Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My journey with Lama Thupten Chosdar

My earliest memory of my grandfather dates back to the time when I was 3 years of age.
Everyday at 4 am sharp, he used to wake me up in his long intonated voice.
‘Rahul! Rahul!’ and that used to be the beginning of a fun filled, hyperactive day.
I used to dress up in my favorite German, bear fur jacket, ( although later, I came to know it was synthetic!) while my elder sister used to wear a decorated brick red blazer from Damascus. As he led us out of our family bungalow, we used to hip hop down the clean asphalt road, lined with blossomed Gulmohar trees which stood in awed attendance. During our long morning walk, my grandfather whom we lovingly called Baba, used to shower us with his words of wisdom.

These were mostly excerpts from the life and times of Napoleon Bonaparte, Mahatma Gandhi, Raja Harishchandra and a host of characters from classic literature, all of whom were Baba’s favorite. His pet quotes being ‘There are many a slip between the cup and the lip’ and Napoleon’s famous lines “ It is all the will of destiny that you are going to be the queen of Sweden and I a prisoner of St.Helena."

The road used to turn at right angles to enter a small hamlet where it crossed a pair of metal railway tracks riveted to wooden sleepers. That used to be our final destination.
We waited here day after day with baited breath to watch a huge crimson sun rise slowly from the far end of the horizon. Everyday it inspired a divine epiphany which is difficult to describe.

As the beautiful days passed by, once Baba went on one of his many tours. We got busy with our school - class-work, homework and games. One day, when me and Tulpi returned from school, we were surprised to find a tall well-built man sitting in the drawing room. He was bald and dressed in a flowing maroon robe. On close observation we skipped a beat to see that it was Baba!

‘Come to me Rahul and Tulpi’ he called and embraced us.
‘What have you done to yourself?’ I asked.
‘I have become a Buddhist monk’ he replied calmly.
‘A monk! but why? asked Tulpi
‘That’s a long story, I will tell you in the days to come. But before that you must know, I now have a new name - Lama Thupten Chosdar.’
‘What Lama …….?’ I blurted, trying to pronounce ‘Thupten’.
‘Whatever you may call yourself you will always remain our Baba.’said Tulpi.

The morning walks continued, but the topics of discussion had by and large changed. He told us all about his interesting experiences at the monasteries in Dharamsala and
Bodh Gaya. He was very proud to be the first Indian to be ordained by the Guru of
His Holiness The Dalai Lama. He always spoke of His Holiness with great affection and regard. Baba felt deep remorse about his exile from the Potala Palace in Lhasa, to a forlorn hill station in India.

Much later he told me about an enlightened saint who had predicted -
“ Your Guru will be a saint and ruler of a Kingdom.”
Baba was perplexed by this revelation, for he could not think of such a person, until he met The Dalai Lama.

To be continued…….

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