Each of the letters of the Tibetan alphabet are associated with one of the five elements according to their inherent sound. The letters associated with the space element are AH, KA, KHA, GA NGA, and HA.
Learning Tibetan: Lama
In the Tibetan language, the word “Lama” is a compound of the words “La” and “Ma”. The word “La” in Tibetan is spelled bla. This word refers to something that is higher, in position and/or in virtue and spirituality and generally refers to someone who has taken on the responsibility of guiding others. This is also the term that is used for the equivalent of “soul” in English, although the meanings are slightly different. The word “Ma” means mother. Therefore, “Lama” refers to someone that is higher in spiritual development who guides followers.
In the Language of Zhang Zhung: The Letters
According to the Yungdrung Bön, sometime before the 2nd Tibetan king, the letters of the Tibetan alphabet were created from the letters of the ancient Zhang Zhung alphabet. Yung Drung Bön was the state religion of the ancient country of Zhang Zhung and the texts were written in this language. However, due to great persecution in the 7th century, the texts had to be hidden in order to protect them from being forever destroyed. During this time, the Zhang Zhung language almost became extinct. However, there were a few Bön lamas who passed on their knowledge of this language. As the scriptures were being copied into the Tibetan language, many of them preserved their titles and the first few lines of texts in the old language of Zhang Zhung. This can be seen in the scriptures today.
Calligraphy of the Bön syllable OM in the Zhang Zhung script as drawn by Geshe Chaphur Lhundrup of Gyalshen Institute. If you would like to purchase a calligraphy of this, or another syllable, contact Gyalshen.org.
Tibetan: The Letter AH
The letter AH is the 30th and final letter of the Tibetan alphabet. It is counted as both a vowel and a consonant. Its sound is inherent in all of the letters and unless a syllable has a different vowel added to it, the vowel sound is ‘AH’. Its energy is considered neutral, neither masculine nor feminine. The sound ‘AH’ has great esoteric significance. It is considered to be the sound and vibration of an enlightened state of being.