Friday, 20 October 2017


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


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
March 12, 2017