The Kalachakra Tantra is one of the most esoteric Tibetan teachings, associated both with successive Dalai Lamas and with the Panchen Lamas. The version of the Tantra as we have it is usually ascribed to Lobsang Palden Yeshe (1738-1780) who is called by Europeans the third Panchen Lama and by Tibetans the sixth. He was so fascinated by the search for Shambhala himself that he asked George Bogle, the British envoy who visited him from India on behalf of the British Governor, Warren Hastings, to find out on his return to Bengal what the pundits there knew about Shambhala. However, the Kalachakra Tantra is much older than the 18th Century. That remarkable Hungarian scholar, Alexander Csoma de Koros, who traveled from Hungary on foot to Tibet early in the 19th century to study the origins of his people, reports that he was told the Kalachakra Tantra had been transmitted from Shambhala to Tibet and to India about 965 A.D.
The message of the Kalachakra Tantra cannot, however, be dated. It is, in essence, time-less and the whole teaching is about how to use a knowledge of the wheel of time (chakra means "wheel" and Kala "time") to get out of time, and thus escape decay and death which are the inevitable lots of all creatures caught in time. The way out lies through the centre, in the timeless hub which is totally empty and still, and around which everything in manifestation and time moves. It moves more and more violently as we leave the centre and are thrown to the circumference of the wheel of life, just as the wheel of the cart moves, the axle alone remaining still. All beings and all life can be placed somewhere on the wheel. All traditions are its converging spokes. At the centre there are no more labels, no more words, only stillness and silence; but this is not emptiness as those on the rim imagine the void to be. At the centre (and only there) is the plenitude of being and joy we can call life.
Shambhala then can be seen from the Kalachakra Tantra teaching as the abode of those who have found their way to the centre. It is quite literally a time-less place and, since space-time is a continuum, must therefore also be a place-less place. It stands above history because it stands out of time. We have already seen that it is associated with the beginnings of Tibetan history so we should not be surprised to find that it also has a role at the end of history - alpha and omega. For at the end of this cycle of time the great Tibetan warrior-hero King Gesar (Kaiser, Caesar) of Ling is due to ride forth again with all his troops from Kalapa, the capital of Shambhala, to re-establish, in all its original purity and force, the reign of Dharma, that is, of the Buddha's primal teaching which has through the course of history become tarnished and distorted.
The capital city of the country called Shambhala is here given as Kalapa. This is an interesting Sanskrit term meaning "that which holds single parts together," like a "bundle or quiver of arrows," or "the bells strung around a woman's waist." Yes, indeed; that is what it means to have a center, a point of reference to which everything is related, the glue without which all the little fragments of understanding we have gathered remain fragmentary, not a hole, not holy. Therein lies the difference between information and knowledge, between a string of facts and the understanding to hold them together.