Aside from the sad loss of life in a plane crash in Nepal today that killed 22 people, 18 of them Bhutanese on pilgrimage, it’s fascinating to watch (from here in Los Angeles) the live Twitter streams with “color commentary” and emerging media coverage.
Notes from the Opposition Leader, various journalists, observers discussing plane safety, how this is the first time a Bhutanese has perished in an aviation disaster, speculation whether the dead used Nepali surnames to get a cheaper rate on the planes, blurbs of the Prime Minister’s remarks on TV, discussing the perilous conditions under which pilgrims traveled to sacred sites every year. A nation mourning and musing, together, out loud, from disparate perches.
All this in a place that had no guarantee of free press until two years ago.
But for now, it’s perhaps most sobering to take a look at the point of pilgrimage most of the dead had visited; it’s attached to the sacred Guru who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan:
“Maratika Cave and Maratika Monastery are located in Khotang District of
Nepal near Mt Everest. Known as Haleshi in the local language it is
approximately 185 km south west of Mount Everest. It is a special place
associated with Guru Padmasambhava and long life.
At the request of the Bodhisattva Avaloketesvara the Buddha Amitabha
taught eighteen Tantras of Long Life. The Dakini Sangwa Yeshe recorded
and hid the teachings as Terma at Maratika.. Guru Padmasambhava, while in
the Kingdom of Zahor met his consort Princess Mandarava who possessed all
the marks of a dakini. The Guru gave teachings and initiations to Mandarava.
Dakinis appeared in the sky and took Guru Padma-
sambhava to Maratika. Mandarava unable to tolerate palace life without the
Guru ran away. Hopelessly lost she prayed to Guru Padmasambhava who
manifested and took Mandarava to Maratika.”