Monday, 23 December 2013

A Soul Mixed with Barley Wine

Dulha Buchung ( དུད་བླ་བུ་ཆུང་།) is currently a Professor at Tibet University, Lhasa, where he teaches Tibetan grammar. 'A Soul Mixed with Barley Wine' (ཀྱུར་རཙི་ད་འདྲེས་པའི་རྣམ་ཤེས།) was published in the Tibet University Newspaper in 1995. The satirical essay discusses the drinking habits of a unnamed Tibetan man, while criticizing backwardness and underdevelopment in contemporary Tibetan society. Dulha Buchung's essays share many common themes with Dhondup Gyal, especially in expounding the need for modernity and development. The essay is found in middle school textbooks as well as in Tibetan literature textbooks for Tibetan majors. 

The original Tibetan will be added posthaste.

A Soul Mixed with Barley Wine

by Dulha Buchung ( དུད་བླ་བུ་ཆུང་།)

Translated by Ingsel

Strong waves of emotion,
That flow from the depth of my veins.
One hundred thousand dewdrops of composition.
To stop my yearnings from scattering across the sky,
What hope is there?
- A true story.

Happiness never lasts forever. Then again neither does suffering. My soul, a concoction of blissful and miserable feelings, will forever be mixed up in a vast ocean of barley wine.  Perhaps it's just me and this is what we call a hereditary condition, passed down to me from my ancestors. It's certainly possible.  From father to father, my ancestors found refuge in the Buddha. They gave themselves to compassion, striving for the benefit of other beings. Maybe my addiction is the fruit of their previously accumulated merit! Yet looking back it doesn't seem as if my parents had any such condition. If the only reward for their compassionate practice is my love of drink, then how ungrateful the Buddha is! Aren't we being deceived by the karmic law of cause and effect? Whatever may be, I am who I am.  A late twentieth century descendant of the red faced, who has transcended life's joys and sorrows through his thirst for barley wine.

I don't know what time it is. I haven't thought about what I have to do tomorrow. If only I had a donkey to ride and limitless barley wine to drink, I'd never have to experience any suffering on the narrow path of my future. I wouldn't have any need for happiness either. Let them fly their aeroplanes! Let them fly to the stars.

Yesterday, those tall, blonde, blue eyed, large nosed monkey-like foreigners didn't show a trace of amazement at the culture of my forefathers. Instead coming upon the world's largest open air drinking establishment (in the Lukhang), they stared at my drinking bowl and darkened face, their blue eyes knowing and protuberant. They snapped away at my cheerful disposition with their cameras. Those unhappy ones must have been so impressed with my life of merriment that they wanted to showed their friends and family back home. But as they they looked at me slowly, they shook their heads from side and their expressions soured. An incomprehensible suspicion enter my belly along with the barley wine. You tell me, my fellow countryman. What was real reason they showed me such expressions? 

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Narrow Footpath

Dhondup Gyal (དོན་རྒུབ་རྒྱལ།) was born in 1953 in Chentsa, Amdo and is widely regarded as the founder of modern Tibetan literature. 'The Narrow Footpath' (རྐང་ལམ་ཕྲ་མོ།), a polemical essay, was published in Light Rain (སྦྲང་ཆར།) in 1984. In his essay Dhondup Gyal explores the urgent need for Tibet to modernize. In 'The Waterfall and Fragrant Flowers', Tsering Shakya writes 'A Narrow Footpath" was published under a pseudonym and was seen by many as an attack on traditional culture, which offended conservative sections of the Tibetan community. Dhondup Gyal reportedly received death threats after its publication. However, he remained undaunted and continued to explore the theme of tradition versus modernity.' 'The Narrow Footpath' has become a set text for students in middle school as well as for Tibetan majors in university. The work has influenced a generation of Tibetan writers and continues to remain relevant today.

Find the original Tibetan here.

I've taken down the translation temporarily. Please email directly with any queries.