Prostration: when you visit Tibet. You will see lots of people prostrating, either on the circumambulating path of Barkhor, in front of Jokhang temple or Potala Palace. Many visitors do have the idea about what we are doing but many do not know. This is why we thought we should write about the prostration and the reason we do it.
The first thing, we need to see the origin of prostration. The prostration is known as the Namas Kara. which means “I bow to the divine in you”. It is a gesture used to show reverence to the triple gem of Buddhism: the Buddha, Dharma(his teaching) and Sangha (the spiritual community).
According to the Buddha’s life story. He is said to have prostrate before his seat before he sat on the throne prior to his first sermon. After this, the custom of this prostration has continued till date. Buddha did it to suppress the ego, he might get after seating on the high seat. This is as far as our knowledge the first act of prostration in the history of Buddhism.
The word Namas-Kara means “I bow to inner Buddha nature in you”. The Buddha nature means, “the wanting to be happy”. We all sentence beings want to be happy. Whatever we do, it is for happiness. This want is the first question towards the path of Buddha-hood and this is the first motivation wanting to achieve enlightenment.
The next question is, Are we on the right path? Do our actions lead us to real happiness? Most of the time, we are so much clinch to the temporary happiness which later becomes the source of suffering. So if we look closely with the nature of this Samsara. Samsara itself is a source of suffering. So the right path to go out of the samsara, which is pure happiness (Sachi Anand) is the path of Buddha.
In order to be on the path of Buddhism, One must take refuge to the three jewels of Buddhism. There are the Buddha(teacher), Dharma(his teaching) and Sangha( the community of devotees). This is the differentiating point between Buddhist and non-Buddhist. The motive behind this refuge is there is no real happiness in this Samsara. The real happiness is achieved at the stage of enlightenment. In order to achieve enlightenment, I am surrendering my body, mind, and soul to the three jewels of Buddhism.
The act of prostrating is an act of surrendering one’s body, mind, and soul to the three jewels of Buddhism. We prostrate before starting our day in the morning, and at the end of the day before sleeping, in front of the precious object of Dharma like the altar and temple, before doing any religious act.
While prostrating we recite mantras of choice. We do meditation while prostrating too. Reciting the mantra keeps our mind focus on the teaching of Buddha.
Prostration is also a great source of physical exercise. It helps improve the digestion system and balance of four elements in our body.
The benefits of Tibetan Buddhist prostration
when we prostrate, we seek to purify our delusions, negative karma. While prostrating we purify the bad karma and delusion and we generate positive merit.
Steps in prostration
Followings are steps in how to do a prostration?
- First step: is folding of hand. your thumb should be placed inside your hand while making Namas Kara gesture.
- Second step: would be, place the folded hand on your forehead. this gesture signifies the Body.
- Third step: We will place our fold hand near our mouth, this gesture signifies the speech
- Fourth step: We place our fold hand on the heart, this gesture signifies the soul.
- Fifth step: is the prostration. this gesture signifies the surrenders above three.
Types of prostration
There are two types of prostration and there are full body and half body prostration. full body prostration is known as Kyang-Chag and half body prostration is called Kum-Chag. While doing the full body prostration, we reach out to the length of our body thus lay fully on the floor. While making half body prostration, we bow down on our knee and place our head to the floor. The only difference is the space and time. When there is more space and more time we would do full body prostration and if there is less space and if we are in a hurry, then we would do only half body prostration. Besides the difference in reach out, all the others are the same in both types of prostration. We have more information about Tibetan religion in this archive. please follow us for more information about Buddhism and Tibet travel information. we do offer Tibet tour service for international travelers to Tibet.
I-Tibet travel and Tours is fully committed to responsible and Sustainable tourism practice in Tibet. Our privilege to be able to host you in Tibet also makes our responsibility in protecting nature and contributing back communities.
As a Local Tibetan travel agency in Lhasa. Our staffs are 100% local Tibetan tourism professionals. Additionally, We only use local Tibetan guides, other tours crews, and local business. 100% of the travel money goes to locals. Besides, We use 3% of the net profit into Environmental and social initiatives.
Being Tibetan, We know how vital the Tibetan environment is for the entire world. Mountains, glacier, and rivers are all cherished in our culture. We do our best to reduce the environmental impact of your tours in Tibet.
Following are Our ways:
a) No Small plastic bottles in the tour
All the drinking water are provided in the bigger container. So all visitors are asked to bring his/her own water bottle. In this way, we reduce hundreds and thousands of small plastic bottles. All the bigger containers are provided back to the manufacturer for reuse.
b) Incentives for practice
Incentives are given to guide and drivers. Who follow our strict directories on ethical practice towards sustainable and responsible tourism practice.
c) Staff Training every winter
Winter is a low season in Tibet tourism. We provide skill training required for the practice of Responsible and Sustainable tourism practice, first Aids and emergency first responder training. One of our managers is certified Humanity Supply Chain management by fritz institute. We work closely with individuals from institute like Tibet Eco Travel initiatives and Local Tibet Red Cross society and other NGOs.
d) Tree Plantation
Some portion of the tour money are save for our 1000 Tree plantation project. We will plant trees when we will have enough funds.
e) Smaller group size
All our tours are a small group to reduce environmental Impact. Since traveling in a smaller group has less impact on committed in an area than a big group. Therefore all our tour groups are small.
f) Trekking tours and environmental care in the wilderness of Tibet
During your trekking Tours, you will be walking across a very fragile ecosystem. We do take extra care in our trekking tours preventing environmental effects. Following are how are take care of our environment our trekking tours.
1: We nothing leave mother behind.
We make sure we take all our rubbish and leave nothing behind.
2: We protect the grassland
A little destruction of Tibet’s fragile environment is irreversible. So, in the trekking tours, we will not make drainage surrounding your tent. Instead, we will provide trekkers with a better tent with bathtub style floors which prevent water from getting into the tent. We don’t put a small tent toilet. Even if we try to put the grass back, it is not the same. So when you are answering your nature called please enjoy the view.
3: Collecting the garbage along the way.
We have a saying in Tibet, “if you can’t help, don’t harm.” Here is our helping part. We always have extra yaks carrying the Garbages, our yak men will be collecting while waiting for the clients at the campsite. Yak man walks faster than all, and they have free time at the camp. While cook prepares for meals and drinks, We pay yaks men’s incentives in collecting the rubbish around the camp.
I-Tibet travel and tours, identify its self as a social enterprise. For this, we dedicate 3% of our annual net profit to Social and environmental projects. Every winter we buy winter clothes for small children and donate to schools. In this way, besides donating winter cloth, we are also encouraging them to go to school.
It is important to make our guest understand Local Culture, Beliefs, and Ethics. Hence it will make it more comfortable during Our special tour arrangements. Like, your home visit, culture programs, and our others.