Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Of Tercham and Tradition in Bhutan


G.K Chesterton has said following thing about the tradition. ‘Trading means giving votes to the most obscure of all class-our ancestor. It is the democracy of the death.’ On other hand, Indira Gandhi said, ‘tradition is itself the product of continuous evolution.’
These two quotes seem contradictory in the surface. However, going deep, these two sayings seem to convey the similar meaning. Tradition is not something sculptured in the igneous rock which can’t be erased. Even the rock so rigid and durable is prone to weathering and disintegration over the geographic time. The tradition and culture so rigid but shameful must give ways to more irrelevant and contemporary ones. The tradition must evolve as to suit the time.
The recent report of media said that the ‘sacred dance becomes a cause for cheap laugh.’ This was regarding the Peling Tercham and the response of the crowd. The crowd had reportedly jeered at the naked dancers. One overacting guy was beaten by security personnel. Was he a terrorist where security had to take laws into their own hand?  Was he an infidel in the name of sacred belief? Or was he just a man who doesn’t know how to behave?

The media also reported that the crowd was jeering at the poor naked dancers which angered some of the staunched believers. The crowd has no business demeaning our own culture and belief. At the same time, it could be possible that some crowd felt that it was drama of orgy or LIVE pornography. Though the acts of jeering are depreciable, this can also be interpreted as the democratic opinions which every individual is entitled to. This can also be interpreted as a clash of old ideology and new ideology. As an individual, my opinion neither sympathized the crowd or the sacred naked dance, my sympathy lies with those ten poor dancers who braved the chilling cold all in the names of doing national duties by preserving something the crowd failed to appreciate. I imagined some dancers believing themselves to be sacred as they adorned themselves with 1300 years old sacredness just to become the object of ridicule.
The newspaper also said that the dance was first initiated by Monmo Tashi Khewden, the daughter of famous Chagkhar King Sendha Gyab. She was supposedly distracted by local deities or evils while building certain temple. She had no choice but to perform that dance. Given the fact that, people at that time were ignorant and rowdy, the act could have been effective method to entertain them. Thank Goodness, great guru and his consort had to invent dances every time to distract the deities. But then why is it called Peling Tercham? Wasn’t that dance associated with our own saint great Tertoen Pema Lingpa? Wasn’t  it him who saw it in his crystal clear vision?

Today the people have changed. Time is dubbed as modern times. Great guru himself said that its people who change not the time. This time is the age of enlightenment in modern concept. With changing of time, even religion and tradition must evolve to suit the moment.  The paganism practiced in ancient Egypt is not relevant. The bonism in Bhutan and Tibet is now more or less extinct. This was done by the people in certain time. The incident in Bumthang is a hint that the naked culture is becoming irrelevant despite old school’s defiant attitude to preserve.
While Buddhism has many good things to teach, it has also many bad things to discard. Since Lord Buddha in 600 B.C, the Buddhism has evolved to suit the time, place and inhabitants. Be it Hinaya, Mahayana, Mahamudra or Vajrayana. It is the time, we find alternative Buddhism to suit the modern time. Liberation by seeing, hearing or believing is like thirst is being quenched by looking at the picture of big river. While I don’t dispute the legacy of a Peling Tercham as bad, it is telling that the dance as become irrelevant to the most.
It is the time our lamas stopped talking about some secret teachings or miraculous liberation.  This is not the age where people believe that those can run fast as son of God or those who can fight as strength of wrathful Buddha. This is an age of debate, deliberation and democracy. The religion must evolve.

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