Monpas: Buddhists of the High Himalayas
Vinay Sheel Oberoi
It began with a new camera, a retirement present from the author’s wife. The Kameng area in Arunachal
Pradesh, familiar to the author’s family for over six decades, and the Monpa people provided the perfect
subjects to indulge his interest in photography.
Over time, the idea of a book firmed up, and the photographs coalesced into what was envisioned as a
sensitive, not necessarily comprehensive, look at the Monpa way of life and their land, Monyul. The intent was
not to be ethnographic or academic, but to portray the rapidly changing world of the Monpas.
A meditative travelogue in images that transforms into a thoughtful exploration, the book captures the
lives of the people and the region. The author’s personal stories, interspersed throughout the book, tell of the
Monpas’ hospitality and warmth, providing insight into the everyday lives of a spiritual community.
Vinay Sheel Oberoi was a former civil servant who served as Secretary, Higher Education, in the Government of
India and as Ambassador and Permanent Representative to UNESCO in Paris. Educated at The Doon School,
Dehradun, he graduated from St. Stephen’s College and then obtained a postgraduate degree from the Delhi
School of Economics. Soon after, in 1979, he joined the Indian Administrative Service and was assigned to the
Assam–Meghalaya cadre. His field postings in Assam were in proximity to the Manas National Park and the
Brahmaputra river; and in Meghalaya, in the verdant Khasi hills.