Saturday, September 18, 2010

My Journey with Lama Thupten Chosdar - II

Ven.Lama Thupten Chosdar British Raj - Gandhi in Presidency Jail

Baba had a very ironical impression of the British Raj in India. As a staunch patriot, Baba took active part in the freedom struggle.

“ I gave shelter to some of the most wanted freedom fighters of  that time. They used to stay incognito in our house. your grandmother used to cook food for them as she did for the rest of the family. Usually these people were introduced as distant relatives to the neighbours and other friends of the family. the most interesting part was my mother’s brother, who was the police chief and was a very dreaded officer of his time. He was a regular visitor to our house, but somehow never suspected anything fishy.”

“The punishment for abetting the fight for freedom was most horrible. The ladies of the house were put to shame in public and the prime accused was invariably hanged!”

‘Were you not  scared?’ I asked Baba.

“Not for myself. But I did worry about your grandfather and the children. In fact it was this apprehension which prompted me to put all our jewellery and valuables in a box and bury it in my best friend’s ( Badri Babu) house, who also happened to be a successful businessman and my blind supporter.”

“You will be surprised to know that we were the first to declare ourselves free from British Rule in India. A self-styled Indian flag was hoisted atop one of the most prominent buildings in Balia Town, in strict defiance of the British.”

“The government took stern action and burnt down my friend, Badri babu’s house. Luckily my box of valuables remained unscathed and was retrieved later. It was my turn next.”

“They came on horse back, a group of khaki clad police constables headed by a British Officer. Your father was playing  with his younger brothers outside the family mansion, shouting slogans against the British. that is when someone shouted, ‘run for your lives! They are coming to arrest you!’ Your grandmother and one of my cousin sisters who used to live with us rushed outside picked up the children and run into the lush paddy fields in the backyard. In front of our eyes we saw our beautiful ancestral house being burnt to ashes! After the British left we shifted to a relative’s place, near Delhi and I went ‘underground’ with my friend Badri Babu. I came to know through my sources that our property was confiscated and a warrant was issued in my name. I and my friend were strictly advised to remain in hiding for some time.”

“We made good use of the situation and set out to follow the footprints of Sir Paul Brunton and his travelogue - ‘A Search in Secret India’. Soon we travelled far south and and met one of the most  revered saints of his time Mahrshi Raman.”Sir Paul BruntonRakshabandhan 24th August 2010 20-12-2009 20-25-25 461x591

“When i reached his ashram, I found an assorted group of disciples, some of whom were Europeans there was pin drop silence in the hall. I too found a place and squatted quietly on the floor. We continued to sit for over an hour but nothing seemed to stir.”

“Eventually I could not resist and asked my neighbour - ‘Can I ask him a question?’ I said, pointing towards the Mahrshi.”

‘Be silent, focus on him  and think of your query. You will get the answer!’                        

“I was bemused initially, but later did as advised, and it happened exactly as I was told. This is amazing! I thought.”

Later I realized, the Marshi delved in telepathy

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…….