Bhutan, also known as the last Shangri-La on earth, is a truly majestic, serene, beautiful country nestled between 2 giants China and India. I have been fortunate enough to go there multiple times albeit on work and hence, wasn’t able to completely soak in the exquisiteness of this place.
My article is based on my interactions with the locals and my observations about the country. It was indeed providential for me to run into some interesting people during my visits to Thimpu wherein I gained some profound insights into the lifestyle of people, their thought processes, government’s policies and in general people’s attitude towards life.
First and foremost, people are satisfied and contented with their lives in Bhutan. They prefer living a life which is closer to their roots, less materialistic yet more fulfilling rather than being part of senseless rat race in the name of development which will lead to a vicious circle of greed, disregard for environment & people etc.
It was so heartening to note that these decision makers are actually implementing the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) in its spirit. For them, the happiness of their countrymen and the natural bounty that has been bestowed on them is so critical for a sustainable future that they wouldn’t be swayed by the lure of lucre that comes with a lot of developmental pitches. As per law 60% of the land must always be under forest cover. This attitude has percolated to the general populace. No wonder Bhutan is the only carbon negative country in the world and continues to always remain one.
Where else would you have 108,000 trees planted in the honour of birth of Bhutan’s prince? At other places such an event would lead of extravagant celebrations.
Bhutanese people believe in imbibing good practices from across, contextualizing those for Bhutan and never stop learning. A lot of senior bureaucrats, top executives in Bhutan have impressive educational credentials, still a majority of them return to their homeland to meaningfully contribute towards the development of Bhutan. Though they are worried about the future generation and potential brain drain, they are constantly working hard towards evolving the educational infrastructure of the country.
One instance adequately summarizes why Bhutan remains one of the happiest nations in the world.
During one of the conversations with one of the youth, I asked him that despite having impressive degrees and means why did he leave a promising career overseas to come back to Bhutan. He replied, “While I was pursuing my engineering and MBA abroad I realized that there is so much competition to outperform others. This is especially true for you Indians. Indians in my batch always used to work so hard, vying for top grades, over enthusiastic participation in lectures etc. I realized that people have forgotten how to live and are only concerned about survival. I cannot live in a world like that. I am fine with earning 1/10th of what I could potentially earn elsewhere but I know here I am closer to my family, I can work to make things better for Bhutan howsoever small it may be. I feel contented.”
This sentiment was echoed by a lot many people there. It is a bit difficult to grasp the essence in the beginning considering it is such a simple country without all the razzmatazz of the big city life that a lot of us are used to, but gradually you realize that a blissful living is all about enjoying small pleasures of life.
Tashi Delek Bhutan for all your warmth and teaching the world that money can’t buy you happiness!
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People who belong to the roads are generally more aware of their spiritual side than ordinary people. That is not just me stating but a research confirming from Harvard. Well the question is why and how?
For start when you travel you surely learn more about life and universe than you do, sitting inside four walls of cage socially called school or college.
Your ego goes down and start to see things in perspectives rather than just extremes of good and bad, decided already by the pre convinced notion of masses around us. It is of great importance for a spiritual awakening inside us. Only when there is no ego or short sightedness, then you can embark upon the true trajectory of understanding the supreme power or God. And this journey and your efforts to seek is can be called upon a true spirituality. Spirituality is seeking for the absolute truth and not just facts decided or agreed upon by social masses through history and science. This understanding of inexplicable and astounding magnificence around us, helps us to grow and develop our own seeking of enlightenment.
Personally, as a common boy going to school or college it had never come up to me to think about the reality of things beyond life. Or to research with in self, or to realise within one how the huge universe tends to work and my purpose in it. The purpose of life is to have a life of purpose and that is what exactly the roads taught me once I started on it. And I am sure most of you, who travels have felt this emotion and motion for seeking such higher ideas than oneself, and it has all started on the road.
As a child and boy, before I crossed distance, I always wandered why does all the sages belong to the road and keep on moving. They are always in a state of journey. Well I guess the pilgrimage of life is a journey only to the wise, and the wisdom can be only sought while being on a journey of own. Through different cities, culture, people, mountains, oceans, sunrises, sunsets and emotions, we find our true wanderlust inside, that is, I believe to seek the truth, absolute truth and that is where our road to enlightenment begins.
PHOTO COURTESY - PRIYANKA BHAVAN.
Note from the Author
" Travel made me rich and free. Magic and miracles are true , once you wander on the roads to places different and divine. Sharing with you all, those memories and stories , and wishing you all , that someday you guys travel far and wide too. I am not a great writer , so ignore my grammar and spellings, read it with feelings, and you might just be affected with the wanderlust to hit the road"