Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Remembering Kushok Bakula Rinpoche

For some reason, the late Honorable Bakula Rinpoche (21 May 1917 - 4 November 2003), former Indian Ambassador to Mongolia, came strongly into my thoughts today.

I think he is the main reason that Buddhism is enjoying a revival in Mongolia, as to my mind at least -- and probably everyone would agree -- he was the destined spiritual catalyst to release Mongolia from communism. He was recognized by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama as a direct incarnation of one of the Sixteen Arhats, and to meet him in person left no room for doubt.

Arhat Bakula

I first met him in the 1970s, in company with another lama who was a good friend of mine. They were in the midst of some business, and I was in the midst of some business, but I offered to drive them all somewhere they wished to go. There were five of them, so three got in the back, and Bakula Rinpoche got in the front passenger's seat.

As I drove, they rapidly chatted back and forth, and I did not pay them any mind. After a time, my friend said, "Rinpoche wishes to know how many names you have." I responded that I have three names, upon which Rinpoche himself very quickly and directly said, "The truth is, you have four."

Actually, that is true, but I never use one of them. I confess that I was astonished he could know this. He then looked at me with a blank expression, and deliberately drew a Tibetan letter with his finger on the windshield of the automobile. It was the first letter of my fourth name.

There is considerably more to the story, but it doesn't serve any useful purpose. People have called him a saint, and that is certainly my impression as well. In today's Mongolia, he is well remembered and deeply revered. There is a Bakula Rinpoche temple in Ulaanbaatar, where his ashes are interred inside a golden stupa. If you click that link, you will get a much-expanded story.

Bakula Rinpoche was born again on 24 November 2005, again in Ladakh, and recognized by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama on 26 February 2008.

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1 reader comments:

Mihael said...

We had a pleasure to visit Bakula Rinpoche in Nubra Valley in May .

He has been in our thoughts since ,
we hope he ll guide us back to Spituk , once enthroned , very soon we hope.