Friday, 20 October 2017

A LETTER FROM AN EXEMPLARY TEACHER

CELEBRATION OF GANDHIAN VALUES
Dear Gyembo Namgyel Sir,
While reading and contemplating the Gandhian values on the eve of 2nd October, Gandhi Jayanti, your picture is flashing upon my mind because I have found in you a man of moral beauty and lofty values. This ignited feeling motivates me to write this letter.
Nobel Laureate Dr. Alexis Carrel on page No. 129 in his book ‘MAN THE UNKNOWN’ writes: “….Moral beauty is an exceptional and very striking phenomenon. He who has contemplated it but once never forgets its aspect. This form of beauty is far more impressive than the beauty of nature and of science. It gives to those who possess its divine gifts, a strange, an inexplicable power. It increases the strength of intellect. It establishes peace among men. Much more than science, art, and religious rites, moral beauty is the basis of civilization…”
By virtue of my age and experience as I am growing richer in wisdom, your value to me rises higher, and I feel stronger to have got such a friend of high altitude in morality, simplicity and wisdom. The greatest wealth of your life is your art of ‘Simple Living and High Thinking’. I can never forget the beauty and sublimity of your Gandhian house, small and simple, clean and serene, adorned with a beautiful library and enriched with a highly civilized lavatory.
I remember more than 15 years ago one day at your home I had asked you, “Sir, when are you going to purchase a car?” You answered: “My three children are my three cars. I don’t dream of any other car than them.” I felt elated by the words of your profound wisdom. Accordingly, you have done your best and most to educate and build the children’s life which reflects your thoughts. Those words still echo in my heart and I feel energized and ignited.
Respect and devotion to one’s teacher is also a Gandhian value which is on drastic erosion in modern days. Your attitude and action of giving a lift to your teacher, Mr. Verghese, by your scooter from Pemegatshel to Shelingore is also a reflection of your high moral value.
Another occasion is unforgettable to me. On my final departure from Pemegatshel on 18 December 2007 you chased after my vehicle from Nangkor to Pemagatshel Zero point just to clear the financial transaction between us, which gives an incredible message about you. The world renowned educationist and philosopher Swami Vivekananda said: Be perfectly pure in dealing with money. I have seen that purity in you.
Sir, on the eve of the auspicious 2 October I wish and pray that your moral values contribute to the peace and well-being of the Bhutanese nation and her brothers and sisters across the globe as Gandhiji’s values did to India and the world. PALDEN DRUKPA GYALO!
With love, prayer, best wishes and gratitude,
Yours sincerely,
Santosh Chowdhury

Ex-teacher, Bhutan


Sunday, 12 March 2017

THE PRIVILEGE OF WRITING LETTER TO THE STUDENTS

Last October, Nima Zangpo, a teacher from Gonpasingma Lower Secondary School in Pemagatshel, asked me to write a letter to his students. It was both humbling and a privilege for a farmer to be asked to write to the students to inspire them. More than what I have in me to be of any inspiration, I appreciated the teacher’s innovative idea to get his students motivated through means other than those available at his disposal in the school. This, to me is how a creative and resourceful teacher thinks out of box to inspire children to learn so many of life’s lessons.


So, I wrote to his students telling them to study zealously and give their best as they are in the school to learn and study. I told them that while result is important, not everybody can excel in studies because of the limitations we all have in life. I explained to them on why giving their best is more important than the result itself because that is the only thing they can possibly do.

 I also wrote to them on how competitions in life are getting stiffer by the day and how, while it is difficult, it will bring the best out of them. I urged them to recognize their inherent talents and follow them with passion in life and do things that make them happy. Success in life doesn’t necessarily mean that someone should be brilliant academically since not everyone is cut out to be brilliant. I wrote about the more important goals in life-to be good human beings and responsible citizens for a happy and meaningful life.

On February 26, 2017, the eve of Bhutanese New Year Losar, Nima visited me with a priceless present of a book and six replies his students wrote to me towards the end of last year. I am privileged to share some of what these young children wrote to me:

A class six student described about her school and the excitement of the examination that was nearing then. She apparently was well prepared to be happy about the examination unlike students elsewhere. She wants to become an engineer some day, perhaps motivated by a flyover bridge in her school, she wrote about in her letter.

A class four student wanted to do good things in life and he shared some examples of what those good things are; like sharing pen and pencils, helping those in needs and showing kindness to animals. He then shared about his favourite story. It is about monkey and crocodile and how the clever monkey avoided crocodile’s open mouth by jumping on its back.

Another class four student loves to read and write (something wonderful to hear). She says, she has become a friend of dictionary because she is able to learn many things from it. She was reading a book called, “No Fighting and No Biting.” She likes Joen and dislikes Rose and Willy in the book without saying why. She also has a bit of an advice for me, “to work hard until I succeed in life.” I honestly think I need to.

One class six student asked me why I prefer working on my farm rather than in some office. This student wants me to share stories and poems.  Her mate, a class seven student says that she has a passion for singing and dancing but, admits she is even better in reading books. She is apparently one of the most active and determined student in the school because she loves both indoor and outdoor games as well besides being a position holder in her class.

The final reply was also from a class topper. Written with a beautiful handwriting, she shared an inspiring poem titled, “Teach me.” She says she does everything on time and reads at least one page of a book before going to sleep. She says her family is poor but lives happily. Something wonderful to hear but not surprising story in rural villages as happiness is infectiously prevalent more in communities that live in the fringes of everything.

All these replies have one thing in common; children said that, they were inspired by my previous letter and want me to write again. I intend to write back as some have queries that require answering. Others want me to share articles that I wrote. Perhaps, this kind of interactions helps them learn something besides serving as a leisurely break from the never ending classroom learning.

Gyembo Namgyal
Pemagatshel
March 12, 2017


                                                           


Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Rest in peace lopen

(This is a humble tribute to a humble lay master. I know that, irrespective of what I try to write, it will always be insignificant one. Despite that, this is all I can do to thank  him.)

The ruins of Dungmanma village always used to be silent and peaceful except for the sound of prayers and recitations of mantras an old couple made all their lives. Today, it was buzzing with activities as  a steady stream of people come and go somberly, some with moist eyes and others visibly in anguish.

People from nearby and some from far off villages flocked to this solitary peaceful place to pay their last respects to one of the last known accomplished local lay master Lopen Shera Wangdi of Pemagatshel Khar Dungkhar. The popular local lopen passed away at his home following a brief illness recently. He was 77.

Late lopen Shera Wangdi was known among the local population as an accomplished practitioner who spent all his life amidst the ruins of what was probably a thriving ancient village of Dungmanma with his wife. The couple’s eleven grown up children live scattered in many dzongkhags but, the late lopen and his wife found peace away from human settlements and refused to follow their children.

Despite his popularity, he never kept any students with him nor did he preach people. He just lived a simple low profile life, dedicating his time to prayers and meditations. He only taught to few people who he thought possesses genuine qualities to uphold what he taught or instructed. Those who have been closely associated with the late lopen, today feels lucky to have met him.

The late lopen knew of his impending death. Just a week prior to his passing away, he was admitted to the local hospital and shortly afterwards decided to return back to his home where he began preparing for his final journey. When his illness relapsed shortly afterwards, he instructed his family members not to take him to hospital as his time has finally come to leave.

Later he made a briefly recovery for a day. Without further delay, he asked his wife to accompany him to visit the nearby Dungkhar Lhakhang for the last time. It took almost an entire day to reach the lhakhang which was actually a mere half an hour’s walking distance. Taking rest every few steps, he made it to the lhakhang.

Once at the lhakhang he said his prayers and met the two Khenpos who are teaching at the shedra. He told the Khenpos of his impending death and he entrusted the two khenpos with the task of performing all the weekly rituals for 21 days following his demise.

He then called all his children home for the last get-together. All his children reached home in time before his passing away. He was well aware of what was happening to him even as his bodily elements began dissolving and was able to recount them to his loved ones. His last wish was that nobody at home must mourn openly and that his body be left untouched for three days before cremation. He finally breathed his last peacefully.

The late lopen may not have lived his life surrounded by followers and patrons as he kept a low profile and chose to live almost like a hermit all his life. This is exactly, how Buddhist masters live. They only exhibit their accomplishments at the time of death. For them death is not something tragic and painful, it is a smooth transition to a higher realm.

Although it was a huge loss to the community, I have the comfort of having been in close touch with the lopen over the last few years and receive some valuable instructions.  I am indebted to him and can only pray for his soul to rest in peace in the blissful copper colored abode (zangdogpelri) among those enlightened beings for one last time.


Gyembo Namgyal
Pemagatshel June 21, 2016

N.B. It has been ages since I last updated my blog. The less I write the more difficult and clumsier it is becoming to write.  Bear with me, if this bores you to sleep in the middle of your reading.
Kadrinche dear readers.




Monday, 28 December 2015

WINTER

Desolate appear the landscape,
So far as the eyes can see with ease,
Barren fields and dusty roads,
Grey mountains and naked trees.

Wintry breeze seem to have jagged edges,
 Lacerating feel follows numbness on exposed parts,
So people try shielding with armory of garments,
As the grey clouds hang menacingly, like a doomsday art.

So leaden are the skies in winter,
 Clouds look pregnant but find precipitation labourious,
As highlands wait for snow and rain in lower vales,
And pave way for sunshine to make places salubrious.

Frost in the morning carpets the grasslands in white,
Mist envelopes villages like feathery blanket in tons,
Rendering the sun too febrile even when at its zenith,
So people warm around fire, gossip-mongering in marathon.

The rich are in the cozy rooms sipping exotic whiskeys,
Some are in the bars gulping cheap rums and brandies,
Peasants in their homes down homemade barley brews,
And teetotalers drink gallons of teas and coffees with candies.

Only snotty nosed children seem immune to cold,
As they play with icicles oblivious to the wintry chill,
Even the tempers of vociferous strays seem to ebb,
As most remain coiled in the street corners, whimpering and still.

But winter is a season to relax and rejuvenate,
And be a part of the spoils of the festive season,
Tshechus, losars, New Year and the festivals anon
A season of mirth and merry making, life’s very reason.


pic; google 
Gyembo Namgyal
Pemagatsel

December 28, 2015


Monday, 14 December 2015

A WEAVER AND HER WEAVE

An enchantress, that you are- beautiful,
Bestowed with skills that is unrivaled,
An amalgamation of god’s bountiful,
Spellbound are the eyes for your skills unparalleled.

In frills hangs your silken raven hair,
A tuft tucked behind your shapely ear,
Rests are flying delicately on the flow of the air,
As you come walking, the yarns seem they can hear.

The wooden loom is incomplete without you,
The silk threads go around in colourful triangle,
They spread evenly in the mirage of hue,
Resembling like a rainbow from every possible angle.

So keen and fixated are your gaze,
So nimbly your graceful hands work,
Pulling strains of threads, fingers move in maze,
Dhak..Dhak the shinning beater in rhythm works.

Spectacle it is, the half woven loom revealed,
Of intricate patterns and awe inspiring designs,
And artistically you weave on with patience not trivial,
Thread by thread you will entwine them but not resign.

Occasionally, you adjust the shifting back strap,
That snugs your derriere and holds the loom tight,
Listening to melody you make loops and knots on the angled drape,
Tucking back those hairs interfering with her sight.

The patterns are beautiful even for a naïve eyes,
But special they are and hold meanings so clear,
They are the motifs of trees and delicate butterflies,
And woven patiently for days and months so dear.

One day a beautiful maiden will wear this masterpiece,
On the anointed day where thousands gather,
To watch dances and glittering spectacle of fashionable pieces
But none will be as beautiful as this art put together.

Here I am today; I watch the birth of silken butterflies,
And trees in fruition along with symbolic knot of love,
By the fingers that seem to have eyes of their own to rely,
Of a weaver more beautiful than the weave, an enchantress everyone loves.

Gyembo Namgyal
Pemagatshel
December 15, 2015




Thursday, 10 December 2015

FLOWERS--BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS

Ah Flowers! So beautiful are all flowers,
The spectrum of their hues so dazzling.
Beautiful they are on ancient trees,
Or on shrubs by the bank of sparkling rivers.

Flowers bloom all season round,
Most in spring, some in summer, fall and winter.
Some lasts for weeks and months some just for a day,
And some bloom only in the darkness of the night.

Flowers adorn rocky cliffs and deep ravines,
They carpet moors and prairie lands,
And look good even on thorny plants,
And adorn plants growing in hostile arid lands.

Flowers are bewitching to human eyes,
Mesmerized are chirpy birds and humming bees.
Colourful petals leading to reveal exotic aromas,
Ushering to where lay the hidden seductive nectar.

Flowers are the purest offerings man can make,
On the altars of enlightened ones who sits on floral thrones.
Thus even the least bestowed can gain equal merits,
Like those overflowing with material abundance.

So wide are flowers used in human lives,
Their uses transcend all societal and cultural bounds.
And thus there is a flower for any occasion one can fathom,
From mirth and merry making to poignantly somber ones.

Floral garlands signify goodwill,
Bouquets to congratulate,
And  flowers are sent to mend broken hearts,
And wreaths are laid to mourn painful demises.

Varieties hold symbolism like Calla Lily for wedding,
Poppies for bereavement, chrysanthemum for fidelity,
Daisies for pure innocence, orchids for exotic beauty,
And tulip is to express declaration of love.

Hues and numbers have their meanings too,
Red rose is for love and passion, yellow rose for friendship,
Pink for admiration and blue rose to someone who cannot be yours,
And one rose to say I love you, 50 roses to say your love is limitless.

But flower, although enchanting is also ephemeral,
For no matter on what plant they bloom,
Or in which season, they display extravagant colours,
They also leave a poignant message of the truth of impermanence.

Gyembo Namgyal
Pemagatshel
December 11, 2015





Tuesday, 10 November 2015

LET’S MARK DRUKGYAL ZHIPA’S BIRTHDAY WITH A PLEDGE TO FULFILL HIS VISION


Today, we are in the midst of nationwide celebration to mark the auspicious birthday of our beloved and great king Jigme Singye Wangchuck. This year’s celebration is different from those of the past years as His Majesty completes a 60 year cycle in the Bhutanese calendar called Rabjung. The celebrations have begun in earnest across the country and it is heartening to see whole-hearted dedications being exhibited by people including those in the villages led by gewog officials.

Despite various programme currently underway including those that concluded days prior to November 11 to commemorate and pay our respect to His Majesty, nothing would suffice in our expression of gratitude to our beloved Drukgyal Zhipa.

Even as we celebrate his birthday with so much fervor recollecting all the great and extraordinary deeds in the past 30 years of his reign everything we do today in the name of expressing our gratitude, will fall short of how indebted we all are to everything he has done for nation’s well being. In fact, at times we Bhutanese have failed miserably to live up to the expectations of His Majesty. We must feel so lucky to have had been ruled by a selfless king like him but hang our head in shame for failing him when he needed our support the most.

It is heartbreaking today to watch clips of his speech on how when as a last resort, he had to mobilize military options to flush out foreign militants, just a handful of people, that too mostly farmers came forward to serve the country. The footage that we get to watch today makes us realize how he had to shoulder the most difficult task forsaking his own safety along with few hundred regular servicemen and he is right when he said, “If you don’t come forward and serve your nation when in need, when are you going to do that. It is a matter of utmost shame for all able bodied citizens of the country who spoke loudly of patriotism but failed when it is most needed.”

He rightly said that those few volunteers who came forward to the call of the nation are the true sons of Palden Drukpa. I can only agree that these volunteers, where they may be living today, are the true sons of Bhutan. Let’s not forget them too.

Another profound legacy of Drukgyal Zhipa is conservation of our environment. It is amazing on how he became the architect of putting environment at the centre of our development. He is truly a champion of the earth and it was befitting that he was the recipient of numerous prestigious international awards for his lifelong service to environment conservation. Today, despite our claims of enormous success in environmental conservation, it is alarming to see proliferation of mines and quarries which benefit just a few at the larger cost of the nation. We need to re-evaluate our actions and follow the lead of His Majesty in this front if we really care of His Majesty’s vision and aspirations.

I think we all need to reevaluate our priorities and actions, come to our senses and live and work to fulfill the aspirations and lead provided by His Majesty Drukgyal Zhipa for over three decades. We failed him in 2003, let’s not fail him in this more subtle but profound and enlightened vision of a happy country. Let’s celebrate his birthday the way we always do but, more than the celebration with various programme, I am sure His Majesty would be more pleased if we all work together to fulfill his aspirations and dreams for the well being of our country.

May His Majesty live forever and be a continuous source of inspiration for us all and radiate his wisdom like the rays of the sun that leaves no place in darkness.

Tashi Delek and Happy Reading.

Gyembo Namgyal
November 10, 2015







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