April 04, 2020
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A New Jataka

A New Jataka
It took less than 90 minutes to reach Lhasa from Kathmandu by a China Airways Boeing. I was expecting intense security checks at the airport, gateway to the forbidden land. But the Chinese let us take photographs and completed the formalities without a fuss. From Gonggar Airport, 98 km south of Lhasa, it took us two hours to reach the five-star Lhasa Hotel, amid heavy rain.

Lhasa is a city of tribulations and hope. It’s Tibet’s symbolic seat of governance, a centre of Buddhist learning and a living prayer-flag of patience and spirituality. Three days in a religious village slowly waking up to a new metropolitan extravaganza can culturally shock a first-time visitor. Potala seemed to have turned into a big international museum, where few Lamas could be seen. A Hindu prayer meeting in the majestic hall where Dalai Lama once used to receive his visitors became a grand event instantly. Muni Chidanand Saraswati, Jagadguru Shankaracharya Swami Divyanand Teerth, Jain Muni Rup Chand (the first Jain seer to visit the place in many centuries) and Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, the Sikh preacher from LA, led the chanting of shanti mantra to the mesmerising beats of Sivamani’s drums. The whole of Potala reverberated with ‘Buddham sharanam gachchami...’, with Lamas trickling in from nowhere. The significance of it was lost on none. A shankaracharya and Vedic seer singing praise of the Buddha’s path! That’s the neo-Hindu spirit.

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