The Kingdom of Shambhala is considered as one of the mysterious locations that were ever mentioned in ancient texts.
According to legend, it is a land where only the pure of heart can live, a place where love and wisdom reigns and where people are immune to suffering, want or old age.
Shambhala is said to be the land of a thousand names. It has been called the Forbidden Land, the Land of White Waters, Land of Radiant Spirits, Land of Living Fire, Land of the Living Gods and Land of Wonders.
The Hindus call it Aryavartha (‘The Land of the Worthy Ones); the Chinese know it as Hsi Tien, the Western Paradise of Hsi Wang Mu; and to the Russian Old Believers, it is known as Belovoyde. But throughout Asia, it is best known by its Sanskrit name, Shambhala, Shamballa, or Shangri-la.
The idea of Shambhala is said to have outer, inner, and alternative meanings. The outer meaning understands Shambhala to exist as a physical place, although only individuals with the appropriate karma can reach it and experience it as such.
The inner and alternative meanings refer to more subtle understandings of what Shambhala represents in terms of one’s own body and mind (inner), and during meditative practice (alternative). These two types of symbolic explanations are generally passed on orally from teacher to student.
The Prophecy of Shambhala
The concept of Shambhala plays an important role in Tibetan religious teachings, and has particular relevance in Tibetan mythology about the future.
The Kalachakra prophecies the gradual deterioration of mankind as the ideology of materialism spreads over the earth. When the “barbarians” who follow this ideology are united under an evil king and think there is nothing left to conquer, the mists will lift to reveal the snowy mountains of Shambhala.
The barbarians will attack Shambhala with a huge army equipped with terrible weapons. Then the king of Shambhala will emerge from Shambhala with a huge army to vanquish “dark forces” and usher in a worldwide Golden Age.
Though the Kālachakra prophesies a future war, this appears in conflict with the vows of Buddhist teachings that prohibit violence. This has led some theologians to interpret the war symbolically – the Kālachakra is not advocating violence against people but rather refers to the inner battle of the religious practitioner against inner demonic tendencies.
Shambhala’s hidden location
Over many centuries, numerous explorers and seekers of spiritual wisdom have embarked on expeditions and quests in search of the mythical paradise of Shambhala, and while many have claimed to have been there, no one has yet provided any evidence of its existence or been able to pinpoint its physical location on a map, however most references place Shambhala in the mountainous regions of Eurasia.
Ancient Zhang Zhung texts identify Shambhala with the Sutlej Valley in Punjab or Himachal Pradesh, India. Mongolians identify Shambhala with certain valleys of southern Siberia. In Altai folklore, Mount Belukha is believed to be the gateway to Shambhala. Modern Buddhist scholars seem to conclude that Shambhala is located in the higher reaches of the Himalayas in what is now called the Dhauladhar Mountains around Mcleodganj. Some legends say that the entrance to Shambhala is hidden inside a remote, abandoned monastery in Tibet, and guarded by beings known as the Shambhala Guardians.
For some, the fact that Shambhala has never been found has a very simple explanation – many believe that Shambhala lies on the very edge of physical reality, as a bridge connecting this world to one beyond it.
While many disregard Shambhala as the fanciful subject of myth and legend, for others, a belief in Shambhala stirs an inner yearning to one day find this utopian kingdom.