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Inner Sanctum

Since time immemorial, most of the people of the East have believed that in the Western Tibet, named Ngari, stood a sacred mountain: the Navel of the Earth, the Axis of the Universe, the Stairway to Heaven. From its summit flowed a mighty river which fell into sacred lakes of Life and Death, from which stemmed the greatest rivers of Asia.

This was the holiest of mountains, revered by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Bon-po as the home of their Gods. In metaphysical terms it was Meru or Tise; in its earthly manifestation it was Kailas, the Crystal, or Kang Rinpoche, Jewel of the Snows. The Swastika Mountain, known today as Kailas.


As the dew is dried up by the morning sun so are the sins of men dried up by the sight of the Holy Mountain, where Shiva lived with Parvati, where Chakrasamvara represents his supreme bliss. Every year, people from all over the world make a pilgrimage to Kang Rinpoche, following a tradition going back thousands of years.

I am glad to be here again, starting my Skor ba from this first step, chanting, chanting, chanting and sound of sacred mantras is blowing by the wind…

I looked towards Mt. Kailas and suddenly Lord Shiva blessed me with a full view of its southern face and its clear celestial steps coming through the clouds. I was overtaken by the beauty of this place, and immersed in strong vibration of the sacred mountain, home of Shiva.

As I started walking along The Nandhi, I heard terrifying rumble of rocks falling from the Kailas… No fear. I am blessed. I am protected. I am free. I am ready to climb the celestial steps to the Throne of Lord Shiva in the center of Universe. I am chanting “Om Namah Shivaya” overwhelmed by inner vibration, serenity, quietness, tranquility of this sacred place. I am Sanctum content.

Nangkor was completed before it began. Just an inward path needs to be found. To liberate the world, we must be free inside.

About project “Inner Sanctum”.

3 versions are existing on DVD and HDCam (HD 1920x1080, stereo):

  • original 108 min long, meditative documentary as a virtual kora,
  • 27 min short doc for TV (just a reduced original doc),
  • 99 min audio-visual art object (the basic object for the “Sanctuary” conception).

We are planning to support screening by the exhibitions of author’s art-works and photos.

About “kora” - meaning "the path surrounding something" (Tibetan:skor-ba/nangkor, Sanskrit:parikrama).

In the Buddhist religious structure, since early days, Circumambulation or Parikrama has been an important ritual. Sacred structure, stupa or images have essentially a Pradakhshina (clockwise Parikrama) path around it. A mandapa (prayer hall), added in the front transforms the original stupa into the stupa shrine — as a sacred entity which requires a circumambulatory path around it for the worship. The whole structure is planned in such a way that it becomes the centre of the mandala and symbolically represents Mount Meru. Sacred Kailas Mount represents Mount Meru in explicit reality.


The temple structure reflects the symbolism of the Hindu association of the spiritual transition from daily life to spiritual perfection as a journey through stages. Parikrama paths are present through which worshipers move in a clockwise direction, starting at the sanctuary doorway and moving inward toward the inner sanctum where the deity is enshrined. This represents translation of the spiritual concept of transition through levels in life into bodily movements by the worshipers as they move inwardly through ambulatory halls to the most sacred centre of spiritual energy of the deity.

About title: Inner Sanctum - Altar in the Temple of Fate. The Holy Crystal in the center of Universe. Same time means internal personal transformation along the spiritual way and symbolizing the Nangkor (inner kora) in the highest point on the “Path of Karma” or Saptarishi Cave with 13 Golden Chortens (stupas) on the 5823m level. Here is the resting place of the greatest teachers of humanity; awaken they have reached perfection.

Personal message: I need to share with you a quantum of blessing that came on me by the will of Heaven. Release your mind of thoughts, step out of the stream of being and the hidden may become exposed, implicit will become explicit. Not everyone may come in Inner Sanctum, but it is possible, if you feel belonging to the great inseparable Total.

Inside Sanctum

To create a movie about Sacred Kailas Mount we decided during epic 45-days selfdriving tour allover western - central China in 2006. The journey was started at Kazakhstan and finished in Kirghizstan. Nearly 22000km route passed through Tibet, from Chengdu to Lhasa on the legendary Sichuan-Tibetan highway and from Lhasa to Ngari and after through Karakorum and Aksay Chin to Kashgar. An unforgettable adventure…

Next time we have been visited that place in 2007, during several expeditions to Kham – Amdo, U-Tsang and Northern Tibet – Ngari.

A lot of material have been collected, but the quality was awful. During late October solo nangkor, bad accident happened with producer and writer: Leo’s feet was seriously frostbitten and the season of 2008-2009 was lost for movie, but Claire finished her book “Sacral Tibet” and spent a good year in China, upgrading her level in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine).

To shoot a movie we decide in 2010, but in May, Leo become a refugee and escape to Paris from unfriendly Kirghizstan. Claire started filming with professional cameraman from Moscow Vladimir Burtsev. Two weeks in U-Tsang everything was correct and some additional scenes of movie was filmed on Mark-II D5, but on the first day of travel to Ngari, Vladimir collapsed with mountain sickness and have been evacuated to Beijing.

Claire decides to continue alone. The weather was terrible snow and rain, clouds on the top of the Sacred Mount… She starts to pray about miracle and it has happened: the sun comes to shine one single day, but that was such a perfect day! Unfortunately the weather changed to the rain-snow soon and the steps on the Stairway to Heaven was slippery…

I heard terrifying rumble of rocks falling from the Kailas… No fear. I am blessed. I am protected. I am free. I am ready to climb the celestial steps to the Throne of Lord Shiva in the center of Universe. I am chanting “Om Namah Shivaya” overwhelmed by inner vibration, serenity, quietness, tranquility of this sacred place. I am Sanctum content.

About author

Svetlana Pilyushina (aka Claire Vital), was born in Baranovichi (Belorussia) in 1971. From 2000 living in Moscow (Russia). Professional doctor, MD. President of “Bonum Mater Foundation”. Poet, artist, traveler and photographer.

Exhibition (photo and art-works) in Salekhard/Yamal, Russia (2011) With retrospective photo exhibition of Italian classics Elio Chiola and Franco Fontana

Personal exhibition (photo and art-works) in Montekatini Terme, Italy (2011)

Personal exhibition (photo and art-works) in Ethnomir, Moscow Region, Russia (2011)

Inner Sanctum is a debut work of Claire Vital in doc, short and video art.