This is the story of two lamas - Sehewan and Tashi Seraph - I interacted with while on my explorations of Ladakh. Different a they are, both of them speak of an unknown truth, and a kind of peace long forgotten.
From Childhood to Manhood
Inducted to Samthanling Monastery at the age of five, Lama Sehewan spent his childhood preparing for sacred Buddhist dances and pondering on universal truths with his elders, looking for immediate answers. While some he found, for some he still wait for.
In the cold parched valley of Nubra it’s a different life altogether; a life that doesn’t care about who you are to the outside world, how many high school degrees you have, and how technologically savvy you may be. For Sehewan, the three seasons of Nubra have passed 20 times over, but not easily. Summers, winters or freezing cold, he stood his ground and slowly lost his desire to go home; though he does visit his family now and then.
At 25 today, Sehewan will soon go for a solitary stint of meditation that may last for anywhere between six months to two years. From a fragile little child whose sole aim in life was returning home to a grown responsible lama who enjoys his own company and peace, and often takes tourists for a guided tour of his home, Lama Sehewan has come a long way.
I am one of those tourists and had a chance to ask him why do we do, the things we do, when we know we don’t want to do them. He said, “When you see what is, what is, changes.” Considering my upbringing in a superficial city blackened by pollution and an attitude of “me first”, it might take me a whole lifetime to understand his statement. It’s a beautiful life for him but my friends and I are so used to the monkey business of city life, we won’t last a fortnight in such immense peace and nothingness.
Interview with a Tashi Seraph
On a rather hot day in June, I chanced to speak with Tashi Seraph outside the Maitreya Temple in Thiksey Monastery after a short afternoon prayer. He candidly told me about his life, about his family, about his quest for truth, about his yearning to know who he is, about his struggles to perform his being-duties, and about his obsession of the question, “Why am I here?”
It’s been two years since he’s seen home, and he doesn’t regret it. He was kind enough to let me shoot a short video of him. These lamas, they never disagree to pictures and videos. They want the world far and away to know what it misses in everyday life. Pacing down from New Delhi to Ladakh, I clearly saw the things that went amiss; little things I never think about, like breathing easy and living in sanity?