Shambhala, which is a Sanskrit word meaning “place of peace” or “place of silence”, is a hidden paradise spoken of in ancient texts, including the Kalachakra Tantra and the ancient scriptures of the Zhang Zhung culture which predated Tibetan Buddhism in western Tibet. 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 legend of Shambhala is said to date back thousands of years, and reference to the mythical land can be found in various ancient texts. The Bön scriptures speak of a closely related land called Olmolungring. Hindu texts such as Vishnu Purana mention Shambhala as the birth place of Kalki, the final incarnation of Vishnu who will usher in a new Golden Age. The Buddhist myth of Shambhala is an adaptation of the earlier Hindu myth. However, the text in which Shambhala is first discussed extensively is the Kalachakra.
A Buddhist depiction of Shambhala from Sera Monastery (private collection). Image source.
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 prophesies 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. (Source)
A Description Of ‘Hollow Earth’ According To Ancient Tibetan Buddhism
Shambhala is round but depicted as an eight-petalled lotus blossom, which is a symbol of the heart Chakra (represented in the picture below).
Many ancient texts refer to ‘magical’ and ‘mythical’ lands, which is fascinating, particularly when you consider how much of the writings in ancient Buddhism, Vedic philosophy, or other Eastern traditions is being confirmed by modern day science. Quantum physics in particular has gained a lot of momentum recently. One great example is the conundrum of consciousness, which is directly correlated with quantum physics and goes hand in hand with other realms of existence. Perhaps this is why some of Nikola Tesla’s ideas were influenced by ancient Eastern philosophy. Not many people know this, but most of our pioneering scientists were also mystics, including Issac Newton, who studied alchemy, among other subjects.
“Broadly speaking, although there are some differences, I think Buddhist philosophy and Quantum Mechanics can shake hands on their view of the world. We can see in these great examples the fruits of human thinking. Regardless of the admiration we feel for these great thinkers, we should not lose sight of the fact that they were human beings just as we are.” – The Dalai Lama (source)
This is precisely why we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss other possible knowledge that remains hidden within ancient texts, especially when evidence is increasingly proving the strength of the connection between ancient wisdom and modern day knowledge.
We are surprisingly and inexplicably selective about which parts of ancient writings we hold to be true, and which we dismiss as fantasy. We might take, for example, a description of ancient Greek society written by a philosopher living at the time, such as Plato or Socrates, at face value, yet when confronted with the same philosopher’s description of an advanced ancient civilization, find some excuse to ignore it. We can take Plato’s description of things that are believable to the mind and accept them as fact, but as soon as we are confronted with something outside our known experience, our minds shut down, even in the face of mounting evidence lending credibility to many of these ‘mythical’ stories.
To read more about Plato’s description of the Lost Kingdom of Atlantis, you can refer to this article.
Several ancient texts from various traditions mention beings from ‘another world’ that exist within our own. One such world, referenced in Tibetan Buddhist and Hindu traditions, is Shambhala, which is a hidden kingdom within our own planet, a place which we do not understand and is difficult to find.
It’s a “Spiritual” Place
According to the Dalai Lama at a speech he gave in 1985 during the Kalachakra Initiations:
Although those with special affiliation may actually be able to go there through their karmic connection, nevertheless it is not a physical place that we can actually find. We can only say that it is a pure land, a pure land in the human realm. And unless one has the merit and the actual karmic association, one cannot actually arrive there. (sources)
This closely resembles descriptions of the spiritual principles that once guided Atlantis given by Plato and other scholars. According to Manly P. Hall, author, historian, and 33rd degree mason:
Before Atlantis sank, its spiritually illuminated Initiates, who realized that their land was doomed because it had departed from the Path of Light, withdrew from the ill fated continent. Carrying with them the sacred and secret doctrine, these Atlanteans established themselves in Egypt, where they became its first divine rulers. Nearly all the great cosmologic myths forming the foundation of the various sacred books of the world are based upon the Atlantean Mystery Rituals. (source)
And according to the modern theosophical tradition:
Sambhala, however, although no erudite Orientalist has yet succeeded in locating it geographically, is an actual land or district, the seat of the greatest brotherhood of spiritual adepts and their chiefs on earth today. From Sambhala at certain times in the history of the world, or more accurately of our own fifth root-race, come forth the messengers or envoys for spiritual and intellectual work among men.
Michael Wood, a BBC journalist, based on his research describes it as a lost kingdom buried somewhere in the Himalayas, and writes about how the name Shambhala first appears in a text known as the Kalachakra tantra – or Wheel of Time teaching. This Kalachakra doctrine belongs to the highest level of Buddhist Mahayana teaching.