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Culture, Society

On Erotica, Khandro Yeshi Tsogyal & Karmapa

Source: Drugmo Lives
Tibetan Women, Reflection, Poetry & Reviews

A while ago on Christmas Eve, I read An Unhurried View of Erotica by Ralph Ginzburg. I got this book two years ago from a bookstore clearance sale because I fell in love with its antiquated hard cover and sometimes this is enough reason to buy a book. Winner of winners it is a collector’s edition, published in 1958 and smells like one! Thinking about it, when our world was falling apart somewhere in the USofA, a man was writing about erotic literature, probably drinking coffee and reminiscing on his own good ol’ days. So for fans of systems thinking as much as you assert that the flapping of the butterfly wings in Beijing can change the weather pattern in Vancouver, the misery of one country can (and do) often go unnoticed by another. The world is interdependent and independent at the same time. Digressive blurbs aside, I truly enjoyed this period book and for that matter any work that provides a good insight into sex and sexuality as these are hard to come by. The language and the feel of the book is very yellow paper-ish  (read- dated and dry), and my suspicion is partly because the author may have felt the need to restore some semblance of dignity and seriousness to the content after centuries of warped notions, censorship and refuge in the underground.  For those born in the ‘curious cat’ month and who loves to read anything simply for the sake of knowing – this book is a great introduction on erotic literature and here’s the spoiler alert; did you know that the Vatican has the world’s biggest collection of erotic literature? Speaking of the Vatican reminds me of our very own canonical texts, which leads me to khandro Yeshe Tsogyal.

I find theological musings/ findings/ history interesting and am fascinated by the way scholars interpret cultural myths and mysticism. For that reason I am an avid reader of Dan Martin’s blog, even though I am too much of a vegetable on the subject to comment or ask questions on half of the things he writes about. But within my limited understanding of that Buddhist world and literature, what I understand is that there are only a few female names in an ocean of male glitterati. What I am invested in is to know the life stories of these exceptional women because they represent a unique Tibetan brand of feminism before the term even existed. It is fascinating to read about them, especially misogynist comments that are ascribed to them- lamenting their sexuality and the inferiority of womanhood. Besides, the stories are so entwined with epiphanies and acts of divination that there are a great breeding ground for potential plots and ideas for magical realism. Are you listening Orhan Pamuk?  My Name Is Red can take a few skulls and flying Dakini cues from us Tibetans. As I mentioned I was looking for articles on Machik Labdron on the JIATS website but instead found an article on Yeshe Tsogyal by Janet Gyatso circa 2006. Here’s the link to that article http://www.thlib.org/collections/texts/jiats/#jiats=/02/gyatsoj It explores questions on whether Yeshe Tsogyal was a fictional or a historical character and an overview of the various versions of her life story by different authors. Amongst these I earmarked the one translated by Tarthang Tulku entitled Namkhé Nyingpo, Mother of Knowledge: The Enlightenment of Ye-shes mTsho-rgyal for future reading.

On yet another note on all things divine, I hope this whole controversy about Karmapa’s cash discovery gets resolved ASAP! What bad press! Here’s my positive energy from halfway round the world. I was more upset by one of the imposters (or should I call him a skunk?) rearing his head in Gangtok and taking this moment to do his publicity stunt rather than the Indian media going berserk with ridiculous accusations even before the ‘investigation’ is half hatched because seriously what is new there? If any of the believers think I shouldn’t be bad mouthing someone who maybe a trulku of some sorts, in my defense a trulku is as trulku does. No one with half a spiritual bone in his body will resort to such gimmicks especially when their counterpart is going through the grill, least of all an incarnation of a Bodhisattva. Isn’t that an oxymoron?

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