Monk who blessed Ever­est climbers dies

New Straits Times - - WORLD -

KATH­MANDU: An 87-year-old Bud­dhist monk who blessed Ever­est climbers headed for the sum­mit of the world’s high­est moun­tain has died in Nepal, lo­cal of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day.

Lama Geshe was a fix­ture of the Ever­est climb­ing com­mu­nity and few would dare at­tempt to climb the fa­bled 8,848m peak with­out first seek­ing his bless­ing.

The Bud­dhist teacher died on Tues­day morn­ing at his home in the vil­lage of Pang­boche, which lies in the shadow of Ever­est in Nepal’s Khumbu Val­ley, for­mer lo­cal of­fi­cial Pemba Tsh­er­ing Sherpa said.

Lama Geshe was revered by the Sherpa com­mu­nity, a Bud­dhist eth­nic group from the Hi­malayas who are the back­bone of Nepal’s moun­taineer­ing in­dus­try, guid­ing hun­dreds of climbers up its moun­tains each year.

Sherpa con­sider Ever­est sa­cred and call it Cho­mol­ungma (“God­dess Mother of Moun­tains”).

“Sher­pas be­lieve that his prayers were ex­tremely pow­er­ful in pro­tect­ing them on Ever­est,” said Dawa Steven Sherpa of Asian Trekking, a moun­taineer­ing ex­pe­di­tion or­gan­iser in Nepal.

“There will be some anx­i­ety among the Sherpa go­ing to the moun­tain this year be­cause they will be miss­ing a vi­tal in­gre­di­ent for safety.”

Each climb­ing sea­son, Lama Geshe would bless hun­dreds of moun­taineers, recit­ing a mantra, or prayer, to the pow­er­ful Bud­dhist god­dess Miy­olangsangma, who lives at the top of Mount Ever­est and whom all climbers must ap­pease if they want to safely sum­mit the peak.

Ten­z­ing Nor­gay, the first man to sum­mit Ever­est with Sir Ed­mund Hil­lary in 1953, of­ten said that Miy­olangsangma guided him up the moun­tain and al­lowed him to reach its peak.

Lama Geshe would also give climbers a tal­is­man con­tain­ing part of the mantra to wear around their necks dur­ing their as­cent of Ever­est.

Lama Geshe stud­ied in Ti­bet as a young boy and earned the high­est aca­demic achieve­ment among monks, a Bud­dhist doc­tor­ate.

He fled Ti­bet dur­ing the Chi­nese oc­cu­pa­tion in the 1950s and re­turned to his child­hood home in the Khumbu Val­ley.

He was mar­ried and had two chil­dren, which is per­mit­ted in cer­tain Bud­dhist monas­tic tra­di­tions.

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