Paul Hartal


The Dalai Lama Who Loved Wine, Women And Song - Poem by Paul Hartal

Here the May lilacs blossom in the garden
Their fragrance sprawls in the air of spring.

Yet my mind drifts on wings of a daydream
To a far away land of peach-treed valleys
Embraced by snow-capped mountains.

One night there on the Roof of the Earth
A young man in the holy city of Lhasa
Listened to the chanting of mantras
Not for the sake of enlightenment
But in order to sense her breath.

That month he span all the pray wheels
Not for the sake of freeing his soul
But in order to touch her finger prints.

That year he prostrated on the ground
With his hands clasping the earth
Not for the sake of adoring Buddha
But in order to sense her warmth.

That incarnation he crossed green forests
He passed through farmlands and deserts
He climbed a hundred thousand mountains
Not for the sake of afterlife
But in order to meet her on the road.

Who was this young man?

Descending from the Monpa Tribe
He was born in 1683 at Urgelling
In the Monastery near Tawang in India.

His parents gave him the name
Losang Rigdzin Tsangyang Gyatso
In the Tibetan language it means
Ocean of Melodious Songs.

His trunk of life was cut short though
Just a child yet and he became
Like an uncrowned king in the land
And even so he remained modest
Humble and unassuming.

He traveled about on foot
He kept no personal servants
He brewed his own tea
And served his guests himself.

And he wrote magnificent poems
They are still loved and revered
And sung throughout Tibet and China.

He loved women, friends and wine
Although he was chosen as His Holiness
The Sixth Dalai Lama of Tibet!

But he had no plans to accept the role
Renounced the vows of a novice monk
And then asked the forgiveness
Of the Panchen Lama
For refusing to accept the duties
Of full ordination.

He had rather lived his life
As a rake and stud.

He gambled and practiced archery
Grew a long hair embellished with jewels
Called himself the Turquoise Bee
Acting as a playboy and dressing as a layman
A gadabout debaucher in blue silk brocade.

He roamed through the countryside
Reveling with his friends
In the parks in daylight
And then spent the dark hours
In the taverns of Shol-town.

Drinking barley beer stuffed in bamboo barrels
Or enjoying the intoxicating rice chang
White and sweet and pungent in taste.

He had 'never slept a night
Without a sweetheart'
He wrote in one of his love poems
To the indignation of the opulent Potala palace
As servants traced back his footprints
In the fresh snow leading to the brothels.

However, the Dalai Lama had a broken heart
He wanted to wed his beloved lady
The sweetheart who truly loved him
But she “has been stolen to wed another”
And he became sick with hankering sorrow.

That night in the holy city of Lhasa
He listened to the chanting of the mantras
Not for the sake of enlightenment
But in order to sense her breath.

That month he span all the pray wheels
Not for the sake of freeing his soul
But in order to touch her finger prints.

That year he prostrated on the earth
With his hands clasping the soil
Not for the sake of adoring Buddha
But in order to sense her warmth.

That incarnation he crossed green forests
He passed through farmlands and deserts
He climbed a hundred thousand mountains
Not for the sake of afterlife
But in order to meet her on the road.

Then turbulence shook the Roof of the World
It was now the fragile year of 1706
And a Mongol army invaded Tibet
Their leader Lhasang Khan did not believe
That the Dalai Lama was the real one
And he wanted to depose him.

A foreign army besieged Lhasa
And Lhasang Khan ordered the Dalai Lama
To relocate at the Mongol military camp
In Lhalu Garden.

Soon afterwards, on June 27,1706,
The Mongol warlord ousted
The Head of Tibetan Buddhism.

And since the Chinese Emperor Kangxi
Approved it the Mongols took the Dalai Lama
On a journey to the east to banish him
To the imperial court
Of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty in Beijing.

It was a long voyage, joyless and exhausting
Escorted by a group of Mongolian soldiers
In the fall of 1706 he reached Gunga-Nor Lake
On the road to the Chinese capital.

However, the Dalai Lama did not want
To spend the rest of his life in humiliating exile
And on the night of November 14,1706
He escaped under the veil of darkness.

A Mongol sentry noticed the fleeing figure
And placed a fir arrow on his birch bow.

The archer aimed his weapon
At the running target, he drew the curved bow
Gripping the string
Between his horn-ringed thumb and index finger
Until his left arm was fully extended
And then released the metal-bladed projectile.

The arrow took to the air
With a sharp snapping sound.

A moving shadow emitted
A subdued moan of pain
But vanished away
On the nightly lake shore.

White crane, lend me your wings
I go no further than Lithang
And thence, return again.

While in Mongol captivity
At Lithang Monastery in Kham
Tsangyang Gyato, the Sixth Dalai Lama
Predicted his own rebirth.

In 1708, two years after his disappearance
The Seventh Dalai Lama, Kelsang Gyatso
Was born in Lithang in Kham.


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Langston Hughes

Dreams



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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Poem Edited: Friday, October 14, 2011


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