India
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What The World’s Second Largest Monastery Taught Me

Tawang monastery

Tawang valley in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh is wrapped with a hulking mountain range which always seems to cast a special magic on the mind of travelers. The entire valley is a patchwork of stunning mountain ridges and vast fields – so beautiful that every moment you find yourself awestruck. And when you are not being enthralled with its natural beauty, you are captivated with the Buddhist prayer wheels of Monpa pilgrims wearing a traditional black-yak-wool overcoat.

Well there are many reasons to visit Tawang, but the prime reason why it stands above the crowd, is that it is home to the world’s second largest monastery – something that makes Tawang exclusive, and culturally rich.

Located at 10,000 feet with a commanding view of Tawang River, Tawang monastery is one small city in itself. It is an ideal epitome to some 500 monks, many of whom are small children. Their sole place of refuge is the monastery premises where they learn and follow Buddhism.

doorDuring my visit to this monastery and a small conversation with a senior monk I found that in Buddhism they believe that a child is capable to follow ‘Lamahood’ when he is mature enough to walk on the path of compassion – which, in reality, is the very essence of their religion. The conversation was soon accompanied by a small incident which further validated the belief and left me inspired to practice compassion and love in my own life.

I don’t remember his name but the message he left me with was something indelible. As I stumbled upon his cute novice face and started with my routine photo shoot accompanied by questions like where he came from and what he’s learning in the monastery, we found a spider crawling on the floor.

monk

I have seen kids generally foreboding and running away in fright in such situations, wanting for someone to kill whatever is causing them distress. But this little fellow went from carefully catching hold of this spider and releasing it away from us, with an arresting smile on his face. When I asked him why he did so, he struggled a bit to put this forward and said “because we are humans and we are meant not to harm others”.

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” Ibn Battuta

For a kid of his age and in an atmosphere away from his parents, following a forced routine – showing such love and compassion for others, in my opinion, was a tall order. But I guess that’s what monastery teachings and the knowledge they infuse in you are all about.

I’ve often heard Buddhists talking about wisdom and compassion but witnessing such a small child practicing it with such innocence was simply overwhelming. What do you think? Let me know in comments.

[Also read: How To Practice Happiness – A lesson well learnt in Bhutan]

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Filed under: India

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Shortly after my first real nine-to-five job, I left that lifestyle behind, and with it, everything that didn't fit in my backpack. I've learned that this world is too big (and too interesting!) to stay in one place. I believe that with a little courage and inspiration, everyone has the power to follow their dreams. Just as I've followed mine!

18 Comments

  1. Beautiful story! I feel like we all have something to learn for other. Travelling teaches you perspectives, guess we both learnt the same thing in different way

    I enjoyed reading your post.. Not many mind to share such a great experience.. the kid in your blog is indeed inspiring…

  2. Beautiful post! Touching story about a little kid. And you are right, travel truly changes us. How fortunate of you to have that amazing experience and the good karma to be able to go to all these places. Treasure it and cherish it. All the best from NYC!

    I enjoyed reading your post.. Not many mind to share such a great experience.. the kid in your blog is indeed inspiring…

    Beautiful story! I feel like we all have something to learn for other. Travelling teaches you perspectives, guess we both learnt the same thing in different way

  3. Very intriguing post Mr. Dev. And the pic of the monastery is just awesome. Stay in touch

    I very much enjoyed your story. We all can learn much from the wise innocence of children and in this case the child with additional early wisdom of Buddhist teachings.

  4. Rashmi says

    Beautiful post! Touching story about a little kid. And you are right, travel truly changes us. How fortunate of you to have that amazing experience and the good karma to be able to go to all these places. Treasure it and cherish it. All the best from NYC!

  5. I enjoyed reading your post.. Not many mind to share such a great experience.. the kid in your blog is indeed inspiring…

    Beautiful story! I feel like we all have something to learn for other. Travelling teaches you perspectives, guess we both learnt the same thing in different way

  6. Sandra says

    Beautiful story! I feel like we all have something to learn for other. Travelling teaches you perspectives, guess we both learnt the same thing in different way

    Thanks for your comment Vishanth. Yes, it’s great how traveling educates you every minute. So how did you learn this lesson? Care to share? I am all ears.

  7. Prakash says

    Dev.,

    I enjoyed reading your post.. Not many mind to share such a great experience.. the kid in your blog is indeed inspiring…

    will look forward to learn such great experiences from you and hope I will witness one someday of my life..

    Prakash

    • Indeed Prakash. There is so much to learn from the everyday incidents that keep happening around us. We just need an eye to notice and a mind to accept. Thank for your comment.

  8. Beautiful story! I feel like we all have something to learn for other. Travelling teaches you perspectives, guess we both learnt the same thing in different way 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment Vishanth. Yes, it’s great how traveling educates you every minute. So how did you learn this lesson? Care to share? I am all ears.

  9. Vinay M says

    You are such an awesome writer and photographer. Really enjoyed this blog post.

  10. I very much enjoyed your story. We all can learn much from the wise innocence of children and in this case the child with additional early wisdom of Buddhist teachings.

    • Absolutely Bruce, there is so much to learn from the people around us. Thanks for your comment.

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