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While watching Lara Croft and the Tomb Raiders for the umpteenth time on channel T.V. HBO a few days earlier, I was prompted to write to you about an adventure in the jungles in the mountains and hill of the northeast. However, prior to that allow me to deviate slightly from the matter under revision.
There are thousands of Sadhus and Sanyasis in India. These are the holy men, the ones with spiritual power, and who can demonstrate their power as such. They have renounced all worldly and material attachments and simply don the saffron robe when they visit the cities, towns and villages. For most part, they travel on foot and use the services of trains and buses only as an inevitable alternative! I have personally met very amongst them and know for sure that they reside mostly in the mountains of the Himalayas thriving upon jungle berries, figs and leaves as sources of food. They indulge upon perhaps, by my understanding of modern-day definitions Tapasya, Dhyana, and a foray of other terms which define as an ultimate methods of coming closer to the Almighty, God.
They also develop spiritual powers or they are born with such powers.
Thousands, if not millions of foreigners from U.S.A., U.K., Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Australia, Russia, etc. have seen these holy men who come down from the Himalayas and congregate on the banks of the river during Kumbh Melaheld every 12 years in India. Their feats are also recorded for documentary evidence and all international media worth their name display such filmed events! That is not all.
Through the late sixties and on through the mid-seventies, prior to when the hippie culture began, there were millions of people from the above-named countries who simply wore the saffron robes with Hare Rama Hare Krishna imprinted all over these robes and literally made their homes at the temples of India. They had become vegetarians and perhaps.. here I say perhaps because.. well, because... they were equally as much of being Hindus as my friends and I, for we, too, were listening to the Beatles then! However, we were also consistent in performing our religious chores as part of our daily lives and attending Mandir or Temple to offer our morning or daytime prayers, which formed part of our daily schedule. That is another matter.
It is really surprising to find Europeans and Americans, a family crowd, too, and small kids included, chanting Hare Rama Hare Krishna while standing beside us and talking and praying in the Hindi language, the primary language of India, in a religious city like Benares! Or Mathura and Vrindaban cities: the birthplace of Krishna, who is one of our Hindu Gods.
You see, finding oneself naked — yes! stark naked — on a beach in Goa, the paradise of the east, in company of Hippies in the early seventies, and watching them smoke pot — here pot means intoxicating herbs like cannabis indica; there it suggests grass or weed and dance till midnight — is a different factor altogether. At least that is what my friends described the Hippie scene and Goa’s beaches. I have not experienced such natural states with unnatural scents, aromas and essences of pot. No, definitely not! One may do justice here to state that cannabis indica or “grass” is consumed by Hindus throughout India on one particular day: that is on Shiv Ratri the birthday of Lord Shiva the God of War and destruction, peace and anger the Hindu way. That is all.
The foreigners have seen during Kumbh Mela how the Gurus and Sadhus walk over burning coals, sleep on beds of nails and thorns. They have also witnessed Sanyasis pierce knives and nails through their bodies and tongues. Some even bury their heads in the ground and stay thus for 12 hours! These acts have been recorded and filmed. Then there are some who are able to bury themselves few feet under the ground as in a temporary grave with high-tech equipment attached to their bodies for measurement of blood pressure, EEG for brain activity and ECG for the heart rate. Well that is not magic! Some amongst them can bring out a few drops of water from the twisted strands of hairs on your head.
That was a digression. Now the issue.
A long time ago, one fine day, while in the jungles of... I stopped my four-wheel drive jeep along a jungle track and pulled on the hand brake. The jungle heat was oppressive and the humidity nearly one hundred percent. The canned beer imported from Germany was in my breast pocket, and I wished it were orange juice instead.
I walked to the slightly undulating clearing amidst the foliage and was about to sit down and sip my beer.
“Drinking intoxicating beverages won’t be a good idea!” The voice was heavy.
I carefully placed aside the beer can, 330 ml, and looked towards the person who stood at the clearing. What the hell..
“Good afternoon, sir!” The saffron robed gentleman was tall.
“Hi, lama.” I ventured.
The saffron-robed gentleman — who was in actuality a Buddhist lama — walked towards me in open friendship. I had witnessed such openness when in the company of Sadhus too. They are like that.
“Okay, I’ll not drink the beer. It’s not intoxicating, though!” I finally said, aware of their clean habits.
“Sir, I seem to have lost the way. Where am I?”
“Yes, I came here to see the vegetation. It is almost like our mountains at Karbi Anglong.”
“Lama, where are you going?”
“I am to take the flight to Thailand!”
“To practice? What’s your belt? Black belt? 5 dan?”
He smiled. “Here is my passport. I am to attend a religious international sermon at the largest Buddhist shrine there.” He named a Thai city.
“Did you walk to Meghalaya and Assam?”
No. My bus is on the main road. There are plenty of passengers in it. There are five of us, too, and we shall stay in Guwahati for a week before proceeding to Thailand.”
I read his passport. It was needless, for we all know that Buddhist Lamas in India do travel abroad to attend religious functions and for other religious training pertaining to the Lord Buddha’s teachings and preachings.
“Panchi Dorji is my name.”
“Well, Panchi, you are not very far from the Patthar Khama route and...”
He interrupted quickly. “How far?”
I asked, “Are you feeling scared? Like I’ll hit you or rob you?”
The Lama smiled yet again. “No. That’s bad.”
He continued. “The last time I came to Guwahati I was with Lama Mingyar Dondup and we took that route, which...”
“I know Mingyar,” I stated.
“Really? How well? What about Lama Mingyar Dondup...” His voice trailed off.
“You’re about five minutes away from the tangent leading to the highway. Come Lama, Ill take you there.” I started to walk. My beer can could wait. Anyway, I was feeling the urge for orange juice!
Halfway out of the clearing I stopped, turned around and requested him to explain martial arts to me. He gauged me once; at least that is what I was able to understand from his expressionless face.
“Panchi, you’re leading me!” I countered. “You know martial arts.”
“Well...” I heard him exclaim. “Okay, take your stance. Stand few feet in front of me!”
I turned around and faced him right foot forward, clearing my jeans of jungle grass.
I took my stance.
“Start,” he said.
My wrist turned very sharply few inches from the waist as my furiously fisted hand attempted to hit-touch his left arm at the biceps. Just a slight touch, no more than that. I was least interested in injuring him.
The next thing I knew, Panchi Dorji’s right foot was on my knuckles and a moment later I heard a flurry of saffron robes as he literally flew to a low-lying branch, finally squatting on the fifth strong branch, about ten feet overhead whilst peering at me from between the leaves.
That proved it.
“Yes, Dorji! Come clean,” I shouted.
His reply was clear. “Well, I did my stunt at the Shaolin Temple.” A few minutes later, he also stated his black belt degree to me. I promised to keep it a secret.
It took me more than a year to learn Kai-jut-so from him — and also the higher fighting methods in Kung Fu — in those jungles, and I was successful from the very beginning. In return, I taught him lessons in extrasensory perception, and he learnt from me very fast. That excercise, too, amounted to more than one year. About a year and a half later, I asked him, “Panchi, will you return to these jungles?”
“No, Never. Our Monastery is more accommodative.”
“You know, our Hindu Sadhus and Sanyasis live in jungles and mountains...”
“I am aware of that, little one.”
“Come off it. You’re of my age or a few years older at most,” I countered.
“Really?” His smooth bald and shaven head belied his actual age yet his facial features could not lie.
“Lama Lobsang Thimpu sends his regards to you and...”
“I know Losung. I met him at your monastery in...”
“Also, the Grand master of the Shaolin Temple sends you his blessings.”
“My sixth sense tells me my site manager is approaching,” I cautioned him. And few minutes later Anthony Momin — a Garo tribal hill person — came into view carrying a generous cup of tea from the camp kitchen about fifty metres away.
Copyright © 2004 by Deep Bora
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