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Princess in Land of Snows: The Life of Jamyang Sakya in Tibet Paperback – Illustrated, May 1, 2001
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About the Author
- Publisher : Shambhala; Illustrated edition (May 1, 2001)
- Language: : English
- Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 157062691X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1570626913
- Item Weight : 1.01 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,617,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
"A timely novel highlighting the worth and delicate nature of Nature itself." -Delia Owens Learn more
Top reviews from the United States
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I've lived in Seattle for over 20 years and did not know the true meaning of love and compassion until I went to the Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism, where I had the honor of knowing H.E. Dagmo-Kushula (Mother of Princes) Jamyang Sayka and her husband His Holiness J.D. Sakya Rinpoche.
His Holines is the Spritual Leader of the Monastery and I knew Him and His Wife quite well. It was there that i received my "refuge" (Basically a loyalty oath, confirming that i have taken Buddhism as a personal course to attain enlightenment); it was also there where i received my Buddhist name, given to me by His Holiness, Himself.
In this magnificient, eloquent and profound book, (With a forward by His Holiness, The Dalai Lama) the journey that She, her Husband and family took to escape the chinese is fully documented by H.E. Jamyang and it is full of laughter, joy and tremendous hardship.
She has the ability to be incredibly sublime in her quips and anecdotes. A favorite accounting of mine is when they were actually in as much danger crossing the Himalayas as they potentially faced with the chinese.
There is a Tibetan word i cannot recall which, roughly translated, means, "look out below,!" meaning that if you were on the downside of a steep slope, you had to watch out for an ox who had slipped and was plunging down the mountain towards you, which to her, was funny in retrospect, but rather alarming at the time.
In this book, H.E. Jamyang has the astonishing ability to actually allow you to see through Her eyes. A rare gift that is continually sought by writers the world over.
You do not have to be a Buddhist to appreciate this wonderful book, and you will discover what love and compassion means to these displaced people, and it not just some fleeting emotion that most feel only over the Christmas holiday. This book will delight and enlighten you, and show you why they had over 1000 years of peace until their ancestral home was usurped by the chinese.
you will never regret reading it, but you may very well regret losing it! it is worth reading time and again, especially when you feel anger towards your fellow human, and, more importantly, when you feel anger towards yourself.
This book is worth far more than its weight in gold.
Buddhism in Tibet
February 26th, 2008
Princess in the Land of Snows: the Life of Jamyang Sakya in Tibet
This is the autobiography of Jamyang Sakya beautifully written to convey the intricate details of Tibetan culture in the time right before the Chinese invasion. The purpose of the book is to save, not squander, the true, sacred nature of Tibetan culture, religion, society, and life. This book is precious because it details Jamyang Sakya's life as a child growing up in Tibet in minute detail. It is exceptionally written; the words flow as wind through the Himalayan Mountains.
Born on March 3, 1934, the Wood Dog year on the Tibetan lunar calendar, Jamyang Sakya, known as "Dagmo-la" to her friends, grew up as a girl among eight aspiring, affluent, male scholars and monks studying at the Thalung Monastery. The privilege of schooling was not open to all girls. Due to Jamyang Sakya's dear uncle T'lku-la, Dezhung Rinpoche, she was able to go to school. Jamyang Sakya speaks lovingly of wise T'lku-la throughout the book; he is considered a t'lku, reincarnation, and was the head of two labrangs, lama residences at Thalung Monastery.
"Religion was inseparable from much of our daily life and central to our formal learning." In the Sakya lineage, the family loved and learned holding firmly to the bonds of Tibetan Buddhism.
"Nearly every Tibetan home has a shrine room or some type of altar." The altar adorned with butter lamps, a statue of the Buddha with copper and gold overlay, twenty-one brass water bowls, offerings of rice, incense, and flowers, had its own room in the home with Dharma books and Thangkas covering the walls. Exemplifying how religion was at the root of their learning process in the monastery, the children were to clean the bronze shrine bowls every morning: pour out the old water by placing it on plants or drinking it (as it is sacred), shine the bowls, and fill the bowls anew. Such an intricate process at the beginning of every day, a ritual of importance, taught the children care and respect for the shrine.
Jamyang Sakya describes the life of: games, reading Buddhist texts, studying Thangka paintings, being respectful and quiet in the monastery, and household chores with endearing detail. Here is one of my favorite of her childhood stories:
Besides Gyado, my pony, I had a most unusual pet, a four-horned sheep named Yang Rashi, who was a familiar figure to the neighborhood. He had been given to me by a nomad friend of Uncle Kuyak. It was good fortune indeed to have such an animal, and Yang Rashi clearly liked his home. He scaled the stairs easily and whipped about my bedroom. Almost daily, I combed his soft, white wool, which never was sheared. His brown eyes seemed to glow out from the wool. I kept Yang Rashi well decorated with braided, colored wool tassels and small jewels that hung from his neck. When I called his name, he came from afar. Besides barley, he accepted sweets and leftovers. His sleeping quarters were in a special room on the first floor. At night, I wrapped him in a blanket.
A long pilgrimage to the capital city of Lhasa and other holy places in Tibet describing the glorious, mountain landscape, led Jamyang Sakya to meet her future husband, Jigdal Rinpoche (given the later title of Venerable Dezhung Rinpoche). "In the glow of the late afternoon sun, I felt a warmth and welcome here. There was an air of ease, a certain staidness that would be true of any great religious center, I thought." These were Jamyang Sakya's words upon approaching Phuntsok and Drolma, two magnificent palaces of the Great Temple of Sakya (she grew up a Khampa, from the city of Kham). She was fifteen when she married into the Sakya lineage. Her life became the busyness of palace life: meditation and study every morning, constant chores, and impressing her parents-in-law. She was now nobility.
About this time, Chinese Communists were infiltrating eastern Tibet. News did not spread quickly to the palace as the communication in the various towns was primarily "word of mouth." Shortly after the death of her first-born daughter at three months, Tenzin Chödron ("the one who maintains the teachings, the lamp of religion"), Jamyang Sakya traveled with her husband to Kham. In her homeland, she "enjoyed a colorful life meeting high lamas, visiting monasteries, and continuing her own studies," but still saw changes around her, the oppression of the Chinese seeping in. Upon returning to Lhasa, the decision was imminent, and the family must flee Tibet to protect themselves from the violence and danger of the Chinese. Jamyang Sakya had just given birth to a baby boy on February 15th, 1958, Lodro Dorje, "one possessed of wise knowledge."
The atmosphere became frightening. On March 19th, the family's party of fifteen left Lhasa for N'land'. Lucky to have arrived at N'land', Jamyang Sakya writes, "Suddenly a Chinese plane, silver with a big red star on it, came across the pass. We could see it clearly... The plane returned about fifteen minutes later, circling the monastery several times and shooting at us. Then it turned off toward the Phenpo area, where there was fighting between Chinese and Khampas." Giving horrific accounts of trekking through the Himalayas with the Chinese following close behind, Jamyang Sakya and her family arrived safely in India.
Spending only one year in India and still hearing sobering accounts of loved ones lost and her own mother trying to flee Tibet, Jamyang Sakya and her husband moved to the United States being one of the first Tibetan families to do so. Jigdal Rinpoche had received an offer to "collaborate in research at the University of Washington."
During the years since their arrival in the United States, the author and her husband, widely knows as H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche, have established a thriving Tibetan cultural center and a monastery in Seattle, Washington. In the meantime, Lady Jamyang has quietly devoted herself inwardly to her spiritual practice under the guidance of her revered uncle, the late Venerable Dezhung Rinpoche. Outwardly she has selflessly devoted herself to bringing up five sons and assisting her husband in his many religious activities.
This book sang to the depths of my heart about dedication to practice and study in Buddhist Tibet. Its details are rich and intricate like Jamyang Sakya was weaving the quilt of her story, tear for tear, laughter, love, and line for line. Her wisdom is clear, and her account of Tibet in a time before war and exile is important and irreplaceable! It is precious and sacred as it is filled with the detail of people in exile's Buddhist lifestyle and culture. Her words are picked sensitively, and her story rings with truth. I felt honored to read the book of a strong, devoted Tibetan woman. I felt as if I was holding something exquisite and special in my hands as I read about Jamyang Sakya's life.
Once her story unfolds, it is unbelievable the toil the Tibetans have faced. I became enamored with the Tibetan culture almost to the point of Orientalism. I couldn't put the book down wanting to know what Jamyang Sakya would do first thing in the morning, learning about her wedding ceremony, her pilgrimages. Then, there is strife. Even after reading this, I cannot fathom the strife. I only know that something horrifically unfair has occurred, and I feel it in my bones. An entire people, a people rich in tradition and culture, had to flee their homeland to find security elsewhere. Many passed away on the journey.
Jamyang Sakyang had many close calls. She remembers passing guards at a power plant, and one had not spoken. She did not realize until later that he was Chinese. "The Chinese... had shot some travelers after we had gone through. Two women had been killed." Excruciating accounts that tear out my insides with questions: what can be done, why did this happen, how could it be?
This book is a treasure for me because I learn the most about a culture through accounts of the peoples' detailed, everyday existences. I can't travel to the Tibet Jamyang Sakya speaks of. I can only read her account and view it as a great blessing that this book exists. As Jamyang Sakya states, "This book is dedicated to my five sons with love and the hope that it will keep alive the memory of their heritage."