By Manuwant Choudhary
Bodh Gaya: If you really want to see how beautiful Bodh Gaya is you will have to hang around near the temple while the sun sets.
The colours of the ancient temple walls change and the Tibetan mantras still in the air....
And the near full-moon...a few days to purnima.
By night its quite chilly but the lights look so pretty you don't want to leave.
A young Sikkim boy from a village near Pelling spoke to me how every year his family travels by state buses all the way....and he really liked being here...he spoke about loneliness....
Although he spoke good English and he had many freinds running around the temple.
I told him about the trekking routes I had been to in Sikkim and he seemed happy.
The pujas over he would be returning to the mountains tomorrow.
In that moment of solitude I also thought about how India annexed Sikkim by police action against the Chogyals.
The Chogyals were actually friends of India and Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
I thought about how the last Sikkim soldier fought India to defend his king and was killed by Indian forces on the orders of Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
I wonder if the people of Sikkim would have been better of outside the union of India?
India is not a good friend.
Bodh Gaya teaches you how to respect life.
I have seen an old lady here walking so carefully as to not step on to a single ant.
The Dalai Lama also is a vegetarian...but Tibetans are not...and at his kaalchakra he often appeals to his followers to spare the chicken..."We come here for prayers and non-violence..not to kill all the chickens of Bodh Gaya..."
I have met the Tibetan religious leaders here..the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee and the other Karmapa claimant Thaye Dorji......
The two Karmapas are fighting over the control of Sikkims rich Rumtek monastery....and want India's Supreme Court to decide who the real Karmapa is?
What all the Supreme Court have to decide?
India's Supreme Court cannot even decide whether India is a free democracy or a socialist one?
Both the Karmapa's have huge followings...even abroad and both know the scriptures....and both respect the Dalai Lama.
Surely, the Dalai Lama can settle the matter...
But politics is not new to Buddhism....
This time I was at a prayer meeting of Karmapa Thaye Dorji and thanks to him I got caught in the middle of a flower war...his followers suddenly started throwing flowers at one another.
How much I prerfer this to Syria !
Bodh Gaya & Las Vegas are definitely poles apart but I did watch the Miss Universe contest on a nice Haier flat TV...and Miss Venezuela was the real beauty.
But the lights at Las Vegas are no comparison to these butter lamps at Bodh Gaya....I have been here many times...earlier the butter lamps were placed around the temple but after the temple became a World Heritage site..it was shifted to glass houses for butter lamps.
I actually walked into one of them before realising my feet was in butter and soot.
But there was an upside to this..a girl volunteer wearing masks like a surgeon was busy lighting the lamps....
There are 8000 lamps in one house and there must be 12 houses so you can multiply them....and these volunteers keep it all burning.
Just then the lamp girl removed her mask and spoke some Nepalis before telling me in perfect English that I could wear my shoes here.
I asked her where she was from and she said she replied `Darjeeling'.
But she looked at me in the eye...the kind of look you give when you want to say..."How mad you must be...?"
She was beautiful.