The Lay NuN aT Drakarpo

Business Bhutan - - Editorial - YESHEY DORJI

As I sat sip­ping hot tea on a clear­ing atop Lhakhang Drakarpo above Shaba in Paro, my horse con­trac­tor by my side, I saw an old lady of about 85 wob­ble up the steep in­cline; her back was bent with age and bur­dens un­known; her weather-beaten face was creased with lines of hard­ship and toil. Sur­pris­ingly for her age, she had a head full of hair which was pure gray.I had been hik­ing for the past 5 hours - first on a straight line from Boemri to Dongkala and then straight down­hill on my way to Shaba where I would end my 2-weeks long Druk Path Trek. I should have ended my trek at Taa Dzong had I taken the tra­di­tional route. How­ever, I had heard such glow­ing re­ports about Boemri (Al­ti­tude: 3,831 Mtrs.) that I de­cided to veer off from Jele Dzong to­wards Boemri.I spent one night at Boemri, which, by the way, I am told should be pro­nounced Boed-Mo-Richen; mean­ing Mighty Moun­tain of the Ti­betan Lady. The her­mit I spoke to at the Nge­phug Drup­khang tells me that the Tiben­tan lady in ques­tion was named Ekaza­thri. Now, I am not sure if he is mis­pro­nounc­ing the name Eka­jati - a pow­er­ful god­dess in the Ti­betan mythol­ogy. The old lady in­vited us to her her­mitage for a cup of tea. She said that she was un­der Tsam (med­i­ta­tion) for the past many years. I de­clined the of­fer since I told her that I am al­ready hav­ing tea, as she could see, where­upon the fol­low­ing con­ver­sa­tion en­sued: “So, where are you gen­tle­men com­ing from? Are you here to visit the Lhakhang?” “No, we are com­ing down from Dongkala Lhakhang” “Ahh … so, karmi phuewa iina?” “No, I went there to take pho­tos of the Lhakhang and the sur­round­ing ar­eas” “Ahh … so how many monks did you see there at Dongkala?” “About 5 of them” “Ahh … the rest must have gone to the Bjangsa to take a head count of their heard of yaks” “Herd of Yaks? They have yaks?” “Yes they do and quiet a large num­ber of them” “So how did monks end up own­ing yaks?” “There is a prac­tice of de­vout peo­ple of­fer­ing land and an­i­mals to Lhakhangs. This way, the Drat­sangs can gen­er­ate some bit of in­come to sup­port them­selves while the devo­tees can earn huge merit for their af­ter­life” “Wai iina, that is a dang good idea. Why didn’t I think of this be­fore? I think I too will come and give Wang &Choe to the peo­ple of Paro and they can of­fer me plenty of yaks and land. You think that is a good idea, Aangey? That did it! The old lady flew into a rage. She de­manded to know whether I was made of the stuff that La­mas are made of. She wanted to know about my lin­eage, my up­bring­ing and whether I knew the scrip­tures enough to per­form Choe and give Wang. Froth­ing at the mouth, she cursed me that I was a shame­less, faith­less per­son. She waved her frail fin­gers at my face and ac­cused me of be­ing a Sodey Soe­nam kamkambi gii mii. She wob­bled off in a huff, leav­ing me flum­moxed and speech­less. God Almighty! it was in­tended as a light hearted joke to give her a few laughs. Where was the need for her to fly off her han­dle? Isn’t she a per­son of re­li­gion? Doesn’t med­i­ta­tion teach her to be calm and col­lected; to sub­due her anger and her greed and her at­tach­ment to ma­te­rial things? Isn’t the con­quest and sup­pres­sion of a per­son’s Nga­jey and Thradong at the core of the prac­tice of med­i­ta­tion?As the old lady dis­ap­peared from view, I was over­whelmed with a feel­ing of sad­ness. She may have spent years in a her­mitage, but it was ob­vi­ous that her jour­ney to­wards en­light­en­ment hadn’t even be­gun yet. Eighty five years of life lived in ig­no­rance and mis­con­cep­tion and yet, she will pass into obliv­ion - a mis­guided soul to the end - un­able and un­will­ing to see the light of day.

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