Rowan St. John: Photo Essay on Yungdrung Bon Tradition in India

Engaged! is happy to present the work of a new contributor, photographer Rowan St. John. We present three photos here with the artist’s permission. Please click through to the website to see the complete photoessay. What really spoke to me were the shots of street scenes in the region of Dharamsala. There are scenes of the everyday in the lives of Tibetan settlers that westerners often don’t pay much attention to. The photo essay presents the full range of their lived experience, from their sacred rites in the Yungdrung Bon Tradition to the bustling life in the streets of the city.

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My name is Rowan St. John and I recently traveled to India with a Bon Tibetan Monk to visit a Monastery in Dharmsala. I had the opportunity to take some amazing photos as I was given permission to be in the Temple and on the grounds as a Photographer. I’ve been attempting to share my work for the our beauty of it, and ultimately for the recognition of the ancient Yungdrung Bon Tradition. 

Yungdrung Bon is a very special tradition that pre-dates Buddhism in Tibet and was very indigenous until it was transformed by an enlightened Buddha and teacher named Tonpa Shenrab. He taught the ancient Bon that animal sacrifice and sorcery were unnecessary and he helped them to incorporate the Buddhist path into their own cultural tradition to create what today is known as the Yungdrung Bon…There is much to learn about the origins of Yungdrung Bon and stories from scholars vary quite a lot. Recently the Dalai Lama has accepted Yungdrung Bon as one of the Buddhist schools of Tibet and this has helped the Bon receive much more attention. 

Do take a few moments to look at my portfolio here at my website. Please click on the album titled “Photos” for the India photos. The album titled “More” is Abstract, figurative, and nature photography

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