July 25, 2016
2665 MONGOLIA - A lama boy
Buddhism in Mongolia derives much of its recent characteristics from Tibetan Buddhism (of the Gelug and Kagyu lineages), which combines elements of the Mahayana and the Tantric schools with traditional Tibetan rituals of curing and exorcism, sharing the common Buddhist goal of individual release from suffering and the cycles of rebirth. Westerners use for Tibetan Buddhism the term "lamaism" (literally, "doctrine of the lamas": lama jiao) to distinguish it from a then traditional Chinese form (fo jiao).
Lama (from Tibetan Bla-ma - "superior one") is a title for a teacher of the Dharma in Tibetan Buddhism, and is similar to the Sanskrit term guru. Historically, the term was used for venerated spiritual masters or heads of monasteries. Today the title can be used as an honorific title conferred on a monk, nun or advanced tantric practitioner to designate a level of spiritual attainment and authority to teach, or may be part of a title such as Dalai Lama or Panchen Lama applied to a lineage of reincarnate lamas (Tulkus).
There is a general sense in which any Tibetan Buddhist teacher is called a lama, and even, due to misunderstandings by early western scholars, the term has been erroneously applied to Tibetan monks in general. In Mongolia during the 1920s, one third of the male population were monks, and about 750 monasteries were functioning. These monasteries were dismantled during Communist rule, but many have been reestablished during the Buddhist revival which followed the fall of Communism.
About the stamp
The stamp is part of the series Bogd Khaan Palace Museum, about which I wrote here.
Tibetan Buddhism - Wikipedia
Lama - Wikipedia
Sent from Ulan Bator (Mongolia), on 18.09.2014
Photo: G. Gan-Ulzii