The Tashi Lhunpo Monks bring enlightenment to smart phones and tablet computing with the release of Tashi Ringtones – a set of custom recordings of ritual Tibetan Buddhist instruments, which are designed for use as ring and alert tones on compatible handsets.
The eight auspicious Ringtones feature traditional instruments from the monastic orchestra including the great Dungchen or long horns, Khangling (human thigh bone trumpets), drums made from human skulls and ancient Conch shells from Tibet (whose sound is believed to banish evil spirits, scare away poisonous creatures and avert hailstorms).
The Ringtones were recorded on location at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Bylakuppe, southern India - home to the Monks since 1972 following their exile from Chinese-occupied Tibet.
Featured ritual Tibetan Buddhist Instruments:
01 Long Horn (Dung-chen)
Long horns, played in pairs, tell the deities that the monks are about to begin their prayers. Typically over nine feet long (with a sound sometimes compared to the singing of elephants) the Long Horns are played from the roof of the monastery for several hours, alerting the villagers nearby that the monks are preparing for a special ceremony.
02 Meditation Bell (Drilbu)
The Drilbu represents the wisdom of impermanence because its sound lasts so fleetingly. In the Tibetan tradition its sound also inspires and activates the enlightenment of the heart.
03 Conch shell (Dung-kar)
The sound of the Conch Shell is used to summon the gods to the prayers. It was also used in battle and was thought to release frightening destructive forces. The conch shell trumpet comes from the word 'Dung' meaning horn and 'Karpo' meaning white. The shell is said to have originated from the depths of the ocean, where it was home to an animal which was the result of the union of a dragon and a fish.
04 Monastic Orchestra
Made up of horns (Khangling), Oboes (Gyaling), Bells (Drilbu) and Drums (Dameru) the monastic orchestra punctuates the chants and prayers marking the transition between separate sections, or passages of particular importance.
05 Skull drum (Thod-rnga)
A small hand drum or tambourine originating in India, made of two wooden 'bowls' joined together at the base, making an hourglass shape, covered with skin, with two strikers – beads attached to the end of leather cords or strings, played by rotating the wrist. The damaru is often used in conjunction with the Drilbu or bell, which is used to invoke the wisdom of the deities. In the Tantric tradition, the drums are often made of two human skulls joined at the apex to symbolise the impermanence of existence.
06 Oboe (Gyangling)
A double-reeded oboe-like instrument, Gyangling are used to mark especially important passages in prayers.
07 Meditation cymbal (Ting shak)
Ting Shak – small cymbals - are used to draw the mind into a state of calmness and tranquillity at the beginning of a session of meditation.
08 Thighbone trumpet (Khangling)
Traditionally made out of a human thighbone ('kang' meaning trumpet and 'ling' meaning leg), these trumpets serve to remind Buddhist practitioners of the impermanence of human life. They are used in rituals, especially in the Choed ritual of cutting the ego. In this prayer, the monks offer parts of their own bodies as food for the demons and ghosts, when the sound of the Kangling summons the demons to the feast awaiting them.