One of the dominant religions in the continent of Asia is Buddhism. Buddhism first emerged in
India in the sixth century as an attempt to reform Hinduism, and after the second century A.D., left India,
and became the major religion of South Asia. One of the southern areas where Buddhism is practised, is in
the small Himalayan country of Nepal. The division of Buddhism followed there is that of the Northern
School, which is known as the Mahayana meaning "The Great Vehicle." The Himalayan people
incorporate Buddhism not only in one, but in all aspects of their life. The Buddhists final goal in life is to
reach liberation, and in order to do this one must perfect themselves, and escape from the cycle of death
and rebirth. This can be done through following "The Eightfold Path of Liberation", worshipping the
Buddha, and also through prayer. The Buddhists people main place of worship is in temples which are
divided into five categories. They are the monastery "gompa!
", the village temple, the private temple chapel "labrang", the meeting house "mitsopa", and the hermitage
"tsamkhang" temple.
The monastery"gompa" is made up of a series of buildings grouped around a courtyard where the
temple is located on one side, and dormitories for the clergy, pilgrims, and the kitchen on the other. The
temple is on the ground floor, with a smaller temple on the first floor where the head of the community
resides. This smaller temple is dedicated to the protective deities. In these types of monostatic temples
consist a group of men known as the clergy. At the age of twelve, a boy taught by a priest learns to read
and write. Eventually as he learns the religious teachings of the Buddha is able to conduct services in
village temples on certain dates, and also individual rituals. These young boys after many years become
the clergy in a monastery. The clergy consists of "Trasang" at the head, two custodians "Nyerua" who
assist the head of the clergy by collecting gifts, taking care of the monastery estates, and also assist the
priests or "lamas" which are teachers. The lama!
s are spiritual guides for all devoted Buddhists, and make the liturgy and magic rites for their students
"layman's." An example of such a temple is "The Monastery of Tiwong" located in the Solu Khumbu
District of Northern Nepal. It was built at an altitude of 3000 metres and at the highest level is the main
temple, which is a school of theology, and also the quarters of the monks. Below this temple is the "Mani
Lhakhang" which is a private chapel and nuns quarters. The entire monastery is surrounded by a wall and
within it a courtyard, which contains rooms used for cattle sheds. On the upper level of the courtyard is a
gallery where the faithful stand during ceremonies. In order to enter the temple, one must walk up a flight
of steps where a large door opens on to the assembly hall which is decorated with beautiful murals. On the
upper level of the complex are also a number of decorated rooms consisting of a chapel, and a living room
for the lama which connects to the !
assembly hall. South of these rooms, there is another small chapel which contains pictures of the divinities.
The second type of temple is the village temple. They are usually built within, or near the village
and very basic type of temples. The only buildings that are usually attached to it are the caretaker's
quarters, and a kitchen. Villages are usually located on mountain slopes, and consist of a group of ten to
twelve houses. An example of a temple found in such a village is the "Thakhang Gyang", and is located in
the Sindhu Palchock District. It is situated in one of the most beautiful parts of this region. It was built at
an altitude of 2800 metres against a background of a beautiful forest. This is the temple for the villages
Gangkharka and Pangthang. The main entrance to the temple and living quarters are located on the south,
while the windows and doors open to the east. The temple itself is to the left and is attached to the
caretaker's house. Within this temple there is a