Friday, April 5, 2013

Azzha Galong: The monk who re-lives his purpose.

Some hundred miles away from Thimphu lived a monk in a far flung village in the east. He was tall, good looking and Azzha Galong was also the only monk in his small community. The village where Azzha Galong was considered as a precious jewel was isolated from other villages. Though the village had no road and electricity, the community was self-sufficient and happy. Nobody in the community ever felt the need to go out of their village.

Azzha Galong standing in front of the Monastery.
One early morning when Azzha Galong was untangling the prayer flags beside the monastery, he saw a monk coming towards him. Azzha greeted and invited him into the monastery. The monk told Azzha that he has lost his way to his village in the other side of the mountain. Azzha assured him that he will ask his village men to help him find his route tomorrow and requested the monk to stay overnight with him at the monastery.

After much discussion on Buddhist philosophy and religious practices over a butter lamp burning in a corner, the monk started sharing his recent visit to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. The monk told Azzha how different a life of a monk is in a city. He told Azzha that monks in the city drive biggest and the most expensive cars, wear branded clothes and eat continental cosines in five star hotels. And he also told azzha that the monks in the city use iphones to talk, laptops to read religious e-books and they speak foreign languages too.

Listening to what the guest had to share, Azzha got lost. In fact, he couldn’t resist asking more and more about the unique monks until the butter lamp in the corner went off which only compelled the two monks to stop their uncanny conversation. The news of the monks living their lives differently triggered Azzha’s mind and he starts thinking about visiting the capital city along with the monk. The monk also agreed to help Azzha reach Thimphu and spend sometime there.

The next morning Azzha informed the community that he would be going to Thimphu and would be staying there for a week. He assured the community that he would be back to perform the annual ritual of the village. With the word to return soon, Azzha went along with the monk for a week to stay in Thimphu and enjoy the modern life.

While in Thimphu, the monk friend introduced azzha to all the monks and nuns who live in spacious and well furnished bungalows. Azzha enjoyed each moment of his life in Thimphu; The ride in the most expensive cars, tasting continental cosines in five star hotels and wearing branded clothes along with his red robe.

On returning back to the village, the villagers informed that the elder most member of the community expired in his absence. The monk of the nearest village was also out of station. They couldn’t perform the funeral rites for aagay Sangay and without the rituals they had to also bury him under a tall tree next to the small stream that rushes behind the monastery.

Azzha Galong felt the lost and resentment for not being able to perform the rites for Aagay Sangay. Amidst the lost and resentment, the recent visit to Thimphu kept him exuberant about the life he had during his short visit. The images of tall buildings and the fly-over bridge, high speed rush of the cars he travelled in and the exotic cosines he tasted kept creeping in and out of his otherwise holy mind. The temptation lingered more and so deeply that he decided to go back to Thimphu soon.
                                                                                                     be continue.
(sketch courtesy: Tara Devi Sharma(My betterhalf)

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