Saturday, June 04, 2011

Bylakuppe: The Golden Temple

From Dubare we drove back in the direction of Bangalore, stopping for lunch at the Tibetan settlement in Bylakuppe. We enjoyed a lovely meal of momos before going to the Namdroling monastery, which is a religious centre of Tibetan Nyingma Buddhism. The temple is fairly new, built in 1999, and very gaudy in appearance.

Going inside, I did not get any sense of holiness like I have gotten inside various older religious buildings in different corners of the world, the overwhelming feeling being one of awe over all the bright kitschiness and gilt. I am certain that as it acquires a patina of age and wear, it will start to look more dignified and feel more holy, but right now it just looks pretentious and feels superficial. I am sorry if this opinion offends anyone, but rest assured: it is not meant as a slight to Buddhism but is merely an observation by an outsider. I have gotten the exact same feeling when visiting other new religious buildings, including mosques, churches and Hindu temples. It think it has something to do with an accumulation of faith, if that makes sense to anyone.

1 comment:

Rajan P. Parrikar said...

You are right about the kitsch and the state of the temples in India, especially northern India, with its noxious cocktail of filth, touts, and harassment of tourists (especially if you are white). Exhibit A of the squalor and general degeneration is Varanasi. Still, there are temples (many in Goa and Kerala) that afford tranquility and inspire deep feeling. These are almost always off the tourist track. You are also likely to find a good atmosphere in the Sikh gurudwaras and Jaina temples.

At any rate, this a large topic for another day.

r - jetlagged in Reykjavík