If you walk up the mountains from Hemis monastery, you’ll reach Gotsang cave, about 2 km away. Buddhist monk Gyalwa Gotsangpa meditated there in the 13th century.
Monks do so even today. Anyone will tell you this. But Tashi, a local cabbie, has more to tell. These lamas, called Tubas according to him, meditate for years on end, wearing nothing even in the icy winter. This intense discipline gives the lamas the shakti (‘power’) to fly, flit about from peak to peak. Has Tashi seen these aerial acrobatics? No, but he knows people who have.
An old lama at Chemde endorsed Tashi. He pointed to a peak where he’d spent three meditating in a cave. He described it. Tashi was exaggerating, of course. Monks pray nonstop for 15 days but then retreat to the cave’s warmth. And they can partially cover their bodies with cotton sheets. He knows some lamas have the power to fly. He hasn’t seen them airborne though. Nor has his own penance empowered him thus.
Seems everyone in Ladakh knows someone who’s seen a flying lama. But no one can give a firsthand account. Nor do you meet any lama who’s actually logged some miles in the air.
Read more such anecdotes and experiences from Ladakh in Ajay Jain’s new book, Postcards from Ladakh.