Myths and legends

Myths and legends >> Pangboche monastery

Pangboche is the oldest settlement of the Sherpa people and the highest altitude permanently inhabited place in Khumbu (altitude 3900m). 

But even before the village of Pangboche was founded, a Buddhist monastery appeared in this place (the name Pangboche can come from the word pangup - renunciation). The exact date of the foundation of the monastery is difficult to determine, but many sources say that the monastery was founded by Lama Sangwa Dorje (6th reincarnation of the Tibetan lama Chagna Dorje) 350 years ago and it was from this monastery that Buddhism began to spread in the Khumbu valley.

It is believed that many Tibetan monks went to this valley for retreat long before the Sherpas moved here. One such monk was Lama Sangwa Dorje. Lama was a very powerful monk who knew how to fly. In search of place for retreat, he flew to Khumbu and meditated in different places in the valley. He spent most of his time in a cave near the place where Pangboche Monastery is now located. Usually, local people take care of meditating monks, but at that time there were few locals in the valley and, according to legend, the Yeti brought food and drink to the llama. Sangwa Dorje greatly appreciated the help of the yeti and even made him his follower. When the yeti died (in one version of the legend, it died in an avalanche), the lama preserved his scalp and hand and left them as relics in the Pangboche monastery founded by him. For centuries, the lamas of the monastery used these relics in rituals to bless people, animals, houses and fields, but were stolen in the 90s of the last century.

Another legend says that Lama Sangwa Dorje cut a handful of his hair and sowed it near the monastery. A juniper grove grew out of this hair. Trees in this grove are considered sacred and are not used for logging. The monks of the monastery consider the lama holy and say that the great yogin Sangwa Dorje still lives on Mount Everest.

Pangboche Monastery was almost not affected by the earthquake, which completely destroyed the neighboring Tengboche Monastery. According to local residents, this is understandable, because in the Pangboche Monastery more sacred relics are stored.

In Pangboche, Dumje is regularly held in honor of the birthday of Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava), as well as in honor of the enlightenment of Lama Sangwa Dorje.


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