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Zahor, Mandi Himachal Pradesh


This research note has been shared via email for consultation purposes with the following experts:

FROM Paola Di Maio, PhD - EuroSPES

Distr PR Officer Mandi, HP, Mr Hemant Sharma
Tenzin Tsepag, Office of HH Dalai Lama
Office of HHKarmapa (Secretary)
Office of Tai Situpa, Palpung Sherabling (via email to PAVA Tony Chou)
Chogyal Namkai Norbu,  Italy
Ontul Lhu Rinpoche Rewalsar, Mandi HP
David  Kittelstrom, WISDOM Publications Boston
Prof Laszlo Zsolnia, EUROSPES Institute

Dear Friends and Teachers

I am reading this great book on  Mahamudra
(which has a preface by HHDL)

In book two, part one, on page 118. line 5  the text it references
Tilopa, in Zahor, North East India, West Bengal...

That Zahor may be in North East India, possibly West Bengal is also mentioned in other publications,

 but after some research (and much meditation) in Mandi  charnel ground, I think it's wrong

We know for sure that although there may be different locations in India and othere countries named   'Zahor', Tilopa resided and meditated in the cave opposite the charnel ground Mandi, Himachal Pradesh.


There are ample references to Zahor being the ancient name of Mandi  and there is a very famous Tilopa cave juset below the Victoria Bridge in Mandi
*see photo


I have a hunch that the cliff where Naropa was asked to jump by Tilopa is indeed the cliff above the cave,
so probably this is also the place where Naropa became enlightened.

(On the page, the cave is highlighted by a circle in one of the photos on the right. the caption says Naropa met Tilopa here)

There is further evidence that Tilopa lived in our neighborhood, as apparently there is another cave in Tilokpur

Karmapa's visiting Tilopa cave in Tilokpur

Tilopa's mortar and pestle are said to be kept under the main shrine in Baijnath Temple, approximately half way between Mandi and Tilokpur. Tai Situ of Sherabling Palpung has donated a golden spike to place on top of Baijnat main temple upon learning that a sacred relic and testament of our Lineage is buried there.
See the picture below

I think, if we all agree, we should try to correct this info in our lifetime :-)

Thank you for the consideration

Paola Di Maio/Chimi Lhamo/
November 2016
Palpung Sherabling, Upper Bhattu
Baijnath HP India


On Thu, Dec 1, 2016 at 12:14 AM, David Kittelstrom <> wrote:
Dear Paola,

That translation was first published in 1986 and it is a translation of a sixteenth-century work. We are not likely to revise it. It sounds like an interesting topic, however, deserving of more attention in scholarly articles. There are similar disputes about the location of Oḍḍiyāna. 

It does seem to be a commonly held view in Tibetan histories, however, that Zahor was located in "eastern India." Here is one account from Gö Lotsawa Khukpa Letsé (circa 11th–12th century), translated by Ron Davidson (p. 233 in his Tibetan Renaissance):

"The earlier tantras came into the human sphere in the land of Zahor, which is to the southeast of Vajrasana (Bodhgaya), and it was thus in that realm [Zahor] that they were popular. Now at that time, Paṇḍitas were educated in Zahor, and thus the' Paṇḍitas invited to Tibet during the early period were from Zahor. Even those who were from the east Indian district of *Dhanadala and elsewhere were generally trained in Zahor. Since the letters in the manuscripts at that time were generally in the script of Zahor, later Paṇḍitas from Magadha did not return to them (i.e., could not read them and therefore did not retranslate the texts). Moreover, the Dharma was eclipsed in Zahor, because a king of a land bordering on Zahor made war on that country. Thus, at the later spread in Tibet, [the Dharma and Paṇḍitas from Zahor] could not be invited."

The association with Bengal is repeated in influential early publications by Rolf Stein, Giuseppe Tucci, and George Roerich (see his Blue Annals, page 241). But Sarat Chandra Das, in his Tibetan-English Dictionary (p. 1089) agrees with you that it is in the Kangra District of HP. There may also just be more than one place with that name, since it comes from a Persian word for "city." It is the one in Bengal that is said to be the birthplace of both Atiśa and Śāntarakṣita. See also Alaka Chattopadhyaya's Atīśa and Tibet, pp. 63–64.

Best wishes,


1 DEC 2016

For example:

Paola Di Maio <>

Thanks a lot David!

I think we should consider that the borders of India were different at the time of the writings cited in the ancient literature, and that may account for the discrepancy in plotting it to the right region.  Also, I would argue that physical/material evidence (such as the caves, the mortar and pestle etc) is stronger than vague geographical references in ancient literary accounts, due the data/context having shifted considerably since their writing.

At any rate, thank you for the prompt response and consideration
I may end up writing an article or a book if I find more material

Til then!

following on the thinking, It is said that Atisha was born in the Pala Empire. Looking at a map of the Pala empire, seems to stretch well into what is Himachal Pradesh today...abd beyond-