2/16/2010 to 2/17/2010 | India , Karnataka

Tibet in Exile I: Mundgod

While the most well known Tibetan exile settlement is near the northern Indian city of Dharmsala home to the Tibetan government in exile actually the largest concentration of Tibetan exiles in India is in the south Indian State of Karnataka.  It is in Karnataka where the great monastic universities of Ganden, Sera, and Dreprong have their campuses in exile.  Mundgod is home to Ganden and Dreprong monasteries.  My Taiwanese friend Sunny has an avid interest in Tibetan Culture and suggested we visit the settlement coinciding with the Tibetan New Year Losar.  Unfortunately there were no particular festivities occurring on the days of Losar that we visited.  Though there was a gathering to pray for the Dalai Lama as he left for the States and a meeting with Barak Obama, in which the main prayer hall was filled with chanting monks.

I find the philosophy of Buddhism interesting and intriguing and Tibetan version in particular is visually fascinating and full of colorful pageantry but I’ve spent enough time with monks to know that they are just people often kids who didn’t really have any choice in their education and the monastery offered them the best opportunity.  Monasteries really in practice seemed to operate like boarding schools with the same range in students you might expect in any such case from the serious students to the class clown.  The internet cafes around Mundgod are constantly filled with young monks.  While not particularly surprised I did find it slightly amusing when I sat down in one such establishment and began to type in the browser window a series of pornography sites came up in the history of recently visited sites.  I smiled, kids are kids, and logged in to my email.

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