Mount Kailasa

Home / Hindu Religion / Saints / JohnWoodroffesWorks / Mount Kailasa


Written by Sir John Woodroffe, Book: Introduction to Tantra Sastra 


THE scene of the revelation of Mahānirvāna-Tantra is laid in Himālaya, the “Abode of Snow,” a holy land weighted with the traditions of the Āryan race. Here in these lofty uplands, encircled with everlasting snows, rose the great mountain of the north, the Sapta-Kula- Parvata. Hence the race itself came, and there its early legends have their setting. There are still shown at Bhimudiyar the caves where the sons of Pāṇ ḍ u and Draupadi rested, as did Rama and his faithful wife at
the point where the Kosi joins the Sitā in the grove of Aśoka trees. In these mountains Munis and Ṛ ṣ is lived.
Here also is the Kṣ etra of Śiva Mahādeva, where his spouse Parvatī, the daughter of the Mountain King, wasborn, and where Mother Ganges also has her source.
From time immemorial pilgrims have toiled through these mountains to visit the three great shrines at Gangotri1, Kedarnath 2 and Badrinath3 At Kangri, further north, the pilgrims make the parikrama of Mount Kailāsa (Kang Rinpoche), where Śiva is said to dwell.
This nobly towering peak rises to the north-west of the

1 Source of the Ganges.
2 A matha and temple dedicated to Śri SadāŚiva in charge of the Śaiva
ascetics called Jan ̣ gama. The Devatā is also worshipped at four other places
along the Himalayan chain—Tungnath, Rudranath, Madhmaheśwar, and
Kalpeśvar. These and the first-named form the “Panchkedar.”
3 A celebrated temple dedicated to an incarnation of the Deva Viṣ ṇ u, who
from Kūrmācala is said to have descended in his Kūrma form. As to
Badarika see Mahābhārata c. 92 Āraṇ ya-Parvan.



sacred Manasarowar Lake (Mapham Yum-tso) from amidst the purple ranges of the lower Kangri
Mountains. The paradise of Śiva is a summerland of both lasting sunshine and cool shade, musical with the song of birds and bright with undying flowers. The air, scented with the sweet fragrance of Mandhāra chaplets, resounds with the music and song of celestial singers
and players. The Mount is Gaṇ a-parvata, thronged with trains of Spirits (devayoni), of which the opening chapter of Mahānirvāṇ a-Tantra speaks.


And in the regions beyond rises Mount Meru, centre of the world-lotus. Its heights, peopled with spirits, are hung with clusters of stars as with wreaths of Mālati flowers. In short, it is written:1 “He who thinks of Himācala, though he should not behold him, is greater than he who performs all worship in Kāśi (Benares). In a hundred ages of the Devas I could not tell thee of the
glories of Himācala. As the dew is dried up by the morning sun, so are the sins of mankind by the sight of Himācala.”

It is not, however, necessary to go to the Himālayan Kailāśa to find Śiva. He dwells wheresoever his worshippers, versed in Kula-tattva, abide, 2 and His mystic mount is to be sought in the thousand-petalled lotus3 (sahasrarapadma) in the body of every human jīva, hence called Śiva-sthana, to which all, wheresoever situate, may repair when they have learned how to
achieve the way thither.


1 Skanda-Purāṇ a.
2 Kulārṇ ava-Tantra (chap. IX).
3 See Tripurāsāra, cited in Bhāskarāyas Commentary on Lalitā-sahasranāma,
verse 17. Goroh sthanam hi Kaliāsaṃ as the Yoginī-Tantra (chap. i)


Śiva promulgates His teaching in the world below in the works known as Yāmala, Dāmara, Śiva-Sūtra,1 and in the Tantras which exist in the form of dialogues between the Devatā and his Śakti, the Devī in Her form as Pārvatī. According to the Gāyatri-Tantra,2 the Deva Gaṇ eśa first preached the Tantra to the Devayoni on Mount Kailāsa, after he had himself received them from
the mouth of Śiva.

After a description of the mountain, the dialogue opens with a question from Parvati3 in answer to which and those which succeed it, S’iva unfolds His doctrine on the subjects with which Mahā-nirvāṇ a-Tantra deals.














© 2010 All Rights Reserved.