Sunday, March 2, 2014

Lord Buddha

You must have heard of Lord Buddha - but did you know anything about his life before?
Buddha was a great personality. He attained enlightenment and travelled to many places spreading his teachings and wisdom. He led a remarkable life which is to be told soon.
Buddha was born in a royal Hindu family as prince Siddhartha. A common legend tells that on the night when Siddhartha was conceived, his mother, the queen, dreamt of a pure white elephant with six tusks that entered her side. Ten months later, Siddhartha Gautama was born. He was son and heir of King Suddhodana who ruled over the Shakya clan. Queen Mahamaya, his birth mother, died a week after Siddhartha's birth and her sister Pajpati brought him up.

Legend has it that one day, the prince insisted to leave the palace to see his subjects. He visited the city four times, and saw an old man, a sick man, a dead body and a monk. These are now known as the Four Sights. Siddhartha was shocked when his charioteer, Channa, explained that everyone experiences old age, disease, and death. At that moment, Siddhartha vowed to discover a way to end suffering.

King Suddhodana arranged a marriage between Siddhartha and a cousin of the same age named Yasodhara. They married, and several years later gave birth to a son.  At that time Siddhartha was planning to leave the palace to search for enlightenment and his son bound him to the palace, so he named him Rahula, meaning bond.

Aged 39, Siddhartha finally made his decision. He escaped the palace at night on his horse Kanthaka, accompanied by Channa. It is said that the horse's hooves were muffled by the gods to prevent the palace guards from knowing about Siddhartha's departure.

Siddhartha then cut his hair (in those days, only royalty had long hair) and exchanged his jewelery and silk clothes with a woodman.

He began his ascetic life by begging in the streets of Magadha. King Bimbisara, ruler of Magadha, recognized Siddhartha and sent men to learn of his quest. The king was very impressed and offered Siddhartha his throne, but Siddhartha refused and departed with a promise to visit Magadha after achieving enlightenment.

Gautama continued on his journey and met five ascetics who thought that enlightenment could be achieved by living very strictly with no luxuries like rich food, proper clothes, etc. This reached to the extremes that Gautama ate only the berries that fell into his lap while meditating, didn't sleep, and became emaciated and more dead than living.

After six years, Gautama understood that enlightenment could not be attained through this way. He went to the river to bathe but nearly drowned. He accepted milk and rice pudding from a village girl called Sujata who thought he was a forest spirit. Gautama regained his health and continued on his journey.

Gautama travelled to Bodh-Gaya where he sat under a pipal tree (now known as the Bodhi tree, you can guess why). He vowed never to rise until he had attained enlightenment and found the truth. Gautama meditated for 49 days and finally attained enlightenment. From that day on, he was known as Buddha, meaning the 'awakened one'.


After attaining enlightment, Lord Buddha travelled to many places preaching his teachings and wisdom. Many disciples joined him on his journey. He had an enemy called Devadatta (who was actually his cousin), who is said to have tried to assassinate Buddha three times.

Gautama Buddha died (not sure why, some stories say from a bad diarrhoea, some say simply from old age, and others say he was accepted by the gods) about 483 BC, but his teachings have still inspired thousands of people around the world to become better human beings.

Quotes of the Buddha

  • Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
  • Three things cannot be hidden long: the sun, the moon, and the truth.
  • Do not dwell on the past; do not dream of the future; concentrate the mind on the present moment.
  • A jug fills drop by drop
  • Even death is not feared by one who has lived wisely.



Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal

You must be puzzling over this long puzzling name, so I'll give you a hand. Zhabdrung isn't a name! It's a title for great lamas (high monks). So, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal came to Bhutan in 1616 A.D. He built many dzongs: the Trongsa Dzong, the Paro Rinpung Dzong, the Punakha Dzong, Simtokha Dzong and more. Zhabdrung is said to be the third most revered person in Bhutan, after Guru Rinpoche and Lord Buddha.
He had many followers and all Bhutanese people respect him greatly.
He was a wonderful leader of the Bhutanese, and he ought have been king.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Do It Yourself


This may be surprising; there are no supermarkets - the way you know them in the west - in Bhutan. In the developed world, fresh pasteurized milk and eggs and drinkable water from the tap are taken for granted. But here, in this small developing country, the milk has to be boiled to make it safe, and soft-boiled eggs can be deadly. Also, to purify the water, you need to boil it, then wait for it to cool, and finally transfer the water to a water filter.

So basically, we don't have a lot of processed food. Thus, my dad makes home-made yogurt (the packaged one produced locally is not to our taste) and my mother makes bread - and pizza - at home. In the past few years, more and more bakeries have opened in Thimphu and the bread and pastry situation has improved. There are not many bakeries, because the usual carbohydrate in the meal is rice, so bread is not commonly used.


A family in the US with all the food they eat in a week
Photo: http://world.time.com/2013/09/20/hungry-planet-what-the-world-eats/photo/usnc04-0001-xxf1rw-2/
A family in Bhutan with all the food that they eat in a week
Photo: http://world.time.com/2013/09/20/hungry-planet-what-the-world-eats/photo/bhu01-0001-xxf1s-2/

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mid-Terms.......

So, now it's our midterms, and I have to study hard! The exams at Druk School go in four sets: the first term, mid-term, second term and annual. The first and second term exams are weekly exams that don't have a vacation after them and the exam day continues as a normal school day. The midterm and annual examinations are usually daily but may have a holiday in between two exams, and after the exam there are no studies but we go home straight away. There is a vacation after the midterm and another one after the annual string of exams.
Now, mid-term is usually referred to in the middle of a term or semester, but in this case, it means mid-year. The annual exams are the final exams.
Our midterm exams began Saturday, June 8th. I'm in 6th grade, and our first exam was English. Second, Dzongkha. I find Dzongkha very difficult but I had pored over my books and the exam was easier than the first term paper. Our third exam was Social Studies. Then, Science. Finally, Maths.
Then....? V-a-c-a-t-i-o-n VACATION!!! We get a  break of about a month which I will spend in Israel, enjoying life on the beach (there aren't seas or oceans in Bhutan).
Check the blog out soon for an exciting post differentiating between Bhutan and Israel!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Trip to the Bajothang Book Fair

Recently, the yearly Book Fair was held in Bajothang, Wangdue. The Rigsum Institute of IT and Management (the institute in which my parents work) had developed a suite or collection of educational programs like Wikipedia, Khan Academy, Scratch and a lot more. The great thing about the Sherig Collection is that it requires no Internet! The idea was that schools with IT labs or computers that have slow or no Internet connection can use programs that are usually not offline like Khan Academy, instead of only focussing on Microsoft Office (Word, Powerpoint etc.). The video below explains the idea of the Sherig Collection. If you're observant (and if you read my other posts), you'll note that the music at the beginning and end of the video sounds familiar... If you're interested, you can also visit the Sherig Collection website.

Tharingsa

Tharingsa is a, no, the hit in Bhutan. Newborns to Angeys (grandmas) sing it with happiness, whether at a basketball court or just near the Double Turning. The familiar "Gatay taa rung" is now a national phrase. It is my favourite song, personally. I find it irresistible, so, if I hear someone singing it, I have to, too.

Lyrics


  • Gatay taa Rung
  • chay raa thong may
  • sam ghi hinglay choeyraa dem may
  • buchu naa mayba nge sam
  • tcha lay me cha bay
  • tchap chab bu chey gi ngelam nang
  • dayni hayru gha
  • [pre-chorus]
  • Pha Pha ra masong
  • tchu tchu hong naa
  • gatay dayruu raa
  • nge sam chey lu ghaaa...ha
  • (LOGDEE HONG NAA)x2
  • nge sam chey lu ghaaa...ha
  • (LOGDEE HONG NAA)x2
  • [chorus]
  • tharingsa jo maa daa..ha
  • (BU NGA BAYSAA HONGNAA)
  • tharingsa jo maa daa..ha
  • (BU NGA BAYSAA HONGNAA)
  • lok hong naa(x2)
  • lok hong naa may....ha
  • lok hong naa x2
  • lok hong naa may....ha
  • [phuntsho dorji]
  • [verse 2]
  • nge ghi sam dee
  • choey dang chea hay
  • choey may baa nge sam tchalay metcha
  • bum choey dang dayni hayrung raa
  • nge sam gha..
  • namso daa bum choey gi neelam naa
  • dayni hayru gha...
  • [pre-chorus]
  • Pha Pha raa masong
  • tchu tchu hongnaa
  • gatay dayruu raa
  • nge sam chey lu ghaaa...ha
  • (LOGDEE HONG NAA)x2
  • nge sam chey lu ghaaa...ha
  • (LOGDEE HONG NAA)x2
  • [chorus]
  • tharingsa jo maa daa..ha
  • (BU NGA BAYSAA HONGNAA)
  • tharingsa jo maa daa..ha
  • (BU NGA BAYSAA HONGNAA)
  • lok hong naa x2
  • lok hong naa may....
  • lok hong naa x2
  • lok hong naa may....
  • [bridge]
  • bum choey ngegi phamaa luu
  • (still have you in ma arms)
  • choey lu gasay labni yea
  • (i just wanna say i love you)
  • [chorus]
  • Pha Pha raa masong
  • tchu tchu hongnaa
  • Pha Pha raa masong
  • tchu tchu hongnaa
  • tharingsa jo maa daa..ha
  • (BU NGA BAYSAA HONGNAA)
  • tharingsa jo maa daa..ha
  • (BU NGA BAYSAA HONGNAA)
  • lok hong naa x2
  • lok hong naa may....
  • lok hong naa x2
  • lok hong naa may....
  • Sunday, March 17, 2013

    International Happiness Day

    Not long ago, the United Nations declared March 20th as International Happiness Day or International Day of Happiness. Bhutan proposed this day to the UN in lieu of  'the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to the economic growth that promoted sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the happiness and wellbeing of all people.'

    Now it is declared a government holiday in Bhutan for people to enjoy life.