala. For the purpose of historical analysis, we can postulate its source as the Buddhist monasteries of ninth-century northern and central Afghanistan. From the point of view of voidness and dependent arising, there is no contradiction.
Since the Kalachakra teachings are consistent with other systems Buddha taught, and their practice certainly seems to bring about their intended results, as evidenced by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other great contemporary Kalachakra masters, we can rest assured that the empowerment is the entrance to a reliable spiritual path.
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In order to unite his people, King Manjushri-yashas followed Buddha's example by using the language and metaphors of the audience he taught. Since the majority of his subjects were Hindu, he freely borrowed Hindu images, concepts and terminology.
He styled himself and his descendants as Kalki rulers. Kalki is the tenth and final avatar or incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu who will come in the future as a messiah to fight in an apocalyptic war. In the Hindu purana literature, Kalki will be born in Shambhala, located in the mountains of present-day northern Uttar Pradesh, India. Perhaps Manjushri-yashas just borrowed the name Shambhala to refer to his kingdom and it was never actually called by that name.
It hardly matters. The important point is that for achieving peaceful cooperation among people of different cultures and religions, it is unwise to try to force everyone to speak our own language, use our own cultural metaphors and convert to our own religion or political philosophy. The way to encourage others to be open-minded and receptive to the message of peace is to appeal to the specific aspects of their own culture, religion and political philosophy that naturally resonate with this aim.
King Manjushri-yashas prophesied another barbaric invasion for the year , when anti-spiritual forces will wage a galactic war of conquest and destruction not limited to this planet. He advised the people of that future era to unite in the same way as his own subjects. He also predicted that forces from Shambhala, led by the twenty-fifth Kalki ruler, would arrive at that time in flying ships to turn the tide of battle and defeat the invading hordes.
On the basis of this prophesy, some people have proposed that Shambhala is somewhere in outer space and that its inhabitants travel in flying saucers. As supporting evidence they cite the belief of the Aymara Indians of Bolivia and the Zulus of South Africa that several millennia ago extraterrestrial beings brought the science of calendar-making and other technological skills to this planet. We must take care, however, not to jump to hasty conclusions. Although Buddhism accepts the presence of intelligent life in other parts of the universe, as soon as we open the door for outer space heroes to soar in on flying saucers, we also open the door for witches to fly in on broomsticks.
Kalachakra Tantra Reader’s Guide
The Kalachakra commentaries explain that wars against spirituality must be understood on two levels: as invasions by external hordes of barbarians, and as attacks by internal swarms of barbaric disturbing emotions and attitudes, led by confusion about reality. The various weapons and forces mentioned by the King that need to be used to win victory symbolize various realizations gained through spiritual practice, such as compassion, clear seeing of reality and so forth. These forces have their home in clear light mind which, like the etymological meaning of Shambhala, is the abode of bliss.
The fifteenth-century Gelug commentator Kedrub Je has cautioned not to consider these wars on only a symbolic level, and to remember that they also refer to historical events. The external, internal and alternative cycles of time are all equally real. The closest example in Western culture is the account of exodus in the Old Testament. In the mystical tradition of Judaism, exodus symbolizes the spiritual path.
Born into the slavery of confusion, we first must free ourselves from its grossest bonds and then wander in the desert of further spiritual practice until finding the promised land. This symbolism is based on a historical occurrence and its application as an analogy does not question that the event actually happened.
The same is true of the prophesied war of the future. How best to handle a threat of war? King Manjushri-yashas advised that sharing the achievements of our culture could turn invaders from their barbaric ways without resorting to battle. If others can appreciate the advantages offered by a more refined way of life, and have its advances made readily available to them, they may shed their violent methods more easily.
Kalachakra - Wikipedia
The King used the example of sharing the scientific and technological knowledge of Shambhala with the barbarians and warned against keeping this knowledge secret. The King's wise counsel is still relevant today. Universal education and equal opportunity for self-improvement are the most potent methods for preventing violent crime.
At the time of King Manjushri-yashas, tables of planetary positions were compiled and circulated so that people did not have to work out the complicated mathematics themselves.
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