Monday, May 14, 2007

The Tibetan

I am an atheist, but Buddhism and its teachings have had quite an impact on me...



A few months back I was in Dharamsala with C. Together, we were strolling down the streets of McLeoganj (Upper Dharamsala) and soon found ourselves at the doorstep of the Namgyal Monastery, the seat of His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Co-incidentally, he was in town on that day and was expected to visit the monastery soon. Not wanting to miss out on the chance, we made our way in - not before undergoing a rigourous security check.



Entering the monastery, we were swamped by the milling crowds all gathered for one glimpse of His Holiness and the two of us had little clue as to where to go or what to do. We decided to follow a large group of people going up the stairs. On top of the staircase we were separated from the group by the guards and we were feeling quite flustered by them. The whole place was in absolute chaos and no one was willing to help us out.



About to give up and get out, I felt a hand on my shoulder and I turned around to stare into the deep black eyes of an elderly Tibetan. He spoked no Hindi or English, but beckoned us to sit down next to him. We squeezed into the tiny space on the steps amongst a huge crowd of praying common folk. Sitting there too was difficult as there was hardly any place, but the reassuring hand on my shoulder made me stay. I looked at him inquisitively, trying to understand the purpose of his insistence. And then he smiled....



Never have I ever seen anyone smile like that, his face... wrinkly and cragged was a picture of serenity, the eyes deep as the darkest coal mines... and smile it was like Buddha himself. I needed no more reassurance and looking back at C told me that she felt the same.



Moments later, we knew what he meant... there was a hush in the crowd and an air of anticipation.... a whisper went round the hall and then all of a sudden, His Holiness walked up the stairs just about 4 feet away from us. He turned around, and looked directly at us and smiled .....

We turned around to look at our Tibetan, his eyes were closed, lips murmuring silent prayers along with the beads of his rosary. Moments later, the hall rumbled with the deep throated 'Om Mani Padme Hum' by the Gyuto monks.



The Tibetan opened his eyes and smiled again.... I knew who he was....he was Avalokiteshwara himself.









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1 comment:

Sidhusaaheb said...

I've been to McLeodganj, though I didn't get to see the Dalai Lama.

It's a beautiful place, as is Dharamsala.

:)