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Buddhadharma : Summer 2009
77 summer 2 00 9 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Reviews In the winter of 2007, I sat with a group of Western pilgrims in the shade of a spreading nyagrodha tree at Amaravati, in Andhra Pradesh in south India. At the center of the grounds sat the Great Stupa, an unadorned, low, grey-stone mound dating from the time of King Ashoka, built to commemorate one of Buddhism’s sacred sites. Stripped in the nineteenth century by British archeologists, its distinctive carved gate- ways and sculptures are now displayed in museums in Chennai, Delhi, and Lon- don. Nevertheless, Amaravati is a place of great power and openness. We pilgrims were all Buddhists prac- ticing within a Tibetan lineage. At Ama- ravati, we were led in a short Kalachakra practice by our teacher, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, and his wife, Khandro Tsey- ang. As the practice ended, we turned expectantly to Sakyong Mipham, who was visibly moved. He spoke softly, yet passionately, of the significance of this place. Amaravati was the historic setting of the first Kalachakra initiation given by Buddha Shakyamuni to the King of Shambhala, Suchandra (Dawa Sangpo in Tibetan). For Tibetan Buddhists, this is a monumental place, for Suchandra cre- ated the enlightened society of Shambhala on the foundations of those Kalachakra teachings. Sakyong Mipham’s words in praise of this pilgrimage site opened my mind into both vastness and simplicity. The practice of pilgrimage, grow- ing in importance for Western dharma students, has been a core practice for Tibetans for a millennium. Toni Huber has made many scholarly contributions to an understanding of the history and practices of pilgrimage in Tibet, but his most recent book represents the pinnacle of his work. Drawing on chronicles, eth- nographic research, and sacred literature, Huber has created an ambitious and com- prehensive look at Tibetan views of India. Moving gracefully between Tibetan nar- ratives and Western critical perspective, Huber demonstrates the complexity and range of Tibet’s relationship with India, from idealization and veneration to fear, abhorrence, and dependency. He also demonstrates the vibrancy of the current practice of pilgrimage, still evolving as Tibetan Buddhism in diaspora deepens its multifaceted relationship with Bud- dhist India. Huber describes how Tibetans have long perceived themselves to be inextrica- bly tied to India. While Tibetans relied on China for political and economic health, Judith Simmer-Brown is a professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism at Naropa University and an acharya in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage. She is author of Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism. reviewed by Judith simmer-Brown The holy land reBorn: Pilgrimage and the Tibetan reinvention of Buddhist India By Toni huber university of Chicago Press, 2008 464 pages; $45 (hardcover) returning to the land of the noble ones Tibetan Buddhist monks at the 25th Kagyu Monlam prayer festival in Bodhgaya CatherineSCheutze