This Is the End: Earthquake Narratives and Buddhist Prophesies of Decline

  • Geoff Childs
  • Sienna R. Craig
  • Christina Juenger
  • Kristine Hildebrandt
Keywords: earthquake, Buddhism, prophesy, causation, Nepal


“This Is the End” presents findings from research in which the authors asked survivors of Nepal’s 2015 earthquakes to describe what they know about earthquakes based on their lifelong cultural and environmental experiences, how they responded to the devastating events, and how they view these earthquakes and their aftermath in terms of cause and consequence. The research settings of Tsum, Nubri, Manang, and Mustang were in the midst of rapid socioeconomic transformations and environmental disruptions when the earthquakes struck. Interviews shortly after the event reveal that many people are familiar with scientific concepts like the movement of tectonic plates, yet they attribute the earthquake’s ultimate cause to human activities that disturb autochthonous deities. Their interpretations suggest parallels with signs of impending doom contained within written prophesies, including a decline in religious devotion, the fraying of social cohesion, and environmental disruptions. The linking of written prophesies with lived experiences points toward a Buddhist understanding of conventional and ultimate realities in which people discuss the material and geophysical causes and consequences of earthquakes while also considering moral and cosmological understandings stemming from socially and environmentally destructive behaviors. This article contributes to a growing literature on the intersections of religion and natural disasters.

How to Cite
Childs, G., Craig, S., Juenger, C., & Hildebrandt, K. (2021). This Is the End: Earthquake Narratives and Buddhist Prophesies of Decline. HIMALAYA - The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, 40(2), 32-49.
Research Articles