Upper Dolpo – “An ancient trail in search of BON POS”
Bon is commonly considered to be the indigenous religious tradition of Tibet, a system of shamanistic and animistic practices performed by priests called BONPO. Although this is widely assumed by Buddhists, historical evidence indicates that the Bon tradition only developed as a self-conscious religious system under the influence of Buddhism. The Buddhist practitioners of indigenous traditions recognized that there were clear differences between their own practices and those of the foreign faith, and in time people who perceived themselves as adherents of the old religion of Tibet developed a separate tradition, but one that incorporated many Buddhist elements. Although later historical works state that the introduction of Buddhism was initially opposed by "Bon," this term is not even used in the early dynastic records to refer to indigenous traditions and practices. In inscriptions on the tomb of king Senalek (799-815), for example, the term bon refers to the royal priests whose job was to perform rituals for the Yarlung kings.
In early, records, "bon" denotes a particular type of priest who performed rituals to propitiate local spirits and ensure the well-being of the dead in the afterlife. It is only much later, under the influence of Buddhism that "Bon" comes to designate pre-Buddhist Tibetan religious practices in general. It should also be noted that the rituals performed by these early priests as reported in the old records appear to differ substantially from contemporary Bon. As Per Kvaerne notes, for example, they were by all accounts concerned with taking care of the dead through ceremonies intended to ensure their safe journey to the afterlife and their material prosperity after arrival. The rituals of the bon often involved sacrificing animals (mainly horses, yaks, and sheep), making offerings of food and drink, and burying the dead with precious jewels, the benefits of which were apparently transferred to them in the afterlife through shamanistic rituals.
The term Bon for Bonpos (practitioners of Bon) signifies "truth," "reality," and "the true doctrine" which provides a path to liberation. For Bonpos, bon has roughly the same range of meanings that the term cho(chos, dharma) has for Tibetan Buddhists: it refers to their religion as a whole-teachings, practices etc.-which are believed to have been revealed by enlightened beings who took rebirth in order to lead others to salvation. Bon today has absorbed many Buddhist elements, and many of its teachings are strikingly similar to those of Tibetan Buddhism. David Snellgrove contends that it has incorporated so many Buddhist elements that it has become a form of Buddhism that may fairly be regarded as heretical, in that those who follow it have persisted in claiming that their religion was taught not by Sakyamuni Buddha, but by Shen-rab [Shenrap], likewise accepted as Buddha, and that it came not from India, but from Ta-zig [Taksik] and by way of Zhang-zhung [Shangshung]. Such are the Bonpos, who have managed to hold their own down to the present day against the enormously more powerful representatives of orthodox Buddhism, while they are constantly and quite wrongly identified by other Tibetans ... as the persistent practitioners of pre-Buddhist Tibetan religion.
Bonpos are regarded as pagans -and as such they have suffered serious hostility in the past- and nowadays others take as little account of their existence as possible. By western scholars BON is generally understood as referring to the pre-Buddhist beliefs and practices of the Tibetans. Several scholars have discussed the actual meaning of this term. By the few Bonpos who know their texts well BON is explained as the Tibetan equivalent of the Zhang-Zhung term gYer which means 'chant'. This is the original meaning they say, for they know that Bon now covers all the meanings of the Tibetan Buddhist term Chos.
Civilization is taking over even the most remote places of our planet. Nepal is no exclusion. Even the inclement slants of Himalayas cannot prevent the modern world's invasion into its centuries-old cultures and traditions. WE; Holiday mountain treks organizes a photography expedition with the aim to find the trails of the pre-Buddhist Bon culture and religion in West Nepal Himalaya.
Day 01: Morning visit Triten Norbutse Bonpo Gomba in Kathamandu and late afternoon1-hr flight to Nepalgunj. O/N at hotel.
Day 02: Nepalgunj, early morning ½-hr. flight to Jhupal (2475m) then trek to Dunai 2140m/3-hrs Visit Dunai Gomba
Day 03/04: Dunai trek to Baijibara 2650m/5-hrs Visit Taukum & Parle (Youndrung) Bon Gomba
Day 05: Baijibara Laina Odar 3330m/5-hrs Can we trek this part faster to gain 1 day? We need to keep us safe in case the weather conditions do not let us cross the passes later according to schedule
Day 06: Laina Odar trek to Pibuk cave 3475m/5-hrs
Day 07: Pibuk Cave to Langa 3441m/5-hrs
Day 08/09: Langa trek to Dho Tarap 3944m/5-hrs Ribo Bumpa (Buddhist) Gompa, Siphhlog Gompa (Bon Gompa), Dhoro Gompa (Buddhist)
Day 10: Dho Tarap trek to Tyoku 4209m/5-hrs Modo Gompa, Ripchu Gompa, Nimaphug Gompa, Kahakar Gompa, Chhapa Gompa, Shering Gompa, Jhyanjung Gompa – Are these Gompas Bon?
Day 11: Tokyu trek to Numa-La Base Camp 4440m/5-hrs
Day 12: Numala Base Camp trek to Pelungthang Baga-La Base camp Via Numala Pass (5238m) 4631m/7-hrs
Day 13: Baga-La Base Camp trek to Yak Kharka Via Bagala pass (5214m) 3982m/7hrs
Day 14/15: Yak Kharka trek to Ringmo Gaon 3733m/ 4-hrs Thasung Tsoling Bon Gompa.
Day 16: Phoksundo trek to Pungmo 3600m/5-hrs Thaktsen Rabyal Ling Bon Gompa
Day 17: Trek to Cholebu
Day 18: Trek to Phewatung
Day 19: Trek to Nangdola bc
Day 20: Cross the pass 5110m and reach to Shey Gompa
Day 21: Exploration.
Day 22: Trek around the Criuystal mountain crossing Dolmala pass
Day 23: Trek to Yak Kharka
Day 24: Trek to Samling
Day 25: Trek to Bijor
Day 26: Trek to Nela BC
Day 27: Cross the pass and reach to next BC
Day 28: Trek to Karang
Day 29: A day trip to Yangir Gompa
Day 30: Trek to Saldang
Day 31: A rest day to explore the culture and Bonpos
Day 32: Trek to Komache
Day 33: Trek to Simen
Day 34: Trek to Tilje
Day 35: A rest day
Day 36: Trek to Chharkaala Phedi crossing chharka pass 5035m.
Day 37: Trek to Chharka bhot
Day 38: Trek to Molala Phedi
Day 39: Trek to Do Tarap crossing Molala pass 5200m.
Day 40: Trek to Lahini
Day 41: Trek to Tarakot
Day 42: Trek to Dunai
Day 43: Ttrek to Juphal
Day 44: Fly to Kathmandu via Nepalgunj
Trek organize cost: USD 7600 per person and minimum 2 person in the group
Arrival/departure transfers, national park fee, flight cost Kathmandu -Nepalgunj-Juphal-Nepalgunj-Kathmandu, all meals/hot drinks, camping/kitchen gears, guide, cook, helpers, necessary porters, all logistic support and local taxes etc.
Hotels, food in Kathmandu, any monastery entry fee, filming or camera charges, satlite phone, generator expenses, other extra expenses which are not mentioned in the included items.