This banner features ripe pine corns above Tandin Ney in Thimphu. Picture taken on April 15.

Friday, 30 March 2012

The year's at the spring

Peach blossoms in Thimphu
Spring is the season of hope and rejuvenation. It’s the time of the year when winter’s chill stings no more and the myriad birds sing. They sing of profusion of blossoms, of rejuvenating nature, of blabbering brooks and the whole new world.

The spring season, I think, is nature’s lesson on impermanence and rejuvenation. It is beautiful but short-lived, it dies but comes again. 

The refreshing sights of peach blossoms around Thimphu always remind me of Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche’s film Travellers and Magicians. As the film ends, the monk tells the dashing young civil servant, who separates from the beautiful girl he falls in loves with, that peach blossoms are beautiful but their beauty is fleeting. They are beautiful because they are fleeting. And in the same vein, they are fleeting because they are beautiful. That seems to be the truth John Keats, that fleeting beautiful soul, was referring to when he wrote “Beauty is truth, truth beauty…” in his Ode on a Grecian Urn. Had he lived longer, he would have written an ode to the beautiful spring season. But, being a ‘beautiful’ human being that he was, he did not live long.

I do not intend to philosophize about the spring season. I am so often moved by the beauty of the season that I try to find expression.

One night last week, I tried to recollect some of the vivid descriptions of the spring season and vaguely remembered these lines by Robert Browning.

The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hillside's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven -
All's right with the world!

Perhaps these are the lines that could put the agitated minds of the people at peace. It’s about hope and optimism in times of degeneration. Our government seems to draw inspiration from these lines in the face of Rupee crisis and other problems. However in Bhutan, the year may be at spring, but the day is not certainly in the morning. The day may be in the morning, but time is certainly not at seven.

Back to literature, I also tried to think of what references Buddhist literature makes on the season of rejuvenation. But the Buddhist literature is too vast for a little creature like me. So, I went to meet Lopon Kunzang Thinley, a Dzongkha scholar who studied under Buddhist luminaries like Lama Gyalwai Nyima. 

Together, we picked up the book of Buddhist astrology (Datho) for the year 2012. The second month of the Bhutanese calendar (spring season), it says, is the season of marriage festivities. As the cuckoo sings from the treetop, the young boys and girls are moved into celebrating the prime of their time, the Datho says. It implies that spring is indeed the spring of rejuvenation and regeneration. I was amazed by Lopon Kunzang Thinley’s scholarship to decode the layers of meanings embedded in the terse Choekey (classical Tibetan language) lines in the Datho.

Then we flipped through the pages of Doedpai Tenchoe (a Buddhist book of sexology) written by a Buddhist scholar called Amdo Gedun Choephel. The book says that girls who ‘open the door of pema’ (meaning lose their virginity) during the second month of the lunar calendar, which corresponds with the spring season, will enjoy happiness, peace, prosperity and wealth of children. They will also enjoy life-long love and affection from their husbands. In this context, spring is an auspicious season. 


  1. Beautifully written. Extracts from Deodpai Tenchoe is entirely new and it is interesting.

  2. After reading this beautiful piece, the peach tree says, "Is it the Spring that is beautiful?". Such a wonderful and true praise of Spring.