Wednesday, August 06, 2003

myanmar: an amazing place and people

I often wondered what is the right way to attain the blissful life with eternal tranquility and peace of mind. The search still goes on as the life takes roller coaster rides of heady successes and dismal failures. We tend to seek happiness and peace by achieving social recognition, showering of love by people around us or simply walloping in the luxuries modern world offers. Sometimes we also dabble in the periphery of spiritualism by reading scriptures of learned people and raising our moral standards.

Last week, my visit to Myanmar made me experience another way how people attain this bliss. And how beautifully this has become a part of their social fabric.

Here is a country where if one earns US $ 5 per month, one can say it’s a decent job. This country is governed by military regime and come in media only with reference to Aung San suchi and ban of internet. Before I made a trip to this place, I wondered what this country would be. Images of abject poverty with people jostling one another to get their share of bread with some people taking recluse in crime and anti social activities. Pervading atmosphere of suspicion and fear of being persecuted by military regime for uttering or doing things which are not approved by rulers. City life with woeful short of infrastructure, chaotic indiscipline and begging arms and list can go on!!! But what I find is totally antithesis!!!

Here is a place which is decked up in lush greens of environs in abundance with no sign of Industrial Pollution, city with meticulously clean roads with cover of trees, people who are contented, happy and peaceful, no sign of military presence of dictatorial ‘do’ and ‘don’ts’ and whatever sign of military personnel one come across they are so benign and harmless.

I was intrigued by this and started searching for the answer.

As I wound my itinerary, I realized that answer lies in the culture and tradition of the people and their unflinching devotion to the Buddha and his teachings. It seems a part of Buddha lives in everyone’s soul. A sight of clean shaven monks wearing maroon loin cloth wrapped around the body walking bare foot and wooden pot in their hand was ubiquitous on early mornings and these monks come from 8 year old to 80 years. What was amazing that not all these monks abdicate their worldly pleasure or family responsibilies but took sabbatical of few months or a year to purge their body, mind and soul from corrupted elements? It seems most families send their children at the age of 8 (age at which Buddha started his journey in search of nirvana) to become monk for some period. Here they wake up early morning, collect food necessary for their subsistence and immerse in practice Buddhist teachings. Same process is done by mid age of life cycle. Isn’t it amazing? People who give alms to these monks express their gratitude for being of service to them. The outcome is People who are contented, happy and peaceful with little or none stress or friction appear on their face or behavior.

A lot is written about grand pagodas of Myanmar and its Burmese role during independence struggle from colonial rules. I thought I would mention the above fact which made an indelible impact on me.

Needless to say, if you have not visited Myanmar, you have not just missed some truly spectacular of bounties of nature but also an experience of interacting with wonderful human beings.


Anonymous Geetha Madhu said...

My husband loved Yangon. And you seem to have put into words much that he would love to read.

5:42 PM  

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