An Evening with the Himalayan Poet Yuyutsu Sharma in Berkeley



Thursday, June 30, 2016   7:00 – 9:30 PM

at the Himalayan Flavors Restaurant

1585 University Avenue (corner California)

Berkeley California 94703

Currently on his West coast tour, Yuyutsu Sharma  will read from his most recent book, Quaking Cantos and A Blizzard in my Bones: New York Poems . Recipient of fellowships and grants from The Rockefeller Foundation, Ireland Literature Exchange, Trubar Foundation, Slovenia, The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature and The Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature, Yuyutsu RD Sharma is a distinguished poet and translator. Currently Visiting Poet at Columbia University, New York and he has just returned from Argentina where he was participating in XI International Poetry Festival, Buenos Aires as a Special Guest. More or


Quaking Cantos is the creative response of a world-renowned Himalayan poet to the earthquakes that shook Nepal in 2015, killing thousands and leaving more than a million people homeless, vulnerable to the ravages of the harsh Himalayan environment. In the aftermath of the earthquakes, his North and Central American reading tours suspended, Yuyutsu returns to Nepal to bear witness to the devastation the “cosmic commotion” has caused in his own Himalayan home. “These are wonderful, troubling, and moving poems.”

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A Blizzard in my Bones: New York Poems constitute Sharma’s reflections on what it means for a Himalayan poet to transform to a new creation….a New Yorker! Himalayan culture collides with cultures of New York City as he celebrates a shared vision of humanity forged in a metropolis and in the mountains of home.

Himalayan Flavors Restaurant Features authentic cuisine of the greater Himalayan regions Please 7:00 – 8:00 PM Dinner and socializing 8:00 – 9:30 PM Reading, book-signing, more socializing

PLEASE NOTE:  Free parking available in restaurant lot and street parking after 7 PM.  Or BART to Downtown Berkeley, and walk or take 51B bus to California St. The restaurant is wheelchair accessible.

Please RSVP to Estelle Schneider at so we can give the restaurant an estimate




Yuyutsu Sharmato read at Daytona Beach


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Yuyutsu RD Sharma will be the featured poet on Wednesday, June 22, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Wine-Me on Beach Street in Daytona Beach. Mr. Sharma, who lives in Kathmandu, Nepal, will read from his two newest books: Quaking Cantos: Nepal Earthquake Poems, and A Blizzard in My Bones: New York Poems (Nirala, 2016). He will also discuss the continuing tragedy of the earthquake that devastated Nepal a year ago.
The program is presented by Volusia County Poet Laureate Dr. David B. Axelrod. “Yuyustu’s work is of interest to more than poets. He speaks lovingly of his homeland, but he also describes all our lives.”  says Axelrod. “We who have moved from the north to Florida certainly know what it means to have ‘a blizzard in our bones.’”


In addition to teaching at Columbia University and just previously at New York University, Mr. Sharma is a recipient of a fellowship from The Rockefeller Foundation, author of nine poetry collections, and is a frequent performer and workshop teacher throughout the world.


A gifted translator, Yuyutsu’s book of Nepali translations entitled Roaring Recitals; Five Nepali Poets was nominated by the Library of Congress as Best Book of the Year from Asia under the program, “A World of Books 2001: International Perspectives.”  His own poetry has been translated into and published in seven languages.


Wine-Me is located at 204 South Beach Street and can be reached at 386-871-7769. For more information about Mr. Sharma and the program, email Dr. Axelrod,, or call 386-337-4567.





6:00 – 8:30 PM

Join the leading South Asian poet Yuyutsu Sharma and the film director Amitabh Joshi for an evening program dedicated to Nepal. Sharma will read poems from his In Praise of Chomolingma, the Mother of the Winds of the World followed by a screening of Joshi’s film Tashi’s Turbine, an uplifting tale of a small village’s attempt to harness renewable, sustainable energy.

Professor David Austell, Columbia University, will introduce Yuyutsu Sharma.

A book signing and director Q&A will provide further opportunities for discussion.


6:00-6:45 PM
Poetry reading with Yuyutsu Sharma in the exhibition Nepalese Seasons followed by a book signing

7:00-8:30 PM
Screening of the film Tashi’s Turbine followed by a Q&A with director Amitabh Joshi

About the Participants

Yuyutsu Sharma is South Asia’s leading poet published by Nirala with growing international acclaim. He is currently based in New York City as a visiting poet at New York University and has had several readings in Nicaragua, New York, Boston, and the west coast of the United States.


Amitabh Joshi, originally from Kathmandu, Nepal, is currently based in New York City. He is interested in exploring environmental sustainability, cultural identities, and youth-related issues. He is a director and cinematographer at Vacant Light, a production company in New York City. Tashi’s Turbine is his first feature-length documentary.

Rubin Museum of Art

The Rubin Museum of Art is dedicated to the collection, display, and preservation of the art and cultures of the Himalayas, India and neighboring regions, with a permanent collection focused particularly on Tibetan art. It is located at 150 West 17th Street between the Avenue of the Americas and Seventh Avenue in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City.
New Books by Yuyutsu Sharma


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Nirala Interviews : In Conversation with Larry Peters

Larry Peters photo

Dr. Larry Peters is a world-renowned scholar and initiated shaman in the Tamang tradition. He was recipient of the Regent’s Fellowship at the University of California Los Angeles, and an NIMH post-doctoral fellow at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. Dr. Peters holds advanced degrees in both Anthropology and Psychology. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Nepal, China, Mongolia, and Siberia and is a Nepal Research Associate of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies. Dr. Peters has published extensively on shamanism, conducts workshops on Tamang and Tibetan Shamanism in the United States, Europe, and Asia, and leads experiential Initiation Journeys to Nepal. In 1999, his highly acclaimed book, Tamang Shamans: An Ethnopsychiatric Study of Ecstasy and Healing in Nepal appeared in the Nirala Series. His second book, Trance, Initiation and Psychotherapy in Nepalese Shamanism: Essays on Tamang and Tibetan Shamanism was published in 2004 in the same series. His pioneering research, Yeti: Spirit of Himalayan Forest Shaman came a year after. Dr. Peters is a retired professor of Anthropology and Psychology at the California Graduate Institute in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Peters is a licensed psychotherapist in the State of California, the author of five books and many dozen articles, including Ode to Dreams, a poetry compilation.

In response to the questions about his work in the Himalayas where he met his first shaman Guru, Birendra and later his current Guru Ama Bombo, Dr. Peters sent us an intriguing account of his ethnographic work with Nepalese shamans.

Over the decades Peters has brought hundreds of scholars and those seeking shamanic initiation to work with Nepalese shamans like Aama Bombo of Boudha and led an eventful life as ‘Sahib Jhankari’ ( Gentleman Shaman) as he’s known in the Himalayas today.

Here are excerpts of his response to us.


Most significant experiences in my life occurred in altered states of consciousness. When I was 24 years old, I developed a meditation practice focused on some very vivid dream experiences. Over the years (I am now 71), I studied various methods of interpreting their meanings. I studied psychology and underwent both Freudian and Jungian psychoanalysis. Currently I am a licensed psychotherapist, hold a PhD in anthropology, and conducted post-doctoral work in psychiatry. I learned most of my dreams were mirrors of my own psyche telling me symbolically who I was and was becoming. A few, however, were windows giving me an anomalous foreknowledge into important life events. Psychological analysis provided few answers because it reduced dream experiences to one or another system. Systems that were often at odds with one another, and that did not speak to the heart. As I said, I had a few prophetic insights from dreams that could not be rationally explained. The overwhelming majority of my dreams and visions, however, revealed little knowledge of the future. What was missing in all my early research was relationship to the various images. That is, the dream images were not just lifeless symbols of psychological processes, be they “complexes” or “archetypes,” but beings with their own ontologies. In other words, spirits! This is shamanism. Nothing else qualifies. Such is the essence of Nepalese shamanism and my understanding of shamanism world-wide. I discovered this in Nepal during my apprenticeship with Bhirendra in 1975-76 and later with Aama Bombo beginning in 1993 after Bhirendra had passed.

The early 1970’s were a very unorthodox period to be studying anthropology at UCLA. Carlos Castaneda was a student and part-time lecturer. Carlos had apprenticed himself to Don Juan, a Yaqui Indian shaman living in Mexico. Carlos experienced unusual consciousness states, learned much about healing, and about the nature of another reality well beyond the common worldview held in the West. Carlos’ books became very popular and initiated a type of anthropological research called “experiential anthropology.” This was my research design and I received a grant in order to conduct it. I wanted to experience shamanism; that is to say, the “shamanic state of consciousness;” and then return to academia and attempt to explain that experience in psychological and anthropological terms. In this way, the terrain to be explored anthropologically was of an “inner landscape” of images as I experienced them under the initiatory tutelage of Bhirendra.

The chairman of my dissertation committee was Professor Jacques Maquet, who had done a similar study of Vipasana in Burma and Sri Lanka. Many of my fellow students were deployed to other corners of the world. We thought of ourselves as “gnostic intermediaries” attempting to bridge the gap between modern psychology and different spiritualities, their methods of induction, and of altered states of consciousness within the religious and cultural context.

As mentioned above, I had a meditative practice for years and had studied psychology and had personal analysis. I also had taken workshops and made pilgrimages to ashrams and monasteries, and learned from Buddhist lama and Hindu sages. I therefore felt that I had prepared myself academically, psychologically, and spiritually to move to Nepal for a year to study the shamanic state of consciousness. What I discovered was that I had very limited talent to be a healer. My jochana (divinations) were not windows into another reality but more like mirrors into my own heart and psyche. I had other problems too. My language skills in Nepali are weak. I could drum for hours but I never learned to shake. Consequently, I never became possessed. However, I had visions. Bhirendra called many of them “crazy visions.” But I was persistent, and soon I learned to develop relations and interact with the dreamscape images, that is to say the spirits. Bhirendra thought some images I described to him shared identity with some spirits of Nepal, and these spirits became my guides and inner teachers. Through a translator, I described my visions to Bhirendra and, in this manner, he taught me about Tamang shamanism. I learned about the shamans’ deities and who their “chief gurus” were, and Bhirendra’s, and later Aama’s, and I would then visit the deities’ shrines, and I would receive initiations, power transmissions, and blessings for continuing my work. Many full moon days, I pilgrimaged to the sacred shrines and danced in costume with Bhirendra, also with Aama, and other shamans and students. I have gone on tirta nach, a pilgrimage dance, to Kumbeswaar, Kalinchok, Richeswaar, etc. etc. I also experienced one three-day and two five-day gufa (cave) ceremonies with Aama that are described in my book, Trance, Initiation and Psychotherapy in Nepalese Shamanism. In this way, Bhirendra and Aama’s brand of Tamang shamanism became my spiritual discipline and, in time, I came to develop a relationship in dreams and visions to a small yeti who became my spirit guide, chief spirit guru, and teacher, about death and destruction, love and mercy, generosity and kindness.

I met Bhirendra in Boudhanath, which was much less populated in 1975 than it is today. I did a census and there were only about 1200 people residing in Boudha and the neighboring village of Tin Chuli. Often, at night, I would hear the drums of ritual and I would follow them. More often than not, I met shamans doing healing puja at their clients’ homes. There were at least 14 folks who identified themselves as being a shaman. Bhirendra was one of them. I immediately noticed that he delivered a fuller rendition of the healing puja than the others had performed, and he seemed to be more proficient at telling the mythologies and sacred shamanic stories. Bhirendra was a ban jhankri, an initiate of a smaller-than-human yeti-like creature.

Indeed, early on, some identified me as a sahib jhankri (gentleman shaman). This was a complimentary but not an accurate epithet. I was merely an experiential researcher into shamanic techniques of altered consciousness, not a healer like Aama and Bhirendra, and the other shamans and shaman disciples in Boudhanath. In other words, becoming a sahib jkankri was not my intention. I am an anthropologist as well as a psychotherapist, but my orientation has always been experiential research focused on altered states of consciousness: dreams, trance, visions, channeling, contemplation, etc. Shamanism is a gateway, as are other spiritual disciplines, albeit shamanism is the earliest spiritual practice of humankind. Shamanic trance also has elements in common with various active imagination and “daydream” techniques of psychotherapy, but only in shamanism is relationship to spirit developed.

The skilled and dedicated Nepalese shaman also believes in modern medicine, and can recognize the difference between those illnesses that are medical and those caused by lagu or bad spirits. Both Aama and Bhirendra referred their acutely ill patients to the appropriate doctors. Indeed, both availed themselves personally of Western medicine when ill. I know that Aama has a very good relationship with a few of the doctors at the Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu.

Thus there isn’t any antipathy towards modern medicine on the part of the shamans. In fact, in my research in the 1970’s, I gave due attention to Nepalese shamans as knowledgeable about the ills of their community, noting they could be utilized, after some training, to be “barefoot doctors” when medical facilities are not available in remote locations.

Shamanism is at least a 40,000-year old survival strategy that still exists. In the west, it is not yet integrated into the medical model as are some other transpersonal practices that fulfill spiritual needs, like meditation. The ecstatic states of shamanism are at least as valuable. There are currently numerous shamanic schools, teachers, and healers from various cultural backgrounds working in the West. Consequently, we in the West now face a similar problem to what has already occurred in Nepal. How does one tell the charlatans who say they are shamans in order to line their own pockets from those with real concern for their clients’ welfare? When conducting research in Nepal. I met a few claiming to be shamans that I thought were fake. But how does one prove such a thing? Actually to accuse one of being a fraud, and exploiting others, is tantamount to accusing someone of being a bokshi (a sorcerer), something neither Bhirendra nor Aama ever did. Manipulation and exploitation are not the work of a true shaman. Indeed, charlatanism is a problem, but not only in shamanism. In my experience, it is a fact of life. Jiwan yastai chha.

A shaman is not a priest for any religion. A shaman is like a doctor, and people who are ill, and therefore vulnerable to manipulation, are the clientele of both. However, there are no official degrees or licenses, or legal and ethical review boards in shamanism. To be considered a shaman is only a matter of what a person claims to be true and his or her reputation for results.

It is possible to make a conscious decision to become a medical doctor or a psychologist, work hard and become successful. However, traditionally this is not how one becomes a shaman. To be a shaman, one must have a “calling.” The calling is an involuntary experience in which one is chosen by the spirits. Eliade, the University of Chicago, Historian of Religion, called shamanism an “involuntary vocation.” Spirit comes to the person on its own. It is not desired, but comes nonetheless. In some cultures, the future shaman becomes ill, almost dies, and has visions. Others believe him to be crazy. He has vivid hallucinations, sometimes nightmares. He may speak in an unknown language, or even run away, or be kidnapped by the spirits and then taken to the edge of civilization, perhaps into a jungle or forest, or to a mountain, or cave, or some other uninhabited area. Sometimes the candidate is forced to fast and goes without food or even drink for days on end. And, when he returns, if he has been able to escape death and return to his community (not all do!), the unwitting candidate may speak of having been taught by the spirits to do something new, to become someone new, to have nearly died or to have had a “near-death experience,” and yet to be reborn to a new way of being in the world with a new purpose in life. This is not the type of job one can refuse. If he tries, the candidate might become crazy, lost in madness, or perhaps fall ill and die. “No” is not an option when the shaman is “called.”

You may recognize the outline of the ban jhankri and I believe of the yeti as well, especially the small yeti who is called ban jhankri in the Nepalese mythological literature. In other words, the identity of the two is not my idea but is found in the literature of Nepal, researched by Nepalese scholars, all of whom are cited in my book. I must admit to having a special relationship to the ban jhankri.

For sure, some of the interest in shamanism in the West was a part of the New Age interest in many types of spiritual practices – some traditional and others innovative. However, shamanism is part of traditional practices on every continent. It is universal and has many elements in common with contemporary psychotherapy: faith, suggestion, corrective emotional experience, and group support, to mention a few. However, what is distinct in shamanism is the element of spirit relationship. That is, humans possess a psychological constitution that makes it possible to perceive a non-ordinary reality filled with spirit beings with their own ontology. Meeting with them and integrating them into one’s life is healing for psyche and soma. For me, the shamanic techniques of ecstasy permitted a dream-like journey into another reality to meet spirits that have guided my life for the better. That is, when I am wise enough to obey.

Thus I see shamanism as an adjunct to modern psychotherapy, but also think that it is a spiritual discipline. That is to say, shamanism utilizes archaic trance techniques and methods that can open new worlds. Fortunately, it is possible to learn these techniques as techniques and not as part of a religious dogma in the West. My Western teacher for the past 25 years is the anthropologist Michael Harner, Founder of the Foundation of Shamanic Studies, who has made these once forgotten methods accessible which has thus opened up another reality full of healing, compassion and wisdom that is sorely needed in the modern world.