Saturday, December 27, 2008

In the dark

Dark ages
Chakupat, Patan, Nepal

Yikes. Power cuts just INCREASED AGAIN to almost 16 hours a day. The New Nepal is looking more and more like the Old Nepal - as in, 50 years ago, before electricity arrived.

Ason Tole
, the ancient crossroads of the Tibetan-Indian trade route, did look very magical with absolutely no electric lighting to compete with the glowing oil lamps of the temples. If it weren't for getting mowed down by motorbikes, I could almost imagine I was in the middle ages.

This afternoon, after my Charya nrtya class with Raju, we took the Patan Dhoka bus down to Chakupat to visit the
Nagarjun Institute in Patan. I got a copy of the only English translation (sort of - a summary really) of the Swayambhu Purana.

Here in Nepal there is a tradition that even before the historical Buddha, Gautama Buddha who lived approximately 2500 years ago, there were other, Adi-Buddhas (ancient, primordial buddhas). This Purana ("purana" means "old story") relates the Buddhist history of Nepal in this manner.

I personally think that since Buddhism had to co-exist with the Hindu kingdoms at that time they were amping up the ancient-ness - you know how in Hinduism everything has to be sooooooooooooooooo ancient.
Min Bahadur Sakya, one of the foremost Newar Buddhist scholars, was quite forthcoming about the adaptive aspect of the stories. Special thanks to him and his son Milan Sakya for sitting in the dark, illumined only by a dim battery-powered lamp, for about an hour discussing this subject with me.

Anyway, my net time is running out today, more later.

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