Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Poetry by Archna Sahni

Passage to Tibet
(dedicated to His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

On the terrace of Drepung Loseling, in front of Dhauladhar ranges, throw aside all lessons on creative visualization and meditate with open eyes.

Carried on the drumming sound of rain, listen to the early morning chanting of monks in whose voices lies the pain of lost causes, a lost home.

Once they chanted to celebrate, Now they chant to heal.

Stark landcapes of glittering sand and snow, prayer flags ripping in the merciless wind, are loosened from their hum.

Dharamsala is indeed little Tibet.

Smiling sun-baked faces in travellers' photos taken before 1951 line the narrow streets through which crimson-clad monks hurry and colorful wares, aromoa of momos and Potala incense spill.

I touched the roof of the world amidst the Dhauladhars.

Who are we Indians to pose as the gracious ones, when you, lost children of Buddha, have finally only come home?

From Bodhgaya to Norbulingka is only a day's journey, and moreover, the spirit follows no silk route.

We need you more than you need us. We need your simple and honest ways that only five decades ago lay spread over the land of the Kinners, but now lie choked in open drains or recede with the green cover of the woods.

Padmasambhava and Vairocana centuries ago travelled from Sarnath to Lamye carrying Sakyamuni's words in their hearts.

Retracing their footsteps, you have only come home bringing back relics we once called our own.

You can be sure, when you look into thebroken mirror of this vast aching continent, of recognizing a face you know to be your own.

My friend Tenzin, born in Nepal to Tibetan parents, resident of Dharamsala, dreams a dream of freedom: of journeying to that hill in free Tibet, where his grandmother and grandfather lived, eating leavened bread and carrying prayer wheels for the temple just beyond their view.

Places never seen, dear friend, are closer to Paradise, like my Kashmir, endangered but not lost, glimpsed by me in picture postcards and fading photos of my parent's honeymoon.

I will come with you, Tenzin, on the day the bugles blow in Lhasa, I will come with you when prayer flags wave amidst glittering sand or snow and from the countless streaming eyes of your people, a million lotus flowers bloom.

For all of us know that the writing on the t-shirts, 'Tibet Wil Be Free', is true.

More than fifty years of forgiveness for your persecutors has forged a golden palace in the Shangri-la of your heart.

In the misty landscape of your land the world calls the roof of the world, Avalokiteshvara and Mother Tara sit smiling at the gate for you.

Archna Sahni, who views herself as a world citizen, is an upcoming poet on the Indian English literary scene. Her work has been published in leading literary journals such as The Bombay Literary Review, Kavya Bharati, New Quest, The Brown Critique, Poetry Chain and Westerly. Her debut book of poems titled "First Fire" is scheduled to be published in Summer 2005. She is currently a faculty member at the Department of English, Punjabi University, Patiala.