All posts tagged Trailokya Bir Bikram Shah

  • दु:ख

     

    October 2, 1864

    Swayambhu Mahachaitya, Nepal

    Prince Trailokya reached the base of the hill stopped looked up traced the innumerable roughly-hewn stone steps lining both sides of the steep stairway that lead uncertainly up to Swayambhu Chaitya. Although invisible from where he stood, he knew that Swayambhu loomed on top of the hill, watching over the valley, tranquil yet shrouded in an aura of mystery. Beggars daemons spirits monks scowling gods lined both sides of the path, some carved of stone and others of flesh and bone. From where he stood it was difficult to discern which was which. Flickering memories of his first official visit to Swayambhu, now many years ago, passed through him. But the images were disconnected, blurred by time. They only increased in Prince Trailokya the sense of mystery emanating form Swayambhu.

    He started walking up the stairs with resolve, steadying himself on the occasional brush or statue lining the steep path. Jung Bahadur’s spy, masquerading as an umbrella-bearing servant, kept pace immediately behind him. The presence of Jung Bahadur’s men vexed him as always. But after so many years, he was almost getting used to their presence. His attention was temporarily diverted by the sight of a monkey on a nearby wall: it peeled a banana rather elegantly, and started eating the flesh with relish. The monkey looked Trailokya straight in the eye. Trailokya startled…

    How can this lowly animal have such deep, knowing eyes?

    Beggars of various ilk lining the paths wailed दुहाई… दुहाई … at Trailokya. Some had entire legs missing. Some brandished their arms, gnawed off from leprosy, mere stumps sticking out from shoulders. One woman grabbed Prince Trailokya’s legs with manic enthusiasm as he passed by, and shoved the face of a blind child directly at him. The child had चिप्रा around its eyes, semi-dry snot running down its nose. Trailokya wondered whether the woman was the child’s mother, and asked himself: would it be better if she were, or would it in fact be better if she were not?

    In the mean time, Jung Bahadur’s guard had managed to scold the woman away. Outwardly, Prince Trailokya kept a stony face as he had been trained to do, but this scene pierced deep into his soul and troubled him for some strange reason. He climbed up a few more flights of stairs in gloomy silence. Then remembering something he reached into the large sack carried by the bodyguard, and began doling out the appropriate amounts of rice and coins to the beggars, starting back with the intruding woman.

    Now at the top of the long flight of stairs, Trailokya paused in front of the enormous metal object that essentially blocked his path. Resting on a decorated pedestal, flanked by two fierce lions, this object appeared to be made of copper, and had bulbous arches which ballooned out on both sides from the center. Trailokya would have guessed it was a weapon of war, but the middle of the object, where the warrior would grasp the weapon if this were indeed one, was a large sphere and would have provided an awkward grasp.

    Why does this object, which I know nothing about, exude a sense of power and quiet confidence?

    Trailokya reminded himself to ask his royal instructors about it upon his return to the palace.  But now his attention was drawn to the main attraction that lay imposing in front of him… the formidable structure that drew in all pilgrims, the motif that could be seen from every corner of Nepal valley if only the supplicant were to look up towards the hills. An enormous dome that filled the sky. So enormous that he could not see the top from where he stood.

    Trailokya walked away towards the open space to the left so that he could see the entire dome.  He stopped, transfixed. Those sad, burdened, eternal eyes gazed serenely at him. At all of Nepal valley. Those tranquil knowing eyes that seemed to absorb all दु:ख and emitted but light. Whose eyes were they? What were they feeling? Why did the tika between the eyes spiral out like a swirling vortex? And why was the nose apparently shaped like the number one? Trailokya drifted through these questions for a long time, transfixed by the solemn gaze of the one that seemed to see all and know all.

     

    [To be continued….]

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    Image 1: Pata depicting the Swayambhunath complex. Late 17th century. 90 x 70 cm. Private collection, Paris. ]

    Image 2: Detail of the harmika from Swayambhu mahachaitya, depicting the eyes of Adi Buddha. Photo © Author. 

  • कलिला राजकुमार, गहन षोज

     

    बिक्रम सम्बत १९२१ आश्विन्  वदी ३

    हनुमानढोका राजदरवार, नेपाल

     

    गुरुज्यु मा दर्शन् टक्रायाँ ।

    दर्शन वलेट महाराज। हजुर का गाथमा सदा सुख, शान्ती र समृद्धी रहोस् । हजुर आफ्ना पुर्षासरी चक्रवर्ती राजा बनिबक्सनु हवस् । अत महाराज, कालिदासको रघुवंश पाठ कंठ गरिबक्सन भया ?

    गर्याँ, गुरुज्यू । तर… आज अर्कै कुरा जान्ना मन् थिया ।

    बिजयराज बुढा को पुरानो बानि, सोधने कुरा सोधी पाठको तम्तयारी तिर लागि सक्या थिया ।  आसनी मा पलेटी मारी पाण्डुलिपिका डोरी फुकालिकन पाताहरु फैलाया । आफ्ना अगाडी आधा चन्द्राकार रुपमा सजाया । सिलायेका ग्रन्थ हरु पोकाबाट फुकाल्या । अनि आफ्ना लुगाका  कुनाहरु पलेटिमनी कोच्या … एसरि पाठको तयारी मा लागेका बिजयराज लाई सदा अदपमा  बसने, पाठ पढने वलेट महाराज त्रैलोक्य बिक्रम शाहको नौलो जवाफले अलमल पार्या । अनि टक्क रोकि कन राजकुमार लाई गमेर हेर्या र बोल्या ।

    हुकुम् महाराज ।

    आज गौतम बुद्ध का बारे जान्न मन् गर्याँ ।

    गौतम बुद्ध… हवस्  महाराज । तर पहिले रघुवंश सकाऔं । महराजले बीस पाता पनि कंठ गरीबक्सेको छैन। प्राचीन संस्कृत काब्य शैलीको बढिया नमुना हो यो… अनि यसपछि कौटिल्य को अर्थशास्त्र । नजर हवस्, ऊ ताहाँ टुलु टुलु हामी लाई हेरेर बस्या छ ।

    तर पैले गौतम बुद्ध का जिवनी जानिबक्सने हुकुम् भया ।

    बिजयराजले राजकुमारको बोलिमा अडान देष्या । गुरुलाई “हुकुम्” जस्ता कडा लबज् चलायाका किं अर्थ लागछ  बिजयराजले सहजै बुझ्या । कहिल्यै अफूलाई “बक्सने” नभन्ने राजकुमार ले अहिले भन्या को भेद पनि बुझ्या ।  

    लौ त भनी बिजयराज ले आफ्नो बानि अनुसार पाठ पढाउनु अघी तान्ने लेघ्रो तान्या र षुरु गर्या…

     …अँ∫∫∫अँ सिद्धार्थ गौतम कपिलवस्तु राजघराना मा जन्मेका हुन् । इन्ले भारत राज्य को गया मा पिपलको रुख मनि निर्वाण प्राप्त गरेका हुन् । यसपछी इनि गौतम बुद्ध कहलिए । षासमा चाहिं इनि श्री विष्णु भगवान का रूप हुन्। आगौं साल विष्णुपुराण औ भगवतपुराणका पाठ पढता इनका बारे महाराजले धेरै जानी बक्सने छ । अहिलेलाइ यति भनौँ, इनि विष्णु भगवान का अवतार हुन्… वामन, परशुराम, राम, कृष्ण, अनि इ गौतम बुद्ध, त्यस् पछि कल्की।

    तर गुरुज्यू… सिद्धार्थ गौतम को जिवनमा के के भया ? उनले के के सोच्या ? हिजो म सिम्बु डाँडा गएथेँ । ताहाँ एक बौद्ध भिक्षु भेट भया । बहुतै ज्ञानी भिक्षु रहेछन ति, पंडित गुणानंद नाम का । गुरुज्यू ले नाम सुन्न भा छ ?

    अहँ, छैन ।

    उही अमृतानंद पन्डित… रजिडन्ट हज्सनका हितैषी… का छोरा रहेछन । जे होस्, इ पन्डितले भन्या, सिद्धार्थलाई सबै पुगिकइ थिया ।  जमान स्वास्नी । घर परियार । काषको वालष छोरो । भविषेको पाकेको राजगद्दी । तर एक दिन इ सबै छाडी बन पस्या । फकीर भया । शिर मुडाया ।

     हो। एस्तै गर्या थ्या, इनले।

    तर क्यान गुरुज्यू … क्यान एस्तो गर्या ?

    खै… इनि बालष काल देषी बैरागी पाराका थिया होला । कसइको एस्तै हुनछ राषी मा, ललाटे लिषितं । भाग्येमा लेखे अनुसार इन्ले एक दिन बेरामी मानिष देष्या । अनि बूढी आइमाई देष्या । अनि मरेको मानिष…

    इ सबै हिजो मलाई पंडित ले सुनाया । तर क्यान गुरुज्यू, क्यान त्यागे सब? उनी ता म जस्तै थिया । राजकुमार । म ता इ सबै त्यागेर जाने सोचन पनि सकन । उन्ले छाडे ।  क्यान?  कसरि?  रातको भरमा दर्बार त्यागदा उनले क्या सोचे ? उनको मनमा क्या कुरा षेल्या?

    विजयराज जवाफ दिनु अघि निकै बेर गमे ।

    वलेट महाराज, इ सबै गहन सवाल हुन् । सबैको जवाफ, सबैको भेद श्रीमद्भागवत गीतामा षुलेको छ। गीतामा सबै कुराको सार छ । महाराजलाई गीता अठार बर्ष नाघिबक्से पछि , आगौं साल सुरु गरुँला सोच्या थ्या। तर अब एसो गर्न्या । रघुवंश बिचैमा टुंग्याई एक साता…

    बिजयाराज का बचन बिचमई टक्क रोकन्या गरि युवराज त्रैलोक्य ले आफ्नो हात उठाया । हत्केला  बिजयाराज का मुष तिरै पर्न्या गरि राष्या ।

    पुराना गुरुषलकका, दिक्षा गुरु मानिराष्या लाई एसरी अपमान गर्या बिजयाराजलाई पचन ता नपच्या। तर बिजयाराजले आजसम्म इ सतिले सरापेको दर्बार भित्र  धेरै नाटक देष्या, धेरै कुरा सिष्या । आफना रीस राग आफई मा राषन सिक्या ।  तेसईले अहिले इ कलिला राजुमार का माथि नषनिया। मुष बंद राषी बस्या ।

    यता युवराजले फेरि भन्या…

    हन गुरुज्यू ।  मलाई गीता पढ़न्या मन् छैन ।  मलाई सिद्धार्थ गौतमले किन घर परियार दर्बार छाड्या बुझन मन छ ।  दुधे बालष छोरो छाडेर कसरि जान सक्या? श्रीमान् का जिमिवारी कसरि चटक छाड्या? गद्दी, राजकजका जिमिवारी, पुर्षाले जितेका जोडेका ढुंगा लाइ कसरि त्यागन सक्या?  त्यागदा कसरि मुटु दरो बनाया? … कि उन्को मुटुनै थियेन ?  उनले अफनो जिमिवारी लत्याएका हुन् त ? क्या सिद्धार्थ गौतम इ जगतका सबैभन्दा लुच्चा अहंकारी बुद्धि मक्किएका कम्जोर …

    युवराज त्रैलोक्य बिचमा एकाएक रोक्या । उनको दम बढेका थिया । स्वा सवा गर्या । कान हरु रात राता बनाया । इ सब विजयराजले नजिकबाट हेर्या । राजकुमारका  हविगत उनलाई अनौठो लाग्या । तर अलि अलि माञाँ पनि लाग्या ।

    रिसानी माफ़ गुरुज्यू , अब आजको पाठ बन्द गरन्या । 

    एति भनी युवराज आफनो रघुवंश पुस्तक का पाताहरु बटुल्न थाल्या । बटुल्दा उनका हात थर्थर कापेका थिया। अनि उठेर बिजयराज लाइ हतार्ले दर्शन् गर्या, फनक्क फिर्या  । गम्भिर अनुहार लिई, जति बाकी रह्याको राजसी ठाँट थिया जमा गरी कोठाबाट हिन्या ।

    फनक्क फिर्नू अघि बिजयाराजले राजकुमारको मुषमा धेरै ठुलो दुष देष्या ।

    बिजयराज सोचमा डुब्या । सुस्तरी पाठका पुस्तक पाण्डुलिपि बटुल्न थाल्या । सबई डोरीले बाँधी थन्को लगाया । अनि लोहन चोक माथि दोस्रो तलामा रहेको इ कोठा का झ्यालबाट बाहिर हेर्या ।

    क्यान सबै त्यगिकन गया?

    क्या जटिल सवाल । हुन त विजयराज लाइ एस्को मामुली जवाफ थाहा नभयाको हन ।  तर विजयराज को सूक्ष्म तर्क गर्न सकन्या, शास्त्रार्थ गर्न रमाउन्या बुद्धि ले यो सवाल जब जब गहिरो  सँग पहल गर्न षोज्या, तब तब उन्ले केहि नभेट्या ।  वेद वेदान्त उपनिषद पुराण काहीँ पनि इ कुरा कोटयाका नपाया ।  कतै कतै बुद्ध लाइ विष्णु अवतार मानिएको पाया ।  काशी मा फेला परेको एक पाण्डुलिपि मा ता ञाहाँसंम भनेको पाया कि बुद्ध मानिष लाइ वेदको पथ बाट भड्काउने बदमाष हो रे । तर उनले क्यान सबै त्यगिकन गया?… इ कुराका भेद काहिँ नपाया ।

    येका येक विजयराज इ सवाल-जवाफ बाट थाक्या । षास कुरो गरउ भन्या लहरो तान्दा पहरो जान्छ भनेजस्तइ कलिला राजकुमारका इ गहन षोज हरु ले कोट्याउँदा विजयराज गर्ल्याम् गुर्लुम् भया । कुनै कुरामा हार्याको जस्तो देषिया । सत्र बर्ष देषि यो अभागी दर्बार भित्र जंगबहादुर का छायाँ मा बसी राजगुरु बन्ने ढोंग गर्न्या बाट पनि उनी थाक्या ।

    बिजयराज अझ झ्यालबाट बाहिर हेर्या हेर्यै थिया । बुढाको कूप्रो ढाड, अहिले झन् कूप्रो भया ।

    बाहिर भंगेरा र परेवा हरु दर्बारका टुँडाल र खोपा हरु मा भुर्भुर गर्दै थिया ।  ईन्का मसिना कपास सरी भित्रि प्वाँखहरु बेला बेलामा झ्याल भित्र उडी सुस्तरी बिजयराज अगाडि भइँ को फारसी गलैंचामा षस्या ।  बाहिर आकाशमा ससाना गोला बादलका भुवाहरु दशैँताका को डुब्दो घाम को रंगले बलेर हलका सुनौलो देषिया ।  इ सब मन् हर्ने दृष्य देषी नरमाउन्या नेपाली मन् काहाँ होला र ?  बिजयराज पनि रमाउन्या थिया।  तर आज इ देषीकन उनका मन नियास्रो नै रह्या ।

    केहि पछि विजयराज पाठको आसनीबाट बिस्तार उठ्या ।  उनका मुषमा नयाँ इरादा देषिया ।

    जंगबहादुर मरोस् बाँचोस, मलाइ मतलब छइन । यो पापले कमायाको राज्ये आफइ सम्हालोस् ।

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    पण्डित विजयराज पाण्डे आफना राजगुरु र धर्माधिकार मान पदवी जागीर षानगी इ सबई त्यागी करिब दुइ मैन्हा पछि बिक्रम सम्बत १९२१ मार्ग वदी ११ का दिन श्री काशी बास चल्या ।

    ∫∫∫

    तस्बिर: बिक्रम सम्बत १७६२-१७६३ मा काठमान्डुमा बनाइएको, गौतम बुद्धका जिवनका प्रमुख दृश्यहरु झल्काइएको, बहा-बही हरुमा बिशेष चाड पर्व हरुमा प्रदर्शन गरिने बिलन्पौ को एक सानो भाग।
    समर्पित साथी कुल थापामा: २४ बर्ष अघि पाटनको अक्ष्येश्वर महाबिहारको प्रांगणमा लेखकलाई बौद्धमार्ग चिनाए वापत ।

    यो कथा को अंग्रेजी संस्करण यहाँ पाइन्छ ।

  • The Profound Quest of the Young Prince

    October 3, 1864

    Hanumandhoka Royal Palace, Nepal

     

    Darshan Gurujyu.

     May health, peace and tranquility always be preserved in your गाथ. May you become a true chakrawarti ruler like your forefathers. So tell me, Walet Maharaj, did you memorize the sections of Kalidas’s Raghuvamsha that I had assigned?

    Yes, I did, Gurujyu. But… I wanted to ask you about something else first.

    Bijayaraj had already started settling into his longformed ritual of preparing for a teaching session. He untied and unbundled his manuscripts, arranged them in a half-arc on the ground, his reach to the manuscripts determined by the likelihood of having to quote a line from the specific manuscript during the lesson. He folded the edges of his robe and shawl under himself. He optimized his position on the comfortable cushion so as to minimize discomfort and strain on the back. He was in the middle of this habitual bustle when he was caught off-guard by Prince Trailokya’s unusual response.

    He paused and looked up with mild curiosity at the Prince.

    Yes?

    I want to learn more about Gautam Buddha.

    Ahem… Gautam Buddha… Of course, Walet Maharaj! But first we need to finish the Raghuvamsha. You have hardly memorized an eighth of this crowning example of Sanskrit poetry. After that, Kautilya’s Arthashasthra… see, it is just sitting there, looking at us…

    But I want to learn about Gautam Buddha first.

    Bijayaraj sensed the firmness in the Prince’s voice.

    Well, then. Let’s see. Siddhartha Gautam was a Prince born into the Royal Palace of Kapilvastu. He attained enlightenment under a bodhi tree in Gaya, and started being called Gautam Buddha. He is in fact the ninth reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. When we cover Vishnu Puran and Bhagwat Puran next year, we will go into ample details about this. But for now, it is enough to note that he was a reincarnation of Vishnu. Vaman, Parshuram, Ram, Krishna, Gautam Buddha, Kalki.

    I want to know the details of Siddhartha’s life and thinking before he attained enlightenment. Yesterday I went to Swayambhu Nath, and there met a Buddhist banda who was very learned… Pandit Gunananda. Do you know him?

    No.

    He told me he was the son of the famous Amritananda, close friend of old Resident Hodgson. At any rate, this Pandit told me that Siddhartha had everything that he could have wished for. A young wife. A newborn son. A future as a king. But one day he just left it all and went to the jungle. Became a fakir. Shaved his locks off.

    Yes, that is accurate.

    Buy why, Gurujyu? Why did he do that?

    Umm… perhaps he was of a बैरागी nature from birth. Some people are like that… their temperament fixed by their birth Rashi. Once, during the course of his usual walks about town, and over several days, he encountered individuals in different stages of human misery: a sick man, and old woman, a dead man…

    Yes, yes, the Pandit told me all this already yesterday. But why, Gurujyu? Why did he leave it all behind? He was just like me… a Prince. I cannot even entertain the notion of leaving all of what I have behind. But he did it. How? What was going through his mind as he walked out that palace door under cover of darkness that fateful night?

    Bijayaraj thought for a bit before responding.

    Walet Maharaj, those are very deep questions. And the answers to them are in the Gita, which holds the answer to all questions. My plan was to introduce the Gita to you in a few years, when you would be eighteen. But perhaps I will put the Raghuvamsha aside and start with the Gita immediately…

    The Prince raised his right arm and placed the palm out in front, facing Bijayaraj.

    Bijayaraj was immediately offended by this rude gesture. But he had learned not to betray his emotions too easily in this wretched Darbar. Especially at this naïve child. He remained silent.

    No Gurujyu. I do not want to read the Gita. I want to know why he left. What of his responsibilities as a father? As a husband? What of his duties as a future King? How could he disregard all this and simply leave? Did it not break his heart? Or was he callous? Maybe Siddhartha Gautam was the most selfish, wretched weakling who…

    The Prince trailed off. By now he had worked himself up so much that he was quite severely out of breath. His ears had turned red. Bijayaraj looked inquisitively at the Prince, but also with a tinge of sympathy. He could not think of a ready answer to the Prince’s queries.

    I am sorry, but we will need to end today’s lesson now.

    With that, the Prince swiftly collected the leaves of his Raghuvamsha manuscript with trembling hands, raised himself and left the room, with as much dignity as he could muster. Bijayaraj noticed that there was real anguish in his face.

    Slowly and absently Bijayaraj collected the scattered manuscripts, tied them up and packed them away. He looked out the palace window.

    Why did he leave?

    What a question! Of course, he had the inkling of an answer. But every time his hungry analytical mind had wanted to investigate the question deeply, he had been stymied by lack of material. He never found any text among the trove of Vedic and Puranic manuscripts that addressed the nature of Siddhartha Gautam’s quest. There was a lot of ambivalent material about him being a Vishnu avatar. An obscure manuscript he had unearthed while at Banaras even stated that Buddha was a deluder of men who led people away from the path of the Vedas. But there was no material describing his motives.

    Suddenly, Bijayaraj was too tired to even think about this question. In fact, with a sudden caving-in of self-confidence triggered by the Prince’s seemingly childish questions, Bijayaraj realized that he was too tired to carry on with this seventeen-year old charade of playing the Raj Guru in the shadows of Jung Bahadur’s empire.

    He kept looking out the window. His shoulders had hunched up more than usual. Absently, he noticed the pigeons and the sparrows flutter across the window, occasionally depositing small underfeathers which wafted dustily onto the richly carpeted palace floor. He noticed the fluffy clouds over yonder, and the late afternoon sky, turning that subtle golden hue typical of Dashai season. But all this did not warm his heart like it used to do before.

    Bijayaraj got up slowly. A new look of resolve was upon his face. Jung Bahadur could go to hell.

    ∫∫∫

    Pandit Bijayaraj Pandey resigned from his positions as Rajguru and Dharmadhikar on  BS 1921, Marga Badi 11 (January 22, 1865 CE) and moved permanently to Banaras.

    ∫∫∫

    Dedicated to Kul Thapa, who introduced the writer to the magic of Buddhism twenty-four years ago on the grounds of Aksheswor Mahavihar in Patan.

    Image: Detail of a Bilanpau (long painted scroll) depicting scenes from the live of Gautam Buddha, created in Kathmandu 1705- 1706 CE. 

    An English version of this story is available here.