Friday, May 24, 2024



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    What does it take for a man to smile after he has lost his country? The best answer to this can be given by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. The 23-year-old Dalai Lama and his retinue fled from the Castle Norbulanka in Tibet on 17th March 1959 in the guise of a Chinese soldier, crossing into Tawang Buddhist Monastery in India on March 30, 1959, to reach Tezpur on 18th April 1959.

    Upon arriving in Tezpur, Assam, he did not present a glum face revealing he had lost his country. On the contrary, he was wearing a radiant smile even in those turbulent times.

    At the border check post when he crossed over to India he was welcomed by junior security officer Kumar. Thereafter, Narendra Chandra Das, a havildar with Assam Rifles and his platoon escorted him from Tawnag to Misamari (near Tezpur) via Bomdila where Kamakhya Tripathi, a minister in the Assam Cabinet received him. What followed was an interesting short conversation never revealed before between His Holiness and the minister in the short time they spent together:

        ‘There were still frostbites and cuts on his face, hands and feet. But that was not interfering with his gait and deportment as he was mentally a very strong person. I requested the medical team, accompanying me, to examine him and his retinue. In those sombre moments, it was a delight to see the young Dalai Lama, who was around 23-24 then, wearing his radiant smile, even when he had lost his beloved country. No wonder he is an Ocean of Wisdom … Gyan ka sagar, true to what the name Dalai Lama actually means. Otherwise, his real name is Tenzin Gyatso. But what does it take for a person to smile under such duress I thought. He, in fact, was delivering a spiritual message to me through his smile and namaskar without saying a word. I smiled back at him as he approached to greet me with a white scarf in his hand … a symbol of peace. I too greeted him with an Assamese gamosa. He asked me. ‘How is Pandit ji?’

    I said. ‘Well, he is fine, and anxiously waiting to see you, in a hail and hearty condition.’

    ‘I must say I was lucky to have survived the Chinese onslaught. Otherwise, had I been caught, they would have either killed me or taken me back to Lhasa. What is your name and what do you do big brother.’ He asked me.

    I said. My name is Tripathi. I’m a minister in the Assam Cabinet. I was asked by Pandit ji to receive … and welcome you.

    Thank you so much for coming. Indeed, it was very kind of Pandit ji to have given us asylum in India.’ Said His Holiness.

    ‘So welcome to India.’ I said.

    Thank you so much Mr Tri-pa-thi. But where do we go from here—here … ‘

    ‘To Tezpur town.’ I completed the sentence for him.

    ‘Oh yes-yes it is Tezpur.’ He registered at once.

    ‘I politely said. ‘Your Holiness, you would be leaving for Mussoorie shortly where Prime Minister Nehru will meet you.’

    ‘Yes big brother. I’m anxiously looking forward to that meeting of mine.’

    ‘But before all that happens I want to ask you a few questions if you don’t mind.’ I gently submitted.

    ‘Please go ahead big brother Tri-pa-thi.’ His Holiness welcomed me. I began softly.

    ‘Where do you get the energy to smile in some of the worst moments of your life? I asked. His Holiness looked at the ground below, thought of something for a few seconds and then came around squarely.

    ‘Big brother, life is controlled by the wheel of time. They are the outer, the inner and the other wheel of time. It is called the Kalachakra. Time never remains the same. It changes. It even returns. So I draw my energy from the motion of the Kalachakra.’

    ‘But how fast or slow can the wheel of time move, your Holiness?’ I asked another question.

    ‘That’s difficult to predict big brother, but the Kalachakra or the wheel of time does show up at least once in a lifetime to settle your karmic scores for you.’

    ‘How angry are you with China?’ I asked.

    ‘The first thing that I learnt as a monk was not to get angry.’

    ‘What do you wish for China?’ That was my next question.

    ‘Let the Kalachakra alone decide that, as that will bring peace and harmony to all, while I’ll continue to do my Karma for my spiritual progress.’

    However, the golden conversation was soon overtaken by heaps of crowd that had assembled there to seek his blessings. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a divine persona. Those couple of days that I spent there with him were one of the most blessed days of my life. And always remember the balancing of the Kalachakra over an era is always more powerful than the boundaries erected by any dictator, says His Holiness.

(18th April 1959 marks the 65th anniversary of his arrival in Tezpur, India).

– Kamlesh Tripathi 

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