I came across a Bhutanese monk

Thanks to Dewansha and his led evening stroll; I have severe headache and running nose. But no matter we met a young Bhutanese monk in one of the Buddhist monasteries in the Bouddhanatha premises. We conversed in Nepali.

It’s first visit of the 25 year old to Nepal. He who hails from Sangse (or some place with similar pronunciation) very close to the India border has come to Kathmandu with his sister—he for pilgrimage and his sister for business. He has got one month long visa that will end on January 15 so he has plan to go to the birth place of Lord Buddha, Lumbini, very soon.

Sonam got into one of the monasteries in Bhutan when he was 10, and became monk. (Though I had asked him his new name, I forgot it; it was a tongue-twister.) After learning rituals and training on traditional instruments other basic things, he lived in a cave for three years. With his guru there he learned Astrology. These days he is learning English and other things.

But he has interest in politics also. When I asked him about the status and living condition of Bhutanese of Nepali origin in his country, he answered diplomatically. ”Those who are Bhutanese are not discriminated. But I don’t know much about the story of those who left Bhutan,” without using the word “refugee” he said in fluent Nepali.

When I asked him if people have liberty in his country, he—a Dukpa, native Bhutanese– took time and said, “In 2008, there will be election.” And he believes, with the new young king, things may change.
(Dewansha interrupted and said, “People have has full freedom…” Was that necessary bro?)

Then Dewansha changed the topic. He asked the holy man, “How are you feeling here?”
“Well, everything is fine. People are friendly alike Bhutanese. In India, lots of cheats. But compared to my place, Kathamandu is colder.”

Sometime later, he told us that there are three types of monks: the ones who have taken religious vow of chastity and always keep distance from women—even their mother and sisters, the ones who remain celibate but are allowed to interact with women and the ones who can marry. It was a sort of victory for my brother; some months ago in a discussion he had claimed that Buddhist monks can get married. But saying that he doesn’t know much about them, I had disagreed with him.

And, one more thing: he is a non-vegetarian. “We are not allowed to kill animals, but to eat there is no prohibition in the religion.” “If we reach the place where a beast is being slaughtered, we pray for its access to the heavenly abode.” But according to him, alcohol is forbidden to Bhutanese monks. ”With alcohol, evil intrudes one’s mind. That is why it is not allowed…”

Some Pooja in a small temple in front of us began and we stopped talking. He was sitting in the monastery opposite to the small temple to watch the rituals. “The way of performing Pooja is different from that in Bhutan,” he said. The Tamang priests (he told us so) started beating drum, blowing trumpet and chanting mantras. We were getting late. Before departing, we did Namaste to him. The monk clad in maroon smiled at us and bid adios.

Anyways, Sonam’s Nepali, though with Bhutani accent, was perfect. He is correct in grammar: he can appropriately use correct ending in the verbs based on the gender, and he knows the difference between singular and plural. He speaks Nepali more correctly than most of the RJs and VJs in many another FM stations or TV channels in the country.


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