By Charu Singh | PUBLISHED: 11, Jan 2018, 13:04 pm IST | UPDATED: 11, Jan 2018, 13:10 pm IST
Book I, Path of the Swan, Synopsis:
The Path of the Swan is the first book of the Buddhist fantasy series that I have been writing for some time now. In December 2017, The Golden Dakini, the second book in the series has come out. In these books I have used elements of Tibetan Buddhism especially myths centered around the vajrayana system of Buddhism which is a part of the larger Mahayana body of Buddhism. I have especially used the myth centered around the legendry kingdom of Shambala which is particular to vajrayana Buddhism and is the subject of much debate and thought among monks and lay practitioners of this arm of Buddhism. In this Buddhist fantasy series I have finished the story with The Golden Dakini, so currently the Maitreya chronicles is a set of two books. However, there is the possibility of my doing a third book centered around the Maitreya.
The basic concept behind the series is that of the prophesized saviour or the Maitreya Buddha that is to be born, the Path of the Swan unfolds as a book with this concept at the heart of it, all the action around the first book is necessarily a build up for the prophesized birth of the Messiah. In The Golden Dakini, a series of adventures lead to the birth of the Maitreya Buddha. I do plan to do a third book centered on the Maitreya Buddha and his rather eventful youth and his innate spirituality.
Before I get into a brief description of the books and the main characters, I would like to add that the book emerges out of my own interaction with Vajrayana buddhism. A couple of years back I happened to spend time in Sikkim, a center of vajrayana Buddhism and as such got sucked right into the intense mystery and grandeur of this form of Buddhism. As such the book emerges out of my own exploration of vajrayanism and the varied but rich spiritual experiences that came my way. However, I must not be confused with a practicing Buddhist, I am not one, mine was a spiritual fascination with Buddhism which took me on an unpredictable but beautiful journey through the mystery at the heart of this form of Buddhism. Some of the chapters in the book reflect on my meditations and I have tried to put into words the dynamic, deeply contented energy of emptiness.
I have used mythic figures like ‘dakini’ or sky dancers in the book who are really expressions of the wisdom that emerges from emptiness. However the book is based in the atmosphere of vajrayanism but is pure adventure and must not be confused with a serious diatribe on Buddhist thought, it is no where near that.
The first book, the Path of the Swan, begins in Sikkim and with two important characters Lama Ozer and young Tashi Thendup, Lama Ozer is an old experienced Lama and young Tashi is his rather refreshing student. They reside in a Hidden monastery tucked away in the alpine heights of Sikkim, the book opens with Lama Ozer going into a sacred trance and getting a call from the legendry kingdom of Shambala. The monastery where these two dwell is not an ordinary monastery, it is part of a secret order within vajrayanism which exists to serve the legendry kingdom of Shambala. As such Lama Ozer’s call which he gets in his old age is very special and to cut a long story short he is totally committed to his divine mission and he sets out the next morning for mysterious Shambala. The Rimpoche of the monastery is however concerned about Lama Ozer traveling alone and he sends his young students Tashi Thendup to join him. Thus begins their journey to Shambala, the first quarter of the book is devoted to this impossible journey and after many hardships and facing many trials Lama Ozer and Tashi travel across Sikkim and Tibet to the legendry Silver Fortress located in obscure western Tibet in a protected valley. In the valley they face strong opposition from dark shamans or practitioners of the dark arts but they are helped by a divine agency in the form of the Garuda or celestial messenger, a mythic bird of gigantic size. Young Tashi is also blessed with the feather of the Garuda and the Garuda takes him and all those who travel with him under its care.
In this fortress is located a hidden portal to divine Shambala, they stumble across this portal which is lodged in a ‘tangkha’ or a holy cloth painting and they make it across to Shambala after leaving their bodies behind in the fortress, it is essentially their spirit body that travels into Shambala. There is a host of dakinis or sacred sky dancers waiting to pilot the two Lama’s to Shambala. The dakini host is led by the golden dakini, Yeshe Nam Lha, she is a central character in the book and is introduced at this stage. Yeshe pilots the Lama’s to Shambala and enroute they meet up with the fiery celestial prince, A-Kar O, he is another important character not only is he the divine heir to the celestial Lha ermpire but he is a rare Ningma warrior and a highly accomplished celestial. Prince A-Kar O gifts Tashi a celestial wind horse and Tashi is naturally fascinated with this rare horse who is both a horse and a spiritual being meant as an asset for adepts in their practice.
Anyways the group travels under Prince A-Kar O’s escort into divine Shambala, there follow descriptions of Shambala. These are based on intensive research after talks with many scholars and monks. The two Lama’s are lodged in a guest house in the middle of an exquisite garden and the next morning they are taken through a mystic journey to the heart of Shambala, the royal palace of the Rigden king.
Next follow descriptions of the palace of the Rigden king, the Rigden king is again a mythic being associated with Vajrayanism and Shambala. At the heart of the palace a divine meet unfolds where Gods, Goddesses, bodhisattvas and Buddha Lords of the five sacred families representing different parts of the universe attend. The five central characters of the book are now assigned their divine mission beginning with Yeshe Nam Lha, the dakini who is now revealed as the prophesized mother of the divine child, the Maitreya, the Messiah who is to be born. The five central characters are assigned their mission of returning to Earth for the imminent birth of the divine child. At the same time they are apprised of the grave threat they will face from the demon Lords, the Asur who are expanding their influence on Earth and will try their utmost to sabotage the divine mission.
The five central characters face many trials and fight battles with the Asur. Yeshe gets kidnapped by the Asur prince. To cut a long story short Prince A-Kar O and Narasimha after many trials manage to rescue her but they set off the alarm as they escape and the Asur are alerted and attack. Battles follow, one within the palace and one outside on the plain. Many celestials die but Prince Narasimha takes Yeshe and escapes into the sacred paths while Prince A-Kar O holds back the Asur giving them time to get away. The Asur cannot follow the celestials onto the sacred paths and the celestials make their escape and Yeshe is secured. Finally after a short journey the celestials reach Shambala where Tashi is re-united with Lama Ozer.
The Rigden king orders the group of five to Aggartha where they have a meeting with the Sages. The Sages apprise them of their mission in great detail and then they send all five of them to Earth and they step on Earth in the fortress of Qiang La where Tashi and Lama Ozer gain their bodies back. The celestials with them get over their shock of reaching mortal world, they have lost their divine incarnations and are mortal now. Book I ends here.
The Golden Dakini, brief outline:
The Golden Dakini, the book centers around action building upto the birth of the divine child, the Maitreya Buddha. The book begins at Qiang La, the group of five travel across Tibet and make their way to the Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. They stay a week their and have meetings with Rimpoche Gyaltsen who hints at the location of Mt Meru. The first task before the group is to locate Mt Meru on earth, Meru is a mystical divine mountain mentioned in both Buddhist and Hindu legends. Mt Meru on earth is legend and has long been lost so to say. The group follows the trail of clues leading to the location of Mt Meru, they travel to Guwhati the capital of India’s north eastern state of Assam next where they reside for sometime and look for a Hindu Sage who can tell them the path ahead. Meanwhile, Prince A-Kar O and Prince Narasimha court Yeshe. At the same time Tashi’s training goes on in the warrior arts and he continues to serve Prince A-Kar O and they also get a number of new students on Earth. So several new characters are introduced.
Meanwhile, the Prince’s who have been divested of their divine powers but retain their immense knowledge are innovating with mantras in an attempt to regain their powers. Cutting a long story short after a series of baffling attempts the Princes run the Sage to ground at a forest temple located in the remote Karbi Anglong range near Guwhati. The Sage advises them to consult an Abbot of a monastery in Arunachal located in the wilderness who can give them the path ahead. Also the group of five is joined by 18 people who join them on their travels from Sikkim onwards and who train with A-Kar O and Narasimha as defenders.
The group travels to Arunachal and at Bomdilla they are followed by the Asur but they escape after a confrontation. Meanwhile, the Asur or demon Prince contacts Yeshe on the sly and reaches out to her but she rebuffs him. They reach the monastery and the Abbot their gives them some information and also gives them a map to Mt Meru. The group makes an escape to Ney city on Mt Kanchenjunga, a city ruled by the Himalayan high fey, after a confrontation with the Asur in which Prince Narasimha is injured. The prince re-coups here and the group takes a break from their hunt.
Then they travel to and spend time in Delhi, another show-down happens with the Asur demons in Nehru park in New Delhi. The group gets divided when they are attacked Yeshe and Tashi are separated from the two Princes and the rest of the group. Yeshe is vulnerable and they are on the run. Both groups are making for Kashmir as that is another destination on the journey to Mt Meru. Many adventures occur and Yeshe and Tashi are chased by the demons. Both groups make for Kashmir, though the Princes are hunting for Yeshe and the demons are also chasing her. Finally both groups reach Kashmir another skirmish follows with the group managing to escape from the demons.
The two separated groups Yeshe and Tashi on the one hand and the two Princes on the other meet up in Kashmir. As also the demons who are chasing them and they travel to the Zanskar region of Leh Ladakh from Kashmir. The group travels towards the Zanskar range, as beyond this range is the hidden Mt Meru, approximately three quarters of the way through the book the group reach Mt Meru. They will also have suffered from a couple of unsuccessful attacks by the Asur and use stealth to escape them but the Asur are hard on their heels hounding them. The group with considerable difficulty escapes to Mt Meru. Here, Prince A-Kar O holds a fire ritual, a magical Yagna. This is a deeply magical and mystical rite and results in the Maitreya being born from the divine flames of the yagna. Yeshe is the mother of the child born through the yagna and a consort is selected for her at this yagna.
The birth is magical and just a few hours after the birth, a truce of two days is declared between the two warring sides. The group manage to get away, escape through magical means out of India to a protected area in the the vast cold forests of Siberia.