Friday, July 06, 2007

Thoughts of a monk, in a land far, far away...


I haven't forgotten the existence of this blog. It has always remained in a corner of my not-too-well-organised mind. But, the last two months have been unbelievably hectic, as I approach the end of two years in Europe (and hope to, God willing, finish at the end of this month, and graduate at the end of the next).

I have been, since the morning, listening to Tibetan/North east Indian hymns with a strong Buddhist/Hindu influence. This brought long-forgotten memories of a trip, years ago, to Sikkim, a little (former) kingdom hidden below the Kanchenjunga in the far north-east corner of India. My parents took me to this little monastery somewhere near the capital, Gangtok, where we watched mesmerised as shorn monks spun huge, beautiful prayer wheels around.

We got talking to a young, possibly 17 or 18 year old monk. My 7 year old self hung around awestruck in the background. The monk took a look at me, and began to hug me. With tears in his eyes, he told us,

'I have a little brother at home, just like him - the same age. I haven't seen him in years.'

If memory - a fickle mistress prone to altering perceptions of reality at the best of times - serves me right, my parents snapped a photo of him with me.

I didn't think much of it then, and hadn't thought of it afterwards, either. But today, as I listened to Oliver Shanti's eerie, mystic hymns, this memory came flooding back from the depths of my subconscious.

The monk should be about thirty five today. He has probably not seen his younger brother since. Maybe the years of self-imposed exile and isolation have erased the memory of the family he once had, in a small settlement on the border on the Sino-Indian border. Or maybe, just maybe, he still thinks of the little child he left behind when he was wrenched away from his childhood home to pursue a greater call; to attain Moksha. The little child is probably as old as me; he probably still tends to the sheep (or whatever else they tend to in these little villages in an oft-forgotten part of the country).

More importantly to me - and more selfishly, perhaps - I wonder if the young (or not-so-young, now) monk remembers the little seven year old from another corner of that vast landmass we insist on calling a single nation state - the little kid who so reminded him of his own brother. I wonder, if by some eerie, preternatural coincidence, he has thought of me as I sit in front of a computer in the lap of materialism; in a country miles away from his - both literally and metaphorically; listening to songs from his native land, and calling up memories of a young monk I met years ago.

A moot point, however, is if I ever lived in the same country as he. Which, of course, brings me to contemplate the cliche of India being not one, but many countries - of several, nay, infinite realities interposed one over the other! But that is not the point of this little tale; in fact, this little tale, come to think of it, has no point whatsoever.

Thanks for the music, Galiya, it's set me thinking. :)

8 comments:

Mosilager said...

That's sad that he left his family... well i guess so did we... for our own moksha - education and job - probably now he has email contact with them. who knows?

Kroopa Shah (Kr00pz) said...

When I asked for an update I did not realize it was going to be such a beautiful one...thanks for sharing this...

Neon said...

:)

freespirit said...

was starting to miss u Sid! And what a post!Do u ever need a point to write a post...methinks not. Thoughtful, beautiful and insightful...

Divya Das said...

beautiful!

The Inquisitive Akka said...

Went to Sikkim 2 years ago, it was so beautiful. Do you think you might have visited the Rumtek monastery? That's the most famous one in Sikkim

Galiyashka said...

I haven't seen photo before.. Did you add later? It is very touching..

meera said...

wow...its nice to see other blogs still alive:) and that was a really cute post..sorry didnt read the one about the goat's urine..:) and hope scotland was smashing!!