Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Tibetan Buddhist Scolding

The above video was taken in May of 2007. The kid had just killed a bird with his slingshot, and was now getting an earful from the monk. I believe the monk's name was Rinchen, so we'll call him that.

My porter and I met Rinchen in an obscure, dusty Himalayan town by the name of "Turke Bajar". The ambience of the place was more Hindu than Buddhist, and Rinchen certainly received no special deference from the townspeople. He seemed a bit out of place in his robes. In a nook that could generously be called an apartment, we joined him in his puja, which was otherwise attended only by a handful of children.

Rinchen was enthused about showing us a fledgling monastery being built a couple day's walk from Turke. Having no serious itinerary to abide by, we agreed to the diversion.

Somewhere along the way, the above encounter took place. Rinchen, at perhaps 19 years old, took his monkhood quite earnestly, as you can see. In fact, to my eyes, he played the role to the hilt. He spoke with great excitement about the hardships he would endure in his upcoming three year retreat in the mountains (no human contact, no exiting the meditation hut except at night, etc.), and made sure I photographed him in various meditative postures.

An hour or so after the above exchange, Rinchen produced the slingshot and made sure I witnessed him tossing it into the forest. I'm not mocking his zeal, not at all. Young Americans might model their personalities after sports heroes or celebrities, and it seems that Rinchen wasn't so different. His heroes were the various Buddhist Lamas whose photographs adorned his shrine.

My porter, Janu, did the translating.

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